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





page updated: 10/4/07



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/28/07 - 9/10/07)


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(LATE UPDATE - 9/28/07 - 4:30 PM PDT)

Okay... Warner's PR agency just got back to us this afternoon. It's not exactly the formal statement from the studio that we'd been told to expect, but here's what they had to say:

"We understand you were looking for clarification following recent reports that WHV would be discontinuing the HD DVD combo discs. We would like to clarify that this is not the case and that WHV will continue to release combo HD DVD/DVD discs for the foreseeable future."

So there you go. Yeah... I know. That wasn't particularly informative, and it doesn't help those of you who are having trouble with Warner's Combo format discs, but there it is.

In the meantime, for those of you who ARE having trouble with Warner's Combo format discs, you can contact their customer service people at this link over at Warner Bros. Online.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday.

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/28/07 - 2:15 PM PDT)

There's a bit of confusion today on the HD-DVD front. At least one retail source has indicated that after January 2008, Warner Home Video will no longer issue titles on DVD/HD-DVD Combo discs (you can read more here in this post at the Home Theater Forum). According to this source, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is set to be the last Combo title the studio releases. Adding to the confusion is the fact that, starting on 10/2, Warner is reissuing a number of its previous Combo titles as HD-DVD only discs, including Superman Returns, The Ant Bully, The Fountain, Letters from Iwo Jima and others. However, contrary to all this, we've just spoken with a representative of the studio, who has informed us that Warner still supports the Combo format and plans to continue doing so.

As we've noted in recent weeks, a lot of our readers have been experiencing playback problems with DVD/HD-DVD Combo discs. Indeed, our own frustration with the Combo format here at The Bits finally boiled over this past weekend, prompting us to issue an appeal to the HD-DVD supporting studios on this very subject. Those of you who recall all the replication and playback problems with DVD-18 discs in recent years should appreciate the difficulties involved in effectively gluing two discs together and getting them to work properly in all players (DVD/HD-DVD Combo discs were just that - single-sided DVD and HD-DVD discs glued together back to back, while Warner's now indefinitely delayed TotalHD format would have done the same with HD-DVD and Blu-ray Discs).

Anyway, we're expecting an official statement from Warner Home Video on this issue later today, so we'll post it here as soon it comes in.

In the meantime, we've got a little bit of announcement news. First, speaking of Warner, the studio will release Return to House on Haunted Hill on 10/16 in R and Unrated DVD editions (SRP $27.99 each), as well as unrated Blu-ray and HD-DVD editions (SRP $34.99 each). The Unrated DVD will feature additional scenes, 2 featurettes (Return to House on Haunted Hill Confessionals and The Search for an Idol: Dr. Richard Hammer's Quest) and Mushroomhead's Simple Survival music video. Both high-def versions will feature Warner's new Navigational Cinema option, allowing viewers to chose the way they want the story to evolve. Some 60 minutes of additional scenes and endings were filmed, allowing for as many as 90 different versions of the film to play out based on viewer choices.

Also today, MGM has set The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition for release on DVD on 11/13 (SRP $19.98). The disc will include the new True Love and High Adventure: The Official Princess Bride DVD Video Game and 3 all-new featurettes (Princess Bride: The Untold Tales, The Art of Fencing and Fairytales and Folklore).

MGM has also announced the DVD release of the MGM Movie Legends: Bob Hope Collection on 12/4. This 7-disc set (SRP $39.98) will include the classics Alias Jessie James, Boy Did I Get a Wrong Number! and The Facts of Life for the first time ever on DVD, along with the previously-released They Got Me Covered, I'll Take Sweden, The Princess and the Pirate and The Road to Hong Kong.

For you disaster film fans, Genius Products has announced the DVD release of Killer Wave and Shattered City: The Halifax Explosion on 10/16.

Also, our friend Brian over at the MTV Movies Blog e-mailed us this morning to report that director Wes Anderson has informed them that a new Bottle Rocket special edition DVD release is coming from Criterion, presumably sometime in 2008. Good news indeed (thanks for sending it, Brian)!

And around the Net today, there's a new website dedicated to the Blu-ray Disc format that some of you might be interested in... Blu-crew.com. Do check it out if you're interested.

Here's some new cover art for you all this afternoon: Sony's Monty Python's Life of Brian: The Immaculate Edition on Blu-ray (11/20), DreamWorks' Shrek the Third on HD-DVD (11/13) and, on the standard DVD front, MGM's The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition, Warner's Return to House on Haunted Hill: Unrated Edition, Comedy Central's The Best of the Colbert Report (11/6) and Paramount's The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Two - The War Years (12/18)...

Monty Python's Life of Brian: The Immaculate Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Shrek the Third (HD-DVD)The Princess Bride: 20th Anniversary Edition

Return to House on Haunted Hill: Unrated EditionThe Best of the Colbert ReportThe Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Two - The War Years

We'll be back with that Warner statement as soon as it comes in. Stay tuned...

9/27/07

Okay... first up today: DreamWorks Animation (via Paramount) has officially announced the anticipated HD-DVD release of Shrek the Third on 11/13, day and date with the DVD version. Enhanced features will include a PiP storyboard option with branching extra scenes, a customizable menu option and several web-downloadable features. You can read more about the DVD and HD-DVD release here at Home Media.

Meanwhile, Fox has announced the DVD release of Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn on 11/20. The DVD (SRP $29.98) will include audio commentary by Herzog and interviewer Norman Hill, deleted scenes with optional commentary, the 4-part The Making of a True Story documentary and a stills gallery. Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Warner has set the DVD release of E.R.: The Complete Eighth Season for 1/22/08. Look for a 6-disc set with video in anamorphic widescreen (SRP $49.98). Extras are TBA. Also streeting on 1/8/08 is The Waltons: The Complete Sixth Season as a 5-disc set (SRP $39.98).

Image Entertainment's October slate will include Evil Aliens (R and Unrated), Caligula (in R, Unrated and Imperial editions), The Comedians of Comedy, I Believe in Santa Claus, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special and Southern Fried Chicks on 10/2, Comedy Jump Off: The Latino Invasion, The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Ultimate Edition, Mala Noche, Mike Marino: New Jersey's Bad Boy of Comedy, Playboy: Naked Happy Girls - New York Babes Uncovered and Raiders of the Damned on 10/9, a Caged Fury/Drug Traffickers/Savage Dawn triple feature, The Deadliest Catch: Season Two, Everest: Beyond the Limit, Future Weapons: Season One, Holiday on Ice: Under the Desert Sky, Mythbusters: Collection Two, The Nutcracker on Ice, One Stone and Two Birds and Treasures from American Film Archives III: Social Issues in American Film - 1900-1934 on 10/16, Autumn Moon, Jupiter Moon: New Frontier and Under the Volcano on 10/23, and Christmas at Water's Edge on 10/30.

