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-Newsletter est. 4/15/97-
-Website est. 12/15/97-





page updated: 4/2/07



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 3/26/07 - 3/5/07)


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3/26/07

Afternoon, folks. We've got some new DVD and high-def announcements for you today.

First though, Adam's updated his Electric Theatre with a column reviewing such new theatrical releases as Shooter, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, The Hills Have Eyes II and more. Don't miss it.

Okay, now for those new release announcements. First up, New Line has set The Number 23 for release on 7/17 (SRP $28.98) in separate R and Unrated Infinifilm editions. Video is anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS ES 6.1 audio. Extras are set to include feature commentary with director Joel Schumacher, deleted scenes (with optional commentary by Schumacher), 13 branching Infinifilm featurettes (Original End, Original Idea, 23s in the Movie, 23’s on the Set, Theory of Cupcakes, Fingerlings Tattoo, The 23rd Day of Shooting, Mayans End of the World, Magical Quality of #5, VFX: Storyboard, VFX: Suicide Blonde Fall, VFX: Chapter 23 and VFX: Writing in Room 23), the Making of The Number 23 documentary and 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (including Creating the World of Fingerling, The Number 23 Enigma and How to Do Your Numbers).

New Line has also announced a Rush Hour: Special Edition and a Rush Hour 2: Special Edition for release on 5/22.

Paramount has announced Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Second Season for release on 6/26.

Universal has set Miami Vice: Season Five for release on 6/26 (SRP $59.98).

Warner has revealed Birdman and the Galaxy Trio: The Complete Series and Space Ghost & Dino Boy: The Complete Series for release on 7/17. The studio has also set Lockout and National Geographic's Wild Chronicles: Season One for release on 6/26, To Kill a Killer on 6/19, Duplicity on 5/15 and Music and Lyrics on 5/8.

HBO has set Vietnam War Story for 5/22.

And 20th Century Fox has set The Tyrone Power Collection (The Black Rose, Blood and Sand, Captain from Castile, Price of Foxes and Son of Fury: The Story of Benjamin Black) for release on 5/1, with The Verdict: Collector's Edition following on 6/12.

Finally today, a sizzle reel for New Line's The Golden Compass (coming to theaters on 12/7) has finally hit the Net this afternoon (you'll find it here and here). The film is the first of a planned trilogy based on author Philip Pullman's excellent His Dark Materials books. We're pretty excited about this film around here and, based upon this early footage, it looks as if it's shaping up great. Do check it it.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

3/25/07

Hi to all! Hope you're having a great weekend. I just wanted to drop in here quickly this morning to remind anyone who might be interested that tonight is the debut of the Planet Earth documentary mini-series on The Discovery Channel and Discovery HD. The entire 11-episode series was shot in high-definition and it's well worth checking out - highly recommended. You can visit the program's official website here for more information.

Also, don't forget that the season finale of Battlestar Galactica wraps up this evening as well on Sci-Fi.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/23/07 - 1:30 PM PDT)

No kidding, it's true. Ten years ago tomorrow, the DVD format officially launched here in the States. Where did the time go? It seems like only yesterday that Todd was reviewing laserdiscs for TNT's Roughcut, and Jahnke was making movies with Uncle Lloyd at Troma, and I was spending every day on the phone trying to get the studios to tell me what movies they were working on for DVD release so that I could share the information with fellow enthusiasts on E-Town's It's All DVD forum (now long defunct). Anyone remember that? Good times, I'll tell you.

For the record, a little history: March 1997 was the big month here in the States for DVD (though technically it first went public in Japan in November '96). The first DVD players from Panasonic (the DVD-A100 and DVD-A300) became available in the U.S. on 3/1, but there were no movie discs available until a handful of DVD titles from Lumivision arrived in a select few stores on 3/19 (I believe they were Africa the Serengeti: IMAX, Animation Greats, Antarctica: IMAX and Tropical Rainforest: IMAX - all in those horrid Polygram slider cases as I recall). The format's official launch in seven test markets (Chicago, Dallas, L.A./Orange County, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C.) kicked off on 3/24 with the release of the first DVD players from Toshiba (the SD-2006 and SD-3006). An initial wave of movie titles from Warner, New Line, MGM and HBO trickled out on 3/24 or shortly thereafter (including such films as Blade Runner: The Director's Cut, The Fugitive, Batman, Eraser, Twister, The Exorcist, Interview with the Vampire, Se7en, GoldenEye and The Wizard of Oz).

I remember standing outside the front door of a local Circuit City that morning to be among the first to get my hands on the SD-3006 and a copy of Blade Runner. I laid a cool grand on the barrel head for that privilege and never looked back. I recall a lot of guys shelling out even more for Pioneer's first player that could play both DVDs and laserdiscs - the DVL-90 was it? Man... that seems like forever ago. The Bits actually began as an e-mail newsletter sent out to a few friends online. The first issue went out on 4/15, and as I recall it started out something like "DVD is here at last!" after which I proceeded to enthusiastically review the 3006 and about six movie discs. Soon the newsletter began including upcoming release information offered by friends at the various Hollywood studios. A few months later, I started posting all the same information on my personal web space at Earthlink, and a couple weeks after that Earthlink called to tell me that I was getting too much traffic and I should change over to a business plan. The Digital Bits.com officially launched as a website on 12/15, just as Circuit City began to unveil their dreaded Divx pay-per-view DVD scheme.

It's funny - I was actually the first to tell people about Divx publicly on the E-Town boards back in December of '97. I'd been calling Buena Vista to see when they were going to start releasing movies on DVD (at the time they were holding out) and the woman I was talking to said, "You know... we're going to start doing these Divx DVDs in a few weeks. There's a phone press conference happening later today. Do you want to participate?" Did I ever. A couple hours later and hopping mad, I posted the log-in codes on It's All DVD so that people could listen to the recording... and soon the recording itself was appearing online so that everyone could hear it. A few months later, I was invited to be among the first to preview Divx and we posted a feature story and editorial about it on The Bits - one of the first big features we ever did on the site. It was the first look the public got at Divx anywhere, online or in print.

Todd joined up with The Bits a few months after that with a review of Sphere on DVD. Adam signed on in Y2K, after we hung out with him on the set of Citizen Toxie. Then Barrie and Robert came on board, and a whole host of other great reviewers and columnists have been part of our ranks over the years. It's been a fun and fascinating decade.

We'll leave you today with some images from the early days, and some of the years since, to bring back a few memories for you long-timers...

Open DVD pamphletDVD execs at VSDA 98

Dreaded Divx discsDivx was everywhere!

Fond memories of Dave's VideoFond memories of Dave's Video

Kevin Smith at Dave's VideoDave and Linda Lukas

Adam Jahnke and John Landis
Got DVD?Badass DVD posse at the Ranch

Bill, Frankie and Uncle LloydOn the set of Citizen Toxie


Bill & Todd in VegasBarrie Maxwell

Todd gets a kiss (sort of) at Circus CircusThe Bee Man!

