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page updated: 7/5/07



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/27/07 - 6/11/07)


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6/27/07

Okay... we're kicking off things here on Wednesday with a new Electric Theatre column from our own Adam Jahnke. In this installment, Adam reviews 1408, Evan Almighty (now playing at your local octaplex) and more.

Before we get started today, for those of you who may be interested, I'll be appearing on this afternoon's episode of Attack of the Show on the G4 cable network to talk about the promise vs. the reality of content downloading. Check your local listings.

Let's start the announcement news today with Universal, which has set NBC's Friday Night Lights: The First Season for release on 8/28 (SRP $29.98). The 5-disc set will include all the episodes in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted scenes for each episode and the Behind the Lights: Creating the First Season of Friday Night Lights documentary.

NBC's The Office: Season Three is also coming from the studio on 9/4 (SRP $49.98). Again, the 4-disc set will include all the episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted scenes, audio commentary with the cast and crew on 8 episodes, a blooper reel, the Lazy Scranton video, an excerpt from the 58th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, excerpts from the 2006 NBC Primetime Preview hosted by The Office cast, a Dwight Schrute music video, Toby wraparounds, an interview with Joss Whedon, videos from the Make Your Own Promo contest and the Kevin Cooks Stuff in The Office featurette.

Also announced for release on 10/2 by Universal are Elf Bowling: The Movie and Christmas Miracle at Sage Creek, as well as a pair of new HD-DVD titles for release on 9/18 - For Love of the Game and The Last Starfighter.

Meanwhile, Warner has announced a number of new titles today as well, starting with NBC's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The Complete Series, which is set for release on 10/16 as a 6-disc set (SRP $59.98). You'll get all 22 episodes in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with series creator Aaron Sorkin and producer Tommy Schlamme on the pilot episode, and a behind-the-scenes documentary. In other words, not much for a lot of money. We think the show deserved better.

Also newly announced by Warner today are 4 Coleccion Pedro Infante titles (including A Toda Maquina, Los Tres Garcia, Los Tres Huastecos and Vuelven los Garcia) for release on 9/18, Unseen Beatles, NHL Stanley Cup Champions 2006-2007: Anaheim Ducks - Special Edition and History of SEC Football for 10/2, Lewis & Clark and Other Great Adventures, Whose Line is it Anyway: Season 1, Volume 2 and a Whose Line is it Anyway: Season 1, Volumes 1 & 2 pack for release on 10/9, June Cabin, Byron and both rated and unrated versions of the Raw Feed title Believers on 10/16, and finally Legends, Icons & Superstars of the 20th Century, Tales from the Crypt: The Complete Seventh Season, a Tales from the Crypt: The Complete Seasons 1-7 pack , Veronica Mars: The Complete Third Season and a Veronica Mars: The Complete Seasons 1-3 pack all on 10/23.

Here's the cover art for Warner's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The Complete Series, and Universal's Friday Night Lights: The First Season and The Office: Season Three...

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip: The Complete SeriesFriday Night Lights: The First SeasonThe Office: Season Three

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/26/07 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Okay... as promised we've just posted Barrie Maxwell's latest installment of Classic Coming Attractions! In this edition, Barrie reviews some 25 classic DVD releases (compromising 36 films in all), including Fox's Broken Arrow, Convict Stage, Fort Courageous, Fury at Furnace Creek and White Feather, Grapevine's Bob Steele in Cinecolor, MGM's The Sergio Leone Anthology, Paramount's True Grit: Special Collector's Edition, Universal's Clint Eastwood: Western Icon Collection and Unconquered, VCI's Cisco Kid Western Collection, Warner's Allegheny Uprising, The Big Stampede, Haunted Gold, The Man from Monterey, Ride Him Cowboy, Rio Bravo, Somewhere in Sonora and The Telegraph Trail, AC Comics's The Fighting Devil Dogs, Hermitage Hill's The Mystery of the Riverboat, Restored Serials' The Green Archer, The Serial Squadron's Gang Busters and VCI's The Royal Mounted Rides Again and Scouts to the Rescue. As always, Barrie runs down the latest classic release announcements as well.

Enjoy!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/26/07 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We've got a couple more quick title announcements for you today.

First, Anchor Bay has set a Masters of Horror: Season One box set for release on 8/28 (SRP $79.97). The set will contain all 13 previously released DVDs in the series, plus an exclusive 14th bonus disc containing the Masters of Horror Dinner featurette (in which Mick Garris assembles the Season One directors for a special dinner at Hollywood's Magic Castle), the Masters of Horror DGA Panel discussion, and two Fantasy Film Festival video clips including Mick Garris interviews of Steven Spielberg and John Boorman. All of this will be contained in specially designed "mausoleum" packaging.

20th Century Fox has announced The Ultimate Gift for release on 8/21.

Speaking of Fox, we got a ton of e-mails yesterday after we posted that artwork for The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season. Turns out that what we posted was early temp art. Here's the final standard packaging along with the collectible "Bart head" packaging...

The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth SeasonThe Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season (Bart)

Meanwhile, MGM has set A Dog's Breakfast for 9/18 and Griffin & Phoenix for 9/11. MGM has also announced an MGM Movie Legends: Elvis Collection box set for release on 7/24 (SRP $39.98) which will include Clambake, Kid Galahad, Follow That Dream and Frankie and Johnny. Finally, the studio has also announced a Bubba Ho-Tep: Limited Edition for release on 8/7 (SRP $22.98), which will include commentary by director Don Coscarelli and star Bruce Campbell, a separate commentary by “The King” himself, author Joe R. Lansdale reading from his own short story, deleted scenes with optional commentary, an animated photo gallery and production featurettes, all presented in special "jumpsuit" packaging. Thank youuuu. Thank you verry much...

Also today, Warner has set Habana Blues for release on 9/25.

CBS has listed Criminal Minds: The Second Season for release on 10/2. CSI: NY - The Third Season will follow on 10/9, along with Everybody Hates Chris: The Second Season, Family Ties: The Second Season and Girlfriends: The Second Season. MacGyver: The Complete Series, Medium: The Third Season and The House Without a Christmas Tree round things out on 10/16.

And Paramount has set a Saturday Night Fever: Special Collector's Edition for release on DVD on 9/18. Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD versions are also planned. Audio commentary with director John Badham will be included (the same one that was on the previous DVD release), along with a number of featurettes and features (including Catching the Fever, A 30-Year Legacy, Making Soundtrack History, Platforms & Polyester, Deejays & Discos, Spotlight on Travolta, Back to Bay Ridge, Dance Like Travolta with John Cassese, Fever Challenge! and a 70's Discopedia).

Following on 9/25 from Paramount will be a 2-disc Babel: Special Collector's Edition. And a Fatal Attraction: Special Collector's Edition is set for 8/17, along with catalog re-issues of Cool World, Red Eye, Sliding Doors, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, The Phantom and Dragonslayer (some Paramount titles and some DreamWorks titles).

And around the Net this morning, here's good news: thanks to John Lasseter, the new chief creative officer at Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios, Disney is going to stop cranking out crappy, poorly-animated, direct-to-DVD sequels to its classic animated titles. Instead, the animation division is going to focus on original straight-to-DVD animated material. You can read more on this here at Home Media.