Image's November slate is set to include 1,000 Places to See Before You Die: Collection One, Alien Siege, Best of the Jammys: Volume 2, Carry On Christmas, The Deadly Breaking Sword, Extreme Engineering: Collection One, Locos y Sueltos: Volume 3 and Manticore on 11/6, 3000 Miles, Driftwood, Fox Legend, Innocence, Just For Laughs: Gags Volumes 3 & 4, Kyle Cease: Weirder. Blacker. Dimpler., The Littles, A Tale of Two Cities and Tony Hawk's Secret Skatepark Tour 2 on 11/13, Blood Flood, Gene Autry: The Last Round-up, Looks and Smiles, Playboy: 2008 Video Playmate Calendar, Gene Autry: Riders in the Sky, Sin, Tales of Tomorrow: Collection 3, These Foolish Things and Gene Autry: Twilight on the Rio Grande on 11/20, and Day X on 11/27.

And Image's announced December titles include 2057/Future Car, The Killer Snakes, Gene Autry: Last of the Pony Riders, Secrets of Egypt's Lost Queen, Super Comet: After the Impact and a Thriller Chiller 10 Film Pack (includes Sunset Grill, Scorpion Spring, Eye of the Storm, Skeeter, Xtro, Xtro 2, Alone in the Dark, Afraid of the Dark, Relentless 3 and Relentless 4) on 12/4, and Brigham: Savage Journey, Bugs! A Rainforest Adventure, Playboy Tryouts Volume 2, Suffocation, Threshold, Undead or Alive and Whisky, Romeo, Zulu on 12/11.

Also today, Sony has set First Snow and Vitus for release on 11/27, with Already Dead following on 1/15/08.

Buena Vista has set a 3-disc Disney DuckTales: Volume 3 for release on 11/13.

Genius Products and TLC will be releasing Miami Ink: Season One on DVD on 10/30 (SRP $34.95).

And Universal will release The Land Before Time XIII: The Wisdom of Friends on 11/27 (SRP $19.98).

One last DVD note today: VCI has informed us that an error has been found in their new Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things: Exhumed Edition. An incorrect master was accidentally used that was cut short by several minutes and that wasn't properly video corrected. They've recalled all the discs and are busy replicating corrected ones. Anyone who obtained a bad disc can contact a VCI Customer Service rep to arrange an exchange at 800-331-4077 or vci@vcient.com. Exchange instructions will soon appear on their website as well. Our hats off to VCI for addressing this issue so quickly.

In other news this afternoon, word is that Microsoft's HALO 3 (for the Xbox 360) has sold a whopping $170 million in its first day of release. You can read more at Variety.

Also at Home Media, you'll find a report indicating that Sharp is preparing to release a Blu-ray Disc recorder in Japan this December, featuring a 1 terabyte hard drive that's capable of storing 127 hours of recorded programming. There's no word yet on when such a player might be released in the States.

By the way, did anyone watch NBC's debut of the Bionic Woman remake from last night? Can someone tell me what the hell happened to the rest of the episode? Almost all character development was shoved aside in favor of cramming way too much plot into far too little air time. I've got to believe that when this thing gets released on DVD eventually, we're going to learn that there's actually like a 90-minute extended version of the premiere. I just wish they'd shown it last night. Doogan believes the series has the potential. I'd say that it definitely has the potential for potential. I think Television without Pity sums it up pretty well. Looks like the ratings were huge though. I'll be curious to see if the numbers hold over the next few episodes.

Anyway... stay tuned...

9/26/07

It's a slow news day here at The Bits and around the industry, but we've got a couple of items to report today. First though, we'd like to take a moment to wish our own Adam Jahnke a Happy Birthday. Adam's our anchor here at The Bits and he's one of the best writers around. What we'd do without him we have no idea. So all the best to you Adam! Many happy returns and whatnot.

We've got a new DVD review up this afternoon that you Trek fans might be interested in... an early look at CBS and Paramount's new Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Series DVD box set, in honor of the show's 20th anniversary (the series debuted 20 years ago this past Monday, on 9/24/87). It includes all 7 seasons on 48 disc, plus a new 49th disc of new bonus content. If you don't have the show on DVD already, it's well worth a look.

Now then... Warner has announced the DVD release of Tom and Jerry Tales: Volume 3 on 12/4. Following on 1/8/08 is Two and a Half Men: The Complete Second Season, along with a Two and a Half Men: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 2-pack. Also set for 1/15/08 are The Marva Collins Story and Murder in Mississippi.

Also, there are rumors swirling around the Net that Fox is delaying the 10/2 Blu-ray release of Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer due to "manufacturing problems," but the studio tells us in no uncertain terms that it ain't so. According to Fox, the title WILL street on 10/2 as planned.

And around the Net today, Home Media has posted a story on the results of a Best Buy customer survey indicating that 9 out of 10 of their customers are confused about high-definition, including more than 40% of those who ALREADY own an HDTV display. That reflects not so much on Best Buy, but on how terrible a job the industry as a whole has done to explain HD to consumers. Yikes.

That's pretty much all that's going on today. Told you it was slow. We'll have more tomorrow however so... as usual... stay tuned!

9/25/07

Here at The Bits today, our own Russell Hammond has updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with tons of new DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover scans and Amazon pre-order links. Be sure to check them out.

The big release news today is that 20th Century Fox has set the DVD and Blu-ray debut of The Simpsons Movie for 12/18. The DVD (SRP $29.98) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Al Jean, Mike Scully, David Silverman, Dan Castellaneta and Yeardley Smith, a second commentary with directors David Silverman, Mike B. Anderson, Steven Dean Moore and Rich Moore, 6 deleted scenes (including Russ Cargill: "Levels", Springfield News, DMV, Sausage Truck, Emperor Moe and an alternate ending), 5 additional features and/or featurettes (Homer's Monologue on The Tonight Show, The Simpsons Judge American Idol, Homer Introduces American Idol, Let's All Go to the Lobby and Alternate Character Designs by the Directors and Matt Groening). The 50GB Blu-ray Disc (SRP $39.98) will include 1080p video encoded in AVC format, English 5.1 DTS HD Lossless Master Audio and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio in English, French and Spanish, and all of the standard definition DVD special features in full high-definition.

The other big release news today, is that New Line has set the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Rush Hour 3 for 12/26. The 2-disc Rush Hour 3: Platinum Edition DVD (SRP $34.99) will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio, audio commentary with director Brett Ratner, deleted scenes with commentary by Ratner, the Le Rush Hour Trois Production Diary featurette, a gag reel and the film's theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray Disc version (and an HD-DVD to be released in early 2008) will add an enhanced visual commentary. The HD-DVD will also feature Internet connectivity. Both high-def versions will sell for SRP $39.98. As with Hairspray, the HD-DVD version is being delayed because the format doesn't allow for region coding, and New Line has to be sensitive to the release plans of its international partners. A single-disc DVD edition will also be available on 12/26 containing just the movie (SRP $28.98).

Also, Sony has set I Know Who Killed Me for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 11/27. Both versions will include an alternate opening, an alternate ending, a blooper reel and an extended dance sequence.