Working hard on the early BitsBill & Sarah at the game

Our first DVD Producers Panel at Comic-Con 2001

Behind the scenes with George Romero and John Harrison

Robert A. HarrisMr MusicTAP (Matt Rowe) and Bill

El DooganBill & Sarah

Bill at Todd at Comic-Con 2006

Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday (maybe some of you tonight at the Chapman event)!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/23/07 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, everyone! Or evening, for those of you who are catching this post early on Friday night.

Okay... the BIG news of course is Warner's announcement of The Ultimate Matrix Collection and The Complete Matrix Trilogy for release on HD-DVD format on 5/22. Here's what the cover art will look like...

The Matrix Trilogy on HD-DVD

The Ultimate Matrix Collection (SRP $119.99) is a 5-disc set that includes all three films in 1080p video with Dolby TrueHD audio, each on their own disc. For the record, Warner has told us that ALL of the extras are standard-definition video only, including The Animatrix shorts. Here's the disc by disc breakdown of the special features, nearly all of which are ported over from the previous standard DVD releases (the original release as well as the previous box set):

Disc One (Side One - The Matrix) - the film (see specs above), In-Movie Experience, commentary tracks (written introduction by the Wachowski brothers, Philosophers commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber, Critics commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson, Cast and Crew commentary by Carrie-Anne Moss, Zach Staenberg and John Gaeta, Composer commentary by Don Davis with music-only track, Behind The Matrix (including Making The Matrix, The Dance of the Master: Yuen Wo Ping's Blocking Tapes, The Bathroom Fight and Wet Wall, The Code of the Red Dress, The Old Exit: Wabash and Lake, Agent Down and But Wait: There's More), The Music Revisited featurette, Marilyn Manson's Rock is Dead music video, the film's teaser and theatrical trailers, and 7 TV spots

Disc One (Side Two - The Matrix) - The Matrix Revisited documentary, Take the Red Pill (including What is Bullet Time? and What is the Concept?) and Follow the White Rabbit (including Trinity Escapes, Pod, Kung Fu, The Wall, Bathroom Fight, Government Lobby, Government Roof, Helicopter and Subway)

Disc Two (Side One - The Matrix Reloaded) - the film (see specs above), In-Movie Experience, commentary tracks (written introduction by the Wachowski brothers, Philosophers commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber, Critics commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson), Behind The Matrix Reloaded (including The Matrix Unfolds, Pre-Load, Get Me an Exit and The MTV Movie Awards Reloaded), Enter the Matrix: The Game (featurette, plus 23 scenes from the video game), P.O.D.'s Sleeping Awake music video, the Reloaded/Revolutions teaser trailer, the film's theatrical trailer and 8 TV spots

Disc Two (Side Two - The Matrix Reloaded) - Car Chase (including The Freeway Chase, Oakland Streets and Freeway: Unseen Material, Tour of the Merovingian's Garage, Queen of the Road, Arteries of the Mega-City: The Visual Effects of the Freeway Chase, Foresight: Pre-planning the Mayhem, Freeway Truck Crash: Anatomy of a Shot, Fate of the Freeway and Freeway Action Match), Teahouse Fight (including Two Equals Clash and Guardian of the Oracle: Collin Chou), Unplugged (including Creating the Burly Brawl, A Conversation with Master Wo Ping, Chad Stahelski: The Other Neo, Burly Brawl Action Match and Spiraling Virtual Shot: Anatomy of a Shot), I'll Handle Them (including The Great Hall, Building the Merovingian's Lair, Tiger Style: A Day in the Life of Chen Hu and Heavy Metal: Weapons of the Great Hall) and The Exiles (including The Exiles and Big Brother is Watching: The Architect's Office)

Disc Three (Side One - The Matrix Revolutions) - the film (see specs above), In-Movie Experience, commentary tracks (written introduction by the Wachowski brothers, Philosophers commentary by Dr. Cornel West and Ken Wilber, Critics commentary by Todd McCarthy, John Powers and David Thomson), Behind The Matrix Revolutions (including Recalibrated, Neo Realism: The Evolution of Bullet Time, CG Revolution, Super Big Mini Models, Super Burly Brawl, Double Agent Smith, Mind Over Matter: The Physicality of The Matrix and Future Gamer: The Matrix Online), the film's theatrical trailer and 6 TV spots

Disc Three (Side Two - The Matrix Revolutions) - Behind The Matrix (including Before the Revolution and 3-D Evolution), Crew (including Owen's Army: The Australian Art Dept., 2nd Unit: A World of Their Own, Bill Pope: Cinematographer of The Matrix and Masters of Light and Shadow), Hel (including Coat Check, Upsidedown Under, Fast Break, Exploding Man, Gun Club and The Extras of Club Hel), Super Burly Brawl (including The Skybarn, The Crater, The Egg, Anatomy of the Superpunch and Super Burly Brawl), New Blue World (including Geography of Zion, The Ships, Tour of the Neb, Matrix TV and Logos Fight Expansion), Siege (including Dig This, The Siege Action Match, Anatomy of a Shot: Mifune's Last Stand, Building an APU and Product of Zion) and Aftermath (including Revolutionary Composition, The Glue, Dane Tracks and Cause and Effects)

Disc Four (Side One - The Animatrix) - all 9 animated Animatrix shorts, commentary tracks (The Second Renaissance, Part I commentary by Mahiro Maeda, The Second Renaissance, Part II commentary by Mahiro Maeda, Program commentary by Yoshiaki Kawajiri and World Record commentary by Takeshi Koike), Scrolls to Screen: The History and Culture of Anime and Execution (including Making Final Flight of the Osiris, Making The Second Renaissance, Parts I & II, Making Kid's Story & A Detective Story, Making Program, Making World Record, Making Beyond and Making Matriculated)

Disc Four (Side Two - The Roots of the Matrix) - Return to Source: Philosophy & The Matrix (a.k.a. Brainiac's Revenge) and The Hard Problem: The Science Behind the Fiction

Disc Five (Side One - Burly Man Chronicles) - The Burly Man Chronicles documentary, Pre-Production featurettes, Alameda Shoot featurettes, Australia Shoot featurettes

Disc Five (Side Two - The Zion Archive) - The Zion Archive (photo galleries), The Rave Reel, The Matrix Online, 2 music videos and additional theatrical trailers and TV spots

So that's the Ultimate box set. The Complete Matrix Trilogy (oddly enough just $20 less at SRP $99.99) is a 3-disc set that includes the movies and ONLY the Side One contents of the movie discs (the film, the commentaries and some extras) from the Ultimate box set. So the Ultimate box set seems like the MUCH better deal here.

