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page updated: 10/25/07



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 10/18/07 - 10/1/07)


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10/18/07

Okay, we've got a little bit of follow up for you today. First, we've had a number of readers e-mailing us about our Battlestar Galactica: Season Three post in The Rumor Mill from yesterday. The gist of that post was that Universal currently has the DVD release set for April 2008 here in the States. This has many fans puzzled, however, because the title is already out in parts of Europe and it comes out on 11/21 in Australia. Why it's coming out so much later here is a mystery to us. The problem is that a lot of fans use the DVDs to catch up on what's happened before the start of the new season. However, with an April 2008 street date, many fans will obviously not be able to do that prior to the start of Season Four's debut on Sci-Fi in January. We think the delay is unfortunate, but as of now, that's when Universal is telling us to expect it.

Also, we've got a follow-up today on Paramount's Jack Ryan Collection HD-DVD box set. As we reported the other day, the set is supposed to include a number of special features (as originally announced and labeled on the actual packaging) that are simply not on the discs. It's left a lot of people wondering what happened. We have yet to hear back officially from the studio, however a number of DVD retailers have gotten a recall notice from the studio (a few were kind enough to forward it to us). Here's the text:

"Please be advised that there are typographical errors on the packaging for the Jack Ryan Special Collector's Edition HD-DVD. The packaging inadvertently notes special features that are not on the HD-DVD.

As a result, this product is being recalled and street date is being delayed. We ask that you do not sell or rent this product to consumers and that you stop shipments to additional destinations. A Paramount Home Entertainment Representative will contact you with an RA number to facilitate sending the product back to Paramount Home Entertainment's manufacturing facility. Returned product should include any unit previously shipped to retailers or other destinations as well as your on-hand inventory. We will provide further information on the availability of new product shortly."


The comment about "typographical errors on the packaging" seems to indicate that the studio feels that it's the packaging that's the oversight, as opposed to the missing features on the discs. We're hoping that the studio actually plans to remaster the discs with the missing features, but we'll see. If I were a betting man, I'd probably bet that we'll ultimately just get the same bare-bones discs with corrected labels. So hope for the best, prepare for the worst... and with any luck the studio will get back to us with some kind of official word.

By the way, following up on those sales we mentioned in yesterday's post, we're told that Circuit City is offering some pretty great deals on high-def titles right now as well. So if you happen by one of their stores, do check it out.

Now then... Adam Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day is none other than Warner's The Hand, staring Michael Caine. It's notable for being one of Oliver Stone's early turns behind the camera.

In announcement news today, Warner will release December Boys on 12/11. Also newly announced by the studio is Don't Touch If You Ain't Prayed 2, due on 1/29/07 (for Lightyear).

And back to Paramount for a moment, we've got some new details for you on the studio's forthcoming Zødiac: Director's Cut (due 1/8/08). The 2-disc set will feature a version of the film that's 162 minutes long (for the record, that's 4 minutes longer than the theatrical version). Extras will include audio commentary by director David Fincher, a second commentary by Jake Gyllenhall, Robert Downey Jr., producer Brad Fischer, James Vanderbilt and James Ellroy, 3 The Film featurettes (Zødiac Deciphered, The Visual Effects of Zødiac and Digital Workflow), 3 Sequence Breakdowns (Blue Rock Springs, Lake Berryessa and San Francisco), 5 The Facts featurettes (This is the Zødiac Speaking, Lake Herman Road, Blue Rock Springs, Lake Berryessa and San Francisco), 4 Prime Suspect featurettes (His Name Was Arthur Leigh Allen, Linguistic Analysis, Jeopardy Surface: Geographic Profiling and The Psychology of Aggression: Behavioral Profiling), 2 text-based features (Special Agent Sharon Pagaling-Hagan's Behavioral Profile of the Zødiac and Dr. Kim Rossmo's Geographic Profile of the Zødiac) and the film's theatrical trailer. Audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version, and Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 on the HD-DVD. All of the video-based special features will be in HD on the HD-DVD version.

Finally today, there have been rumors lately that a number of Sony's Blu-ray Disc titles for the 4th quarter have been delayed. This may change, but as of this morning, the only title that the studio tells us is delayed is Monty Python's Life of Brian, which has been pushed back "for additional features." We'll post the new date for that title as soon as we have it.

Here's some cover art... Warner's new Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray, and MGM's Rocky: The Complete Saga box set and The Last Man on Earth (all due 12/4)...

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Blu-ray)Rocky: The Complete SagaThe Last Man on Earth

Stay tuned!

10/17/07

Today's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review from Adam is... the BloodRayne 2: Deliverance - Unrated Director's Cut from director Uwe Boll and Vivendi Visual Entertainment. Enjoy!

You know... it occurred to us that we haven't updated The Rumor Mill in a while, so we thought we'd rectify that today. And what better title to update it with, than the long awaited Battlestar Galactica: Season Three? It's... well, you guys have got a little longer to wait it seems. But hey, at least now you know. Check it out.

And we forgot to mention this yesterday, but Russell Hammond has updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD artwork and Amazon pre-order links. As always, there are plenty of cool new titles to check out, so don't miss it.

Hey... so have you been wondering what the cover art for the BBC's forthcoming Torchwood: The Complete First Season (due on 1/22/08) looks like? So have we. Turns out, so have the folks at the BBC. It seems they want YOU to vote for the cover you like best. So click here and let 'em know what you think.