HBO has set Jim Norton: Monster Rain for release on DVD on 10/16.

And Allumination FilmWorks has set the family western tale Outlaw Trail for release on 10/16 as well.

We've got one last bit of Braveheart follow-up for you today: Industry sources are telling us to expect an HD-DVD release of the film some time in 2008. Note that details on the DVD extras (some of which we listed yesterday) are still being finalized and are subject to change.

Here's a look at cover art for the DVD and Blu-ray version of Rush Hour 3, along with Fox's How I Met Your Mother: Season Two (10/2)...

Rush Hour 3: Platinum EditionRush Hour 3 (Blu-ray Disc)How I Met Your Mother: Season Two

We've also got a look for you at the contents of Fox's Ford at Fox Collection on DVD (due 12/4)...

Ford at Fox Collection

Around the Net today, word is that Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA) has officially chosen Blu-ray Disc as its high-def format of choice. The HTSA is a national association of home theater experts, A/V specialty dealers and installers, representing 62 member retailers (and over 800 installers) with some $500 million in combined buying power. They apparently announced their decision at CEDIA, after discovering in internal studies that "92% of category sales by HTSA members were in Blu-ray players, with the balance comprised mostly of dual-format players that combine BD and HD DVD playback capability." Says executive director Richard Glikes, "The industry looks to HTSA as an expert for custom home theater, built upon a foundation of the top consumer electronic retailers across the country. Based on our member research and observations in the field, it is clear that HTSA customers have made Blu-ray Disc their preferred HD format for movies and other packaged video content." You can read more here at TWICE.

We've been getting a lot of e-mails from readers responding to my comments from yesterday (click the link and scroll down to the end of the column) about the DVD/HD-DVD Combo format. Based on their feedback, it seems the playback problems with these Combo discs aren't limited to those of us here at The Bits by any means, though the severity people are experiencing seems to vary. Some people are experiencing troubles with just a select few titles, while others are having much more widespread issues. We've gotten complaints in the last 24 hours about titles as recent as Universal's Knocked Up and Warner's We Are Marshall, as well as many others going several back months. We're also hearing from supporters of both formats, some of whom have simply stopped buying Combo discs for their unreliability. A couple readers e-mailed to say that they were wary of buying Paramount's forthcoming Star Trek: Season One DVD/HD-DVD box set for this reason. We're hopeful that this problem will finally be resolved soon. Either way, we've got a number of inquiries out on this issue to the various studios and parties involved. We'll keep you updated on our own experiences.

Did anyone out there happen to catch the debut of Chuck on NBC last night? The title character is a guy who manages a "Nerd Herd" technical support crew at a Buy More store (clearly a spoof of the Geek Squad folks at Best Buy). The reason I mention this today, is because during the episode, a couple of times we saw the inside of the Buy More, right there in the background were a number of HDTV displays... some of which had their anamorphic settings wrong so the video was squished. Now, THAT is a nice touch and it gave me a good laugh, obscure though it might be. Given how savvy the show is, I'd be surprised if this wasn't a deliberate decision by the production crew. How many times have you gone into a Best Buy or a Circuit City and seen the same thing? Very funny. It's a cute show by the way. Definitely worth checking out.

Finally today, we want take a moment to acknowledge the passing of Marcel Marceau, who died over the weekend in Paris. Marceau almost single-handedly revived the art of mine during his long career on stage. He also made many TV and film appearances, including Mel Brooks' Silent Movie and the cult classic Barbarella. He was 84. You can read more here at CNN.

Stay tuned...

9/24/07

Okay... we've got a few new announcements for you today.

First up, Universal has set I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry for release on 11/6. Look for separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen DVD versions, as well as a DVD/HD-DVD Combo release (SRP $39.98).

The studio has also added The Land Before Time: Good Times and Good Friends for DVD release on 11/27.

Meanwhile, HBO has set the Tom Hanks IMAX title Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon for DVD release on 11/6 (SRP $19.98). Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include a "Lunar Exploration Command Center that focuses on all of the Apollo missions and reveals newly released photographs, CGI and actual live-action renditions of the lunar escape, a video diary, trivia game, moon maps and more."

Also today, Genius Products and The Weinstein Company have announced the release Michael Moore's Sicko documentary on DVD on 11/6 (SRP $29.95). Extras will include 30 minutes of added footage, additional interview clips, a music video and footage from the L.A. premiere for the film. There's no word yet on an HD-DVD version.

One other quick note: We mentioned last week that Paramount would be releasing a Braveheart: Special Collector's Edition on DVD on 12/18. We'd said originally that this was a reissue, but now it looks as if that's not the case. We're still waiting on official specs, but it appears as if this will be a 2-disc set. The film will be presented in newly-remastered anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio. The previously released audio commentary with director Mel Gibson and 2 theatrical trailers will be included, but you'll also get 2 new featurettes (Tales of William Wallace and A Writer's Journey), archival interviews with the cast, a photo gallery and multiple History Channel featurettes as well. There's no indication yet of an HD-DVD release, but stay tuned. There's also no indication yet as to whether the original DVD's documentary (A Filmmaker's Passion: The Making of Braveheart) will be included. We'll be sure to update you when we know more.

Okay... around the site today, we've kicked off FIVE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Superman Doomsday, Deliverance: Deluxe Edition, Smallville: Season 6, Lucky You, We Are Marshall, Josie and the Pussycats, Legion of Super Heroes: Volume 1, Two and a Half Men: Season 1, Tweety's High-flying Adventure and Chill Out, Scooby-Doo!, Fox's Civic Duty and Wrong Turn 2, The Weinstein Company's Dragon Heat, New Line's Full of It and a random "grab bag" DVD or promo item. All of these contests will run for TWO WEEKS, until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 7th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Around the Net today, Home Media has another story up on how confused many independent studios and distributors are over which high-def format to release their titles on, and how they're trying to make their decisions.

We've got some new cover art for you to check out this afternoon: Here's a look at HBO's Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon, a sampling of Warner's Stanley Kubrick titles in high-definition (all due on 10/23) and Sony's The Three Stooges Collection: Volume One - 1934-1936 (10/30)...

Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon2001: A Space Odyssey (Blu-ray Disc)Eyes Wide Shut (Blu-ray Disc)

A Clockwork Orange (HD-DVD)The Shining (HD-DVD)The Three Stooges Collection: Volume One - 1934-1936

Finally today, I'd like to say a few words of appeal to the HD-DVD supporting studios. And no, this is not what some of you think. I've said many times that I like the HD-DVD format, despite the fact that I prefer Blu-ray. And believe it or not, it's true. Except for one thing: I absolutely HATE the DVD/HD-DVD Combo format. I hate it with a passion. Why? Well... let's put it this way. I've kept a bit of a running tally. In the last two months, I've checked out 23 Combo titles. You know how many actually worked, playing smoothly all the way through? Just 9. In the other 14 cases, I'd be watching the movie and about halfway through it just freezes, stutters a little bit and then flashes an error code. What's happening, it seems, is that in the replication stage, the bonding layer between the DVD and HD-DVD halves is being applied too thickly. So many HD-DVD players choke on the resulting Combo disc. This is the same problem a lot of people had with Universal's The Good Shepherd and Children of Men Combo discs a few months ago. Clearly, the problem STILL hasn't been resolved. I know it's not just my player, because not only have I updated the firmware and still had problems, the same discs crash on other players I've tried, as well as the HD-DVD drive on my new PC. And I get regular complaints from readers who are experiencing the same issue.