Also, U.S. News and World Report has posted a story on Blockbuster's decision to expand Blu-ray Disc to more of its stores around the country.

Here's some more new cover art: Disney's Meet the Robinsons (10/23), HBO's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (9/11) and Paramount's Saturday Night Fever: Special Collector's Edition...

Meet the RobinsonsBury My Heart at Wounded KneeSaturday Night Fever: Special Collector's Edition

Back shortly with Barrie's new Classic Coming Attractions. Stay tuned...

6/25/07

It's a bit slow in terms of release news today, but Sony has confirmed that The Lives of Others will street on 8/21 on DVD (SRP $26.96) and Blu-ray Disc ($38.96). Both versions will include audio commentary by director Florian Henckel von Donnersmark, an interview with the director and a “making of” featurette. The film won the 2007 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Also streeting on 8/21 from the studio is Rules of Engagement: The Complete First Season (SRP $29.95), which will include 7 episodes, the Table Read featurette, a blooper reel, and a tour of the set.

Sony has also announced I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fourth Season for release on 9/4. The 4-disc set will contain all 26 episodes (SRP $39.95).

And around the Net today, actor Rutgar Hauer has been giving interviews about his new book, in which he talks a little bit about the upcoming Blade Runner theatrical and special edition DVD release. Click here and here for more (from CNN and PopMatters). The reason I mention it is that today, June 25th, marks the 25th anniversary of Blade Runner's original theatrical debut. My how time does fly...

Here at the site this afternoon, we've updated many of the DVD and high-def format sales and rental stats we track (above).

Our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with lots of new DVD and high-def covers, and Amazon pre-order links. Be sure to check it out.

We've also kicked off TWO new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Animaniacs: Volume 3, Pinky and the Brain: Volume 3 and the Cult Camp Classics: Volume 2 - Women in Peril box set, the BBC's Lovejoy: The Complete Season One and Image Entertainment's Sammy and the Wabos: Livin' it Up! in St. Louis. The contests will run for ONE week, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, July 1st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Here's the cover art for Fox's The Simpsons: Season 10, along with Warner's The Best of Blu-ray Disc: Volume One and The Best of HD-DVD: Volume One box sets (both due 9/18)...

The Simpsons: Season 10The Best of Blu-ray Disc: Volume OneThe Best of HD-DVD: Volume One

We've had a couple of interesting things come up here at The Bits that we need to follow up on - news stories that need investigating (phone calls and the like). That said, we're still going to try to get Barrie's latest edition of Classic Coming Attractions up this afternoon, but rest assured it will be up by tomorrow morning at the latest for sure. Some days you just have to roll with it.

Stay tuned...

6/22/07

Okay, there's not much news to report today, but we do have a couple of minor announcements for you this afternoon.

First, Sony has announced the DVD release of Offside, Last Day of Summer and Shredderman Rules! on 8/28.

20th Century Fox has set The Unit: Season Two for release on 9/25, along with The TV Set. Even Money will street on 9/11, and Kickin' It Old Skool arrives on 8/28.

Amazon has also posted an 8/7 release date for Fox's The Simpsons: Season 10. We expect an official announcement soon.

And Warner has set As You Like It for release on 9/25 (for HBO).

By the way, that Blade Runner trailer link we posted yesterday is no longer valid. Warner apparently had it pulled off YouTube, which is probably no surprise. I would imagine they'll be releasing something official in the next couple of months.

Okay... I promised yesterday that I'd talk a little more about that HD-DVD meeting I had with Microsoft's Kevin Collins and Richard Doherty up at Universal on Wednesday morning. We started out with some discussion about HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and the format war in general. Each of us explained our positions, and there was some lively (but definitely enjoyable) debate. Their key point was that Microsoft's interest in HD-DVD has everything to do with HDi and the advanced interactive features it's capable of offering, some of which they wanted to show me. Richard and Kevin seem to feel that the home video industry can support two competing disc formats, in much the same way that the gaming industry supports three (Xbox, PS3 and Wii). As you can probably guess, I disagree with this. They also believe that if everything else about HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc were equal, that people would naturally chose HD-DVD because of the more advanced interactivity. The flaw in this argument, of course, is that aside from audio and video quality, things are NOT equal. It remains my belief that Blu-ray's greater studio and industry support has been, and will continue to be, the deal-breaker in this format war. Content is king, so the widest selection of movie titles and broadest studio support trumps interactive bells and whistles for us here at The Bits every time. Even if the number of titles currently available on each format is relatively equal at the moment, the lion's share of the titles on the HD-DVD side comes from just two studios - Universal and Warner (and Warner is releasing most of their titles on Blu-ray too).

Anyway, after our discussion the meeting moved on to the demo stage. We started with a quick tour of some of the HDi features on Universal's Miami Vice, Smokin' Aces and other titles: things like pop-up specs and trivia about vehicles in the films, pop-up bios of the actors, the ability to program a list of favorite scenes that your player will remember so you can demo them later for friends. Meh... as a fan of the film experience first and foremost, none of this is really all that interesting to me. I mean, cool that it's there, but I don't personally have any pressing need to have all that stuff presented to me during the film itself. We then looked briefly at Children of Men, which allows you to view (via a PiP window) the futuristic ads and programs that are seen on TV screens during the movie. That's certainly much more interesting to me as a film fan, but it's still not exactly dazzling. I'd be just as happy to have it all available out-of-band, as a separate video presentation in the extras portion of the disc.

My interest was definitely more piqued when Kevin popped in Bandai Visual's forthcoming anime title Freedom - a DVD/HD-DVD Twin Format disc (meaning both DVD and HD-DVD are on the same side of the disc on different layers), due to hit stores on 6/26 (SRP $39.99). The disc offers Picture-in-Picture production art and sketches that can be viewed throughout the film, and it's the first Web-enabled title to offer additional features via downloading. It appears that you sign up for a free account, and then you're able to download things like trailers, featurettes, screensavers, additional menu skins that change the way your player displays the disc's interactive menus, etc. One of the most intriguing things is that you can download additional language subtitles in this way, so the same disc could be released in many countries at once, and you'd just download your audio and subtitles of choice. I commented to Kevin and Richard that what would make some of this more attractive to someone like me, would be the ability to take some of these downloaded features and copy them off onto a jump drive so that you can tuck it into the HD-DVD case and save them for later. In other words, you don't have to fill up your player's memory with them and you know they'll still be available to you in 5 years (a big problem with DVD-ROM web extras is that all too often they disappear after a couple of years).

The most interesting things I saw... well, I can't really tell you what titles they were (I was specifically asked not to reveal them, but one of them you can probably guess). One of the films in question is heavily special-effects laden, and is set to be released on HD-DVD in the next two months. It features the ability to watch the entire film with a Picture-in-Picture version of the same footage as shot on set in front of a bluescreen, without any digital alterations or effects, giving you the ability to contrast and compare. Now as a film fan, THAT is cool. The ability to do Picture-in-Picture is something that Blu-ray will be adding soon as well, though some older players won't be able to support it (Kevin and Richard were quick to point out that all of the features they were showing me were being demoed on a first generation HD-DVD player - Toshiba's HD-A1 - which had been firmware updated). This same title will also have Web-enabled features that allow you to take the list of your favorite scenes (that you program with your remote) and share them online with others. So if you live in Chicago and you want to show your buddy in Miami your favorite scenes, if he's got the disc and a player hooked up to a web connection, he can sign in and download your scene list, which he can then watch on his system. You can then rate each other's scene lists and see how other fans have rated theirs. A different title that shall not be named lets you download historical and background information relative to the subject of the film, that (because it's online) can be updated over time. You can also participate in online polls and see how your picks match up to others' choices. I guess it's kind of the YouTube-ing or MySpace-ing of optical movie discs. That online community component doesn't really interest me much (other than perhaps the ability to give direct feedback to the studios), but maybe I'm just getting too old. I don't know. Is 40 old?