In announcement news today, MGM has just set The Last Man on Earth for DVD release on 12/4 (SRP just $14.98). This is the original film, staring Vincent Price, that's based on Richard Matheson's science fiction novel I Am Legend. It's timed, of course, to the theatrical release of the forthcoming I Am Legend feature film, staring Will Smith. I actually just happened to catch the original film on AMC I think it was a few weeks ago. It's pretty good. And hey - any Vincent Price film on DVD is a good thing.

The Weinstein Company and Genius Products have set Project Runway: Season Three for release on DVD on 11/6 (SRP $27.95). You'll get all 15 episodes complete with bonus extended footage, plus additional outtakes and other features.

Warner has set NFL Greatest Super Bowl Moments: XLI Update for release on 1/8/08. Also, R&B Chick is due on DVD on 1/22/08 from Warner (for Lightyear).

And Universal has announced The Rockford Files: Season Five for release on 1/15/08.

In other news today, home video rental chain Movie Gallery filed for bankruptcy protection yesterday. You can read more about it here at Home Media.

Around the Net, c|net has posted a couple good features on the high-definition format war recently. The first is on how few people have actually adopted high-def discs after well over a year on the market. The other deals with the different studio strategies and perspectives in the war, for both format camps.

The transition to digital broadcasting has been kicked up a notch: In light of the 2/18/09 deadline mandated by the FCC when broadcasters are set to stop transmitting analog TV signals, Best Buy has officially stopped selling analog displays. You can read more here at MSNBC.

Finally today, you Blu-ray fans are in a bit of luck right now. Many different retailers are offering great "Buy One, Get One Free" deals on Blu-ray Disc titles right now. Amazon has one with Buena Vista titles at the moment, Best Buy is doing the same with Disney titles and also has a 2 for $30 offer on select Sony titles, and JR.com has many Blu-ray titles on sale for just $12.99 and $15.99. There's lots of good deals to be had, so be sure to take advantage if you're interested.

Stay tuned...

10/16/07

We're starting today off with THREE new disc reviews for you. First up, Adam's installment Hell Plaza Oktoberfest for this morning features a review of Lionsgate's Cujo: 25th Anniversary Edition - a Stephen King classic!

And an old familiar face returns to The Bits today in the form of Peter Schorn, who reviews The Weinstein Company's 1408 and MGM's new Sid & Nancy: Collector's Edition, which for now appears to be a Best Buy-exclusive title.

Now then... we've just gotten our review copy of Paramount's The Jack Ryan Collection box set on HD-DVD, and were surprised to discover that the studio seems to have omitted all of the special features. Each disc is supposed to be a Special Collector's Edition, with commentaries and featurettes advertised right there on the back of each disc's case. But when you actually play the discs, these features aren't there... or at least you can't find and access them if they are. Others seem to be having the same problem we are, including our friends at High-Def Digest, so it seems to be widespread. We contacted the studio a short time ago and were told: "We're looking into this." All of this comes just a few days after Paramount and DreamWorks admitted (click here) that they left high-resolution audio options off of their Transformers HD-DVD because of lack of space on the HD-30 disc. Perhaps it's impolite to point this out, but those Blu-ray Discs you guys dropped would have had room for... ah, never mind.

Let's have some announcement news, shall we? Speaking of Paramount, the studio has announced a few of its early February 2008 titles, including Beauty and the Beast: The Third Season, Brotherhood: The Complete Second Season and Go Diego Go!: Diego's Magical Missions all on 2/5. The better news, however, is that the studio has finally announced the DVD and HD-DVD release of David Fincher's Zødiac: 2-Disc Director's Cut on 1/8. JAG: The Fifth Season, the 4-part Pioneers of Television documentary and SpongeBob SquarePants: To Love a Patty all follow on 1/29. The studio has also set Arctic Tale for DVD and HD-DVD release on 12/4.

Meanwhile, Sony has just set a Boogeyman 2: Unrated Director's Cut for release on DVD on 1/18/2008 (SRP $24.96). Boogey fans will be delighted to learn that the disc will include audio commentary with director Jeff Betancourt and screenwriter Brian Sieve, a second commentary with Tobin Bell, Danielle Savre and producers Steve Hein & Gary Bryman, the Bringing Fear to Life: Makeup Effects from Storyboards to Screen featurette and a storyboard gallery.

Dokument Films will debut the RFK Must Die:  The Assassination of Bobby Kennedy documentary on DVD on 11/20 (SLP $19.98).

You Barenaked Ladies fans will be pleased to learn that Barenaked Ladies: Talk to the Hand - Live in Michigan is coming from Shout! Factory to DVD on 11/6. The concert was recorded on 6/15 at the DTE Energy Music Theatre in Clarkston, MI. The 2-disc set will include both a DVD and CD versions, plus a booklet. The concert offers 15 songs, plus the Backstage with the Ladies and Sound Check Featuring Angry People featurettes, as well as a concert photo montage.

In other release news, MGM has just set a Rocky: The Complete Saga DVD box set for release on 12/4 (SRP $59.98). The set will include Rocky, Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V and yes... the recent Rocky Balboa. Unfortunately, according to the studio's press release, the only extras on the set are a pair of trailers (one for Rocky and one for Rocky V). Yo, Adrian! Where's the beef?

Finally, Universal has just announced the DVD release of Emergency!: Season Four and Canvas for 1/29/2008. The studio has also revealed that their January HD-DVD releases (due on 1/8) will include Mobsters, The Pianist and White Noise. Still no word on Battlestar Galactica: Season Three however.