This is a HUGE problem, folks. Nearly every new film these studios are releasing is on a Combo disc. If less than half of them are working properly for me, just how big is this problem market-wide? The most recent problem I've had: Warner's We Are Marshall, just last night. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to be two-thirds of the way into a movie only to have it crash on you? Well... yeah, I suppose some of you do. How are the studios managing the customer service problem here? I've got so many non-working Combo discs I wouldn't even know where to start trying to exchange them all. So this is my appeal to the HD-DVD supporting studios: PLEASE... either fix this problem with the Combo discs, or abandon the Combo format altogether and just release your titles on regular HD-DVD discs. It might be a good idea for the HD-DVD Promotion Group to create a single phone number or e-mail address to act as a clearing house for this, where people with defective discs can get them easily exchanged. Let's have an end to this problem once and for all.

Okay... as many of you know, the big release for this week isn't a DVD or high-def title, but rather the debut of Microsoft's HALO 3 for the Xbox 360. We know a lot of you guys have been eagerly awaiting tomorrow's big debut of the game, so to all of you... lock, load and enjoy!

Naturally, we'll be back tomorrow with more news and whatnot for the rest of you, still remaining here in the non-virtual universe. As always, stay tuned...

9/21/07

The big news today is that Sony will release Superbad on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 12/4. Additional details will follow.

Lionsgate has announced a number of new DVD titles as follows: Holla (10/9), Fido (10/23), Captivity (10/23), Wildfire: Season Two and Danny Roane: First Time Director (11/6), and Skinwalkers (11/27).

Meanwhile, Paramount has set The Tudors: The Complete First Season for DVD release on 1/2/08, with Gunsmoke: The Second Season, Volume One and The Naked Brothers Band: Season One following on 1/8. The studio is also reissuing the Braveheart: Special Collector's Edition on 12/18. Also coming on that day is The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Volume Two. And on the HD-DVD front, Paramount will release an Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - Unrated, Uncut & Uncalled For! Edition on 11/27 (for DreamWorks).

Also today, MGM has finally released the details of its Erik the Viking: Director's (Son's) Cut, due on 12/4 (SRP $19.98). Featuring a new 75-minute cut of the film created by... yes, director Terry Jones' son... this version offers re-ordered scenes, a tighter pace and a remixed and re-dubbed soundtrack. Says Terry Jones in the press release: "When the film came out in 1989 I was not happy at all with it. With the Monty Python movies I'd been a hands-on editor, yet with Erik the Viking I didn't get involved in the process until too late. I've always thought there was a better film in there, waiting to get out, and this new version is it!" The DVD will feature anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with Terry Jones, the theatrical trailer, the Behind the Director's (Son's) Cut featurette, a vintage 1989 "making of" featurette and the Giant Visions in the Sky from the Gods of Valhalla photo gallery.

Finally, Warner has set On Bloody Sunday for release on 12/18 (for Polychrome).

Around the site today, Todd Doogan has turned in his latest edition of Doogan's Views, in which he reviews a number of Anchor Bay's recent Masters of Horror DVDs, including Right to Die, The Screwfly Solution, The Black Cat, Valerie on the Stairs, We All Scream for Ice Cream, Sounds Like and The Washingtonians. Don't miss it!

Our own Greg Suarez has checked in with a review of Sony's The Replacement Killers: Extended Cut on Blu-ray Disc as well.

Also today, Barrie Maxwell wanted me to let all of you know that he's busy working on a new Classic Coming Attractions column, featuring plenty of reviews - a column that will be worth the wait and that should be up by the end of the month. He also promises a return to normal column output soon. As some of you may know, Barrie's been in the middle of moving to a new house, so things have been a little chaotic for him. But things will be back to normal soon, so he appreciates your patience in the meantime.

We've got just a last couple of things for you today, in terms of news around the Net. First, Home Media is reporting that Microsoft will be releasing a new HD-DVD add-on drive for the Xbox 360 next year.

Video Business has a good story up on how smaller studios and distributors are struggling to decide which high-def format to start releasing their titles on. It's worth a read.

Finally, Home Media has piece on a recent study by The NPD Group that offers something of a red flag for proponents of both high-def formats: According to their study, 73% of consumers with high-def displays who responded to their survey were satisfied with standard DVD and saw no need to upgrade to either HD-DVD or Blu-ray. This suggests the truth of something we've been arguing all along: The massive success of DVD is going to prove the biggest obstacle to the adoption of high-def discs, not competition between the two high-def formats themselves.

Okay, that's it for another busy week. Don't forget that Ken Burns' The War debuts on PBS on Sunday night. It's well worth your time.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday. Stay tuned!

9/20/07

Okay... we've checked in with Fox this morning and we've got an update for you on their Blu-ray Disc release slate. Despite rumors to the contrary, only 2 titles have been delayed. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World has been pushed back until 2/5/08. As we've noted before, a technical glitch was detected during QC that would have caused problems with a small percentage of Blu-ray Disc players. Fox probably could have gotten away with releasing the title anyway (potentially letting hardware manufacturers deal with the problem through firmware updates), but the studio rightly decided to fix the problem instead. However, given the crush by all the studios to replicate their BD titles for pre-holiday release, there was no way to get the title back into the replication schedule in time for fixed discs to arrive in stores before the end of the year. The other title that's been delayed (though not for technical reasons according to Fox) is MGM's The Amityville Horror, which is now planned for early 2008 release as well (street date TBA). All of the other previously announced titles are unaffected. Here is the updated Fox/MGM Blu-ray release schedule (baring any new announcements) through the end of the year:

10/2 - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, The Day After Tomorrow [Editor's Note - 7PM Update: Fox earlier today reported to us that this title would street on 10/23, but this evening the studio has corrected the date to 10/2 - sorry for the confusion]

10/9 - From Hell, The Fly (1986), Edward Scissorhands, 28 Days Later, 28 Weeks Later (previously 10/23), RoboCop (MGM)

10/23 - The Hills Have Eyes 2: Unrated

11/6 - The Battle of Britain (MGM), A Bridge Too Far (MGM)

11/13 - I, Robot, Prison Break: Season 1

11/20 - Die Hard, Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Live Free and Die Hard, Pathfinder: Unrated, Red Dawn (MGM)

12/4 - Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Independence Day, Cast Away, Ronin (MGM)

2/5/08 - Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (previously 10/2/07)

TBA Early 2008 - The Amityville Horror (1979 - MGM - previously 10/2/07)

On the DVD front, MGM has announced Erik the Viking: The Director's (Son's) Cut for release on 12/4. No kidding - you'll find the cover art below. Additional details will follow soon.