That ability to watch two versions of a film via Picture-in-Picture is what intrigued me most. I've since found myself wondering how cool it would be if, rather than just a PiP window, you could jump back and forth from one full 1080 version to another as if it were another angle on DVD. So image two separate full-bandwidth, 1080p video streams being available for the ENTIRE movie, that you could just pop back and forth from at will. One might have the final film, while the other could have raw footage, production art, storyboards, etc. That's something I don't believe HD-DVD or HDi can do. (I believe it WILL be possible in the future on Blu-ray - two full-bandwidth video streams overlaid is part of the BD-Java spec I think. If I'm wrong about that I'll correct the text here.) But I digress.

Ultimately, nothing that I saw really changed my opinion as to how this format war is going to play out and how it's likely to end. I will say, however, that I'm more intrigued now about the possibilities that advanced interactivity can offer. Blu-ray Disc can't do much of what HD-DVD can at the moment in terms of such interactivity. But if and when Blu-ray does start to catch up in this area, well... you get the idea. Ultimately, it remains to be seen how much people will value such Web-enabled features - particularly in the early adopter community that is currently driving most high-def sales. Do people really care that much about the ability to do things like share scene lists with their friends on the Net... or would they rather have movies from Disney, Fox, Sony, MGM, Lionsgate and now Starz? That's the $20,000 question. You know our answer, of course, but now it's your turn to weigh in with your dollars and your purchase decisions.

One last time, thanks again to Microsoft's Kevin Collins and Richard Doherty for the chance to meet and talk directly. We'll keep our lines of communication with them open, and we look forward to talking again with them in the future.

Okay... there's just one last bit of business to take care of today. I've been hearing from a lot of Police fans in the last couple days as you can imagine! For those wondering about last night's Police concert at the Honda Center in Anaheim... I'll tell you, I was in for a shock. I thought the Staples gig was something, but it was nothing compared to this, and it wasn't just having better seats. The sound mix was better, the band was more loose and playful, more relaxed. The performances were just as tight and lean, with the same setlist, but the band was clearly having more fun - really interacting with each other, lots of smiles and more banter. I suspect the pressure of playing the first L.A. gig affected things a bit on Wednesday night, but the relief of getting past it made all the difference. Interestingly, the O.C. audience was also a lot more energetic and involved in things (the jaded industry folk up in LaLa Land make for lame audiences sometimes). The Honda Center concert was by far the better of the two, and it was being recorded in high-def video, so I'm hoping it'll be released on disc at some point. Anyway, just about everyone in the first ten rows had snuck in small digital cameras... and so did Sarah. She took some really great shots during the concert, and she's put together a gallery of some of them for those of you who might be interested. It's a helluva great show, so if you get the chance to see the band on this tour, I highly recommend it. Now it's on for me to Dodger Stadium with Weatherman Dave on Saturday night, to see The Police with Foo Fighters as the opening act. Like I said, life is good.

Back on Monday with a new Barrie Maxwell column. Have a great weekend!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/21/07 - 3 PM PDT)

We've got one other quick Blu-ray note for you today. A few people in online discussion groups are claiming that they're finding spots on a couple Blu-ray titles which prevent the discs from playing properly. Buena Vista's The Prestige seems to be the main title in question. We've been looking into this for a few days here at The Bits, and we're having difficulty validating the claim. We have nearly every Blu-ray title released so far here in the office (along with the available HD-DVD titles), so we've checked all our discs but haven't seen this problem. We've also been checking with others we know who have or work with Blu-ray titles and the result is the same. Nevertheless, we contacted BVHE about it and VP of Communications Eric Maehara issued this statement:

"We encourage customers that are experiencing any kind of problem with The Prestige Blu-ray disc to call our Consumer Relations hotline at 800/477-2811. It is important to conduct forensic examinations of the affected discs in order to rule out any form of external tampering. Our customers are first and foremost and Buena Vista Home Entertainment always strives to meet the highest standards for the consumer."

So far the studio hasn't received any consumer inquiries about this issue, so if it is valid, it appears to be very limited. But we'll keep an eye on the situation and update you as necessary.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/21/07 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Greetings, Bits-ers. We're finally completely 100% back to normal here at the site, having just finished rebooting Adam's Electric Theatre last night. To commemorate the occasion, Adam's delivered his 52nd installment of the column complete with new reviews of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (now in theatres) and a trio of other titles on DVD. Don't miss it.

Now... first things first. Did anyone happen to catch the trailer for Warner's Blade Runner: The Final Cut last night on CBS, during the AFI 100 Years... 100 Movies special? We got word that it was happening too late yesterday - after I'd already left the office for L.A. for the HD-DVD meeting - or we would have warned you. The good news is that it confirmed that the title is coming to DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD "Fall 2007." And for those of you who missed it, the better news is that you can watch it RIGHT NOW here at YouTube. Enjoy!

In other news today, Buena Vista has just announced the DVD release of Brothers & Sisters: The Complete First Season for 9/18 as a 6-disc box set (SRP $59.99). The set will include all the episodes in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a bonus unaired episode, audio commentaries with the cast and crew, bloopers, deleted scenes and 3 featurettes (Walker Family Tree, Set Tour with Dave, Balt and Matt and Family Business). Also newly announced for DVD release by the studio are Our Very Own and Neverwas (both 7/3).

Meanwhile, Paramount and CBS have officially announced the DVD release of Jericho: The First Season for 10/2. We're still waiting on the specifics, but you'll find the cover art below.

Warner has set Pastor Jones 4: Sisters in Spirit for release on 8/14 (for Lightyear), followed by a Cruising: Deluxe Edition on 9/18, The Vicar of Dibley: A Holy Wholly Happy Ending and The Vicar of Dibley: The Immaculate Collection on 10/9 (for the BBC), and Hamish MacBeth: Series Three, a Hamish MacBeth: Series 1-3 Collection, Monarch of the Glen: The Complete Series 7, a Monarch of the Glen: The Complete Collection and The Young Ones: Extra Stoopid Edition all on 10/23 (and all for the BBC).

Around the Net today, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has decided to resurrect the previously defunct Sony Wonder label under its own auspices. You can read more on that here at Video Business.

Also, at the DVD & Beyond industry conference this week here in L.A., a number of studio execs said they remain very positive on the future of releasing TV series titles on DVD (read more here at Home Media).