Here's a look at the cover art for Buena Vista's latest trilogy of Walt Disney Treasures titles (due 12/11), including The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, The Chronological Donald: Volume Three and Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic...

Walt Disney Treasures: The Adventures of Oswald the Lucky RabbitWalt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald - Volume ThreeWalt Disney Treasures: Disneyland: Secrets, Stories and Magic

Stay tuned...

10/15/07

Adam's kicking off Week 3 of the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest today with a review of The Abandoned, one of Lionsgate's recent "Horrorfest After Dark" titles (and a pretty good one too). Don't miss it.

In announcement news this afternoon, New Line has just revealed the debut of Michael Davis' Shoot 'Em Up on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 1/1/08. The HD-DVD will be released at a later date due to the previously mentioned region code issue. The DVD (SRP $27.98) will include audio commentary with Davis, deleted scenes and animatics with optional commentary by Davis, the Ballet of Bullets: Making Shoot ‘Em Up documentary, the film's theatrical trailer, "red band" trailer and a TV remix trailer. The DVD will be available in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions. Audio will be included in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES. The Blu-ray version ($35.99 - and the HD-DVD version later) will include all of the above, plus a picture-in-picture commentary and DTS-HD 7.1 audio. The HD-DVD will also have Internet features. Here's a look at the DVD and Blu-ray cover art...

Shoot 'Em UpShoot 'Em Up (Blu-ray Disc)The Simpsons Movie (Blu-ray Disc)

UnderdogNational Treasure: Collector's EditionStardust (HD-DVD)

As you can see, we've also posted the cover art for 20th Century Fox's Blu-ray version of The Simpsons Movie, Buena Vista's Underdog and National Treasure: Collector's Edition DVDs, and Paramount's Stardust HD-DVD (all due on 12/18).

Also today, Warner Home Video has set The Joan Crawford Collection: Volume 2 for release on 2/12/08 (SRP $49.92). The 5-disc set will include A Woman's Face, Flamingo Road, Sadie McKee, Strange Cargo and Torch Song, along with bonus features set to include new featurettes, radio shows, vintage short subjects, trailers and more.

Warner has also announced that Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is finally coming to Blu-ray Disc on 12/4 (the title is already available on HD-DVD). The disc will include new filmmaker's commentary, 2 other audio commentaries, the In Movie Experience, an introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger and 40 minutes of additional features (SRP $28.99).

Warner has announced the 1/15/2008 DVD release of The Utopian Society for Polychrome as well.

Meanwhile, TLA Releasing will street a Rock & Rule: 2-Disc Collector's Edition on 12/11 (SRP $22.99). You'll get anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, an alternate version of the film, The Making of Rock & Rule documentary, audio commentary with director Clive A. Smith, The Devil and Daniel Mouse (the 27-minute cartoon that inspired Rock & Rule), the How We Made The Devil and Daniel Mouse featurette, a booklet and more. Also coming from the company on 12/11 is Evil Dead Trap 2 (SRP $9.99) in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (the original Japanese with optional English subs).

Finally this afternoon, a couple of quick follow-ups on the recent Blu-ray firmware updates. The Samsung firmware updates (that address Fox Blu-ray compatibility issues) are now up on the company's website, but the version numbers on the pages don't appear indicate this. If you check the actual firmware files, and you'll see that they're new versions (the BDP-1000 and BDP-1200 files in the zips are both dated 10/10/2007). A number of readers have confirmed that this update does correct the problem. Also, those of you with LG Blu-ray players in need of updating can call their Customer Service Support Line (1-800-243-0000) to have a firmware update disc sent to you by mail.

Stay tuned...

10/12/07

Okay... another Friday's here, and another busy week is almost in the bag.

First up today, Adam's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day is Blue Underground's The Stendhal Syndrome: 2-Disc Special Edition, which rounds out a week of Dario Argento DVD title reviews from the indie distributor.

Also today, our own Greg Suarez has checked in with reviews of two of 20th Century Fox's new Blu-ray Disc titles... The Day After Tomorrow and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer.

Now then, we've got some new details for you on the extras you can expect from Paramount's forthcoming Braveheart: Special Collector's Edition (due 12/18). According to the studio's press site, the running time will 177 minutes. Video will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by director Mel Gibson, 2 trailers, a photo montage, 6 featurettes (including A Writer's Journey, Alba gu Brath!: The Making of Braveheart, Reviving a Genre, The Heat of Battle, Worth the Fight and Tales of William Wallace) and archival interviews with the cast (including James Robinson, Catherine McCormack, Brendan Gleeson and James Cosmo, David O'Hara, Angus Macfadyen, Patrick McGoohan and Peter Hanly, and Sophie Marceau).

Around the site today, we've kicked off THREE new Contests, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's The Reaping, Poltergeist, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Return to House on Haunted Hill and the Twisted Terror Collection box set, Warner's Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection and Roots: The Next Generation, and finally HBO's Robert Klein: The HBO Specials. All three of these contests will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 21st. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

We've also updated a number of the DVD and high-def format stats we track (above).

And we have a new Digital Bits Power Buy as well, in conjunction with DocDVD. This time, we've got a great deal for you on Pioneer's Elite Kuro line of plasmas, as well as their new Elite HDMI 1.3 Blu-ray player, the BDP-95FD.