In other release news today, Universal has set Bring It On: In It to Win It for DVD release on 12/18, along with a 4-disc Bring It On: Cheerbook Collection (SRP $44.98). The Cheerbook Collection includes the original Bring It On, along with Bring It On Again, Bring It On: All or Nothing, Bring It On: In It to Win It and finally Bring It On One Last Time, Beotch. Okay... I made that last one up, but you DO get all the others.

Finally, Warner has set Innocent Voices for release on 11/27 (for Polychrome).

Okay... we've got a little more cover art for you today. First up is the REAL final cover art for Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Razor - Unrated Extended Edition (due 12/4). I know it may not look different, but you'll note that the original art we posted yesterday had the text "BSG 75" on the seal. But fans of the show will know that the Pegasus was BSG 69... not 75 (the Galactica is 75). So the text has been corrected on the new final art. Yeah... I know what some of you are thinking. Don't even say it. Fans care about this stuff.

You'll also the artwork we promised for MGM's Erik the Viking: The Director's (Son's) Cut, as well as Buena Vista's October Road: The Complete First Season (due 10/30)...

Battlestar Galactica: Razor - Unrated Extended EditionErik the Viking: The Director's (Son's) CutOctober Road: The Complete First Season

And here's one last news report for you today, just because we haven't talked much format war in the last couple of days: Disney CEO Bob Iger had this to say about his company's support of BD at the Goldman Sachs 2007 Communacopia Conference in New York this week: "We are formally behind Blu-ray and haven't taken any money to do that." If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time anyone at Disney as commented publicly on the issue of whether or not Disney has accepted money to remain BD exclusive. Fox's Rupert Murdoch had some strong words on the format war at the conference as well, publicly accusing Toshiba of having essentially bought Paramount and DreamWorks' exclusive support for HD-DVD. You can read more on all this here at Home Media Retailing and here at Daily Variety. So for those of you who might have thought that Fox and Disney didn't support Blu-ray at the highest levels, there you go. Not that we expect any of this to change the opinions of critical HD-DVD enthusiasts, but those of you who have decided to support Blu-ray should take definite comfort in Iger and Murdoch's comments. Both studios are into BD for the long haul.

We'll be back tomorrow with more reviews, including a new column from Doogan. Stay tuned...

9/19/07

Universal has announced the DVD release of Curious George: Plays in the Snow and Other Awesome Activities and The Land Before Time: Good Times and Good Friends, both on 12/4. The studio has also revealed the cover art chosen by fans on Sci-Fi.com for their forthcoming DVD release of the Battlestar Galactica: Razor - Unrated Extended Edition, also due on 12/4 (see below).

Meanwhile, Warner has set Allo 'Allo!: The Complete Series 7 for release on 1/15/08 (for the BBC). Also coming are One Tree Hill: The Complete Fourth Season and a One Tree Hill: The Complete Seasons 1-4 (4-Pack) on 12/18.

Magnolia has set Murder Party and Crazy Love for release on 10/16.

First Run Features will release I Was Nineteen and Trace of Stones on 10/23, both from the collection of the legendary East German studio DEFA. Also coming that day from First Run is a box set of 4 documentary films, entitled A Musical Quartet (SRP $69.95), which will include From Mao to Mozart: Isaac Stern in China, Small Wonders, High Fidelity: The Adventures of the Guarneri String Quartet and The Turandot Project.

Genius Products has set Meerkat Manor: Season One for DVD release on 10/9.

And New Line will apparently be releasing a multi-disc New Line Cinema's 40th Anniversary Collection DVD box set on 11/20 (SRP $274.99). Full details as to the exact titles set to be included will be announced shortly.

Finally today, a quick heads-up: Manga has just launched their newly revised DVD website. Do check it out.

Here's a look at that final Battlestar Galactica: Razor cover art, along with both DVD versions of Warner's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (due 12/11)...

Battlestar Galactica: RazorHarry Potter and the Order of the PhoenixHarry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Two-Disc Special Edition

Stay tuned...

9/18/07

We've updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section again today with new DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover art and Amazon pre-order links. Be sure to check it out.

Also, our own Adam Jahnke has delivered his latest edition of Jahnke's Electric Theatre featuring reviews of several new-to-theaters films including David Cronenberg's Eastern Promises, Julie Taymor's Across the Universe and Rob Zombie's remake of Halloween, along with Dragon Wars and The Brave One. Don't miss it!

In terms of release news, 20th Century Fox has just informed us that their Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Blu-ray Disc, which had been set for release on 10/2, has been temporarily delayed. Apparently, during QC, Fox discovered an authoring problem that could cause problems on a small number of Blu-ray players, so they decided to correct it. The studio tells me that they hope to announce the new street date later this week.

Fox has also announced the DVD release of Love's Unending Legacy on 12/4.

Indican Pictures is releasing the C. Thomas Howell/Slam poetry epic Fighting Words on DVD on 10/16. Video is anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include bloopers, cast and crew interviews, the theatrical trailer, a still gallery, a behind-the-scenes featurette and a tribute to Edward Albert.

Genius Products and The Weinstein Company will release the CG-animated family film The Reef on 10/9.

Genius is also releasing the documentary Deep Water on DVD on 12/18.

And Sony has set First Snow for DVD release on 11/27, starring Guy Pearce and Piper Perabo.

Blu-ray fans will be pleased to learn that Buena Vista has lowered the SRP of their forthcoming Lost: The Complete Third Season (due on 12/11) to just $96.99. That's down from the originally announced price of $130.

Finally, though we hinted at it last week, Warner has officially announced the Blu-ray and HD-DVD release of That's Entertainment: The Complete Collection as a 3-disc set on 11/13 (SRP $79.98 each). All three films in the series will be included in full 1080p video, including That's Entertainment!, That's Entertainment, Part 2 and That's Entertainment! III. You'll also get 5 hours worth of bonus material, including 3 documentaries, premiere night coverage, salutes to the behind-the-camera talents, TV specials, making-of featurettes, an extensive video jukebox of rare musical outtakes from classic films and more. I know at least one person in NYC who's going to rush out and buy a high-def player just for this release. Good news indeed.

