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(Archived Posts 5/14/07 - 4/23/07)
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Okay... we've got a lot of ground to cover over the next few days,
folks. We've got reviews, news, Rumor
Mill stuff, an interview, new columns - lots of things to
post for you this week. So let's get right to it.
First, a quick movie comment: Matt and I attended a late screening
of 28 Weeks Later on Friday
night, and let me tell you... it's a pretty great little sequel to
the original film. It's gutsy, dark and every bit as intense as the
original 28 Days Later. If you
liked the first film, trust me, you definitely don't want to miss
this one. And the film leaves no doubt that a 28
Months Later is already on the way. 'Nuff said.
Now then... we've once again updated the
DVD Cover Art section with more new DVD, HD-DVD and
Blu-ray Disc cover art. There's lot of new stuff to see, so be sure
to check it out. And don't forget that purchasing titles through our
Amazon links helps support our work at The
Bits - as always, we appreciate it.
In release news today, Sony has confirmed that Reign
Over Me will street on 7/24.
Universal has moved the street date for Dead
Silence on DVD and HD-DVD to 6/26 (from 7/10).
And Warner has set The Still Life
for release on 8/7.
Rumor Mill today, we've got more upcoming street dates for
Universal HD-DVD titles through the end of September. Be sure to
check it out.
Also, we've got a bit of new cover art to show you today. Here's
Anchor Bay's Ghost in the Shell: Solid
State Society (both the standard and limited editions,
due on 7/3) and Fox's M*A*S*H: Goodbye,
Farewell and Amen (5/15)...
We'll be back tomorrow with more, including a review of Warner's
new The Ultimate Matrix Collection
in HD-DVD format, as well as reviews of Disney's Pirates
of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and Pirates
of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in Blu-ray Disc
As promised, we've got a new disc review for you today, and it's
kind of a special one for us. Why? Well... we're very pleased to
welcome the return of Greg Suarez
to The Bits staff, after a few
years' hiatus. Greg checks in today with his first high-definition
review... 20th Century Fox's
on Blu-ray Disc. And it's going to be just the first of many new DVD
and high-def reviews, as you'll start to see next week. There's lots
of good stuff coming, so be sure to watch for it.
Okay, now for some disc announcements: First up today, Magnolia
Home Entertainment has revealed that they plan to release director
Bong Joon-Ho's wonderfully creepy The
Host on DVD on 7/24. You can read Adam's review of the
film in this
installment of his Electric Theatre, and it's every
bit as good as he says. The DVD will be available in two versions -
a standard edition (SRP $26.98) featuring the film in anamorphic
widescreen video with audio commentary by the director, and a 2-disc
collector's edition ($29.98) that adds deleted scenes, storyboards,
casting video, a gag reel, 7 featurettes (The
Making of the Host, Designing
the Creature, Puppet
Animatronix, Memories of the
Sewer, The Film Departments,
Special Effects and Sound Effects
and Training the Actors) and
more. Better news still: the collector's edition will also be
available in both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats the same day (SRP
$34.98 each). The only thing we're a little concerned about is that
there are some indications that the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio is
English dubbed, rather than the original Korean with English
subtitles. That would suck, but we'll see if we can clarify this.
In other news today, Fox has announced the DVD release of The
Darwin Awards for 7/31. They've also set an Al
Pacino Collection for release on 6/19 (including Looking
for Richard, Chinese Coffee
and The Local Stigmatic, along
with the Babbelonia bonus
disc), and have announced a series of new western catalog titles as
well for release on 5/22, including Broken
Arrow (1950), Convict Stage
(1965), Fort Courageous and
Fury at Furnace Creek.
Meanwhile, MGM as revealed a new Steven
King DVD Collector's Edition box set for release on 7/3
(distributed by Fox) which will include Misery,
The Dark Half, Needful
Things and the Carrie
Warner has set Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!
for release on 9/4 (SRP $19.98). For the BBC, they've revealed that
Doctor Who: Ep. 75 - Robot and
Doctor Who: Ep.159 - Survival
will both street on 8/14.
Disney has set Dinosaurs: The Complete
Third & Fourth Seasons for release on 5/1 as a 4-disc
set (SRP $39.99). This final set in the series will include several
episodes never aired on network TV during the original broadcast
run. Also coming from Disney on 11/20 is the Pooh's
Super Sleuth Movie.
Lionsgate has announced their June release slate, which will
include The Dead Zone: The Complete Fifth
Season, Clifford's Schoolhouse,
Clifford Saves the Day, Happy
Birthday Clifford and Clifford:
Big Fun in the Sun (each in new Kid Case editions), Comedy
Club Greats: Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler and Dave Attell,
The 4 Musketeers and Chicago
Massacre: Richard Speck on 6/5, DishDogz,
Daddy's Little Girls, a Daddy's
Little Girls Blu-ray Disc and a Diary
of a Mad Black Woman: Special Edition on 6/12, The
Abandoned (an After Dark
Horrorfest: Films to Die For title), Harrison's
The Manhattan Project: Special Edition,
Honor Among Thieves, The
Nightcomers, The Tomb
and Fire Serpent on 6/19, and
de su Madre: Las Buenrostro, Mujeres
Compositores: Volume 2 and Haunted
Forest on 6/26.
For the record, The Manhattan Project:
Special Edition (SRP $19.98) will include anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, audio commentary with
director Marshall Brickman and actors John Lithgow and Robert Sean
Leonard, 2 featurettes (How to Dismantle
an Atomic Bomb: The Making of The Manhattan Project and
Home Made Apocalypse), a
subtitle trivia track and special foil "O-card" packaging.
And finally today, Paramount has set Soul
Food: The Series - The Second Season for release on 8/7.
Here's a look at the early cover art for Disney's Roving
Mars: IMAX (7/31) and The
Muppet Show: The Complete Second Season (8/7), as well as
final art for Lionsgate's The Manhattan
Project: Special Edition, both versions of Magnolia's
The Host and Criterion's La
Okay, here's hoping that 28 Weeks Later
is better than Spidey 3 was
last week. Don't forget Mother's Day on Sunday. Everybody have a
great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
(LATE UPDATE -
5/10/07 - 4:30 PM PDT)
Okay, we've just heard back from Universal on a couple of issues.
First, here's the official statement from Universal Studios Home
Entertainment president Craig Kornblau on that format neutrality
"Rumors circulating that Universal has
switched allegiances to support Blu-ray are totally false. We are
committed to a line-up of incredible HD DVD titles worldwide this
year and continue to be a vocal participant in the promotion of HD
DVD. The reality is that HD DVD continues to offer better value for
consumers with the lowest prices for hardware, the highest quality
content and superior interactive experiences."
So there you have it. Now, as to the playback issues with Children
of Men, The Good Shepherd
and select other Universal DVD/HD-DVD Combo titles recently, it
seems that the problem is related to the adhesive thickness on
select copies of these discs. Universal says that they've fixed the
problem and are already in the process of replicating new discs.
They'll offering a replacement program for anyone with a defective
copy. We'll update this post as soon as we have all the details on
how to arrange to have your discs replaced.
As we said a little while ago, Toshiba also appears to addressing
the issue in their next firmware updates, so between the two
approaches, the problem should soon be resolved. We appreciate both
Universal and Toshiba for responding to this issue on behalf of our
(LATE UPDATE -
5/10/07 - 3:15 PM PDT)
As long as we've been talking about Universal HD-DVD today, we
might as well give you a brief update on the potential resolution
for the problems people have been having with their DVD/HD-DVD Combo
discs of Children of Men and
The Good Shepherd. We've got a
Toshiba HD-XA2 here at The Bits
which is having problems playing back both titles. We're still
waiting to hear back from Universal, but we did speak with a
representative of Toshiba today, who indicated to us that the
solution will likely involve a firmware update that's expected to be
released soon. The HD-XA2, HD-A20, HD-A2, HD-A2W and HD-D2 are all
currently on version 1.5 of their firmware, while the HD-XA1, HD-A1
and HD-D1 are all up to version 2.2 at the moment. The new updates
that will address the Universal Combo disc problem will be available
online via the Ethernet connection, and you'll be able to order them
on CD as well. If you're having problems playing the discs on any of
these players, we suggest that you contact Toshiba Customer
Solutions at (800) 319-6684. We'll be sure to let you know here at
The Bits when the new firmware
updates are available.