In news around the Net today, Video Business has a report with word on some of the new high-def players on the way for late 2007 and early 2008. LG plans to launch the first Blu-ray players compliant with the new 1.1 "full profile" Blu-ray spec later this month, among them a second-generation dual format player. Pioneer is expected to debut their first full profile Blu-ray player at CES in January. Sony's PlayStation 3 will apparently soon receive a firmware update that will make it full profile complaint as well, and Denon and Daewoo have 1.1 spec players coming before the end of the year too. The HD-DVD camp, on the other hand, is soon to roll out its first "remote networked control" features on players and titles, which would allow "a group leader" to direct private interactivity sessions remotely. So a movie director could do a live commentary session on a title, for example. According to another story at VB, the DVD Forum is also planning HD-DVD player/recorders that could record about an hour's worth of high-def content onto a standard DVD-R disc.

Finally, there are two BD firmware updates: Samsung is expected to have their latest update available this afternoon online, which will allow full BD+/BD-Java functionality with Fox's new Blu-ray titles (you'll find it here - from the choices, select 'MP3 & audio/video' then 'Blu-ray' and finally your player model). Also, Panasonic has released a 2.4 firmware update for the BD-10 and BD-10A that allows for better compatibility with certain standard DVDs (including New Line's Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - Extended Edition). Whenever new firmware updates become available for either format, let us know and we'll post them here.

We'll leave you today with a look at more new DVD and high-def cover artwork. Here's Sony's Superbad: 2-Disc Unrated Extended Edition (12/4), Paramount's The Tudors: The Complete First Season (1/8/08) and Stardust (12/18), 20th Century Fox's Die Hard Collection on Blu-ray (11/20), and Universal's SeaQuest DSV: Season Two (1/1/08) and Saturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season - 1976-1977 (12/4)...

Superbad: 2-Disc Unrated Extended EditionThe Tudors: The Complete First SeasonStardust

Die Hard Collection (Blu-ray Disc)SeaQuest DSV: Season TwoSaturday Night Live: The Complete Second Season - 1976-1977

Have a terrific weekend and stay tuned!

10/11/07

Today's post is going to be a fairly brief one, as for some reason our Internet connection is a bit spotty this afternoon. But rest assured, we'll be back with more tomorrow.

Adam's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for the day is Dario Argento's brutal but fascinating Opera, available on DVD from Blue Underground.

Now then... a number of Bits readers have been reporting problems with various DVD/HD-DVD Combo titles. Microsoft's Kevin Collins has been kind enough to create a Home Theater Forum discussion thread where you can report such problems and get help resolving them. Also, we're working to compile a list of all the problem discs our readers are struggling with to help Microsoft and the various studios involved resolve these issues. So if you're having trouble with a disc, please let us know about it. Ideally, we need the name of the disc, a description of the problem itself (and the time/chapter it occurs if possible), and your player's make, model number and firmware version. Much appreciated!

Also, just FYI: Samsung is set to make their latest Blu-ray firmware update available widely starting tomorrow (via their support website). This will bring their BD-P1000 and BD-P1200 players up to full compatibility with regard to BD-Java and BD+ on all the new Fox titles. Video Business has more on this.

In other HD news from around the Net today, there was a panel discussion with representatives of both high-def camps yesterday at the HDTV DisplaySearch conference up at Universal City. It went pretty much like you'd expect it to: Both camps postured and made big claims, both stressed their format's advantages and successes in various areas... and both camps ultimately had to admit that because of the format war, sales have pretty much sucked so far (although they have started picking up in the last month or so). You can read more on the panel at Consumer Reports, Home Media and Video Business. I'm glad I didn't go frankly, because after listening to these guys do this same song and dance so many times before, this probably would have given me an aneurysm. Some of the more revealing numbers revealed at the conference (via NPD Group): Only 11% of surveyed consumers said they were very or extremely likely to buy a high-def player in the next six months. Of those who weren't ready to do so, 54% were waiting for a winner to emerge in the format war, 72% said prices were still too high and 70% said they were happy enough with regular DVD. Yikes.

By the way, if you happen to see high-def video the next time you're browsing your local Target store, there's a reason. The retailer has just begun rolling out new next-gen electronics sections in many of their stores around the country. You can read more on that here at Twice.

Here's one last quick note for you, and thankfully it has nothing to do with high-def: New Line has just posted the final extended trailer for their big holiday gamble: The Golden Compass (click the link for the Yahoo trailer page). I'm a big fan of the original Philip Pullman book trilogy that the film is based on. The Golden Compass is set to be the first of three such film adaptations of the series, but only if this first one does well enough at the box office. While I've been looking forward to seeing this film, the special effects shown in early trailers looked so-so - not yet really polished and believable. Well, that seems to have changed. This trailer looks a helluva lot better. And it also appears that both Christopher Lee and Ian McKellen have joined an already stellar cast. We're keeping our fingers crossed around here for this film to turn out as good as we hope, and worthy of the original books.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

10/10/07

Afternoon, folks!

Adam's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest review for this afternoon is another good one from Blue Underground... Dario Argento's Inferno (his follow up to Suspiria). Enjoy!

In announcement news today, Warner Home Video has set Alex Haley's Queen and National Geographic's The Incredible Human Machine for release on 1/15/08. Two BBC titles, Hustle: The Complete Fourth Season and Torchwood: The Complete First Series, are set to follow on 1/22. I have to say, I've been watching Torchwood on BBC America these last few weeks, and it's pretty damn good so far. Think of it as a sort of cross between the new Doctor Who (of which this series is a spin-off) and The X-Files. The BBC's Charlie & Lola: Volume 7 - This Is Actually My Party and Warner's Legion of Superheroes: Volume 2 follow on 2/5, both animated titles.