And in other news, take this as you will, but ZDNet's Robin Harris has weighed in on his opinion of the format war in the wake of Blockbuster's recent announcement. I suspect you're going to be seeing other reports like this in the mainstream media in the weeks ahead. And it's already having an impact. I was out watering my front lawn the other day and my neighbor came over to chat, as neighbors are prone to do. He knows what I do for a living - I helped him purchase and set up his HDTV - and so he wanted to talk about some news he'd seen in the paper. "So I hear that this Blu-ray Disc is the way to go, huh?" Turns out that he'd seen the USA Today story about Blockbuster choosing Blu-ray Disc and now he's thinking of getting himself a Blu-ray player. I suspect he's not an isolated case.

By the way, while we're talking high-def, I did indeed get the chance to meet with Microsoft's Kevin Collins and Richard Doherty yesterday morning up at Universal Pictures' New Technology Office to talk HD-DVD. Both are good guys and I was as interested in what they had to say as, I think, they were interested in my opinions. We debated the merits of the format war (and each format) a bit, and then they demoed some interesting HDi and "Live" features that are being worked on for upcoming HD-DVD titles. I have to be honest and say that none of what I saw really changed by mind about this format war or our stated position on it, but I'll admit that I was intrigued with some of what I saw in terms of the potential for this interactive technology. There are a couple of soon to be released titles that do some particularly interesting things, but I'll talk more about that in tomorrow's post. I'd just like to thank both Kevin and Richard for their hospitality and time, and I look forward to talking to them more in the near future. Again, more on all this tomorrow.

Here's a look at some new cover art: CBS's Jericho: The First Season, New Line's Blade: House of Chthon - Unrated (9/18) and Rhino's Inland Empire (8/14)...

Jericho: The First SeasonBlade: House of Chthon - UnratedInland Empire

Finally today, some of you are probably wondering how The Police concert last night in L.A. was. (I've already had about a dozen e-mails today from readers asking about it) Well, I'll tell you... I can't even begin to describe how happy I am this morning. The band is tight... they sound as good today, it seems to me, as they ever did. The guy sitting next to me was a little worried going into the night that Sting, Stewart and Andy might not have that same edge they did back in the day, but after the last encore, he turned to me wide-eyed and said, "Oh my GOD that was awesome!" To which I could only agree. The 20,000+ crowd was apparently some kind of a concert record for the Staples Center. They were rewarded for attending with a terrific setlist of hits and favorites that included Message in a Bottle, Synchronicity II, Walking on the Moon, Voices Inside My Head/When the World Is Running Down, Don't Stand So Close to Me, Driven to Tears, The Bed's Too Big Without You, Truth Hits Everybody, Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic, Wrapped Around Your Finger, De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da, Invisible Sun, Walking in Your Footsteps, Can't Stand Losing You, Roxanne, King of Pain, So Lonely, Every Breath You Take and Next to You, all delivered with precision and style and nearly all at a terrific pace. The song arrangements are all familiar and yet many have been given a slightly new twist - just enough to add flavor, but not so much that you don't get what you're expecting out of them. For me, the band's live performance was worth every second of the thirty years I had to wait for the chance to see it. And the only thing that could possibly be better is that I get to see it again tonight, from the second row. Life is good.

Stay tuned!

6/20/07

We've got some cool stuff to talk about this morning, so let's get to it.

First up, this is completely unofficial and has yet to be confirmed by an announcement (consider it Rumor Mill worthy), but it looks like Genius Products and The Weinstein Company are finally readying Quentin Tarantino's ultimate Kill Bill and Death Proof, along with Robert Rodriguez's Planet Terror presumably, for release on DVD this fall. Amazon.com currently shows an 11/6 street date for a 4-disc, 247-minute Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair DVD. Meanwhile, Grindhouse Presents Death Proof is also shown as a 9/18 release. There's no Amazon entry yet for Grindhouse Presents Planet Terror, but you'd have to assume it'll be released around the same time. Rest assured, we'll post the official details as they become available.

In official news this morning, Rhino Entertainment has announced the DVD release of David Lynch's Inland Empire on 8/14 (SRP $29.95). The 2-disc set, overseen by Lynch himself, will include a whopping 75 minutes worth of additional scenes (entitled More Things That Happened), a "making of" featurette (Lynch 2: Behind the Scenes of Inland Empire), interviews with Lynch and the film's star Laura Dern (Stories), a photo gallery, 3 theatrical trailers, plus footage of Lynch at home cooking quinoa (appropriately titled David Lynch Cooks Quinoa).

Meanwhile, you fans of Warner's 300 will be pleased to know that Best Buy is soon going to be taking pre-orders on an exclusive DVD package that includes a replica Spartan helmet and collectible artwork. It's not up on the retailer's U.S. site, but you can see what it looks like here on the Canadian site.

Got small kids in the hizzle? Warner has just announced no less than 26 DVDs from The Wiggles for release on 10/9 (SRP $14.98 each), including Yummy Yummy, Yule Be Wiggling, Wiggly Wiggly Christmas, Splish Splash Big Red Boat, Toot Toot!, Top of the Tots, Whoo Hoo! Wiggly Gremlins, Wiggle Around the Clock, Wiggle Bay, Wiggle Dancing! Live in the U.S.A., Wiggle Time, Wiggly Play Time, Wiggly Safari, Here Comes the Big Red Car, Hoop Dee Doo! It's a Wiggly Party, It's a Wiggly Wiggly World!, Lights, Camera Action, Live Hot Potatoes!, Magical Adventure, Racing to the Rainbow, Sailing Around the World, Santa's Rockin', Space Dancing, Getting Stong and Cold Spaghetti Western. Now that's just waaayyyyyyy too damn much Wiggles for my comfort, but I'm sure someone out there is happy about this.

While we're taking Warner, the studio has informed us that they've postponed the planned 10/9 DVD release of Brando: The Documentary until sometime next year. Just FYI.

We've got a quick follow-up for you today on Sony's forthcoming The Fifth Element Blu-ray Disc re-release (due 7/17). If you've got the original (inferior) Blu-ray version and want to get the new one with the remastered video, you can now contact Sony customer service at 800-860-2878 (or e-mail them here) to arrange the swap.

And while we're talking high-def today, we've got a quick update on that MGM Blu-ray Disc news from yesterday. It seems that the Sergio Leone Anthology BD news from Home Media was a bit premature (the details we reported yesterday have since been edited from the story). We've been informed by MGM's home video distributor, 20th Century Fox, that no new MGM or Fox BD titles have been officially announced as yet. Again, consider this Rumor Mill worthy, but several industry sources have told us that the titles are coming, but that Fox and MGM are currently testing BD+ for their future releases. We expect official title announcements to be made in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.

Okay... today promises to be an interesting day for me. First, despite the fact that The Bits has publicly chosen to side with Blu-ray Disc in this format war (or perhaps because of it), I've been invited by Microsoft's Kevin Collins and others up to the Universal lot this morning for a demonstration of all the latest bells and whistles the HD-DVD camp is creating for upcoming titles on the format via HDi and HD-DVD Live. I'm an open-minded sort, and I've been known to enjoy an HD-DVD disc or two myself, so I'm happy to take a look at what they've got to show me. You can be sure I'll report back to you all about the experience here in the next day or two.