(LATE UPDATE - 5/10/07 - 2:15 PM PDT)
We're checking back in this afternoon with a MAJOR update of
Rumor Mill, featuring anticipated street dates for a ton
of upcoming titles including new releases, catalog films and TV
titles from the likes of Paramount, CBS, MGM, Fox and more. There's
something in there for everyone, so you're definitely not going to
want to miss it. Think Zødiac,
The Outer Limits, The
Simpsons... even Shrek the
We're saving those disc reviews for tomorrow, when we hope to be
able to check in with a few all at once. Have a great afternoon and
we'll see you then.
(EARLY UPDATE -
5/10/07 - 12:15 PM PDT)
Well... it's certainly been an interesting 24 hours around here,
While we spent the morning and part of the afternoon yesterday up
in L.A. for a special feature story that we're working on for you,
broke online that Universal was considering going HD format
neutral, and that they'd being supporting both Blu-ray Disc as well
as HD-DVD with movie titles. That would mean that every major
Hollywood studio would finally be releasing Blu-ray Disc titles, and
it would effectively end the format war. We received dozens of
mostly thrilled (but also a few panicked) e-mails from enthusiasts
of both formats asking us if the rumor was true.
We've said before that The Digital Bits
would welcome a move like this by Universal. This format war just
isn't good for anyone, and Universal would instantly become the good
guy to both retailers and consumers alike by ending it. People
waiting for the war to end before jumping into high-def could
finally do so worry free with Blu-ray, and those who already enjoyed
HD-DVD could no doubt still enjoy new releases on that format as
well (it's unlikely that every HD-DVD supporting studio would stop
supporting the format entirely even if Universal went neutral).
Everybody wins. Such a move would also be smart for Universal
economically. They have to be watching the numbers like everyone
else, and the numbers don't lie. Blu-ray is already outselling
HD-DVD in software by at least a 2 to 1 margin, and there are
several cheaper name-brand, fully-featured BD player models on the
way. On top of that, when you consider that AACS has already been
compromised, the extra layer of protection afforded by Blu-ray's (soon
to be finalized) BD+ starts to look more attractive to the
studios (for better or worse). Most indicators seem to show that
Blu-ray has the momentum right now. And we know that Universal has,
rather prudently, investigated Blu-ray authoring and replication.
All of that said, however, the rumor sounded just a little too
convenient to be true. And strangely, it also sounded just a little
too "truthy" not to have at least a grain of substance to
We've made our own inquiries with Universal, but in the meantime
the folks at
have reported that they've heard directly from Universal
Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau that the rumors
are false. Interestingly, however (judging by their post on the
subject), even they don't seem to quite believe it. We'll certainly
keep our eye on this fascinating situation to see what comes of it.
When we hear back from Uni ourselves, we'll be sure to let you know.
By the way, while we're talking HD format support, we've spoken
once more with reps from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, who
say in no uncertain terms that their studio is NOT wavering in its
support of Blu-ray Disc, despite the continued delay of those
catalog BD titles (from both Fox and MGM) that were first announced
at CES in January. Some of our other industry sources have informed
us that work IS ongoing on additional, as-yet-unannounced catalog
titles for BD release from both studios, which seems to confirm
Fox's on-the-record statements to us. Given this, we do fully expect
all of these titles to be rescheduled and announced for release in
the weeks ahead. We would certainly expect Fox to have something
more substantial to say on the subject at the EMA Expo in July, if
not sooner. Rest assured, we will post the official details here as
soon as they're available.
Okay, we'll be back this afternoon with a big Rumor
Mill update... and maybe a review or two as well. Stay
It's a little later in the day than we expected, but we're still
pleased as punch to present you with our own Adam Jahnke's latest
Bottom Shelf. In this edition, Adam reviews 6 animated
titles on DVD, including Warner's
Scanner Darkly, 20th Century Fox's
Saints: The Animated Comic Epic, Starz/Anchor Bay's
Animated: Sword of Storms and
Lee Presents The Condor, Manga's
1 and BCI's
Ghostbusters: Volume One!. Enjoy!
There's one quick new announcement to report this evening:
Paramount has revealed that it will release The
Rainmaker: Special Collector's Edition on DVD on 7/24.
Additional details will follow when we have them. Meanwhile, here's
a look at the cover artwork...
As you can see, we've also posted the brand-spankin' new DVD cover
artwork for Warner's just-announced Hamlet
(1996) and the Shakespeare Collection
box set (both due on 8/14).
Back tomorrow with more (and earlier too)! Stay tuned...
As promised, we're pleased today to bring you
complete transcript of last night's Home Theater Forum
chat with Warner Home Video on the subject of TV and animation
DVD releases. There's some good news in there, and a little bad news
too (regarding poor sales of previous TV titles), but either way
it's worth a read. Do check it out. Thanks to Ron and everyone at
for all their hard work and for the transcript.
Also today, we've got a new column from our own Adam Jahnke, but
we're pitching a change-up: Today it's a new installment of his
Theatre, featuring reviews of Spider-Man
3, Hot Fuzz, Payback:
Straight Up and more. Then tomorrow, we'll be back with
his latest edition of The Bottom Shelf,
so be sure to watch for that. For the record, Jahnke didn't seem to
enjoy Spidey 3 much more than
Todd did. Matt and I are up next, later this week, so we'll let you
know what we think about the film then.
In announcement news, MGM has set a RoboCop:
20th Anniversary Collector's Edition for release on 8/21
(SRP $22.98) as a 2-disc set. Disc One will include the theatrical
cut of the film in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital &
DTS 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Paul Verhoeven, writer
Ed Neumeier and executive producer Jon Davison, 4 featurettes (Flesh
and Steel: The Making of RoboCop, Shooting
RoboCop, Making RoboCop
and The Boardroom: Storyboard with
Commentary by Animator Phil Tippet), 4 deleted scenes, a
6-subject photo gallery, the film's theatrical trailer and a TV
spot. Disc Two will add the extended cut of the film (also
anamorphic with 5.1 audio), 3 featurettes (Villains
of Old Detroit, Special
Effects: Then and Now and RoboCop:
Creating a Legend), a "Paul Verhoeven Easter egg"
and more trailers and TV spots.
We have a small update on Universal's Serenity:
Collector's Edition (due 8/21): Look for a 2-disc set
with 60 minutes of all-new bonus material, including
never-before-seen footage and collectible packaging.
In other Universal news, the studio has set The
Bourne Identity, In Good
Company, The Nutty Professor
II: The Klumps, Scent of a
Woman and Streets of Fire
for HD-DVD release on 7/24 (SRP $29.98 each).
The studio has also announced the standard DVD release of Peaceful
Warrior on 6/26, and a Meet
the Parents/Meet the Fockers: Circle of Trust Collection
(SRP $19.98) as well as a Carlito's Way:
Crime Saga Collection (SRP also $19.98, containing Carlito's
Way and Carlito's Way: Rise to
Power) both on 8/28.
Here's good news for you Muppets fans... Buena Vista has finally
announced the DVD release of The Muppet
Show: The Complete Second Season on 8/7 (SRP $39.99). The
4-disc set will contain all 24 digitally remastered episodes,
including the rarely seen 1974 The
Muppets Valentine Special, along with the Keep
Fishin' music video by Weezer and the Muppets and The
Muppets on the Muppets interview featurette.