Meanwhile, Paramount has set Stardust for release on DVD and HD-DVD on 12/18. Both versions will include the Good Omens: The Making of Stardust documentary, 5 deleted scenes, a blooper reel and the film's theatrical trailer (the documentary and the trailer will be in full 1080 on the HD-DVD). Additional details are TBA.

And Lionsgate's November release slate will include Danny Roane: First Time Director, The Slaughter, Wildfire: Season Two, the CG -animated Popeye's Voyage: The Quest for Pappy, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends: Hum Bug, Doodlebops: Happy Doodle Holidays, Max Lucado Children's Treasury (contains The Crippled Lamb, Jacob's Gift and Alabaster's Song) and The Chuck Jones Collection (contains Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, Mowgli's Brothers and The White Seal) on 11/6, The Comedy Collection (contains Boat Trip: Unrated, National Lampoon's Van Wilder: Unrated and Going Overboard), A Wonderful Christmas and Rise of the Dead on 11/13, Stir of Echoes 2: The Homecoming, a Care Bears 25th Anniversary Gift Set, Lisbon Story, Max Mon Amour, Colma: The Musical and Santa Baby on 11/20, and Bratz: The Movie, Bluebeard, Skinwalkers, Grandes Pensadores and Caminantes... si hay camino - Leyendas del Cine Mexicano Volume: Volume 3 on 11/27.

We also have word that New Line Cinema's 40th Anniversary Collection (due 11/20, SRP $274.99) will be a coffee table book that includes DVD versions of Pink Flamingos, A Nightmare on Elm Street, The Player, The Mask, Se7en, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery, Boogie Nights, Wag the Dog, The Wedding Singer, Rush Hour, Blow, all three Lord of the Rings films, Elf, The Notebook, Wedding Crashers and a new documentary celebrating New Line's history. Here's a look at the packaging...

New Line Cinema's 40th Anniversary Collection

And on the high-def front today, at yesterday's DVD Forum meeting in Hollywood, Toshiba presented NPD Group numbers that show that HD-DVD hardware regained a sales lead over Blu-ray hardware in mid September. You can read more here at Video Business.

Toshiba has also acknowledged that their triple-layer 51GB HD-DVD disc may not work in existing players (testing is apparently on-going). Finally, at the same event, Paramount and DreamWorks revealed that they have some 30 HD-DVD titles already planned for release in 2008 (one, we suspect, is Braveheart). You can read more at Home Media.

Also today, Amazon.com has launched a new high-definition "help center" of sorts, aiming to explain both Blu-ray and HD-DVD better to their customers. You'll find that here.

And here's a quick follow-up from yesterday: Future Shop has gotten back to us about the disappearance of HD-DVD hardware from their website and retail locations. As we noted in yesterday's post, it's simply about turnover in Toshiba's model lines going into the holiday season. Here's a quote from their e-mail response: "I can assure you as one of our valued customers, that Future Shop has no plans to discontinue the sales of HD DVD hardware and software. In the coming weeks, both our web site and retail stores will receive replenished quantities of new hardware from Toshiba. Specifically the following three models A3, A30 and A35 are due for release." So consider that rumor debunked.

Finally today, it seems that Samsung has finished their latest firmware update related to the BD-Java features on Fox's Day After Tomorrow and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer Blu-ray Discs. They haven't posted it on their support website for download yet, but if you have the BDP-1200 (which has an Ethernet port), you can update your player now directly via the Net. The downloadable file for their other models should be up soon.

We'll leave you today with more new cover art. Here's Lionsgate's The Chuck Jones Collection and Image Entertainment's Breaker Morant on DVD Blu-ray Disc (both due 1/15/08)...

The Chuck Jones CollectionBreaker MorantBreaker Morant (Blu-ray Disc)

We'll be back tomorrow with more new disc reviews, so stay tuned...

10/9/07

Okay... Adam's checked in with his second Blue Underground/Dario Argento DVD review for this week's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest lineup: the Suspiria: 2-Disc Special Edition.

Also today, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover art and Amazon pre-order links. There's lots of new stuff to see, as usual, so be sure to check it out. Keep in mind, that the section's various sorting options allow you to see which titles are selling better than others - it's a useful tool. Enjoy!

In announcement news today, 20th Century Fox has set Once for release on 12/18 (SRP $29.98). Extras will include musical commentary with director John Carney and actor/musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, a separate film commentary with all three, 2 featurettes (Making a Modern Day Musical and More Guy, More Girl), webisodes, trailers and a free music download of the song Falling Slowly from the film's soundtrack.

Also, Warner Home Video has set Third Watch: The Complete First Season for release on 2/5/08 (SRP $59.98). You'll get 22 episodes on 6 discs, plus a gag reel, unaired scenes and a featurette (The Nights of Camelot). The New Adventures of Old Christine: The Complete First Season has also been announced for release on 1/15 (SRP $29.98) featuring 13 episode on 2 discs plus bonus features (a gag reel, deleted scenes and the The Real Christine featurette). And One Tree Hill: The Complete Fourth Season has been set for release on 12/18 (SRP $59.98), featuring 21 episodes on 6 discs plus audio commentary on two episodes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, 2 featurettes (One Tree Hill in Your Town and Tree Hill High Time Capsule) and highlights from a charity basketball game featuring the cast.