It might take a little extra time to make that report however, because a personal dream is coming true for me tonight. After 30 years of being a fan of The Police, I'm finally getting the chance to see them play live in concert at the Staples Center up in L.A. this evening. I'll be there in section 111 tonight, Sarah and I will be in the second row floor for the Anaheim show tomorrow, and I'll be joining Weatherman Dave out in the stands near third base for the Dodger Stadium gig on Saturday. You may laugh if you like, but it's a big deal for this Cops fan. I saw pigs fly past my office window back in February when this reunion tour was announced, and I mean to get my serious geek on and enjoy every damn moment of it. Maybe I'll see you there! Bring on the night... I couldn't stand another hour of daylight...

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/19/07 - 2 PM PDT)

I just wanted to check back in with a quick update on our recent server crash. We are, finally, about 95% back to normal. The site should be working perfectly, or very nearly so. All of our e-mail accounts are now back online, so if you've got something to say to any of our Bits staffers, we're all ears again. The remaining 5% is the restoration of all of Adam's Electric Theatre columns, and all that should be done by the end of the day. The new server is very stable, or so we're told, and with a little luck we should be bump free from here on out. So thanks once again to all of you for your patience. We appreciate it.

Back tomorrow with the usual. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/19/07 - 11 AM PDT)

Well... the site is nearly all back online. We should have it all up by the end of the day today. As far as e-mail, my own account is up and running again, but the others (Todd, Adam, etc) will not be up until later today. We appreciate your patience on this. Fingers crossed, things will get back to normal quickly and they'll stay that way.

Okay, let's get to the news this morning...

First, there's more good news for Blu-ray Disc fans today, and this first one is not insignificant. Starz Home Entertainment (which owns Anchor Bay) has officially announced, at the DVD & Beyond conference in L.A., that they're going to begin releasing titles on Blu-ray Disc format before the end of the year. The expected titles will include the complete first season of their Masters of Horror series, as well as other catalog titles.

Also today, MGM Home Entertainment revealed that they'll have at least 10 to 12 Blu-ray Disc titles out in the next 12 months, including the complete Sergio Leone Anthology box set (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and Duck, You Sucker). As you may recall, MGM had previously announced a number of Blu-ray titles at CES in January, only to have them delayed along with Fox's announced titles. This would seem to indicate that both studios may be close to making new official re-announcements. Great news indeed.

You can read a little more on both of the above here at Home Media Retailing.

Also, ContentAGENDA has a follow-up story on yesterday's announcement that Blockbuster is rolling out only Blu-ray Disc in 1,450 of its store locations.

We have more details on Buena Vista's Meet the Robinsons today. The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (SRP $29.99). Extras will include 3 deleted scenes, 2 featurettes (Keep Moving Forward: Inventions that Shaped the World and Inventing the Robinsons), 2 music videos, the Family Function 5000: Family Tree interactive game, and audio commentary with director Stephen Anderson (plus a "special guest"). The Blu-ray Disc (SRP $34.99) will include all of the above along with 48khz/24-bit Uncompressed PCM 5.1 audio, more deleted scenes and the Bowler Hat Barrage! BD-Java game.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set Herman USA for DVD release on 8/7, with Squidbillies: Volume One following on 10/16.

And here's a classic quick-to-DVD attempt to recover a little of the production costs. Universal has just announced the DVD release of The Black Donnellys: The Complete Series on 9/4 (SRP $49.98) as a 3-disc set.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/18/07 - 2:30 PM PDT)

This is just a quick update to let you all know what's been going on with the site the last couple days. We experienced a major server crash over the weekend, and we're now in the process of refreshing The Bits to a new server. So portions of the site are going to be down for the next couple of days, and e-mail is going to be unavailable for a little bit as well. Hopefully, we'll have all this straightened out by tomorrow. In the meantime, we'll keep making our regular news posts - you'll find today's below.

Thanks for your patience while we deal with this (we'll keep you up to date), and stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/18/07 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We hope you all had a restful weekend, because we've got a couple BIG news stories to start the new week.

But first, a quick reminder: Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with lots of new DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD cover art for forthcoming titles that can all be pre-ordered through our Amazon.com links (and we certainly appreciate the support for The Bits when you do purchase titles through our links).

Also today, we've updated The Rumor Mill once more with anticipated street dates from our industry sources for a number of major upcoming DVD and high-def releases. Don't miss it.

Now then... here's the first big news item today: Blockbuster Video has just announced that it's expanding Blu-ray Disc rentals to 1,700 stores by mid-July, but it's not expanding HD-DVD rentals. The company has already been carrying both formats online and in 250 test stores, but the decision to expand just Blu-ray was made because customers were reportedly choosing Blu-ray rentals over HD-DVD at the test locations by a 70% margin. You can read more here at Video Business and here at Daily Variety. One thing that's worth noting here: The Weinstein Company has an exclusive 4-year rental arrangement with Blockbuster (click here for more on that), which means that this development could push The Weinsteins to go format neutral. Previously, they've released titles only on HD-DVD.

The other big story this morning is that Buena Vista Home Entertainment has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of their animated Meet the Robinsons on 10/23. The Blu-ray version will include all the standard DVD extras along with a new BD-Java interactive game entitled Bowler Hat Barrage. We'll have additional details and artwork as it becomes available.

Speaking of Robinsons, Criterion has just announced that its September DVD slate will include David Mamet's House of Games (cat #399), Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise (#400) and Night on Earth (#401), G. W. Pabst's The Threepenny Opera (#405), Nathan Kroll's Martha Graham: Dance on Film (#406) and Byron Haskin's long-awaited Robinson Crusoe on Mars (#404)!

Robinson Crusoe on Mars (SRP $39.95) will include anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1 aspect ratio), Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio, audio commentary (with screenwriter Ib Melchior, actors Paul Mantee and Victor Lundin, production designer Al Nozaki, Oscar-winning special effects designer and historian Robert Skotak and excerpts from a 1979 audio interview with director Byron Haskin), the Destination: Mars featurette, excerpts from Melchior's original screenplay, a music video, a stills gallery (of behind-the-scenes photos, production designs, and promotional material), the theatrical trailer and a booklet featuring a new essay by filmmaker and space historian Michael Lennick, a Brief Yargorian Dictionary of the original alien dialect, a list of facts about Mars and the original screenplay.

Meanwhile, New Line has set Blade: House of Chthon for release on 9/18 (SRP $19.97). This is the feature-length, extended and unrated pilot for TV's Blade: The Series. Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include the Turning Blade documentary, audio commentary with director Peter O'Fallon and a second commentary with writers David Goyer and Geoff Johns.

Warner has announced this morning that it will release The Flintstones: A Flintstone's Christmas Carol and Tom & Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale on 10/2.

And Paramount has set the animated Wayside: The Movie for release on 9/25.

Here's a look at the awesome cover art for Criterion's Robinson Crusoe on Mars along with art for Paramount's Flashdance: Special Collector's Edition and Warner's Deliverance: Deluxe Edition (both due 9/18)...

Robinson Crusoe on MarsFlashdance: Special Collector's EditionDeliverance: Deluxe Edition

One quick HD-DVD note this morning... I've been able to get my hands on Universal's fixed copies of The Good Shepherd and Children of Men on DVD/HD-DVD Combo format. The good news is that the fixed discs work perfectly in the HD-XA2 we have here at The Bits. The bad news is that, as far as I can tell, there's no way to differentiate between the original defective and new fixed versions based on the markings on the packaging or disc. Nevertheless, Universal is currently working to exchange the defective discs for anyone who has them. Just call their customer service line (800-626-9497) anytime 24/7 to arrange your swap.