Also newly announced by Buena Vista for DVD and Blu-ray Disc
release on 7/31 is Roving Mars: IMAX,
which follows the 2003 NASA mission to land twin rovers (Spirit and
Opportunity) on Mars. Both versions will include the vintage 1957
featurette Mars and Beyond,
hosted by Walt Disney, as well as the new Mars:
Past, Present and Future, which features interviews with
the filmmakers and the NASA/JPL team behind the missions. The DVD
will SRP for $29.99, while the Blu-ray will SRP for $37.99.
Here's a little bit of cover art: Fox's Picket
Fences: Season One (6/19), MGM's RoboCop:
20th Anniversary Collector's Edition and Disney's Bridge
to Terabithia (6/19)...
Hey everybody! Hope you had a fine weekend. Anyone out there see
Spider-Man 3? We've got family
in town right now, so I haven't had the chance yet. But then Todd
calls on Saturday to say don't even bother. He and some friends
apparently went to a screening in Atlanta on Friday night, and ended
up asking for their money back. Yikes. I think the best rule of
thumb for superhero movies is not to let the number of villains
match the sequel number. The Batman
films fell into that trap, and the result was lots of underdeveloped
and underused bad guys. Ah well. Here's hoping the rest of the
summer films are better. By the way, we hear the first trailer for
New Line's The Golden Compass
(due in theaters on 12/7) is going to be attached to prints of
Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: At
World's End on 5/25.
Now then... we've got a bit of housekeeping for you: Based on some
of the feedback sent in by our readers, we've once again updated our
DVD Cover Artwork section, and this time we've refined it
with a few new features. You can still see ALL
of the titles streeting on a given day, and sort them by
bestselling or alphabetically, but now we've also added the ability
to see just the Top 40 titles (all
formats) as well as just the High-Def titles
(both formats). These can again be shown by bestselling or
alphabetically, so all you guys who obsess that the Blu-ray version
of a film is selling better than the HD-DVD (or vise versa) can now
keep an eye on that here with our cover art. And once you make your
sorting choice (say the high-def), you can click from date to date
and the choice will stay for your convenience. I think you guys will
appreciate the new options. As always, our own
Hammond deserves much thanks for all his hard work on this.
Hope you like the new features!
In other news today, our friends over at
Home Theater Forum are going to be hosting another live
chat with the folks at Warner Home Video TONIGHT, on the subject of
TV and animation on DVD. The chat will be held from 5 to 8 PM
(Pacific). You can click on
link to sign up and participate (be sure to bring lots of
questions) and as usual, we'll have a full transcript of the chat
available here at The Bits
In industry news today, there's a bit more shuffling over at
Universal. Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig
Kornblau has just been placed in charge of the company's worldwide
digital efforts in addition to his current role as video chief.
here for more at Video Business.
Also, Wal-Mart is reportedly working with HP on its own
video-on-demand style movie download service. Seems like EVERYONE'S
trying to get in on that game. You'll find more on that via
link at Home Media.
There's only a couple of new title announcements to report this
morning so far, but the big one is that Warner has just finally
confirmed the release of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet:
2-Disc Special Edition on 8/14 (SRP $26.99). The set will
contain the remastered film in anamorphic widescreen video
(transferred from the original 70mm elements) with Dolby Digital 5.1
audio, a new introduction to the film by director/star Kenneth
Branagh, audio commentary by Branagh and Shakespeare scholar Russell
Jackson, the To Be on Camera: A History
with Hamlet featurette, the 1996 Cannes Film Festival
promo and a Shakespeare movies trailer gallery. We expect high-def
versions on both formats to be announced in the weeks ahead as well.
You'll also find the Hamlet: 2-Disc
Special Edition packaged as part of Warner's The
Shakespeare Collection box set (due 8/14 - SRP $59.92),
which will also feature Max Reinhardt's A
Midsummer Night's Dream (1935), Sir Laurence Olivier's
Othello and the MGM version of
Romeo and Juliet starring
Leslie Howard and Norma Shearer (also available individually for SRP
Warner has also set Gold Digger Killer
for release on 7/24 (SRP $19.97), with the classic animated Super
Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show following on 8/7
(SRP $26.99) as a 2-disc set.
Meanwhile, HBO has set Longford
for release on 6/19 (SRP $26.98), including audio commentary with
director Tom Hooper and writer Peter Morgan, as well as the For
the Record: Firsthand Accounts of the Moors Murders
You'll find a small pamphlet inside Paramount and DreamWorks' new
Dreamgirls Blu-ray and HD-DVD
releases promoting the future high-def release (both formats) of
David Fincher's Zødiac
and the catalog classic Saturday Night
Fever. No dates are yet available, but watch for them to
be announced soon.
Finally, Sony is releasing Aaron Spelling's 70s cop drama The
Rookies: The Complete First Season on 7/17 ($49.95),
featuring all 23 episodes of the show's debut year on 5-discs.
Here's a little more new cover art - the titles for all of the
individual Sergio Leone SEs due from MGM (via Fox) on 6/5, including
the box set art itself (which we've posted previously - note that
the art for The Good, the Bad and the
Ugly: Collector's Edition is the same as the previous
release), as well as Leone's The Colossus
of Rhodes from Warner (6/26). Then all you have to do is
pick up a copy of Leone's
Upon a Time in the West: Special Collector's Edition from
Upon a Time in America: Special Edition from Warner and
you're all set.
Back tomorrow with a new edition of The
Bottom Shelf from Adam Jahnke, as well as that HTF
chat transcript and lots more news. Stay tuned!
We've got a bit more DVD news to report today, but first another
bit of sad news: Bits reader
Robert C. was kind enough to point out that actor
Scott passed away on 4/30. Scott starred as the title
character in several classic Tarzan films, including Tarzan's
Greatest Adventure. He later appeared in a number of
Italian genre films. He'll be missed.
Now then... the big DVD news today is that Universal has finally
announced that Serenity: Collector's
Edition we revealed in
Rumor Mill a couple months back for release on 8/21 (SRP
$26.98). The 2-disc set will include a number of new special
features (still TBA) and will offer both Dolby Digital & DTS 5.1
Meanwhile, 20th Century Fox has set Picket
Fences: Season One for release on 6/19. The 6-disc set
(SRP $59.98) will contain all 22 episodes in the original full frame
video (with 2.0 stereo audio) including the series pilot, plus the
All Roads Lead to Rome
Fox and MGM are also re-releasing a number of catalog sci-fi and
action DVDs on 6/5 with new lenticular covers (SRP $14.98 each),
including Alien, Aliens,
Alien vs. Predator, The
Abyss: Director's Cut, I,
RoboCop and Independence
Day. Also coming from the studios are 2-disc SE
re-releases in new "SteelBook" metal covers (SRP $22.98
each), including Cast Away,
The Day After Tomorrow, Die
Hard, Fight Club,
on Fire, Platoon,
The Omen and X2:
In other release news today, Paramount has set The
Wood: Back in the Day Edition for release on 6/19 and
The Executioner's Song for
8/14. Paramount will also release (for CBS) Perry
Mason: The Second Season - Volume One on 6/19 and a Star
Trek: Fan Collectives 5-pack (including all previous Fan
Collective sets plus the new Captain's
Log set) on 7/24, as well as Dexter:
The Complete First Season (for Showtime) on 8/21.
Also, Warner and the Cartoon Network have announced the DVD release
of the Cartoon Network Movie: Re-animated
on 8/21 (SRP $14.97), as well as Samurai
Jack: Season 4 on 8/28 (SRP $29.98).