Meanwhile, Shout! Factory has set My So-Called Life: The Complete Series for release on 10/30 (SRP $69.99). The 6-disc set includes all 19 episodes along with a 40-page book, 4 featurettes (A Conversation with Claire Danes and Winnie Holzman, My So-Called Life Story, The Characters and The Music), a photo gallery, an interview with Claire Danes, and video of a 1995 Museum of Television and Radio panel discussion with the show's cast and crew.

Sony has forwarded details on their forthcoming Superbad release (due 12/4). The 2-disc Unrated Extended Special Edition DVD and Blu-ray Disc editions will include optional audio commentaries (by Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen, Greg Mottola, Evan Goldberg, Jonah Hill, Michael Cera and Christopher Mintz-Plasse), deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, 7 featurettes (Cop Car Confessions, The Making of Superbad, The Music of Superbad, Snakes on Jonah, Everybody Hates Michael Cera: The Unfortunate True Story, TV Safe and Vag-tastic Voyage), on-set dairies, cast audition footage, table read footage, footage of "a press junket meltdown", Line-o-Rama, the "dancing title" sequence, all of Michael's voicemails from Jonah, and a first look at David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express (staring Rogen and others).

Finally, New Rebellion has announced the DVD release of Tim Sullivan's Driftwood on 11/13 (SRP $26.99). You'll get the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Tim Sullivan, producer Chris Kobin and co-star Diamond Dallas Page, an alternate ending, deleted and extended scenes, trailers, a photo gallery, audition reels, outtakes and 2 featurettes (Doing Time on the Set of Driftwood and Through the Gauntlet: Inside the Walls of Driftwood).

Now then... time for some controversial high-def stuff (so if you don't want to hear it, now's the time to tune out). First, the HD-DVD Promotions Group has had to apologize once again for mistakenly leaking word that Steven Spielberg films would be coming to the HD-DVD format. At the CEATAC confab in Japan this past weekend, Universal Studios Japan apparently showed a slide (as part of a larger presentation) that indicated that Jaws, E.T., Casper, Back to the Future, Babe and Jurassic Park would soon be coming to HD-DVD. Apparently not so. The HD-DVD Group quickly issued this statement on behalf of Universal: "Universal has not made any formal announcements regarding Spielberg catalog titles coming to HD DVD at this time." Spielberg has authorized Sony to release Close Encounters of Third Kind exclusively on Blu-ray on 11/13. As you may remember, the HD-DVD camp leaked similar news earlier this year and had to retract it then too. You can read more here at Home Media.

In other news for the HD-DVD camp, just two days after Sony DADC announced that they'd replicated their milestone 10 millionth 50GB Blu-ray Disc (click here for the Video Business story), the HD-DVD Promotions Group quickly countered with a little damage control, making sure everyone knew that the DVD Forum was close to approving the spec for a triple-layer 51GB HD-DVD disc (click here). However, industry sources are telling us that NONE of the existing Toshiba HD-DVD players and drives are currently capable of reading them. Indeed, the Video Business story indicates that once the spec is finalized, "compatibility with current HD DVD player and recorders can be investigated." According to reports from Bits readers who were on at CEATAC this weekend, Toshiba reps told attendees that the triple-layer disc configuration would require a hardware change (the lens on existing drives reportedly isn't capable of moving to focus on the third layer), meaning that the existing drives are not firmware updatable. This of course is unofficial. It remains to be seen what testing of the discs will reveal.

Conversely, according to DailyTech, Hitachi is promising a quad-layer Blu-ray Disc capable of storing 100GB that would work on all current players and drives, though frankly we remain pretty skeptical here at The Bits. Given our past experiences with spotty DVD-18 discs, and more recent experiences DVD/HD-DVD Combo discs, anytime you start talking about putting more than two layers on ANY format disc, we get a little nervous. We'll believe it when we see it. There's a BIG difference in our experience between what's technically feasible and what's actually practical.

So what else is happening on the HD-DVD front? Well... it seems that the format's chief booster at Microsoft, Amir Majidimehr, has apparently moved on to other parts of the company. We don't mention this as any kind of controversy, just an FYI thing. However, regardless of which format you prefer, there's no denying that Amir was a controversial figure among online enthusiasts. He made daily posts on some of the home theater discussion forums to promote HD-DVD developments and debunk Blu-ray developments (sometimes as much or more of the latter as the former). Anyway, we wish him the best in his new endeavors. No, seriously... we do. Here's a link to his farewell post on AVS.

Also today (and this would go in the Rumor Mill category so salt it accordingly), a number of readers have e-mailed us to say they're hearing that Canadian electronics retailer Future Shop may be dropping HD-DVD. The retailer has reportedly liquidated its stock of Toshiba HD-DVD hardware and their online site no longer lists stand-alone HD-DVD hardware (only Blu-ray and Combo players remain). What's more, employees from multiple Future Shop locations have apparently told Bits readers that the chain is no longer stocking HD-DVD due to lack of interest from their customers. We'll have to see if there's anything to this. It COULD simply be due to a change-over in Toshiba's player models (the new models for late 2007-2008 aren't in stores yet). Thanks to Bits reader Dan C. (among others) for the info.

On the positive side for HD-DVD, it seems that while more people look at Blu-ray title selections on NetFlix, among those who actually rent high-def titles from Netflix, HD-DVD comes out ahead. You can read more here. The bad news for both formats is that only 0.3% of all Netflix consumers view either format's selections.