Around the Net today, there are stories at Variety and Video Business suggesting that both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD are likely to coexist "for the foreseeable future." This comes from a report by the U.K. research firm Screen Digest, whose belief is that most studios will eventually decide to release their titles in both formats, like Warner currently does. Maybe, though Paramount and DreamWorks' recent moves would seem rather contrary to this notion. The question is, will the studios be able to make much of a profit doing so? And how will retailers react to the notion? In any case, we suspect the fate of the format war will depend on their sales performance this Christmas holiday shopping season.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/17/07 - 2 PM PDT)

Just a quick update... Warner Home Video has just officially announced the DVD and high-def release of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for 12/11. The DVD will be available in single-disc anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $28.98) as well as a 2-disc Special Edition (SRP $34.99). The 2-disc edition will include 17 minutes of additional footage, A&E's The Hidden Secrets of Harry Potter documentary, 2 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Trailing Tonks and Harry Potter: The Magic of Editing) and DVD-ROM extras (including a timeline, sneak peeks at the sixth film and more). The Blu-ray and DVD/HD-DVD Combo versions (SRP $35.99 each) will include all of the DVD extras save for the ROM content. The Blu-ray Disc will add a number of exclusive Focus Points featurettes, while the DVD/HD-DVD version will offer an exclusive In-Movie Experience, along with web-enabled features (like the ability to pick your favorite scenes and to hold live community screenings, as well as various downloads).

This is in addition to the previously announced Harry Potter Limited Edition Gift Set (available in DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD versions - click here for more on that), which includes all FIVE films in the series (including Order of the Phoenix) plus additional extras (SRP $119.97 for the DVD set and $149.99 for either high-def version).

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/17/07 - 1:45 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks. Hope you all had an enjoyable weekend, as usual.

I've been a bit under the weather these last few days, but that turns out to have been a okay thing, surprisingly, as I was able to use the time to watch the first three episodes of Ken Burns' long-awaited documentary series on World War II... The War. The official broadcast run begins next Sunday night (9/23) on PBS, but I was fortune enough to get my hands on a copy of the DVD release version last week. And I'm pleased to say, it's every bit as good as I'd hoped. You can read my review of the DVD here.

Now... let's have some announcement news...

For you direct to video fans, Universal has announced American Pie Presents: Beta House and an American Pie Presents: Stifler's 3-Movie Package (featuring American Pie Presents: Band Camp, American Pie Presents: Beta House and American Pie Presents: The Naked Mile) for release on 12/26.

MGM has announced an American Movie Musicals collection for release on 10/9, which will include Hair, DeLovely and A Chorus Line. Following on 10/16 will be an MGM Holiday Classics collection, due to include The Bishop's Wife, March of the Wooden Soldiers and Pocketful of Miracles. And due on 11/6 is The Coen Brothers Gift Set (SRP $49.98), featuring Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller's Crossing, Barton Fink and Fargo.

Fox has finally announced the DVD release of Futurama: Bender's Big Score for release on 11/27. You'll find the cover art below.

Paramount has set Frasier: The Tenth Season for release on 12/11. They're also releasing a Christmas Time in South Park DVD on 11/13, featuring the episodes Mr. Hankey, the Christmas Poo, Merry Christmas, Charlie Manson, Mr. Hankey's Christmas Classics, A Very Crappy Christmas, Red Sleigh Down, It's Christmas in Canada and Woodland Critter Christmas. It also comes in gold foil packaging that makes it look like one of those Little Golden Books from when you were a kid. Nice.

Finally, Criterion has just announced a pair of DVD releases for December, including Monte Hellman's classic Two-Lane Blacktop (Cat #415) and a 4-disc Ingmar Bergman: Four Masterworks box that will repackage The Seventh Seal (#11), Smiles of a Summer Night (#237), The Virgin Spring (#321) and Wild Strawberries (#139).

Finally, we've got a little bit more new cover art for you to check out. Here's Fox's Futurama: Bender's Big Score and Waitress (11/27), as well as Paramount's Christmas Time in South Park...

Futurama: Bender's Big ScoreWaitressChristmas Time in South Park

Stay tuned...

9/14/07

Holy moley... you're not going to believe this (and for once, it has nothing to do with the format war): Universal has just set Galactica 1980: The Complete Series for release on 12/26 (SRP $29.98). No, I am not kidding. I even have the artwork to prove it below. Somewhere out there, probably waiting to sign autographs at some sci-fi convention, Herb Jefferson, Jr. is smiling today. You go, Boomer.

Universal has also confirmed the 11/6 DVD and HD-DVD release of I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry, along with the 12/11 release (on both formats) of The Bourne Ultimatum. More details and artwork are expected to follow next week. You can read more here at Home Media Retailing.

Meanwhile, Buena Vista has Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive - Volumes 1 & 2 due up next week on 9/18. These are the first two volumes of what will eventually be a five volume set. Each disc contains six episodes plus extras.

Tartan has confirmed the 11/6 release of Oldboy on Blu-ray (SRP $34.95) which comes complete with three audio commentaries, deleted scenes with optional commentary and the standard DVD version as well, which adds 6 featurettes, and cast and crew interviews.

Finally, Warner has announced The Fever (12/4 - for HBO) and A Dennis the Menace Christmas (11/6). And here's a late addition: Warner has announced a 2-disc Selena: 10th Anniversary Edition for release next week, on 9/18. This will include an extended edition of the film, along with new extras and interviews.

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the latest weekly sales numbers through the third week of August. All charts (above) have been updated accordingly.

And in one piece of other news around the Net, Video Business has a story on how Target has quietly doubled shelf space for Blu-ray in many of its retail locations.

We'll leave you with a look at the art for Galactica 1980, along with Paramount's Titanic: 10th Anniversary Edition - Two-Disc Collector's Set (due 11/20 - just a repackage, there's no new extras) and Oldboy on Blu-ray...

Galactica 1980Titanic: 10th Anniversary Edition - Two-Disc Collector's SetOldboy (Blu-ray)

Have a great weekend, folks! See you Monday...

9/13/07

We've got just a few new announcements for you today.

Warner has set What I Like About You: The Complete First Season for re-release on 10/2 (likely a promotional tie-in to the 11/20 release of New Line's Hairspray, also staring Amanda Bynes). Fallen Angels follows on 11/13. On 1/18/08, look for a pair of new animated titles, including The All-New Superfriends Hour: Season 1, Volume 1 and What's New Scooby-Doo: Complete Third Season. Also on 1/8, you'll get a new Twister: Two-Disc Special Edition on DVD, as well as single-disc Blu-ray and HD-DVD editions. Finally, on 1/15/08, look for The Royle Family: The Complete Second Season (for the BBC).

In addition, Universal has set Whisper for release on 11/27.

And MGM will release Pink Panther: A Pink Christmas on DVD on 11/6. It contains the original 1970s holiday special, along with two additional TV specials: The Olym-pinks and Pink at First Sight.

Here's a look at the Twister: Two-Disc Special Edition DVD artwork, along with the DVD and Blu-ray art for New Line's just-announced Hairspray: 2-Disc Shake & Shimmy Edition (due 11/20). It looks as if each format will have lenticular cover art with two different images for Hairspray - one with the adult cast and one with the kids (we've posted a look at each)...

Twister: Two-Disc Special EditionHairspray: 2-Disc Shake & Shimmy EditionHairspray: 2-Disc Shake & Shimmy Edition (Blu-ray)

Sarah and I saw Hairspray a few weeks ago. It's a pretty fun little film and a good updating of the original John Waters film, but man... John Travolta seriously creeps me out in that fat suit and Jackie-O hair. Yikes. He's damn funny in the movie though, especially his dance number with Christopher Walken. I'll say no more.