Around the site today, we've updated a lot of the DVD & HD
format stats we track (above),
including the high-def software sales stuff.
Finally today, here's something amusing:
that the Chinese will bootleg ANYTHING... even theme parks.
What, it isn't enough to just pirate movies and handbags anymore?
Amazing. The BALLS, man. It boggles the mind. [Editor's
note: The link's been spotty all day, but keep checking back - it's
Okay, that's all she wrote. Go forth and enjoy Spidey
3 to kick off the summer movie season. Have a great
Afternoon everyone. We've got some sad news today I'm afraid. There
are reports, though strangely few in the mainstream media yet, that
Poston has passed away. Poston was probably most famous for
his role as George Utley, Bob Newhart's handyman on Newhart,
but his TV and film career goes all the way back to regular
appearances on The Steve Allen Show
and even a role on the Tom Corbett, Space
Cadet TV series back in the 50s (click
here for his lengthy list of IMDB credits). Tom was 85.
Also today, I'm also sad to report that retired NASA astronaut
Schirra has died at the age of 84. Schirra was one of the
first seven astronauts selected for the pioneering Mercury program
back in the early 1960s, and he later commanded the Gemini 6 flight
and the first manned Apollo mission (Apollo 7). Some older readers
may also remember him for teaming up with CBS anchorman Walter
Cronkite to cover the subsequent Apollo moon landings on TV.
Now then... in DVD and high-def news today, there's a major
brouhaha shaping up over at Digg.com. Hackers apparently posted
stories in which they revealed the 16-digit HD-DVD AACS Processing
Key, that unlocks all current HD-DVD software titles to potential
copying. The story was "dug" online, as these things are,
at which point Digg.com received a cease and desist order from the
AACS Licensing Administrator (AACS stands for Advanced Access
Content System, one of the anti-piracy systems used in both HD-DVD
and Blu-ray), claiming that the posts were a direct violation of the
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So the staff at Digg
complied, pulling the stories or removing references to the key
itself. Thousands of Digg's readers revolted, demanding that the
references be restored and asking Digg to make a stand legally. And
so that's what Digg has apparently decided to do. Something tells me
this is going to backfire bigtime on the AACS and Hollywood folks.
Something also tells me that their lawyers are not going to give up
even so. You can read more
at Gizmodo and
at CBS News.
In announcement news today, Buena Vista has set The
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: Friendship Edition
for release on 6/19 (SRP $29.99). This is, as you know, the
character's first ever feature film, featuring the classic stories
The Honey Tree, The
Blustery Day and Winnie the
Pooh and Tigger Too. Extras will include a bonus episode
of My Friends Tigger and Pooh,
The Story Behind the Masterpiece
featurette, the A Day for Eeyore
short, the 100 Acre Woods Challenge
interactive game, The Wonderful Thing
About Tiggers sing-a-long, the film's theme song
performed by Carly Simon, an art gallery and the Pooh's
Shadow Disney's Story Time feature.
Also today, we have details on MGM's Red
Dawn: Collector's Edition due on 7/15 (SRP $19.98). The
2-disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with
Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. There will also be an optional "carnage
counter" you can activate as you watch the film. Disc Two will
add 4 featurettes (Red Dawn Rising,
Building the Red Menace, Military
Training and WWII Comes to
And Warner has announced the DVD, DVD/HD-DVD Combo and Blu-ray Disc
release of We Are Marshall on
9/18 (SRP $28.98 for the DVD, $39.99 for the HD-DVD and $34.99 for
the Blu-ray). Extras are TBA.
Warner has also announced the DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc release
of IMAX Blue Planet on 7/31.
It's about time someone started releasing more IMAX titles in
high-def. The cool thing is, not only does the disc include Blue
Planet, you also get the IMAX space film The
Dream Is Alive. Now that's right up my alley. Both
high-def versions (SRP $28.99 each) will include Dolby TrueHD audio
(a.k.a. Dolby Surround 5.1 MLP).
Other new announcements by Warner today include the Myrna
Loy and William Powell Collection (SRP $49.92 - including
Double Wedding, Evelyn
Prentice, I Love You Again,
Love Crazy and Manhattan
Melodrama), The Thin Man Goes
Home, Song of the Thin Man,
After The Thin Man, Another
Thin Man and Shadow of the
Thin Man all on 8/7, All
Creatures Great & Small: The Specials (which we
mentioned yesterday), All Creatures Great
& Small: The Complete Series 7 Collection and All
Creatures Great & Small: The Complete Collection on
8/14 (for the BBC), and Legion of the
Superheroes: Volume 1 on 8/28. Warner will also release
ThinkFilm's Traci Townsend on
Here's the cover art for MGM's Red Dawn:
Collector's Edition, CBS's Hawaii
Five-0: The Second Season (7/31) and Warner's We
Are Marshall on Blu-ray Disc...
Finally this morning, our friends over at
Script to DVD have posted a list of all the places you can
go see Spider-Man 3 in IMAX
format this weekend. You can't miss that!
Hey guys! Anyone interested in joining us for a few days in Vegas?
To help celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the DVD format, The
Digital Bits is proud to join The
Home Theater Forum in sponsoring a group trip to The
EMA Home Media Expo in Las Vegas, July 17-19th 2007! You
may recall the Expo under it's previous name, the Video Software
Dealers Association (VSDA) convention. Representatives from every
major Hollywood studio will be in town, and many of them will be
holding private VIP events open only to Bits
readers and HTF members, at
which they'll preview many of their new and upcoming DVD, HD-DVD and
Blu-ray Disc titles. At least a few hardware reps will on hand as
well to show off their latest players. You can attend the show, join
us for all the private events, meet, dine and hang out with fellow
DVD and home theater enthusiasts and then hit the Strip for
all-night debauchery. EMA is offering a special hotel rate to
readers of The Bits and HTF
members ($119 a night at The Venetian - less than half the usual
$300 a night rate), but we only have some 30 slots left open in our
group, so you need to act now if you'd like to join in all the fun.
You can visit
official event page for more information, or contact
Epstein and me to sign up (be sure to use the words 'HTF/BITS
EMA REQUEST' in the header). We hope to see you there!
One other thing I wanted to mention today: The feedback has been
fantastic on our new
DVD Cover Art section. People really seem to appreciate
the flexibility it offers. And again, keep in mind that ordering
titles from our Amazon links helps support our work here at The
Bits. Again, we appreciate it very much. Every little bit
helps. Please take a moment to check the new section out and
us know what you think!
In news today, Paramount has announced Black
Snake Moan for release on 6/26 as expected. Look for DVD,
HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc versions to street on the same day. Each
will include audio commentary with writer/director Craig Brewer,
deleted scenes and 3 featurettes (Conflicted:
The Making of Black Snake Moan, Rooted
in the Blues and The Black
Paramount has also announced the DVD release of The
Fugitive: The First Season, Volume One for release on
8/14. They also have J.A.G.: The Fourth
Season due on 8/21.
And Warner and the BBC have set All
Creatures Great & Small: The Specials for release on
8/14 as well. This will include both the 1983 and 1985 specials.
Here's a look at the cover art for Paramount's Black
Snake Moan and The Fugitive:
The First Season, Volume One, along with Warner's Aqua
Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters (8/14).
Below that, you'll also find a look at the packaging for Fox's Land
of the Giants: The Complete Series - Limited Edition
(LATE UPDATE - 5/1/07
- 2:45 PM PDT)
We've got a couple more cool DVD release announcements to report
HBO has set Todd McFarlane's Spawn: The
Animated Collection - The 10th Anniversary Edition for
release on 7/24 (SRP $39.98). The 4-disc set will contain all the
episodes along with a host of great bonus features (details TBA)
including commentaries, featurettes and more.