As Warner notes in their press release, Blu-ray Disc versions of both of these sets will be released later in 2007. We've done a little digging, and as you might expect, the delay in getting Blu-ray Disc versions out at the same time is related to the lack of full implementation of BD-Java in Blu-ray Disc authoring software and player hardware - implementation that's needed to do the same kinds of In-Movie Experience features in Blu-ray that can be done in HD-DVD. Certainly, if there's any one area where HD-DVD can be said to be far ahead of Blu-ray Disc, it's in implementation of the interactive features. The HDi interactive spec for HD-DVD is mandatory in all players, as is Internet connectivity, whereas BD-Java is only starting to be fully implemented in Blu-ray hardware and much of the spec's capabilities are optional right now. And Warner wants the extras on their titles to be the same on both formats whenever possible. So for those of you wondering why The Matrix isn't announced yet for Blu-ray, or why Batman Begins or V for Vendetta aren't for that matter, that's the reason.

Anyway, we've been looking forward to seeing these films in 1080p for a long time, regardless of which format they're on. We expect a lot of copies of these films to sell on HD-DVD, even despite the steep price.

Okay... one last reminder today: Tonight is the high-def screening of Nine Inch Nails: Beside You in Time at the new Folino Theatre at Chapman University (in Orange, CA). The screening will start at 6:30 PM (Pacific) and afterwards I've been invited to participate in a live Q&A with the audience on the subject of high-definition media. The event is open to all (and again it's completely free), so I encourage any of you who live in the area and who might be interested to attend. Bring your questions and I hope to see you there.

Back Monday - stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/22/07 - 2 PM PDT)

Quick heads-up: It occurred to me that I posted the date wrong yesterday on that Nine Inch Nails: Beside You in Time screening and Q&A I'll be involved with at Chapman University here in Orange County, CA. It's not 6/23, it's 3/23. As in tomorrow night. Here's the details again. Sorry about that. Momentary dyslexia I guess. You guys should be used to it by now.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/22/07 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Well... all you guys that hate hearing about the new high-def formats are going to have to take a couple of Aspirin today, because there's MAJOR high-def news to report this morning.

First, according to Home Media Magazine, Warner Home Video is apparently releasing The Ultimate Matrix Collection (SRP $119.99) and The Complete Matrix Trilogy (SRP $99.99) on HD-DVD format on 5/22. Blu-ray Disc versions are reportedly in the works for release later in 2007. The HD-DVDs (presumably the Ultimate set) will include 8 discs featuring some 35 hours worth of extras (most likely ported over from the previous standard-definition DVD box set) as well as new In-Movie Experience (IME) features. We'll post all the details as soon as the official press release comes in from Warner.

Also this morning, our industry sources have sent word on Sony's June Blu-ray Disc slate, which is apparently set to include a few major catalog titles of their own, not the least of which is Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy. You'll find all the details in today's update of The Rumor Mill. We're told that an official press release is expected very soon.

Whew! Is it just me, or is this high-def train is moving awfully fast? Can you imagine if DVD had launched as aggressively as these two high-def formats are attempting to? Ten years ago, I recall a number of major studio execs saying to me that DVD was just going to be a niche format like laserdisc. Now these guys are lighting their pants on fire trying to blast out major titles in high-def, all in just the first year or so of each format. The times they are a-changin'. And this format war should still never have happened, and it's STILL a joke to most people. Ah well.

You know... it's worth acknowledging that sometimes we get a little worked up about all this format war stuff here at The Bits. Tempers have flared elsewhere online too over it - certainly some of the discussion groups get a little heated these days. I suppose it's only natural though. I can tell you from our perspective here at the site, as a group of people who have covered DVD since the very beginning through thick and thin, it's been awfully frustrating to see the industry as a whole fighting a battle that just isn't ultimately good for anyone. And we've never been ones to sit on the sidelines. We got involved back in the Divx pay-per-view days, we lobbied for anamorphic widescreen, we've campaigned to get specific films released on DVD. Hell, one of our number even restores them. So it's just in our blood to sometimes stand up on the soapbox and speak our minds. Some of you love that and some not so much. But we hope you'll bear with us. A format war is an ugly business. We (us, you guys) wouldn't be doing what we do and talking and debating this whole thing if we didn't all care so much about great films and TV shows on disc. Whichever side of the format war people may find themselves on, we all have that in common. That's just a little something we should all try keep in mind more often.

We'll leave you today with a trio of completely non-format war related items. First, we were saddened yesterday to learn of the passing of Calvert DeForest... better known to TV audiences as Larry "Bud" Melman from The Late Show with David Letterman and Late Night before it. Toast on a Stick will just never taste the same.

Second, there's good news for fans of Sci-Fi's Battlestar Galactica. The series is apparently being picked up for a full season next year - 20 episodes (click here for more on that from TV Week). Plus, a 2-hour Battlestar cable-then-straight-to-DVD movie project is in the works for later this year as well, reportedly telling the story of how the Pegasus escaped the Cylon attack on the Twelve Colonies. Count us in.

Next, I wanted to give a little shout-out to an overlooked show that has slowly become one of my favorite things on TV... NBC's Friday Night Lights. Based on the Universal film of the same name about a high-school football team in rural Texas, this show could easily have turned into just some other cheesy teen soap opera. Instead, it's evolved into a series with great acting, sophisticated storytelling, surprisingly charming moments and some of the best camera work, editing and direction on TV. Really, if you haven't seen it, it's worth taking the time to check it out. Maybe there's something about coming from a small town myself - I don't know. Whatever it is, this show just really captures that small town vibe. It's great television.

Finally, here's a little something that should give you pet owners a laugh. Particularly you cat owners, though the humor is pretty universal. Sarah found this clip a couple of days ago, and we haven't stopped laughing since. "Oh long johnson..." (you'll get that in a moment) Enjoy. ;)

Okay, that's enough for now I expect. Stay tuned...

3/21/07

Okay, let's have an update on the latest DVD and high-def release announcements.

First up, Sony has set Blood and Chocolate for release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and UMD on 5/29. They've also finally announced a Blu-ray Disc version of Yimou Zhang's Curse of the Golden Flower on 5/29 as well.

Paramount has just announced Freedom Writers for release on 5/22 on both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, along with Hustle & Flow on both formats on 6/26. Paramount has also announced The Untouchables: Special Collector's Edition and The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut for both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD on 7/3. In terms of standard DVD, the studio has set Beauty and the Beast: The Second Season for release on 7/10.

Anchor Bay has an interesting slate of titles due in stores this month, including Masters of Horror: Pro-Life, the Re-Animator: Limited Edition, Death Row and a pair of animated titles, Tokko: Volume 1 and Stan Lee presents The Condor. All are now available.

Buena Vista has set the Jump In!: Freestyle Edition for release on 4/3.