Stay tuned...

9/12/07

Afternoon, folks. There's not much real news today to report titles-wise, but there is a good interview with Warner Home Video president Ron Sanders over at TWICE. In it, Sanders says that TotalHD is on hold at the moment, that the studio remains committed to both HD formats for the time being, and that they're going to be watching sales closely in the 4th quarter of this year. It's quick but well worth a read. Our thanks to Greg Tarr at TWICE for posting it.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/11/07 - 5 PM PDT)

Here's a bit of a surprise... New Line has just announced their first high-definition title for release in November. It's Hairspray... coming on Blu-ray only on 11/20, day and date with the standard DVD. The HD-DVD version is being delayed until next year, because the format doesn't offer region coding and the studio needs to be sensitive to the release dates of "independent international distributors," according to New Line's EVP of marketing Matt Lasorsa. However, New Line's general policy moving forward will be format neutral, like Warner. Here's the relevant text from the Home Media Retailing piece:

Even after Hairspray, most New Line titles will be released the same day on both standard DVD and Blu-ray Disc, with a lag for the HD DVD version. “But for second-party acquisitions to which we don't have international rights,” Lasorsa said, “we will be day-and-date on all three formats."

The Hairspray DVD will be released in three versions - a single-disc edition (SRP $28.98), a widescreen 2-disc Shake and Shimmy special edition (SRP $34.99) and a gift set edition (SRP $59.76) that includes a metal school locker and a tote bag. The 2-disc version will include the You Can't Stop the Beat behind-the-scenes documentary, deleted scenes, multiple audio commentaries, the Hairspray Extensions featurette on the dance moves in the film, a dance tutorial and a new musical number (I Can't Wait). The Blu-ray will feature a Behind the Beat picture-in-picture option (we believe the first PiP on a Blu-ray title) in addition to the standard DVD extras. The eventual HD-DVD will also offer these extras, along with Internet features. You can read more here at Video Business as well.

By the way, Sony has informed us that the street date for their Monty Python's The Life of Brian DVD and Blu-ray has moved from 11/6 to 11/20. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/11/07 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Okay, we've heard back from Warner Home Video this morning. Once again, the official word on the studio's high-def format support policy is there's no change. As it has for some time now, Warner continues to support both Blu-ray and HD-DVD. Just FYI.

Here at the site today, Adam's checked in with another Electric Theatre update, featuring reviews of a pair of new-to-theaters titles, including James Mangold's remake of 3:10 to Yuma and Michael Davis' Shoot 'Em Up. Don't miss it.

Our own Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section again this morning, with lots of new DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover art and Amazon links. Be sure to check it out.

We've also launched THREE new Contests today, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's Nip/Tuck: The Complete Fourth Season, Universal's Georgia Rules, and Fox's My Name Is Earl: Season Two and The Unit: Season Two. The contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, September 23rd. Click on the links to enter and good luck!

In announcement news today, Universal has set Intimate Affairs for release on DVD on 12/16 (SRP $24.98).

20th Century Fox has added Namesake and Waitress to its 11/27 DVD release slate.

Warner and HBO have set Living and Dying for release on 12/26.

And New Line has slated El Cantante for 10/30 (Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony rejoice!).

Also this morning, we've been informed that Paramount's Titanic: 10th Anniversary Edition is basically just a repromote, and will not include any new extras.

Finally, our friends over at The Criterion Collection seem to have revamped their website recently. It's pretty nice - worth checking out when you get a chance.

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/11/07 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... we've got just a quick update for you on the Toshiba thing from yesterday's post. Apparently, this story in the L.A. Times (also carried in Newsday) was based on information that's a couple weeks out of date. This "offer" from Toshiba that the piece speaks about was apparently the one made the week Paramount and DreamWorks went HD-DVD exclusive. Our sources are telling us that Warner rejected that offer, preferring to stay format neutral. This offer thing being reported today is apparently old news.

We'll try to have more on this in the next day or two, but despite appearances - and the latest PR spin - there's no been no change in Warner's policy with regard to either high-def format. So for the third time: Ugh.

By the way, as might expected, we've received a few testy e-mails from HD-DVD supporters crying foul at our generally negative response to the idea of Toshiba attempting to pay the Hollywood studios to support HD-DVD exclusively. Here's the thing: If you TRULY believe that this format war should be decided by consumers and by the marketplace, can someone please explain to us how one side effectively paying studios to go from supporting BOTH formats to supporting just ONE (their own) exclusively serves the best interests of consumers? If anyone has a good answer for that, please let us know. We'd like to hear it. Enough said.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/10/07 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Here we go again: It seems that Toshiba, fresh off their success in paying Paramount and DreamWorks to go HD-DVD exclusive, has now made a huge offer to get Warner Home Video to do the same. According to this story at the L.A. Times, Warner is currently considering "a lucrative offer" to go HD-DVD exclusive as well (if you can't see it, Newsday has the article up too). The same piece says that Wal-Mart had set a mid-August deadline to consider which format to continue carrying in its retail stores, but that Toshiba has pledged to the retailer "a large cooperative promotional budget to support HD DVD sales." For the second time today: Ugh.

It's all about the Benjamins, folks. Cash on the barrel head. And there's nothing like a little cha-ching to warm a studio up to "the merits" of your high-def format. Anyone who actually thinks this is still about the merits of the technology, and what consumers actually want, is kidding themselves. It's all money. Always was, always will be.

Format wars. HUH! What are they good for? Absolutely NOTHING.

Unless you're a big studio CEO that is. "Please sir, may I have some more millions?" MMmmmmm... millions.

(LATE UPDATE - 9/10/07 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay... Warner's sent over another announcement this morning. Look for Martin Scorsese's The Aviator to arrive on Blu-ray and HD-DVD on 11/6 (SRP $28.99 each). Extras on each version will include audio commentary by Scorsese, an additional deleted scene, a History Channel documentary, a still gallery and the film's theatrical trailer in HD. The HD-DVD will feature Dolby Digital Plus audio, while the Blu-ray will feature Dolby Digital 5.1.

On the standard DVD front, Warner has set Harvey Birdman: The Complete Second Season for release on 10/2, along with Sealab 2021: Season 4 and The Brak Show: Volume Two. A Dennis the Menace: 10th Anniversary Edition and Dennis the Menace Strikes Again follow on 11/13.

Meanwhile, Sony has announced the DVD release of Luc Besson's Angel-A on 11/20 (SLP $29.95). The DVD will include "making of" featurette. Also that same day, you'll get a Hudson Hawk: Special Edition (SRP $19.94). The disc will offer 2 new featurettes with Bruce Willis and Sandra Bernhard, never-before-seen deleted scenes, a trivia track and audio commentary by director Michael Lehman.