Finally, on the Blu-ray front today, a number of retail sources are apparently predicting that Sony will bring its new 40GB PlayStation 3 game system to the States on 11/2 for just $400, possibly bundled with a Blu-ray copy of Spider-Man 3. Additionally, some retailers and industry analysts are expecting more price cuts for other PS3 models as well. You can read more here at Home Media and here at Video Business.

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

(LATE UPDATE - 10/8/07 - 4 PM PDT)

We're back as promised this afternoon with Barrie Maxwell's long-awaited return to Classic Coming Attractions! This time around, Barrie turns in a whopping 20 new reviews of classic film titles on DVD, including Flicker Alley's The Valentino Collection, Restored Serials Super Restoration Company's Houdini: The Man from Beyond, Warner Home Video's The Doris Day Collection: Volume 2, Cult Camp Classics: Volume 1 - Sci-Fi Thrillers, Cult Camp Classics: Volume 2 - Women in Peril, Cult Camp Classics: Volume 3 - Terrorized Travellers, TCM Spotlight - Esther Williams: Volume 1, Film Noir Classic Collection: Volume 4, Classic Musicals from the Dream Factory: Volume 2, Katharine Hepburn: 100th Anniversary Collection, Mickey Rooney & Judy Garland Collection, Popeye the Sailor: 1933-1938, Charro!, Stay Away, Joe and Elvis Presley: The Hollywood Collection, Sony's 3:10 from Yuma: Special Edition, Paramount's Gunsmoke: The First Season, HBO's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, MGM's Gary Cooper: MGM Movie Legends Collection and Universal's John Wayne: Screen Legend Collection. To accompany the new column, Barrie's updated his popular Classic Coming Attractions Database and Coming Westerns Database Word doc files as well. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/8/07 - 1:45 PM PDT)

Welcome back, folks! Hope you had a great weekend. Mine was pretty good. Turns out turning 40 isn't so bad.

We're pleased today to bring you the start of Adam Jahnke's second week of the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest, featuring a review of Blue Underground's The Cat O' Nine Tails. This week's titles are all from Blue Underground and filmmaker Dario Argento, so be sure to check back for tomorrow's installment.

In announcement news today, Sony has set the DVD release of Interview for 12/11. Also newly confirmed are DVD and Blu-ray editions of Superbad on 12/4. There will be an R-rated DVD, a Unrated Extended DVD and a 2-disc Unrated Extended Special Edition DVD, along with a 2-disc Unrated Extended Special Edition Blu-ray Disc. The Unrated Extended cut will also be released on UMD. Additional details will follow soon.

Meanwhile, we have some details for you on Buena Vista's Underdog DVD and Blu-ray release (due 12/18). Both editions will include bloopers, deleted scenes, Kyle Massey's Underdog Raps music video, the Sit, Stay, Act: Diary of a Dog Actor featurette and an original cartoon episode of classic Underdog (Safe Waif, the very first episode). The Blu-ray version will add an additional cartoon episode featuring Simon Barsinister's first appearance as well as additional deleted scenes. The DVD will carry and SRP of $29.99, the Blu-ray $34.99.

Buena Vista has also set a 2-disc National Treasure: Collector's Edition for release on 12/18 (SRP $29.99). You'll get the film in anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio - basically the first disc of the set is identical to the original DVD release. The second, bonus disc adds additional deleted scenes with introduction by director Jon Turteltaub, a sneak peek at National Treasure: Book of Secrets and 4 new behind-the-scenes featurettes (Ciphers, Codes and Codebreakers, On the Set of American History, To Steal a National Treasure and Exploding Charlotte).

Also, Image Entertainment has a number of interesting titles already penciled in for release in early 2008, including a few exciting high-definition titles. Tentatively slated are Billy Jack and Avia II: Guide to Home Theater (1/1), Esperando A Mi Bebé/Waiting For Bebé, Interceptor Force 2, Bizarre Foods, Jupiter Moon: Pirates of Leda, The Alps: IMAX and HD-DVD versions of Mystery of the Nile: IMAX, The Alps: IMAX, Fighter Pilot - Operation Red Flag: IMAX and Coral Reef Adventure: IMAX (1/8), When Hearts Collide (Dil Hi Dil Mein), The Secrets of Genghis Khan, Playboy: Totally Busted 4, Kz, Henry Rollins: Live in the Conversation Pit, Cherry Ridez: Volume 3, Yes: Classic Artists, Suburban Girl, Breaker Morant and Blu-ray Disc versions of Suburban Girl and Breaker Morant (1/15), The Specials: Too Much, Too Young and Make Room for Daddy: Season 6 (1/22), Wings: Evolution of Air Power and Hot Babes Doing Stuff Naked (1/29), Deathlands: Homeward Bound, Into the Lion's Den/Living with Tigers, Born Losers, Just for Laughs: Gags Volumes 5 & 6, The Trial of Billy Jack, Billy Jack Goes to Washington, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations - Season 2 and Dirty Jobs: Collection 2 (2/5), Soul's Midnight, Steve Byrne: Happy Hour, The Shaolin Intruders, Kissed by Winter, Four Swords (Shaw Brothers Box Set - includes Vengeance is a Golden Blade, Have Sword Will Travel, The Water Margin and The Wandering Swordsman) and John Witherspoon: You Got to Coordinate (2/12), Eyes Front (2/19), Faces of Earth (2/26), Tommy Tiernan: Something Mental (3/4), The Civilization of Maxwell Bright and Sisters (3/11), West of Here (4/8), Death Toll (4/15), The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (4/22) and Re-Cycle (6/17). All dates are subject to change.