Starz Home Entertainment will release Roseanne: The Complete Seventh Season on 4/3 as well.

Kultur International Films will release The Legendary Crooners: Frank, Dean, Bing, Nat and Perry on 4/24.

And Warner has set The New Adventures of Superman (36 6-minute episodes on 2 discs - SRP $26.99), The New Adventures of Batman: The Complete Series (the Filmmation animated series featuring the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward - 16 episodes on 2 discs - SRP $26.99) and Wild Chronicles: Season One Collection (for National Geographic), all for release on 6/26. They also have Vietnam War Story due on 5/22 (for HBO) and The Black Woman's Guide to Finding a Good Man due on 6/5. We sure wish Warner and Fox would resolve their issues so that we could finally get the live action Batman series (with West and Ward) out on DVD. D'oh!

Around the site today, we've got one more Bitsy Award update for you this afternoon. HBO and Time Life's Get Smart: The Complete Series box set isn't available in stores yet. It was produced and released last year (online from Time Life), but we weren't originally able to consider it for The Bitsys because it was next to impossible to get our hands on a review sample. However, we've finally had the chance to see these discs, and they're so good and so comprehensive that we'd be seriously remiss if we didn't include them in our awards in the Best DVD - TV Series Presentation category. But we also don't want to take away from our praise of Universal's fantastic and long awaited Saturday Night Live: The Complete First Season. So we've made the rare decision to award a Bitsy to both titles and make the category a tie. We're told that Get Smart: The Complete Series is expected to be available in stores (on a season by season basis) sometime later in 2007. But given that The Bitsy Awards is all about recognizing superior DVD work, we just felt that we needed to give credit where credit is due. Click on the link to see the revised category.

Around the Net today, Toshiba is apparently fighting back in the industry press (see this story at Engadget) against the BDA's claims of last week that they expect their format to oust standard DVD in the storage realm in three years (click here and here for that). Toshiba's Deputy General manager of HD-DVD, Olivier Van Wynendaele, calls the touted 3 to 1 software sales advantage in favor of Blu-ray "propaganda", because he claims that those numbers were artificially inflated by free Blu-ray movie vouchers being redeemed by PlayStation 3 owners. Now that would be a shocking claim... if Toshiba could show hard data to indicate that they haven't included all those free copies of King Kong (that were shipped with Microsoft's Xbox 360 HD-DVD add-on drive) in THEIR format sales numbers, and if they could further show that they won't be including in their future sales numbers any of the FIVE free HD-DVD movies they're now offering anyone who buys one of their HD-DVD players. This seems a lot like the pot calling the kettle black to me. And by the way, it was THREE free movies just last month - an offer they were running way back in October of last year (click here). So which camp is it that's working harder to inflate their software sales numbers now? HHhmmmm... How long do you suppose it'll be before Toshiba starts offering $100 players and TEN free movies? You just watch - that'll be their holiday promotion later this year. I'll tell you what, this format war is rapidly becoming a joke. Can someone finally just end this thing, so we can all move on? Universal? Hello?

One last note today: For those of you in the L.A./Orange County area, Chapman University (in Orange, CA) will be hosting a free screening of the new Nine Inch Nails: Beside You in Time Blu-ray Disc on Friday evening (3/23) at the gorgeous new Folino Theatre (click here for more). The screening will start at 6:30 PM (Pacific). I'll be there in person, and afterwards I've been invited to participate in a live Q&A with the audience on the subject of high-definition media. The event is open to all (and again it's completely free), so I encourage any of you who live in the area and who might be interested to attend. Bring your questions and I hope to see you there!

Chapman event

Stay tuned...

3/20/07

Today's update is a quick one, to inform you of a couple new things here at The Bits.

First up, we've just posted Adam's latest edition of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, featuring film reviews of grindhouse classics like Dead Silence, The Town That Dreaded Sundown and more.

Also this afternoon, we bring you a hardware review that we promised was coming a few weeks back... an in-depth look at Panasonic's PT-AE1000U 1080p LCD projector. It's an absolutely fantastic value for the price - just the thing if you've got a front projection home theater system and you're looking to upgrade to full 1080p/24 compatibility to enjoy the latest Blu-ray Discs and HD-DVDs. Don't miss it.

We'll catch you all up on the latest release news tomorrow morning. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/19/07 - 1:45 PM PDT)

Okay, as promised we're back with Barrie's latest edition of Classic Coming Attractions. In this installment, Barrie reviews 19 recent classic releases on DVD, including 20th Century Fox's The Mr. Moto Collection: Volume Two, The Alice Faye Collection, Move Over Darling, Do Not Disturb, Caprice and The Ernest Hemingway Film Collection, Cheezy Flicks's King of the Rocket Men, Hermitage Hill's Tailspin Tommy in the Great Air Mystery, MGM's Fiddler on the Roof: Collector's Edition, Universal's All Quiet on the Western Front, Going My Way and The Heiress, VCI's Red Ryder Double Feature: Volume 11 and Warner Bros.'s The Clock, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Miracle in the Rain, Operation Crossbow, Robert Mitchum: The Signature Collection and There Was a Crooked Man.... As always, he also runs down the latest news regarding forthcoming classic releases on DVD and both HD formats. It's yet another great column from Barrie, so we hope you enjoy it!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/19/07 - 1:45 AM PDT)

Morning, everyone! Sorry for our disappearance on Thursday and Friday. We had some construction going on in our neighborhood, and our Internet connection was erratic both days. What did people do before the Net was around anyway? It's funny how much we've come to depend on such things.

Anyway, we've got a lot of DVD and high-def announcements to cover this morning. First though, a quick heads-up: We'll be back later this morning with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell, including lots of new DVD reviews and a rundown of the latest classic release announcements. So be sure to check back for that.

We've also kicked off a pair of new Contests today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning, Sublime: Unrated, Blood Diamond: Two-Disc Special Edition and Without a Trace: The Complete Second Season, as well as Universal's Children of Men and The Good Shepherd. Both contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, April 1st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Now then, let's get to that release news. First up, a reminder: The BBC has announced that they'll be releasing (via Warner Home Video) their upcoming Planet Earth documentary series on 4/24, just two days after the final episode debuts on The Discovery Channel and Discovery HD. The 11-episode series looks amazing, as anyone who's seen the HD previews can attest. The 5-disc DVD release will SRP for $79.98. And here's even better news: Planet Earth will be released on both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD as well (5 discs each, SRP $99.98). All three versions will contain the U.K. version of the series, which includes 90 minutes worth of footage not seen on Discovery. The standard DVD set will also include 10-minute, behind-the-scenes featurettes for each of the 11 episodes, as well as the 3-part, 150-minute Planet Earth: The Future documentary. It doesn't appear that these extras will be included on the HD releases. I've actually seen the first couple of episodes on DVD, and let me tell you, it's both extraordinary and visually stunning. This series should be THE must-see high-def event of 2007.