HBO will also deliver Rome: The Complete
Second Season on 8/24 (SRP $99.98). This will be a 5-disc
set containing all the episodes with additional features as well
(including commentaries and featurettes - we'll post details when
Also this afternoon, Fox has just announced The
Practice: Volume One for release on 6/12. The 4-disc set
will contain all 13 first-season episodes of the series along with
the Setting Up The Practice
featurette, which includes new interviews with creator David E.
Kelley and execuitive producer Robert Breech.
Here's the cover art for all three releases...
(EARLY UPDATE -
5/1/07 - 11:30 AM PDT)
Wow, is it May 1st already? Can you believe it? 2007 is certainly
Now then... it seems like every single day we get new e-mails about
our Upcoming DVD Cover Art
section. It's one of the most popular sections of the site, as it
provides an at-a-glance look at DVD titles being released on any
given day, and it's a convenient place for our readers to make
pre-orders. But it's been difficult to keep the section updated and
to include as many titles as we'd like... until now. Starting this
afternoon, we're relaunching
brand new Upcoming DVD Cover Art section in a very BIG
way. Now, not only will you be able to find and pre-order the latest
DVD, HD-DVD and Blu-ray titles via our Amazon links as usual, EVERY
single title streeting on a given day will be listed, along with its
cover art if available! What's more, you can sort these titles
alphabetically (so that titles available on multiple formats appear
together) or by sales (showing the best selling titles first). Best
of all, with this new layout, our own Russell Hammond expects to be
able to continuously update the section each week much more easily,
so as to keep the list fresh and immediate. One thing we should note
in advance: Since every title available on a given day appears, that
may include the occasional unrated horror or semi-adult title. So
just be aware that, from time to time, you might see a bit of cover
art that disagrees with your sensibilities - something that we
wouldn't post on the front page here. That one issue aside, we think
you'll find the new section VASTLY more useful. As always, whenever
you pre-order your favorite titles through our Amazon links, you're
helping to support our work here at The
Bits in a very real way, so we greatly appreciate it.
Enjoy all the art, and be sure to
us know what you think!
In other news today, Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. has shuffled
CEO Ken Kutaragi to other duties after suffering a slow start for
its PlayStation 3 game console. During his tenure, Kutaragi was
responsible for all versions of the PlayStation, including the
successful PlayStation 2, which some say is undercutting the more
advanced (and expensive) iteration. No doubt price cuts are in the
offing to spur sales. You can read more
at Home Media.
Speaking of Sony, the studio has announced the DVD release of Bewitched:
The Complete Fifth Season, The
Contractor and The Last Time
Universal has announced a large slate of double and triple feature
catalog releases for 8/14. The double features (SRP $14.98) will
include Bean/Johnny English,
The Bone Collector/Sea of Love,
End of Days/Virus, The
Family Man/EDtv, Far and
Away/The River, Halloween
II/Halloween III: Season of the Witch, How
to Be a Player/Trippin', Mask/Lorenzo's
Oil, Mr. Baseball/Ed
and Tales from the Crypt: Bordello of
Blood/Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight. The triple
features (SRP $19.98 each) will include Blue
Crush/Honey/Josie and the Pussycats, Peter
Pan/Thunderbirds/The Borrowers, Prince
of Darkness/They Live/Village of the Damned, Psycho
II/Psycho III/Psycho IV: The Beginning, The
Sentinel/The Legacy/Ghost Story and Trespass/Judgment
Night/New Jersey Drive.
Also announced by Universal are more catalog HD-DVDs for July,
including Billy Madison, Dante's
Peak, The War and
The Wedding Date. Look for
those on 7/10 (SRP $29.98 each).
And Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of the sci-fi
noir/thriller Renaissance on
7/24 (SRP $29.99). The digitally-animated won Best Picture at the
Annecy International Film Festival film features the voices of
Daniel Craig, Ian Holm, Catherine McCormack and Jonathan Pryce. The
DVD will include The Making of
Renaissance. Sounds interesting - we're looking forward
to checking it out.
Okay, we've got a few interesting things for you this afternoon, so
let's get to it...
First of all, we have a quick update for you on the Universal
HD-DVD disc/player problem we mentioned last week. The studio has
sent us this official statement today:
"Universal is currently investigating
reports that Children of Men, The Good Shepherd, and
select other discs not playing properly in some HD DVD players.
While we believe this is limited to a small number of HD DVD discs,
Universal is offering a replacement service for any customers who
are experiencing this problem. We are still investigating the cause
and will provide further updates as we get them. Any customer
problems should be directed to
In terms of standard DVD announcement news today, New Line has set
The Last Mimzy for release on
7/10 (SRP $28.98) as an Infinifilm Edition title. Separate full
frame and anamorphic widescreen versions will be available, each
with Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and 2.0 Surround audio. Extras will
include audio commentary from director Bob Shaye, Roger Waters' Hello
(I Love You) music video, deleted scenes with
introduction and commentary by Shaye, 5 All-Access Pass featurettes
(including Adapting the Story,
Bob Shaye: Director Profile,
Casting the Kids, Real
is Good: The Visual Effects and Editing
and Music), a production design and concert art gallery
with optional commentary by Shaye and production designer Barry
Chusid, 6 Beyond-the-Movie featurettes (including The
Mandala: An Imaginary Palace, The
Looking Glass: Emma and Alice, Sound
Waves: Listening to the Universe, DNA:
The Human Blueprint, Nanotechnology:
The Human Revolution and Wormholes:
Fantasy or Science), an interactive game and the film's
In other DVD release news, Warner has set Aqua
Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theatres for
release on 8/17 (SRP $29.98). The disc is expected to include
alternate endings (including the Fake.com ending), deleted scenes,
the Round Table Discussion
featurette on the making of the movie, a music video, additional
behind-the-scenes featurettes, a photo gallery and the film's
Additional new announcements from Warner include National
Geographic's Deadly Dozen: Africa and India, Full
House: The Complete Seventh Season and a Full
House: The Complete Seasons 1-7 box set on 8/7, along
with NFL Chicago Bears: NFC Champions,
NFL History of the Kansas City Chiefs
and NFL History of the New York Jets.
National Geographic's Gabon: The Last
Eden is set to follow on 8/21.
On the high-def front today, it appears that Sony has confirmed
that both Spider-Man and Spider-Man
2 will be released on Blu-ray Disc format before the end
of the year (street date TBA), and it seems likely that Spider-Man
3 (which hits theaters this coming weekend) will be as
well. Sony has made available a Best Buy-exclusive Spider-Man
3 Blu-ray bonus disc (free with the purchase of any other
Blu-ray title) that includes the film's teaser trailer, both
theatrical trailers and a 3-minute sneak peek featurette for the
film, as well as a trailer teasing the first two films "Coming
Soon Only to Blu-ray" and the standard Blu-ray promotional
trailer. All are in 1080p video with Uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio.
Likely all three discs will street day and date with the DVD release
of Spider-Man 3 in the 3rd or
4th quarter of this year. In any case, here's a look at the cover
art for the bonus disc. Thanks to Bits
reader Steve for the heads-up.
As you can see, we've also included DVD art for New Line's The
Last Mimzy and Universal's Breach
DVD/HD-DVD Combo format (6/12).
Finally today... we've kicked off THREE new
here at The Bits, giving each
of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's
Season 1, a vinyl black-suited
3 doll from Sideshow Collectibles, and
grab bag giveaway as well. The contests will run until Noon
(Pacific) on Sunday May 6th. Click on the links to get started and
(LATE UPDATE - 4/27/07
- 4:15 PM PDT)
Okay... here's some more DVD release news for you: Fox has set Land
of the Giants: The Complete Series - Limited Edition for
release on 7/24 as a 9-disc box set. Extras will include interviews
with the cast and crew, galleries of episode, publicity, actor and
merchandise photos, the MAD Magazine
parody and more. Fox has also set a 3-disc special edition of M*A*S*H:
Goodbye, Farewell and Amen (the series finale) for
release on 5/15. Extras will include a blooper reel, the My
Favorite M*A*S*H featurette, the A&E Biography
special M*A*S*H: Television's Serious
Sitcom documentary and more. Also newly announced by Fox
for release on 6/5 are a Fantastic Four:
Extended Edition, The Neptune
Factor, a Fantastic Voyage:
Special Edition and a Voyage
to the Bottom of the Sea: Global Warming Edition.