Finally this morning, I wanted to recount a pretty cool experience that some of us here at The Bits had on Friday. Our very own Robert A. Harris held a special private screening of the 70mm Academy print of Lawrence of Arabia on Friday evening, at the Academy's Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood. Robert, as many of you know, was instrumental in the restoration of the film with director David Lean back in the 1980s. Among those in attendance were Sarah and I, along with Adam and my old friend Weatherman Dave, who's visiting us from California's central coast. I have to tell you, the moment the entrance music ended, the curtain opened and the Columbia logo was revealed to us in Super Panavision 70, jaws dropped throughout the theatre. As most of you should know by now, Lawrence is a visually magnificent film. We expected it to look great and it did, but the detail and clarity present in the 70mm image was just extraordinary. It's not every day you get to see a film that good in THAT kind of quality in a movie theatre, let me tell you. And we'd all forgotten just how much humor there is in the film (I particularly love Anthony Quinn's performance as Auda). Sony tells me that they're currently hard at work on the Blu-ray Disc version of Lawrence, and if they manage to capture even a fraction of what we experienced on Friday night, you're in for a real treat.

Okay, that's all for now. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/15/07 - 12:30 PM PDT)

One last update for you this afternoon... Video Business has just posted a good story on how many of the high-def supporting studios are working to broaden the appeal of the titles they're releasing on Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD. Included in this piece is word that Warner plans to release some of its straight-to-DVD and Raw Feed titles on both formats in early 2008 (think The Rest Stop and Sublime), along with all three Ocean's films timed to the release of Ocean's 13, many of the Harry Potter films timed to the release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix to theaters in July, and more. Paramount is also said to be releasing Flashdance on both high-def formats on 9/18.

We've also updated many of the DVD and HD format stats we track (above), including the DVD sales and rentals charts and the Blu-ray vs HD-DVD software sales ratios.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/15/07 - 12:15 PM PDT)

We've got just a last few announcements for all of you to close out the week...

Universal has just set The Real Housewives of Orange County: Season One for release on DVD on 9/4.

And Paramount has set Dexter: The Complete First Season and JAG: The Fourth Season for release on 8/21, followed by Demetri Martin. Person. on 9/4 and The Streets of San Francisco: The First Season, Volume Two and The Untouchables: Season One, Volume Two on 9/25. 10/2 will see the DVD release of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. Finally, 10/2 will also see the release of Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Series in special new packaging.

By the way, we've learned that Paramount's 10/2 release of The War: A Ken Burns Film on DVD will feature 15 hours of content on 6 discs.

Also today, there's an interesting story over at Video Business on how the MPAA and the film industry in general are looking to the U.S. Government for more enforcement of anti-piracy laws.

Home Media Retailing has a story on the high-def format war in Europe, and how the March launch of Sony's PlayStation 3 has shifted the hardware balance there.

And there's an interesting story over at the L.A. Times on how the Hollywood studios are afraid of downloading services like Xbox Live and Apple's Apple TV/iTunes combination (the story is specifically about the latter) impacting the way they currently do business. They're taking the temperature and wading in slowly, is a good way to characterize their current stance on the subject.

Finally today, we've got details on a trio of great upcoming catalog Blu-ray Disc titles from Buena Vista that are soon to be announced. Jerry Bruckheimer fans will be very pleased. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today, along with word from our industry sources on expected Universal HD-DVD releases through the end of the year. Enjoy!

Now then... have a great weekend and we'll see you all back here on Monday. Best to all of you!

6/14/07

Okay... we've got a bunch of cool release news to report today, so let's get right to it.

First up, Buena Vista has announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of The Lookout on 8/14. The studio has also set Return to Halloweentown: Ultimate Secret Edition for release on 8/28.

Meanwhile, Warner has set Street Stars: The Larry Davis Story for release on 8/14. The Deliverance: Deluxe Edition will follow on 9/18 in DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD versions. Laura Smiles will also street that day. NFL Moment of Impact and an All Roads Film Festival Collection 2 (from National Geographic) follow on 9/25. Ben 10: Season 2 and a Ben 10: Seasons 1 & 2 2-pack street on 10/9, along with Brando: The Documentary, and the BBC's Only Fools and Horses: The Complete Collection and Only Fools and Horses: The Specials 1991-2003. Finally, Jonathan Creek: Season 2 streets on 10/16.

Warner is also releasing a series of high-def box sets in each format on 9/18 under The Best of Blu-ray and The Best of HD-DVD labels. Each set will contain 4 high-def movies (SRP $84.99 each). The Best of Blu-ray: Volume 1 and The Best of HD-DVD: Volume 1 will each contain Lethal Weapon, The Road Warrior, Swordfish and Training Day. Volume 2 of each format set will contain The Fugitive, The Last Samurai, Phantom of the Opera and Unforgiven. And Volume 3 will offer Blazing Saddles, The Departed, Goodfellas and Superman: The Movie.

One other high-def note this morning. I've confirmed with Sony that their remastered The Fifth Element Blu-ray Disc will be released on 7/17. Sony's worked meticulously on the video master (encoded in AVC) to ensure that the quality on this version is far superior to the previous (and disappointing) Blu-ray Disc release, which was one of Sony's first when the format debuted last year. You'll be able to tell the new version from the previous release by the inclusion of a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack in addition to LPCM (both encoded in 16bit due to the age of the master - having both in the same bit depth means you'll be able to use the title to ensure that your audio equipment is playing back TrueHD correctly). The best news of all, however, is that I've confirmed with Sony that there WILL be an exchange program for those of you who have already purchased the previous, sub-par edition. Sony is still working out the details on this and we'll announce them here as soon as they're available.

In other news today, we've received word from our sources that the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour is going to be released on DVD this fall through Time-Life. It will be available both via mail order and in retail stores. We'll have more details when they're available.

Our friends over at TV Shows on DVD have learned that the 1981 Masada miniseries is going to be coming to DVD on 9/11 from Koch Entertainment. Click here for more on that.

Finally, Genius Products and The Weinstein Company have announced that Jackie Chan's Crime Story will street on DVD on 8/7 (SRP $19.95). Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 (English and Cantonese) and mono (Cantonese) audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director Kirk Wong and Hong Kong cinema expert Bey Logan, interviews with Kirk Wong and Kent Cheng, deleted scenes, an animated photo gallery (featuring images deleted from the final print), the original theatrical trailer and the U.S. promotional trailer.

Stay tuned!

6/13/07

We're pleased this afternoon to present you with Adam Jahnke's latest edition of The Bottom Shelf. In this installment, he gives you a little something different: A few words of calm, rational sanity on the HD format war. Adam is nothing if not a pragmatist, and I think some of you will agree with his take on things. So enjoy... One Disc, Two Disc, Red Disc, Blu Disc.