Speaking of Warner, the latest issue of Home Media Magazine (click here) reports that when Zack Snyder's 300 arrives on DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD later in 2007, it will offer a number of deleted scenes, including one considered too outrageous for theaters featuring "giants with midget archers on their backs." Two other deleted scenes will feature Ephialtes. There will also be an interactive feature where you'll get to compare panels of Frank Miller's original graphic novel with the same scenes in the film, as you watch the film.

In other DVD release news, Fox has announced the debut of Epic Movie on 5/22, in two versions - a theatrical DVD that includes both full frame and anamorphic widescreen, and an unrated edition with 8 minutes of added footage. Extras on both will include audio commentary with the directors, behind-the-scenes featurettes, an alternate ending, a gag reel and more. Fox has also announced a Mrs. Doubtfire: Behind the Seams Edition for 5/8, complete with deleted scenes and a Robin Williams interview. And Fox has set the classic catalog films Can-Can, Pigskin Parade and On the Rivera for release on 5/22.

Universal has announced a number of new DVDs, including Because I Said So (on 5/8), Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List - Season One and The Office: Season One and Season Two value pack (both on 6/12), and Monk: Season Five and Psych: The Complete First Season (both 6/26).

Universal has also officially announced more of those catalog HD-DVDs we outed a couple weeks ago in The Rumor Mill, including Born on the Fourth of July, Bruce Almighty, Daylight, Liar Liar, Monty Python's The Meaning of Life and Sneakers (all on 6/12), and American Me, Being John Malkovich, Bulletproof, Mallrats, Meet Joe Black, Mystery Men and The Watcher (all on 6/26).

Meanwhile, Buena Vista has set Dinosaurs: The Complete Third and Fourth Seasons for release on 5/1, with Scrubs: The Complete Fifth Season following on 5/22.

Sony has announced that Catch & Release will street on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/8.

Lionsgate has announced their Dirty Dancing: 20th Anniversary Special Edition for release on DVD (SRP $19.99) and Blu-ray Disc ($29.99) on 5/8 as well. Among the all-new extras you'll find an interview with Patrick Swayze, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes and more. Audio options will include Dolby Digital EX and DTS ES.

Shout! Factory has unveiled a Batfink: The Complete Series 4-disc set for release on 6/19 (SRP $34.98). All 100 5-minute episodes of the classic 1967 Hal Seeger animated series will be included.

And Criterion has announced a great new batch of DVD releases for May, including Claude Berri's The Two of Us (Catalog #388), Dušan Makavejev's WR: Mysteries of the Organism (#389) and Sweet Movie (#390), Lindsay Anderson's If.... (#391) and Chris Marker's La jetée/Sans soleil (#387).

There's one last bit of high-def announcement news. A retail source has informed us that StudioCanal's second wave of European HD-DVDs (15 titles) have been re-slated for 5/21. No word, however, on a new date for Prête-moi ta main.

In other news around the Net today, the latest Nielsen VideoScan Blu-ray Disc vs. HD-DVD numbers are in for the week ending 3/11. As expected, Blu-ray continues to add to its 2 to 1 software sales margin over HD-DVD. You'll find the exact stats above, along with updates of the latest top ten DVD titles, for both sales and rentals.

Also, The New York Post has an article on the HD format war. In the piece, by columnist Lou Lumenick, industry analyst Alison Casey of Understanding & Solutions predicts that retailers will start pulling the plug on HD-DVD sometime next year: "They never wanted two formats. It confuses consumers and creates problems with them with returns. They're looking to go to a single format as soon as possible." She also predicts that Blu-ray players will be available for below $300 by the end of the year, and that Blu-ray's studio advantage (and the PS3) will prove insurmountable to HD-DVD. We can't say that we disagree with that analysis, but your own mileage may vary.

Okay... enough with the format war business for today. Here's a look at the cover artwork for the BBC's Planet Earth, Warner's Cult Camp Classics: Volume 4 - Historical Epics (6/26) and Disney's Chicken Little Blu-ray Disc (due to street tomorrow, 3/20)...

Planet EarthCult Camp Classics: Volume 4 - Historical EpicsChicken Little (Blu-ray Disc)

Okay, we'll be back with Barrie's column later this morning, so stay tuned...

3/14/07

There's a couple of big title announcements to report today. First, Buena Vista has set Mel Gibson's Apocalypto for release on 5/22 (SRP $29.99). Extras will include audio commentary with director Mel Gibson and writer Farhad Safinia, the Becoming Mayan "making of" featurette and deleted scenes with optional commentary. Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in the original Mayan (with English subtitles). Sources tell us that you can expect a day-and-date Blu-ray Disc version to be announced shortly as well.

The studio has also set KYLE XY: The Complete First Season - Declassified for release on 5/22. Extras will include an alternate pilot episode and an extended version of the finale.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Harold and the Purple Crayon: Let Your Imagination Soar!, Harold and the Purple Crayon: New Worlds to Explore, The Italian, It's a Big, Big, World: Safe and Sound, It's a Big, Big, World: The Earth Needs You, Stuart Little: The Animated Series - Volume One and Stuart Little: The Animated Series - Volume Two all for release on 5/22. Also coming on that day is a Blu-ray Disc version of Closer.

Warner has set F-Troop: The Complete Second Season for release on 5/29 (SRP $39.98). The 6-disc set will include 31 episodes along with the Fall in with F-Troop featurette.

Here's even better news from Warner: The studio has announced Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection for release on 5/15 (SRP $26.99). The 2-disc set will include 24 re-mastered and unedited animated shorts, including Dumb-Hounded, The Shooting of Dan McGoo, Wild and Woolfy, Northwest Hounded Police, Señor Droopy, Wags to Riches, Out-Foxed, The Chump Champ, Daredevil Droopy, Droopy's Good Deed, Droopy’s "Double Trouble", Caballero Droopy, The Three Little Pups, Drag-a-Long Droopy, Homesteader Droopy, Dixieland Droopy and Deputy Droopy. The set will also include 7 Cinemascope shorts in anamorphic widescreen, including Millionaire Droopy, Grin and Share It, Blackboard Jumble, One Droopy Knight, Sheep Wrecked, Mutts About Racing and Droopy Leprechaun. Extras on the set will include the Droopy and Friends: A Laugh Back documentary and the Doggone Gags montage.