The Fantastic Four: Extended Edition
is a 2-disc set (SRP $26.98) that will include both the original
theatrical edition (105 mins) and a new extended edition (126 mins)
on the same disc via seamless branching. Extras will include a cast
commentary, a director's commentary, 19 deleted/extended scenes, 2
alternate main title sequences, trailers, TV spots, a trailer for
Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,
the Silver Surfer featurette,
the Heroes Are Born: The Making of
Fantastic Four documentary, 5 more featurettes (The
Baxter Building: Declassified, The
World's Greatest Comic Magazine, Jack
Kirby: Storyteller, Visiting
the Stately Ross Museum and From
Comic Book to Film), multi-angle animatic-to-scene
studies for 6 scenes and extensive still and artwork galleries.
The Fantastic Voyage: Special Edition
(SRP $19.98) will include audio commentary by film/music historian
Jeff Bond, the film's isolated score, commentary on the score by
Bond, Jon Burlingame and Nick Redham, the Lava
Lamps & Celluloid: A Tribute to the Visual Effects of Fantastic
Voyage featurette, a storyboard comparison for the
whirlpool scene, a deleted scene, additional storyboards, video of
original props, the film's theatrical trailer and TV spots.
The Neptune Factor (SRP
$19.98) will include the theatrically released isolated score &
FX track by Lalo Schifrin, a never-before-released isolated score by
William McCauley, a TV featurette, the film's theatrical trailer and
TV spots, and a gallery featuring the international press book, ads
and production photos.
And Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea:
Global Warming Edition (SRP $19.98) will include an
isolated score, audio commentary with author Tim Colliver, the Science
Fiction: Fantasy to Reality documentary, an interview
with Barbara Eden, video of original props, the film's theatrical
trailer and extensive stills galleries.
Here's a look at the cover art for Fox's Fantastic
Four: Extended Edition, Voyage
to the Bottom of the Sea: Global Warming Edition, Fantastic
Voyage: Special Edition and Reno
911!: Miami - The Movie - Unrated (6/19), along with
Warner's Babylon 5: The Lost Tales
(7/31) and Sony's The Patriot
(Blu-ray Disc - 7/3)...
Also today, Trinity Home Entertainment has announced the DVD
release of Kill House on 5/29
In high-definition news, some of you may recall how a few days ago,
much ado was made of a supposed leak on AVS
Forum that Wal-Mart, TDK and the Chinese manufacturer Fuh
Yuan were working to bring 2 million $199 HD-DVD players to Wal-Mart
stores later this year. The news, despite being unofficial and
unconfirmed by any of the parties involved, spread widely and led to
editorials around the Net on how Wal-Mart has decided the format war
here for a typical example). Unfortunately, a spokesperson for
Wal-Mart had this to say
PC Magazine yesterday: "The
article... was full of inaccuracies and we had no participation in
it. Most of the facts, including the purchase, were untrue. Not sure
how it originated." Fuh Yuan has also issued
statement on their website: "We
are sorry to correct the statement that we have two million HD-DVD
players order from Wal-Mart and manufactured by China Great Wall
Group. The actuality is that we had not received yet. We are asked
to provide the schedule to Wal-Mart and cost to determine the
quantity even more than two million, if the cost is good enough and
timing is correct. So the capacity is under consideration. Any
qualified manufactured base group will be welcome."
It's no surprise that Wal-Mart is investigating making available in
their stores the cheapest players possible, whether they be HD-DVD
or Blu-ray. Driving prices in their stories down as low as possible
is what they do. But here's the problem with cheap Chinese HD-DVD
players that a lot of people are glossing over. The kind of people
who might buy a $199 HD-DVD player at Wal-Mart are not the kind of
people who are likely to want to have to deal with software
glitches, firmware updates and disc/player incompatibility problems.
Right now, Toshiba and Universal can't yet tell me why the HD-DVDs
of The Good Shepherd and Children
of Men aren't working in Toshiba's top of the line
player. If Toshiba is having issues with their BEST player, does
anyone really think a $199 Fuh Yuan player won't have even MORE
problems? Who's going to do tech support for Fuh Yuan? Wal-Mart? One
would also expect the kind of people who want a $199 high-def player
are also going to be the kind of folks who might also want Disney
movies for their kids. That's not going to happen on HD-DVD. Not to
mention, with cheap Chinese players available at $199, what other
major hardware manufacturer is going to want to try to compete with
that? There's no profit margin. LG and Samsung are making combo
HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc players available because they rightly perceive
that there's a market for such players with high-end enthusiasts.
But those players are going to cost in excess of $1000. There's no
incentive at all for companies like LG or Samsung to try and compete
with the likes of Fuh Yuan on budget players at Wal-Mart. Meanwhile,
the prospect of $199 HD-DVD players will force Sony, Pioneer,
Samsung, Panasonic and the other major Blu-ray Disc player
manufacturers to lower their prices faster (which, as
Media editor T.K. Arnold pointed out in a recent editorial,
may be an unexpected advantage of the HD format war). By the end of
the year, a number of name-brand Blu-ray players will be available
for $399 or less, with even cheaper models likely to follow in 2008.
Cheaper players that WILL play those Disney high-def movies.
And while we're talking high-def movies, let's take a look at the
biggest titles people are likely going to want to buy in high-def in
the next 12 months or so, and which format(s) they'll MOST LIKELY be
released on: Transformers
(Paramount/DreamWorks = likely both formats), Shrek
the Third (Paramount/DreamWorks = likely both), The
Bourne Ultimatum (Universal = HD-DVD), The
Kingdom (Universal = HD-DVD), 300
(Warner = both formats), Spider-Man 3
(Sony = Blu-ray), Pirates of the
Caribbean: At World's End (Disney = Blu-ray), Next
(Paramount = both), Blades of Glory
(Paramount = both), Fantastic Four: Rise
of the Silver Surfer (Fox = Blu-ray), The
Simpsons Movie (Fox = Blu-ray), 28
Weeks Later (Fox = Blu-ray), Meet
the Robinsons (Disney = Blu-ray), Hostel:
Part II (Lionsgate = Blu-ray), Ratatouille
(Disney = Blu-ray), Live Free or Die Hard
(Fox = Blu-ray), Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix (Warner = both), Rush
Hour 3 (New Line = possibly both or neither), Evan
Almighty (Universal = HD-DVD), The
Invasion (Warner = both), Resident
Evil: Extinction (Sony = Blu-ray), Saw
IV (Lionsgate = Blu-ray), His
Dark Materials: The Golden Compass (New Line = possibly
both or neither), Blade Runner: Special
Edition (Warner = both), I Am
Legend (Warner = both), Alvin
and the Chipmunks (Fox = Blu-ray), National
Treasure: Book of Secrets (Disney = Blu-ray), Alien
vs. Predator 2 (Fox = Blu-ray). This obviously doesn't
include a lot of catalog releases, but the major new release picture
isn't exactly favorable for HD-DVD. And all of this comes on the
heels of Blu-ray having just dominated 70% of high-def software
sales in the 1st quarter of 2007 (click
here). Of course, one should keep in mind that the overall
sales numbers for both formats are still but a tiny blip in the
overall home video market.