Finally, in the "You've Got to Be F-ing Kidding Me!" category, it seems that there's a THIRD high-def disc format on the way. According to this story at Yahoo, a company called New Medium Enterprises is soon to launch HD VMD (Versatile Multilayer Disc) at Amazon and Radio Shack stores. HD VMD discs hold 30GB of data and feature a data rate of 40 mbps using MPEG-2 and VC-1 (AVC may be added later). The main selling point is that the cost to consumers is much lower than either Blu-ray or HD-DVD. Their player will sell for just $150. If I had to guess, I'd guess this will be a non factor. What studio is going to want to sell their movies on a THIRD HD format? It sure doesn't make decisions any easier for consumers. Ugh.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/10/07 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Boy, is anyone else as glad as I am that football is back? The Vikings are 1-0, Matt's Bears are 0-1... and all's right with the world (sorry, Matt).

Speaking of Matt (before we get started today), I'm sure he'll have more to say about this himself when he gets back from his vacation, but in his absence we'd like to take a moment to acknowledge the recent passing of a pair of music industry legends: famed opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti and CBGB founder Hilly Kristal. Both were in their seventies and died after battles with cancer. Each was hugely influential, though obviously in significantly different ways, and the music world is all the poorer for their absence.

Now then... coffee up, folks, 'cause we've got a BIG early update for you this morning.

The major breaking news today on the DVD front is that Warner has just revealed the 12/11 release of the Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Special Edition. You'll be able to buy the film as a 2-disc DVD, as well as single-disc Blu-ray and HD-DVD editions. All three versions will include deleted scenes, an A&E documentary, numerous behind-the-scenes featurettes and much more. The HD-DVD will apparently also feature an IME video option. The specific details are still TBA, but we expect the official press release from Warner very soon. In the meantime, here's a look at the cover artwork for the high-def versions...

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Special Edition (Blu-ray)Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: Special Edition (HD-DVD)

Also coming, we believe on 12/11, is a Harry Potter: Limited Edition Giftset which will include all 5 films, along with a special bonus disc of extras, the Hogwarts Challenge interactive DVD game, collector's cards, a set of bookmarks and more, all contained in Hogwarts steamer trunk packaging. According to the studio's press site, this box set will be available in DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD versions, and the high-def versions of the older films will be available individually on both formats as well. Here's a look at the contents of the DVD set...

Harry Potter: Limited Edition Giftset

Oh, but we're not done with Warner yet. The studio has also revealed on their own high-definition promotional website (as well as their press site) a whole bunch of additional titles that they're working on for both Blu-ray and HD-DVD release in the months (and year) ahead. Here's a rundown of the titles listed as coming to Blu-ray (as you can see, this includes a number of titles that haven't been released into theaters yet, as well as titles that had previously only been available on HD-DVD)...

10,000 B.C., The Adventures of Robin Hood: Special Edition, Appleseed Ex Machina, The Assassination of Jesse James, August Rush, The Aviator, Batman Anime, Batman Begins, Bonnie and Clyde, Brave One, The Bucket List, Caddyshack: 20th Anniversary Edition, Casablanca, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Cincinnati Kid, Clash of the Titans, The Complete Matrix Trilogy, Constantine, Cool Hand Luke, Dark Knight, The Dead Pool, Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Falling Down, The Feast of Love, Fool's Gold (2008), Fred Claus, Friends: The Complete First Season, The Fugitive, Get Smart, The Goonies, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, I Am Legend, In the Valley of Elah, The Invasion, Justice League: The New Frontier, L.A. Confidential, Lethal Weapon: Director's Cut, Lethal Weapon 2: Director's Cut, License to Wed, A Little Princess, Magnum Force: Deluxe Edition, The Matrix, The Matrix Reloaded, The Matrix Revolutions, Men, Michael Clayton, Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), Natural Born Killers, Nights in Rodanthe, No Reservations, The Omega Man, One Missed Call, Phantom of the Opera: Special Edition, Poltergeist, Poseidon, The Shawshank Redemption, Smallville: The Complete First Season, The Sopranos: Season 6, Part 1 (due 12/19), The Sopranos: Season 6, Part 2 (already announced for 10/23), Spring Breakdown, Sudden Impact, Superman Doomsday, That's Entertainment, That's Entertainment 2, That's Entertainment 3, a That's Entertainment Trilogy Giftset, Twister (December), The Ultimate Matrix Collection, Unforgiven: Special Edition, V for Vendetta, Whiteout, The Wizard of Oz, Wyatt Earp

The same site also reveals New Line's first anticipated Blu-ray releases, which should include Hairspray (2007), Pan's Labyrinth and Rush Hour 3.

And here's a list of the upcoming HD-DVD titles Warner has revealed (it's reasonable to expect that the few titles below not listed above are also coming to Blu-ray Disc)...

10,000 B.C., Appleseed Ex Machina, The Assassination of Jesse James, August Rush, The Aviator, Batman, Batman Anime, Bonnie and Clyde, Brave One, The Bucket List, Casablanca, The Cincinnati Kid, Clash of the Titans, Cool Hand Luke, Dark Knight, The Dead Pool, Dirty Harry, The Enforcer, Eraser, The Exorcist, Falling Down, The Feast of Love, Fool's Gold (2008), Fred Claus, Friends: The Complete First Season, Get Smart, The Goonies, The Green Mile, Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet, Heat, I Am Legend, In the Valley of Elah, The Invasion, Justice League: The New Frontier, King Kong (1933), L.A. Confidential, Lethal Weapon: Director's Cut, Lethal Weapon 2: Director's Cut, License to Wed, Magnum Force: Deluxe Edition, Men, Michael Clayton, Natural Born Killers, Nights in Rodanthe, No Reservations, The Omega Man, One Missed Call, Poltergeist, The Promise (2006), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Shawshank Redemption, Smallville: The Complete First Season, The Sopranos: Season 6, Part 2 (due 10/23), Speed Racer, Spring Breakdown, Sudden Impact, Superman Doomsday, Superman II (theatrical version), That's Entertainment, That's Entertainment 2, That's Entertainment 3, a That's Entertainment Trilogy Giftset, Twister, The West Wing: The Complete Seventh Season, Whiteout, The Wizard of Oz, Wyatt Earp

Not surprisingly, New Line's first HD-DVD releases will include (surprise!)... Hairspray (2007), Pan's Labyrinth and Rush Hour 3.

Details as far as specs and street dates on all these titles are TBA unless otherwise noted. But here's a sampling of some of the upcoming high-definition cover artwork that's just been released to hold you over in the meantime...

Ocean's Thirteen (Blu-ray)Twister (Blu-ray)Clash of the Titans (Blu-ray)

The Shawshank Redemption (HD-DVD)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (HD-DVD)Wyatt Earp (HD-DVD)

Whew! That's a lot of titles. Guess that ends the rumors that Warner plans to dump one of these formats anytime soon.

We'll expect to check in again later this morning with more details on Potter (as they come in) and other news too, so stay tuned...


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