Warner has also announced a number of great catalog classics for release on 6/26, including a Cult Camp Classics: Volume 1 - Sci Fi Thrillers (Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1958), Giant Behemoth and Queen of Outer Space), Cult Camp Classics: Volume 2 - Women in Peril (The Big Cube, Caged and Trog), Cult Camp Classics: Volume 3 - Terrorized Travelers (Hot Rods to Hell, Skyjacked and Zero Hour) and Cult Camp Classics: Volume 4 - Historical Epics (Colossus of Rhodes, The Prodigal and Land of the Pharoahs). Each of the sets carries an SRP of $29.98, and the films will be available separately for $14.97 each. Also coming on 6/12 is National Geographic's Planet Carnivore: Sharks & Lions, with Hustle: Complete Season Three following on 7/10 (for the BBC).

On the high-def front, here's news that will have HD-DVD and Blu-ray backers buzzing online: From IMDB comes word that Casino Royale on Blu-ray Disc has become the first high-definition release to crack Amazon's top ten sellers list, debuting at #8. The widescreen DVD debuted at #1. It will be interesting to see if the Nielsen VideoScan sales numbers reflect strong sales for the title in a couple weeks.

Also today, Warner has just announced the simultaneous Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD release of The Road Warrior and Battle of the Bulge on 5/8 (SRP $28.99 each). All bonus features from the DVD versions will be included on the high-def versions.

By the way, we're hearing that Studio Canal has delayed the release of their second wave of HD-DVDs in Europe due to technical issues. Look for them all to be re-announced soon. Like Fox's recent Blu-ray delays, high-def fans shouldn't consider the postponements a major problem or a sign of something more serious. Keep in mind, these formats are new, so minor technical issues are bound to crop up from time to time as the studios ramp up production. This kind of thing is to be expected.

Here at The Bits this afternoon, our own Adam Jahnke has posted a new edition of his Electric Theatre, featuring reviews of 300, The Host and more. Having just seen 300 myself last night, I think Adam pretty well nails it with his review. It's well worth a read.

We'll leave you today with a look at some new cover art. Here's Warner's Tex Avery's Droopy: The Complete Theatrical Collection, Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman (1958) and Cult Camp Classics: Volume 1 - Sci Fi Thrillers...

Tex Avery’s Droopy: The Complete Theatrical CollectionAttack of the 50 Ft. WomanCult Camp Classics: Volume 1 - Sci Fi Thrillers

Stay tuned!

3/13/07

Wow... did anyone else watch the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night? Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, R.E.M., The Ronettes, Patti Smith and Van Halen were justly welcomed into the ranks of the Hall, but man... that Van Halen induction was embarrassing. Eddie Van Halen wasn't there... he's checked himself into rehab (probably a wise move). Alex Van Halen wasn't there either... he's hanging with Eddie. David Lee Roth wasn't there... he got pissed that they couldn't pull the song he wanted to preform together in time, so didn't show. So who represented the band live? Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony... the two guys Eddie ousted from the band and has spent the better part of the last three years trashing in interviews. To no one's surprise, they were both class acts, graciously thanking not only Eddie and Alex (and wishing Eddie well in rehab), but also David and even Gary Cherone. Man... for a band that was rumored to be on the verge of a big reunion tour this summer, talk about an implosion. What a shame. Ah well.

Down to business. First of all today, thanks to everyone that's sent in kind words and various comments about our Bitsy Awards post yesterday. We try very hard to honor deserving work in the industry with the awards, and to expose people to great titles they might have missed during the year, so we appreciate all the feedback. We also work hard to make our Bitsys Awards the most comprehensive such DVD recognition event around, and to not just give you a list of the winners, but to tell you why they deserved to win and to also point out lots of deserving runners-up in each category as well. By the way, those who may wish to compare this year's awards with previous editions can find links to all our past Bitsys here. Our sincere congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Now then... some DVD announcements. The BIG news today is that New Line has officially announced the release of Guillermo del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth on 5/15. Two versions will be available: A single-disc standard edition (SRP $28.98) and a two-disc Platinum Series special edition ($34.99). One would certainly hope high-definition versions are forthcoming as well. Both DVDs will feature anamorphic widescreen video and the original Spanish audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES (with English subs). The 2-disc set will include a video prologue from director Guillermo del Toro, audio commentary by del Toro, 5 "making of" featurettes (The Power of Myth, The Faun and the Fairies, The Color and the Shape and The Lullaby, Parts 1 & 2), the DVD Comics: Giant Toad, The Pale Man featurette, the excellent Charlie Rose Show interview with del Toro, Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, an Interactive Director's Notes and Sketches gallery with video prologue by del Toro, storyboard/thumbnail comparisons, photo and art galleries, a DDT creature design/production scrapbook, a VFX plate comparison, trailers and TV spots, and both Spanish and English versions of the screenplay with synchronized storyboards and photo galleries via DVD-ROM.

Here's a look at the cover art for the 2-disc version of Pan's Labyrinth, as well as Warner's The Fountain (5/15) and Paramount's Dreamgirls (5/1)...

Pan's LabyrinthThe FountainDreamgirls

In other DVD news, Warner has set The Painted Veil for release on 5/28 (SRP $27.95).

And Fox has set Anna Karenina (staring Vivien Leigh) for release on 4/24.

Around the Net today, tech guru Walter S. Mossberg has posted an interesting editorial column on the high-def format war. His basic take is one we agree with: "Until the electronics and movie companies support universal high-definition players and/or universal high-definition discs, I don't recommend that most people invest in either technology. Why prolong a war that's bad for consumers?" Why indeed. Thanks to Bits reader Dave M. for the link.

While we're on the subject of the format war, the latest Nielsen VideoScan numbers for the week ending 3/4 are in from Home Media Retailing. Here's the graphic and we've added the data to our stats section (above)...

VideoScan HD data

By the way, we've been getting a few e-mails from readers with questions on the subject, so we called 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for another update on the Blu-ray titles that they've recently delayed (including Mr. & Mrs. Smith). Fox's Steve Feldstein told us that the delay was related to minor technical/production issues, but that they expect to begin announcing new release dates for the titles "imminently". We'll post details as they come in.

Speaking of Blu-ray, Sony's new Casino Royale BD (which is excellent by the way - watch for a full review soon) includes a preview of Blu-ray Disc titles from the studio which promotes the forthcoming release of Spider-Man 2, Lawrence of Arabia, The Patriot, Legends of the Fall, Bad Boys II, Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle and Once Upon a Time in Mexico.

Stay tuned...

3/12/07

Morning, everyone! We hope you all had a great weekend, and that you've got your coffee and danish at the ready.

As promised, we're pleased today to bring you The 8th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards! The staff of The Digital Bits has carefully nominated and debated our selections for the best DVD, high-definition video and high-resolution audio releases of 2006. We've examined hundreds of great discs, and we've chosen those lucky few that we feel are most deserving of recognition in a wide variety of different categories. We present them now for your reading pleasure. As always, we hope you enjoy The Bitsys for another year. And remember... no wagering!

By the way, any errors you may find in the text are entirely the product of sleep deprivation. If you find any, let me know and I'll fix them when I return to consciousness... in about 12 hours. ;)

Enjoy!