Whichever format you happen to prefer, these are all reality check
issues you ought to consider when you're thinking about this HD war,
how it might play out through the rest of 2007 into 2008, and which
format you might want to bet on (or not) if you're thinking of
jumping into the fray at this point. 'Nuff said.
By the way, speaking of Universal, the studio has informed us this
afternoon that they ARE hard at work investigating the problems some
people have been having playing the DVD/HD-DVD Combo format editions
of The Good Shepherd and Children
of Men. They expect to have something to report on this
next week and they've promised to get back to us on this issue, so
we'll post the all details as soon as they come in. We certainly
know that some technical glitches are inevitable with both HD-DVD
and Blu-ray as new formats, but we (and our readers) appreciate the
effort to solve these problems quickly to avoid confusion and
Now then... we'll have new columns and disc reviews from many of
our regular staffers for you next week, and of course all the latest
DVD and high-def news. So, as always, have a great weekend and we'll
see you Monday!
(EARLY UPDATE -
4/27/07 - 2:15 PM PDT)
"Hey, where's your Thursday post? What's up with you guys
disappearing on Thursdays anyway?" That's how a few of the
e-mails we've gotten since yesterday go. So here's the deal: The
reality is, Thursday has become a good day for us to head on up to
La La Land for studio visits, meetings, news follow-up and "behind-the-scenes"
reconnoitering for future special features here at The
Bits. Normally, we try to get a quick post up the night
before, but sometimes the need to catch a few hours of sleep wins
out. Needless to say, we were doing something DVD-related yesterday
and you guys will get the benefit of it in the not too distant
future. 'Nuff for now.
Okay... we've got a bunch of news updates for you today, so we're
going to be making at least two posts. Let's get started catching up
First, Universal has sent over the specs on their new Flash
Gordon DVD. We posted some of the details on Wednesday.
The good news is that the film is presented in remastered anamorphic
widescreen quality. The bad news is that the special features are...
far less than special. Included on the disc will be 2 featurettes (Alex
Ross, Renowned Comic Artist, on Flash Gordon and Writing
a Classic: Screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr.) as well as
Chapter One of the 1936 Flash
Gordon serial with Buster Crabbe. And that's it. No
commentary, no art galleries, no deleted scenes... none of the
material that's on the current and previous U.K. and French DVD
releases. As The Dude might say, "That's a bummer, man!"
At least we'll finally have the film on DVD here in R1 in anamorphic
widescreen, but that will be cold comfort to U.S. fans of the film.
Told you the DVD wasn't going to match up to that cover art.
Here's some better news at least: Anchor Bay has sent over the
first details on Bandai's forthcoming DVD release of Ghost
in the Shell: S.A.C. - Solid State Society. The film will
be released on DVD on 7/3 in two versions. There will be a Standard
Edition (SRP $19.98) that includes the film in anamorphic
widescreen video with both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio (English
and Japanese with English subtitles), as well as the Uchikoma
Days featurette, interviews with the English production
team, a storyboard gallery and the trailer. There will also be a
3-disc Limited Edition
(packaged in a "steel book" case) that includes everything
on the standard edition along with 3 more featurettes (World
Work File, Anime+Car Design:
Designing the Future Car and Making
of Tachikoma Robot), an interview with Mitsuhisa Ishikawa
(of Production I.G) and the film's soundtrack on CD. We'll post
cover art as soon as it's available.
In other news, Warner has revealed that they're going to release a
Get Smarter: Bruce and Lloyd Out of
Control direct-to-DVD film on 7/1/08, just days after the
theatrical release of the new Get Smart
film staring Steve Carell. We presume this means that HBO will
finally release the original Get Smart
TV series (now only available on DVD direct from Time Life) later
this year or next spring, leading up to the debut of the new film.
You can read more
at Video Business.
Something we should probably address today, given the dozens of
e-mails we've gotten in the last couple days about it: You may have
heard rumors about reshoots to Blade
Runner that leaked out on actress
Cassidy's website (scenes which are reportedly for the
forthcoming special edition DVD release). We've checked around and
there's really not much to say except this: People are making a much
bigger deal out of this than it deserves. So everyone just relax -
the film/DVD is in good hands. Warner will no doubt have more to say
in the weeks and months ahead. The best news to take from it is that
the DVD is still in the works and should be pretty special when it's
Also today, we should take a moment to acknowledge
passing of former MPAA head Jack Valenti. Valenti had a long
and fascinating career, which began as an assistant to President
Lyndon Johnson. He was in the motorcade in Dallas when President
Kennedy was killed in 1963. After coming to Hollywood, Valenti took
over as the president of the Motion Picture Association of America,
where he abolished the outdated Hays code and instituted the
familiar ratings system we know today. In recent years, he was an
outspoken advocate of anti-piracy issues. Valenti was 85.
Back with more in a little bit. Stay tuned...
We've learned today that Universal's Flash
Gordon: Saviour of the Universe Edition (8/7) will
include digitally remastered anamorphic widescreen picture, Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio, new bonus features and collectible cover art by
Alex Ross (which should come as no surprise to you guys). There's no
specific word yet as to what those extras are. We're hoping at least
for some of the extras that were on the Studio Canal French DVD
release, including audio commentary track by director Mike Hodges,
an on-camera interview with Hodges and an introduction to the film,
the film's trailer and a production art gallery. We'll see what
Universal's come up with soon.
Meanwhile, Fox has announced the 5/22 release of Constellation,
followed by Sweet Land on 7/10
and Gray Matters on 7/19.
We've got a big update of
Rumor Mill today, which includes expected street dates for
a number of upcoming titles, as well as a glimpse of what to expect
on Disney's forthcoming Pirates of the
Caribbean Blu-ray Discs (due 5/22).
Speaking of Disney, here's some great news for fans of traditional
hand-drawn Disney animation: Under the supervision of Pixar's John
Lasseter, the recently resurrected Disney animation division is
working on a new series of shorts, including the return of Goofy to
theaters in How to Hook Up Your Home
Views website has a great interview up with animators
Andreas Deja and Mark Henn on the new short and Disney's other great
forthcoming animated projects. Don't miss it.
And while we're talking Blu-ray, the BD Association has issued a
statement clarifying the compliance of current and forthcoming
Blu-ray Disc players with the BD-Java spec. Here's the text:
"From Andy Parsons, U.S. Promotion
Committee Chair, Blu-ray Disc Association:
Based on recent coverage, there appears to be some confusion about
the implementation of BD-Java on Blu-ray Disc.
All Blu-ray Disc players must support BD-Java (BD-J) and every one
shipped to date does. The confusion surrounds an announcement by the
[Blu-ray Disc Association] setting an Oct. 31 deadline for
implementation of several secondary features. The deadline applies
Secondary video, also known as picture-in-picture (PiP).
Persistent memory storage (a minimum of 256MB, 1GB for
players with an Internet connection).
Of these, the PiP requirement is receiving the most attention. The
PiP feature is a specific hardware function that must be built into
a player, and BD-Java is simply used to operate this feature if it's
present. No player shipped to date supports PiP at this time,
although it's always possible that a given model has been designed
to switch it on later (no company has announced this yet as far as I
My point is that it's important to separate picture-in-picture and
the other items listed above from BD-Java. BD-Java is one of two
interactive modes that can be used on a Blu-ray Disc (the other
being "HDMV" or high definition movie mode, which is
similar to DVD navigational structures). All BD players must support
If a studio offers a PiP function or other features that require
the persistent memory or the ability to playback secondary video or
audio streams on future BD titles, current players will not support
those specific features. However, movie playback, as well as other
interactive features not using these functions would be unaffected
and should work as they normally would."
Finally this afternoon, our MusicTAP
crew has recently posted a number of new music DVD reviews,
Band: The Best of a Musical History (CD/DVD), Reprise's
Nicks: Crystal Visions - The Very Best of Stevie Nicks
(CD/DVD) and Legacy's
Blue Alert (CD/DVD).