Now then... before we get to the news today, we've got a couple of things we wanted to mention. First, we've got about 10 more slots open for those who want to attend next month's EMA Expo in Las Vegas (July 17-19) with The Digital Bits, The Home Theater Forum and now our friends over at TV Shows on DVD as well! Todd, Adam, Sarah and myself will be on hand, as will Gord Lacey, Ron Epstein, Parker Clack and other staffers from our respective sites, along with more than 50 readers and forum members. You'll be able to chat with us one on one, talk DVD and high-def, get sneak previews of great upcoming titles, browse the often star-studded convention floor, and eat, drink and be merry! Some of you may know the EMA event by its former designation, VSDA (here's a gallery of photos from a previous convention). We're lining up a fun three days of exclusive private events with the studios, industry parties and more. Plus, we've got discounted rates at The Venetian for everyone who attends. It's going to be a lot of fun, so we hope you'll join us. Click here (or on the image below) for more information on how to sign up! Act quickly, as we expect the final open slots to go fast. We hope to see you there!

Join us at EMA Expo in Vegas!

Also today, Geek Monthly magazine (to which Todd and I are regular contributors) and the beloved American Cinematheque are sponsoring a very special film festival this weekend (Friday through Sunday) in honor of one of the greatest "geek" years of Hollywood filmmaking ever... 1982. Screenings will be held all weekend at the historic Aero Theater in Santa Monica, CA, including The Thing, Cat People, The Dark Crystal, Poltergeist, Creepshow, TRON and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan! But here's the best part: After each screening, Geek staffers will be moderating panel discussions with some of the filmmakers involved! Among those expected to be on hand are David Odell, Syd Mead, Frank Marshall, Bruce Boxleitner, Harrison Ellenshaw, Nicholas Meyer and more. It's going to be a great time, so we hope you'll check it out. Click on the links for times and details on how to get tickets.

One last event note: The Digital Bits IS returning to Comic-Con next month with our annual DVD Sneak Peek panel. The details are still being worked out, but the panel will be on Thursday, July 26th, from 11:00 AM to 12 PM (in Room 5AB) of the San Diego Convention Center. We're cooking up something VERY cool for you this year, and we'll tell you more about it as soon as we're able. Just know that if you're going to be at Comic-Con down in San Diego this year, you're in for a treat.

Now then... the major bit of DVD release news today is that Paramount has just revealed a whole mess of great titles for August, September and October. First up, Paramount has set Disturbia for release on 8/1 on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD. Next, the mountain has announced a Face/Off: Special Collector's Edition for release on 9/11 on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD as well (2 discs each!). Following on 9/18 are the Flashdance: Special Collector's Edition, Upright Citizens Brigade: The Complete First Season, Upright Citizens Brigade: The Complete Second Season and Drawn Together: Uncensored! - Season Two, all on DVD. Then on 9/25, Paramount is releasing The Jack Ryan Special Edition Collection box set on both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, which includes The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum of All Fears! Cool, yes? But no, we're not done yet. Then on 10/2, Paramount will deliver a Funny Face: 50th Anniversary Edition, Top Gun in both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats, and PBS's long-awaited The War: A Ken Burns Film miniseries! No, I'm not kidding. That's a great line-up of titles right there. If something in that bunch doesn't get your blood pumping, you'd better check your pulse.

Also today, Warner has set The Year Without a Santa Claus: Deluxe Edition for release on 10/2, along with a Christmas Television Favorites box (SRP $39.72) featuring Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July and Rudolph's Shiny New Year. And on 9/11, look for the Cartoon Network Movie: Re-animated (SRP $14.97).

Here's a look at the cover art for PBS' The War: A Ken Burns Film, MGM's Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Collector's Edition (9/11), Paramount's Face/Off: Special Collector's Edition (on Blu-ray), and Sony's Vacancy, Labyrinth: Anniversary Edition and The Dark Crystal: 25th Anniversary Edition (all 8/14)...

The War: A Ken Burns FilmInvasion of the Body Snatchers: Collector's EditionFace/Off: Special Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

VacancyLabyrinth: Anniversary EditionThe Dark Crystal: 25th Anniversary Edition

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/12/07 - 3 PM PDT)

Okay, as promised, we've just posted our own Barrie Maxwell's latest edition of Classic Coming Attractions, featuring reviews of 9 classic TV shows on DVD, including Paramount's Hawaii Five-0: The First Season, I Love Lucy: The Final Seasons - 7, 8 & 9, Rawhide: The Second Season, Volume 1, The Streets of San Francisco: Season 1, Volume 1, The Untouchables: Season 1, Volume 1 and The Wild Wild West: The Second Season, MGM's The Magnificent Seven: Season Two, VCI's Craig Kennedy, Criminologist and Questar's Funniest Moments of Comedy. As always, Barrie runs down the latest classic DVD announcement news too. Enjoy!

We've got a little more DVD news to report today. In the hours between last night's post and this one, MGM announced an Invasion of the Body Snatchers: Collector's Edition for release on 8/7 (the 1978 remake). The 2-disc set (SRP $19.98) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio, audio commentary by director Philip Kauffman, 4 featurettes (Re-Visitors from Outer Space, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Pod, Practical Magic: The Special Effect Pod, The Man Behind the Scream: The Sound Effects Pod and The Invasion Will Be Televised: The Cinematography Pod) and the original theatrical trailer.

Also, Warner Home Video has set the Adult Swim animated title Metalocalypse: Season One for release on 10/2 as a 2-disc set (SRP $29.98). Dethklok rules!

Finally today, we've got a couple more high-def stories that are sure to set the discussion boards burning. Just a day after a Microsoft rep admitted that his company would rather HD movie content be delivered via download rather than optical disc (including the HD-DVD format Microsoft claims to support so enthusiastically), Reuters is now reporting that Toshiba is cutting its 2007 sales forecast for HD-DVD players by a whopping 44%, despite the company having slashed its player prices dramatically in recent weeks. According to the piece, this comes "after disappointing sales in the U.S., putting a damper on prospects for one of its growth businesses." This is revealed even as Toshiba's PR machine has been crowing (see this story at Video Business) that its players control 60% of the stand-alone market share for high-def. Says Universal Studios Home Entertainment EVP Ken Graffeo in the Reuters piece: "Consumers who are buying Playstation 3 are buying it as a game console. They're simply not buying it for watching as many high-definition movies as Sony said they would." Interesting, except those numbers don't add up. HD-DVD claims to have 60% of the stand-alone HD players (presumably a third more stand-alone players than Blu-ray at 40%)... and yet Blu-ray Disc software sales continue to outpace HD-DVD software by at least a 2 to 1 margin (see the latest Nielsen/VideoScan numbers above). Apparently, those PS3 owners are watching a few high-definition movies after all. Not coincidentally, Sony reps are today saying that they're optimistic about sales of their stand-alone Blu-ray Disc players this year (see this BBC story), on the strength of their own lowering player prices and also their format's exclusive movie content from Sony, Disney, MGM, Fox and Lionsgate.

Read the Soapbox people. We aren't just making this stuff up. Personally, I'm hoping this stupid format war will be over by the holidays, so we can put all this nonsense behind us and get on with the business of talking about what we really love... great movies on disc. I give it 50/50 odds this thing is over by the end of 2007... 90/10 it's over in 2008.

We'll be back with another new column from Jahnke tomorrow, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/12/07 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We're getting a jump start on this whole Tuesday thing with a little bit of release news.

First though, we wanted to let you know that our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section has once again been updated by our esteemed Russell Hammond with all the latest DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD cover art, all sortable to your heart's content, and all available for preorder from Amazon.com.