3/9/07

We've got still more DVD and HD release news for you today. But first, an announcement: The Bitsys are coming! Yes, if all goes well over the weekend, The 8th Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards will be posted on Monday. The staff of The Digital Bits has compiled our list of nominees and checked it twice. Now we've picked the winners, representing the best of DVD for 2006, and all that remains is to get them all up for you to enjoy. So tune in Monday for that.

Now then... Warner has finally announced Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain for release on 5/15. There will be dual full frame and anamorphic widescreen DVD versions (SRP $27.95 each), as well as Blu-ray Disc ($34.99) and HD-DVD/DVD Combo versions ($39.99). Extras are expected to include the 6-part Inside The Fountain: Death and Rebirth documentary and more.

Also today, Universal has officially revealed that Smokin' Aces will street on DVD and HD-DVD formats on 4/17. There will be full frame and anamorphic widescreen DVD versions (SRP $29.98) as well as an HD-DVD/DVD Combo format version ($39.98). Extras on all of them will include audio commentary (with writer/director Joe Carnahan and editor Robert Frazen), a second commentary (with Carnahan, Common, Christopher Holley and Zach Cumer), deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, the "Cowboy" ending and 3 featurettes (The Line-Up, The Big Gun and Shoot 'Em Up: Stunts & Effects).

And Paramount has announced that their long-delayed Mahogany (staring Diana Ross) will finally street on DVD on 5/1, timed to coincide with the same-day release of Dreamgirls.

There's a bit of industry news from Video Business worth mentioning today: First, there's word that the Cartoon Network is going to be expanding its DVD release slate (click here for more). Second, there's a story about Blu-ray Disc's continued sales dominance over HD-DVD in February, with commentary from both camps (click here). Also, VB editor Paul Sweeting has written an interesting editorial examining the notion of whether the HD format war is a good thing or a bad thing (click here for that).

Finally today, our friends over at From Script to DVD have just posted a list of all the places you can go see 300 this weekend in IMAX format. Count us in!

Okay, don't forget Daylight Savings this weekend. See you Monday for The Bitsys! Peace out.

3/8/07

We've got a little bit more new DVD release information for you this afternoon from Warner. The studio has announced the classic Angels in the Outfield for release on 5/1, followed by Best Foot Forward on 6/19. Also coming on 6/19 is The Lucille Ball Film Collection box set (SRP $49.92), which will include The Big Street, Critics Choice, Dance Girl Dance, Dubarry Was a Lady and Mame (each also available separately).

In other DVD news today, Home Media Magazine (formerly Home Media Retailing) has announced the winners of the third annual Music DVD Awards, for which Matt and I were honored to serve as judges. Image Entertainment's outstanding Hail! Hail! Rock 'n' Roll: Special Collector's Edition was named Best of Show. VH1 Classics' Kiss: Kissology - Volume 1 was named Best Compilation. Vivendi Visual Entertainment and First Independent Pictures' New York Doll was named Best Music Documentary. Paramount's Neil Young: Heart of Gold took the Best New Concert honors. Finally, Best TV Concert was won by Shout! Factory's The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: Punk and New Wave. You can read more here and here.

For those who care about such things, Sony has recently announced the details of the online service for their new PlayStation 3. You can read all about that at GameSpot today.

And here's some cool news: Our very own Adam Jahnke has been nominated for a Scribe Award for his adapation of The Toxic Avenger: The Novel with uncle Lloyd Kauffman. The awards are sponsored by The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers (you'll find a list of all the nominees here). We're pretty proud of Adam, I'll tell you. We're definitely rooting for Toxie to take the compeitition out to the woodshed. The winners will be announced at Comic-Con this summer. Congrats on the nom, Adam!

Finally today, our own Todd Doogan has served up another heapin' helpin' of South Park on DVD, with a review of Paramount's South Park: The Complete Sixth Season.

Okay, you know the drill. Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

3/7/07

Okay... let's have that news update we promised yesterday. There's lots of ground to cover this morning. First up, the standard DVD news...

Paramount has announced a Coming to America: Special Collector's Edition and a Trading Places: Special Collector's Edition for release on 6/5. Paramount has also revealed that Black Snake Moan is set to street on 6/26, along with Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.: The Second Season. We'll come back to Paramount in a minute.

Lionsgate has announced that their April DVD slate will include The Lost Room, Death of a President, Dancing with the Stars: Cardio Dance, The Convent, The Silent Partner and Freeway (all 4/3), Beneath Still Waters, GameBox 1.0 and the Shanghai Surprise: Special Edition (all 4/10), Rancid, Alien Invasion Arizona and The Rival (all 4/17), and Diary of a Cannibal, Get up and Groove with the Doodlebops and a 3-disc Jean Renoir Collector's Edition Box Set (all 4/24). The Jean Renoir Collector's Edition Box Set will include the films La Fille de l'eau (Whirlpool of Fate), Nana, Sur un air de Charleston (Charleston Parade), La Petite marchande d'allumettes (The Little Match Girl), La Marseillaise, Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier (The Doctor's Horrible Experiment) and Le Caporal Epingle (The Elusive Corporal), as well as the all-new Jean Renoir: An Auteur to Remember documentary (SRP $29.98).

Meanwhile, Universal has set Big Bad Wolf for release on 6/5, with Something to Cheer About following on 6/26 (SRP $24.98 each).

Anchor Bay Entertainment has announced that Don Coscarelli's Phantasm and Phantasm III: Unrated Edition will street on DVD on 4/10 (SRP $19.98 each). Each will be released under the new Anchor Bay Collection banner, featuring sparking new anamorphic widescreen transfers, remastered Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound, and all new extras. Phantasm will include audio commentary with writer/director Don Coscarelli and stars Michael Baldwin, Angus Scrimm and Bill Thornbury, 6 deleted scenes, 3 featurettes (Phantasmagoria: The Making of Phantasm, Phantasm: Behind the Scenes and Phantasm: Actors Having a Ball), vintage interviews, trailers and TV spots, interview outtakes, footage of Angus Scrimm's 1989 convention appearance and more. Phantasm III will include audio commentary with stars Michael Baldwin and Angus Scrimm, the Phantasm III: Behind the Scenes featurette, trailers and TV spots, and the screenplay via DVD-ROM.

Anchor Bay will also release Masters of Horror: Season Two - John Landis' Family on 4/17 (SRP $14.98).

Magnolia has set Brian W. Cook's Color Me Kubrick (staring John Malkovich as Stanley Kubrick "while he was on the set of his final film Eyes Wide Shut") for release on DVD on 3/17 (SRP $29.98). This film was all the rage at last year's Tribeca Film Festival and we can't wait to see it.