We've got more disc reviews coming soon, so stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/24/07
- 2:30 PM PDT)
Oh, man... you want to see something cool? Well, try this on for
size: the new Alex Ross cover artwork for Universal's Flash
Gordon: Savior of the Universe Edition DVD (just
announced for release on 8/7). This rocks so f---ing hard that we
couldn't just post it regular size and call it a day. No way. So
here's the biggest size Universal has available on their press site
for your viewing pleasure. I tell you right now, I've GOT to get my
hands on a one-sheet sized print of this baby to hang in The
Bits home theater...
There's no way the DVD is gonna be THAT good, but what the hell. I
bet this will be wallpapered on hundreds of desktops within the
(EARLY UPDATE -
4/24/07 - 1:30 PM PDT)
Here's a bit of great news: At long last, Universal has finally
announced a title we first revealed in
Rumor Mill a couple months back - the Flash
Gordon: Saviour of the Universe Edition! The single-disc
DVD release will street on 8/7 (SRP $26.98). I'll admit, I was
actually hoping for an HD-DVD version as well, but one isn't
currently planned. In any case, the film will be presented in
anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There will be at
least some special features and the title will come in "premium"
packaging. No other details are yet available, but we'll tell you
more as its revealed by the studio.
Also today, Sony has announced the DVD release of Driving
Lessons on 7/3.
Paramount has set Hawaii Five-O: The
Second Season and Sabrina the
Teenage Witch: The Second Season for release on 7/31.
Fox has announced some great new catalog DVDs, including a Von
Ryan's Express: Special Edition and The
Sand Pebbles: Special Edition on 6/5, as well as Charlie's
Aunt, The Jeeves Collection
(including both Thank You, Jeeves!
and Step Lively, Jeeves!) and
The Three Musketeers (1939) on
6/12. I sure wish Fox would release The
Wild Geese. Nevertheless, check out this badass cover
art. I love that Von Ryan
Meanwhile, Shout! Factory and some of the writers and stars of Mystery
Science Theater 3000 are teaming up to release a new
series of B-movie DVDs under the The Film
Crew moniker. The first, The
Film Crew: Hollywood After Dark, will street on 7/10 (SRP
$19.99) and will feature "a built-in crew
commentary track and live-action interstitials." The
Film Crew: Killers from Space will follow on 8/7. Also in
the works for release later in 2007 are Giant
of Marathon and The Wild Women
of Wongo. You can find out more at
official Film Crew website.
Also, Warner has released a few more details on their direct-to-DVD
film Babylon 5: The Lost Tales,
which is due on 7/31 (SRP $24.98). The film stars Bruce Boxleitner,
Tracy Scoggins and Peter Woodward. The DVD will include the Straczynski
Diaries, which the press release refers to as
"a multi-part series of vignettes as
filmed by J. Michael Straczynski as he documents every phase of
pre-production, production and post-production for The Lost
Tales. Viewers are given a first person, inside look at the
creative process of making the Babylon 5 film."
We'll post specs and cover art when they're available.
And Warner has also announced the release of The
O.C.: The Complete Fourth Season on 5/22 (SRP $59.98).
The 5-disc set will include the final 16 episodes of the series in
anamorphic widescreen video. Extras will include unaired scenes and
2 featurettes (The Magic of Chrismakkah
and Summer Roberts: Coming of Age).
On the high-def front today, Sony has revealed a trio of new
Blu-ray Disc releases for 7/3, including Flatliners,
Wild Things: Unrated and The
Patriot: Extended Cut.
Here's a look at the cover art for Sony's Ghost
Rider: Extended Cut (Blu-ray - 6/12) as well as
Lionsgate's Ultimate Avengers Collection
(Blu-ray - now available) and Universal's The
Big Lebowski (HD-DVD - 5/29)...
Finally today, we've gotten several reports from readers who
attended the Star Wars
screening in Hollywood last night (for the record, it was the 2004
SE version digitally projected, much to the disappointment of many
in attendance). Sadly, the panel afterwards was moderated and there
was no audience Q&A unfortunately, so the subject of DVD and
high-def never came up. Lucas also bailed early, but Mark Hamill and
Carrie Fisher apparently made surprise appearances. Just in case you
Afternoon, folks. As usual, we hope you enjoyed the weekend. We're
drying out here after some rainy weather that was a nice change of
pace from hot, sunny and smoggy.
It's a pretty slow news day 'round here, but there's a little tiny
bit of standard DVD news today, as well as a bit of high-def news.
Let's start with DVD...
First, Universal has announced Dead
Silence for release on 7/10 in anamorphic widescreen and
unrated anamorphic widescreen editions (SRP $29.98 each).
And Genius Products has set Alone with
Her (staring Colin Hanks) for release on 5/22 (SRP
$19.95). The DVD features an alternate ending and additional
never-before-seen bonus footage.
Told you it was slow.
Now then... the high-def news. Warner has set Music
and Lyrics for release on both DVD/HD-DVD Combo format
and Blu-ray Disc format on 6/12 (SRP $39.99 for the HD Combo and
$34.99 for the BD). Extras will be the same as the DVD version and
will include deleted scenes, a gag reel, The
Making of Music and Lyrics featurette and the Pop
Goes My Heart music video.
Meanwhile, Universal has also set Dead
Silence for release on 7/10 as a DVD/HD-DVD Combo format
disc (SRP $39.98). We're still waiting to hear back from Universal
about the playback problems with some of their recent Combo format
titles. We'll let you know when we do.
Here the big news on the HD front: In a story whose headline ("Blu-ray
burning its high-def DVD rival") is sure to stir the pot
in certain online forums,
Hollywood Reporter and
Media are reporting that Blu-ray Disc won the format war
in the first quarter of 2007 at least, with 70% of all HD software
sales in Blu-ray format. There's also evidence from Nielsen
VideoScan that when given a choice between the two formats on the
same title, consumers are picking the Blu-ray version, as was the
case with Warner's The Departed
(see the links for details). Make of all this what you will.
Of course, HD-DVD fans are crowing about something else today:
Possible news from last week (see
Home Media story we linked to on Friday) that Wal-Mart
has paid a down payment on 2 million $299 high-definition players
from China of the HD-DVD format. TDK and Chinese manufacturer Fuh
Yuan have reportedly teamed up to manufacture the players, though
none of the parties involved are commenting on the record so far.
We've requested official confirmation from TDK. This news would
certainly not be unexpected in the wake of announcements at CES by
the HD-DVD Promotion Group that less expensive Chinese players were
on the way. In any case, it's certainly evidence (if true) that the
HD-DVD camp is far from throwing in the towel.
There's never a dull moment on the front lines of the HD war these
days, that's for sure.
Around the site today, we've updated all of the DVD and HD formats
stats we track (above),
DVD Player Sales numbers.
In other news, there's
interesting story on MSNBC today that has nothing to do with
DVD or high-def, but we saw it and found it interesting anyway. As
if part of some X-Files
conspiracy, it seems that bees are disappearing in droves all around
the globe. Is it a simple fluke of nature or a sign of the impending
Apocalypse? You decide... ;)
Finally today, director George Lucas is going to be attending a
special 30th Anniversary screening of Star
Wars tonight at the Motion Picture Academy of Arts and
Sciences in Hollywood (click
here for more), which will be followed by audience Q&A.
Tickets are sold out, but if you are going to be attending, someone
be sure to ask George if that mega bombad, 9-disc Star
Wars Ultimate Box Set is going to be coming out this year
on DVD. Ask him what he thinks about the whole Blu-ray/HD-DVD thing
too if you get the chance. And, of course, be sure to
let us know what
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