Also, Adam's checked in with yet another new installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre, featuring reviews of Brand Upon the Brain, Bug, Ocean's 13 and more. Enter if you dare...

And on a personal note, it's Sarah's birthday today. She's turning... no, better not go there! But The Bits wouldn't be possible without her, and neither would my own sanity, happiness and well being. So Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Now then... those announcements. Just in time to get ahead in your prep for the new school year, MGM has announced a whole slew of CliffsNotes catalog DVD releases on 7/24. No kidding, the studio is releasing Anna Karenina (1948), Wuthering Heights (1970), Of Mice and Men (1992), Moby Dick (1956), Lord of the Flies (1990), Jane Eyre (1944), Les Miserables (1935), Henry V (1989) and Inherit the Wind (1960) as CliffsNotes Ultimate Study Guide Editions, featuring the film on DVD and the corresponding CliffNotes study guide packaged together (SRP $14.98 each). They even come in familiar-looking black and yellow striped packaging. Nice. But you should STILL read the books.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Perfect Stranger for release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and UMD on 8/21. A Blu-ray Disc of Immortal Beloved has also been announced for 8/21, as have DVD editions of Dane Cook: The Lost Pilots, Til Death: The Complete First Season, The Dark Backward, Berenstain Bears: Get Organized!, It's a Big, Big, World: Using Your Senses and It's a Big, Big, World: Time for Bed.

In case we haven't mentioned it before, Paramount has announced A Night at the Roxbury: Special Collector's Edition for release on 8/28, the same day as Blades of Glory.

Also, Warner has set History of Wisconsin Football, NFL Americas Game: Dallas Cowboys, NFL Americas Game: Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL Americas Game: San Francisco 49ers, NFL Indianapolis Colts Road to Super Bowl XLI, Robot Chicken: Season Two and a Robot Chicken: Seasons 1 & 2 2-pack for release on 9/4. Josie & the Pussycats: The Complete Series, NFL Americas Game: Denver Broncos, NFL Americas Game: Miami Dolphins and NFL Americas Game: NY Giants follow on 9/18, with BBC Atlas of the Natural World: Africa/Europe, BBC Atlas of the Natural World: Wild Africa, NFL Americas Game: Green Bay Packers, NFL Americas Game: New England Patriots, NFL Americas Game: Raiders, NFL Americas Game: Washington Redskins and the annual How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Deluxe Edition DVD re-release set for 10/2. Finally, watch for Carlos Mencia in: The Best of Funny is Funny on 10/9.

And around the Net this morning, if any of you didn't believe my recent Soapbox take on Microsoft's real intentions in supporting HD-DVD, the company's own spokesman all but confirmed it yesterday at the Digital Hollywood conference in Santa Monica. Here's the relevant bit from a new story at Home Media:

If Microsoft has its way, DVD, Blu-Ray Disc and HD DVD will all be rendered obsolete within 10 years, according to Richard Doherty, Microsoft's program manager for Media Entertainment Convergence.

“I don't know that [HD] will be delivered on an optical disc in five to 10 years,” he said, pointing to downloads and broadband delivery. “At Microsoft, we'd rather it wasn't [on a disc]."


Doherty later added: “this will be the last optical [home entertainment] generation. If this one survives."

Hey, that should make HD-DVD fans feel good! That's right... Microsoft, one of HD-DVD's few major corporate supporters, is ALREADY counting on the format's demise. IF this one survives?! Are you kidding me?! They don't want it to survive! Microsoft having an in-house "Office of HD-DVD Evangelism" suddenly makes PERFECT sense. What better way for the company to ensure that HD optical discs die, and their own downloading service takes off, than by actively working to perpetuate the confusion of a format war in the "last optical generation"? Ugh. Don't say we didn't warn you, folks. "Oh, but look... HD-DVD players are cheaper right now!" Yeah. Swell. Would you like fries with that download?

We'll be back later this morning with Barrie's new Classic Coming Attractions column, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/11/07 - 12:30 PM PDT)

This is just a quick update to follow up on something we posted last week. In a letter to fans on the Bring Jericho Back website, CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler confirmed that its previously cancelled Jericho will be returning for at least 7 episodes next season, with the possibility for more if ratings improve. More importantly for DVD fans, however, was confirmation that the first season of the series will arrive on DVD on 9/25 (from CBS, distributed by Paramount).

One other announcement this afternoon: HBO has set the DVD release of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee for 9/11 (SRP $26.98). The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary, a featurette, interviews, a photo gallery and more.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/11/07 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Morning, folks! You may have noticed that we were disappeared there on Thursday and Friday. Work was being done on our server to correct the problems we had a week or two ago, and it prevented us from uploading our posts. With a little luck, however, the problems are now all behind us. So today we'll catch up with everything that's happened in the meantime. Let's get started...

First, Sony has announced the release of Vacancy and God Grew Tired of Us on 8/14, along with a trio of new 2-disc catalog DVDs, including The Dark Crystal: Anniversary Edition, Labyrinth: Anniversary Edition and the Taxi Driver: Limited Collector's Edition. Labyrinth will include animation cells, character sketch cards and a collectible booklet among other extras, while The Dark Crystal will feature a senitype and Jim Henson's original notes. FYI, Sony is also readying The Lives of Others for release on 8/21.

Meanwhile, Fox has set The Unit: Season Two for release on 9/25. Family Guy: Volume Five precedes it by a week, on 9/18. The Unit: Season Two (SRP $59.98) is a 6-disc set containing all 22 episodes of the season in anamorphic widescreen video, along with audio commentary on 10 episodes with members of the cast and crew, a still gallery and 3 featurettes (Making of The Unit: Season Two, Mission: The Making of Sub-Conscious and Dark Side of the Moon: Working with Weapons). Family Guy: Volume Five (SRP $39.98) is a 3-disc set containing 13 episodes (the first half of the season), along with audio commentary on every episode, 38 deleted scenes, 3 animatic episodes with optional commentary and 2 featurettes (Drawing Peter and Toys, Toys Galore).

Universal has moved the street date for its Dead Silence to 6/26 (from 7/10). That includes both the DVD and HD-DVD versions.

And Warner has announced a new Deliverance: 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition for release on 9/18 in DVD (SRP $19.97), Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD versions (SRP $28.99 each). Extras on all three versions will include audio commentary by director John Boorman, 5 featurettes (including Deliverance: The Beginning, Deliverance: The Journey, Deliverance: Betraying the River, Deliverance: Delivered and The Dangerous World of Deliverance) and the film's theatrical trailer.

Also newly announced by Warner is The Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection: Ultimate Collector's Edition 5-disc box set on 9/25 (SRP $49.92), which will include Babes in Arms, Babes on Broadway, Strike Up the Band and Girl Crazy, along with an exclusive bonus disc that offers with nearly three hours of material, including the Private Screenings with Mickey Rooney interview (hosted by TCM's Robert Osborne), the Judy Garland Songbook ("a collection of 21 Garland movie musical numbers, both famous and rare, spanning nearly 20 years of her amazing screen career, with all songs presented in complete form") and an extensive Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland trailer gallery.

Around the site this morning, we've updated all of the DVD and high-def format stats we track (above), for those who follow such things.

Baring any major breaking news before then, we'll be back tomorrow with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie Maxwell.

Stay tuned!


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