Warner has set the animated Superman Doomsday for release on 9/18. Yes, that's right - September. Produced by Bruce Timm, the film (based on D.C.'s infamous The Death of Superman comic book series) features the voice talents of Adam Baldwin (Superman), Anne Heche (Lois Lane) and James Marsters (Lex Luthor). The DVD will include over 70 minutes worth of extras, including 4 featurettes (The Clash of the Juggernauts, The Artists Playground... From Art to Sound Design in Superman Doomsday, Justice League: The New Frontier and Defeat Doomsday: Battle Challenge). Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Also newly announced for release on 5/22 by Warner (in honor of John Wayne's 100th birthday) is a new John Wayne Film Collection box set (SRP $49.92), which will include Allegheny Uprising, Reunion in France, Tycoon, Without Reservations, Trouble Along the Way and Big Jim McLain. This is in addition to Warner's already announced Rio Bravo: Special Edition, Rio Bravo: Ultimate Collector's Edition and The Cowboys: Deluxe Edition.

Paramount is joining in with Warner on the John Wayne celebration by releasing a True Grit: Special Collector's Edition, along with the 14-film John Wayne Century Collection box set (SRP $99.99). Included will be The High and the Mighty: Special Collector's Edition, the Island in the Sky: Special Collector's Edition, the True Grit: Special Collector's Edition, the Hondo: Special Collector's Edition and the McLintock!: Special Collector's Edition, along with The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Shootist, Big Jake, Donovan's Reef, In Harm's Way, Hatari!, Rio Lobo, The Sons of Katie Elder and El Dorado. Whew!

Sony has added single-disc editions of Rent and Memoirs of a Geisha to its 5/15 slate.

And Buena Vista has set Home Improvement: The Complete Sixth Season for release on 5/15 as well. The 3-disc set will include 25 episodes, an all-new blooper reel and more.

In other DVD news this morning, we're hearing reports that Thinkfilm's newly-released DVD of Terry Gilliam's Tideland offers the film in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio. The only problem is, Terry Gilliam did his preferred DVD transfer at about 2.25:1 according to his statement on the film ick website in the U.K.. Anyone remember when Lionsgate did this same thing with Lord of War? DVD plus ten years, you'd think companies would stop trying to cut corners like this. Anyway, we recommend that you don't buy Tideland until Thinkfilm does it right.

Now for the HD release news...

Disney has announced that Finding Neverland and Chicken Little will arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 3/20. Both will include uncompressed PCM audio (48/24). Finding Neverland extras will include 3 featurettes (The Magic of Finding Neverland, Creating Neverland and On the Red Carpet) and outtakes. Chicken Little will include new BD-Java interactive features (The Alien Invasion Game and in-movie Filmmaker Q&A that allows you to ask the filmmakers questions while watching the film), as well as all of the standard DVD features including audio commentary, deleted scenes, music videos and more.

Also, Universal has started fessing up to some of those forthcoming HD-DVD releases we told you about in The Rumor Mill the other day. Officially due on 5/29 are The Big Lebowski, Dragonheart, The Frighteners, Lost in Translation, Midnight Run and The River (SRP $29.98 each).

In addition to the DVD versions revealed above, Paramount has announced that the Coming to America: Special Collector's Edition and Trading Places: Special Collector's Edition will both be available on Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats on 6/5 as well. In other Paramount HD news, the Mission: Impossible 1 and 2 high-def discs (both formats - that had previously only been available in a 3-pack with Mission: Impossible 3) will be released as separate editions on 5/22. Also on 5/22, Paramount will release Flags of Our Fathers on both HD formats as 2-disc sets.

Finally today, Lionsgate has set an Ultimate Avengers Collection for release on Blu-ray Disc on 4/24, containing both Ultimate Avengers: The Movie and Ultimate Avengers 2.

Okay... that's MORE than enough news for one day. Stay tuned!

3/6/07

Greetings, Bits-ers!

Today's comments will be brief, so that we may being you new DVD reviews. From Glorious Site Leader Bill, here is look at Fox's Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan in stores today. From Also Glorious Todd Doogans, a thorough reviewing of Paramount's South Park: The Complete Seventh Season courtesy of his latest Doogan's Viewings. And from Additionally Glorious Adam Yankee, a new issue of Yankee's Steam Powered Moviefilm Room, featuring thoughts on Zodiac, Black Snake Moan and many more film entertainments. Do not be alarmed.

News reportings will return tomorrow. A good time will be had by all!

3/5/07

Afternoon, folks. First things first... go see David Fincher's Zodiac. Matt and I caught a screening on Saturday, and I'll tell you... it's the first great film I've seen so far in 2007. It's long to be sure and if you're expecting a thriller you'll be disappointed. But it's exceptionally well written and directed. If it hooks you early, it's riveting for the entire 158 minutes. Plus, there's lots of little Fincher-esque touches: At one point, the camera hovers directly over a maneuvering taxi cab, keeping it fixed in the same position as the streets of San Francisco move around it. Later in the film, Fincher shows the passage of time during the Zodiac investigation by digitally recreating time-lapse footage of the Coit Tower being constructed. [Editor's Note: Sorry, it's the TransAmerica building. My bad. Dammit Jim, I'm a writer not an architect!] All in all, it's a damn good film with fine performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr. and others. Don't miss it.

Now then... we're pleased today to bring you Adam Jahnke's latest edition of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, in which he offers his thoughts on the recent Oscar telecast, and reviews a number of recent films in theaters and on DVD. Don't miss it.

Also today, we're thrilled to offer you Todd Doogan's very first Doogan's Views column of 2007, featuring a review of Paramount's South Park: The Complete Eighth Season. Given that the show's eleventh season kicks off on Comedy Central on Wednesday, Todd will be looking at the show's past work on DVD all week.

And Matt Rowe's got a new column up over at MusicTAP today as well, so be sure to check that out as well.

In DVD release news today, Sony has confirmed that Catch & Release will street on 5/8, with Stomp the Yard following on 5/15.

Also today, Paramount has confirmed that Dreamgirls will arrive on DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 5/1. Single-disc (SRP $19.95) and 2-disc ($29.99) DVD editions will be available. The single-disc edition will include a never-before-seen Jennifer Hudson performance, 12 extended musical numbers and alternate scenes, and Beyonce's Listen music video. The 2-disc set will add behind-the-scenes footage, the Building the Dream featurette, screen test footage and more. No word yet on the HD format extras.

And in other DVD news, Home Media Retailing is reportsing that Geneon has taken over distribution of Bandai Visual anime titles. Click the link for more on this.

Finally today, the latest Nielsen VideoScan Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD numbers are in from Home Media Retailing. For the week ending 2/25, Blu-ray continued to hold its 2 to 1 software sales advantage over HD-DVD, making slight Year to Date and Format to Date gains. Here's the graphic from HMR...

VideoScan Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD

Back with more new release news tomorrow. Stay tuned...


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