For those of you who may have missed it, be sure to check out the new Digital Bits T-shirt designs we have available for pre-order now.

We'll be back with Barrie's new column later this afternoon, so stay tuned!

10/5/07

Ahhhhh... the end to another week. Time, it sure does fly.

There's no real news to report today, but we do have a couple of things for you this afternoon.

We're closing out Adam's first full week of the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest today with a review of Lionsgate's Bug: Special Edition. Exorcist director William Friedkin returns to the horror genre in fine form. Enjoy the review!

By some kind of creepy coincidence (pardon the pun), our own Greg Suarez ALSO chose this day to turn in this thoughts on the Bug: Special Edition. Go figure. What's interesting is that - completely independently - both Greg and Adam gave the film the same high mark. You go, Friedkin!

Now then... we've got something cool to announce here at The Bits today. You guys have been asking for them for a while now, so we're finally delivering just in time for the holidays... new Digital Bits T-shirts! Our Comic-Con shirt proved more popular than we expected and it sold out quickly, so we've created three new designs for you.

First up, Bits reader (and talented artist) Ryan Agadoni has created a cool visual commentary on the high-def format war - one that's COMPLETELY FORMAT NEUTRAL, for those of you who may be wondering. It symbolizes just how bad we think this format war is for consumers and the industry, by depicting Blu-ray and HD-DVD as Giant Monsters - in true Japanese/Godzilla movie style - rampaging through a cityscape as they do battle, laying waste to everything.

Giant Monsters T-shirt

The second design is one some of you guys have been asking after for a while now - our ever popular Anamorphic Widescreen logo, complete with the added text "Wider is Better". Because, as you all know by now, it just is.

Anamorphic Widescreen T-shirt

And finally, we bring you a true varsity classic: Digital Bits Athletic Department shirts (established 1997, of course). Watching movies on disc is great exercise, isn't it? Sure it is! Plus, haven't we always said that the best special editions are like film school in a box? So now you can tell everyone that you're majoring in DVD. Your parents will be so proud!

Digital Bits Athletic Department T-shirt

We're working on a Digital Bits: 10th Anniversary shirt as well, and we've got more cool designs in the planning stages. Each logo is printed on a high-quality Hanes Beefy-T (these are the good ones, folks!), so they're nice and sturdy... and plenty soft too. Best of all, they're just $14.99 each plus shipping (note that extended sizes are a few bucks more). We're taking pre-orders now, and we'll start printing them later this month. Keep in mind that the number of shirts we print will be based on demand, and we generally make most of them in sizes L and XL. So if you need or want special sizes (S, M, XXL, 3XL) you definitely want to pre-order in advance so we can print enough for everyone. Anyway, we really appreciate you guys as readers, and especially all your support over the years, so we wanted to give a little something back. We hope you like 'em. Let me just say a special word of thanks to Sarah, who's really doing an amazing job organizing all this and making it happen. Feel free to e-mail her if you have any questions.

Finally today, we want to let you know that our own Barrie Maxwell is set to return from his house-moving hiatus in a big way on Monday, with a huge new Classic Coming Attractions column. There's going to be something in there for every classic film fan, so be sure to check back for it.

Okay, that's it for today. I hope you all have a great weekend. I'm gonna be spending mine contemplating my advancing state of decrepitude, as I turn 40 years old on Sunday. How strange to say that! Forty. Four-zero. That's old right? At least that's what they tell you on those black coffee mugs you get at Hallmark, with the jokes about how "it's all downhill from here" and whatnot. I sure don't feel like it's old. I don't think I'm in danger of suddenly falling apart or wearing one of those Old Guys Rule shirts any time soon. Matt's 50, so... you know. Aww to heck with it. 40 is the new 20!

Don't forget that Friday Night Lights returns tonight on NBC.

Enjoy the weekend and stay tuned!

10/4/07

Before we get started today, a number of people are reporting problems with 20th Century Fox's new Blu-ray releases, The Day After Tomorrow and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. What we're hearing from our sources is that the problem is related to compatibility issues with the new BD-Java features on the discs, not to BD+ (as is rumored online). The discs are working fine on players from Pioneer, Sony (including the PS3), Panasonic and others, but it's having playback issues on some models from Korean manufacturers Samsung, Philips and LG. The studio tells us, however, that these issues are easily addressable with simple firmware updates. So if you're experiencing a problem, contact your manufacturer to request a firmware update disc or visit their support page online to download the latest firmware (click on the links provided). If an update isn't yet available for your model of player to address this issue, make sure they know you need one.

While we're at it, here are the North American support or firmware download sites for other high-def player manufacturers as well: Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Pioneer (the product page for each model has update links), Samsung, LG and Philips (if I've left anyone out, send me the links and I'll add them). Just search these sites for your player's model number, download the update and follow the instructions to create a firmware update disc. Toshiba, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners can update their firmware right from the player with a broadband connection (a feature HD-DVD got right - something the Blu-ray manufacturers should adopt). It's a good idea to check for new updates every couple of months or so to make sure your players - of both formats - are up to date with all the latest features.

Okay... Adam's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest continues today with a review of Wicked Pixel & Elite's The Severed Head Network DVD, which offers an anthology of gruesome independent short films. Do check it out.

The big release news today is that New Line has just announced Guillermo Del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth for both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD on 12/26 (SRP $35.99). Both versions will include all the extras from the 2-disc DVD release, along with Enhanced Visual Commentary (yes, that's on both versions). The HD-DVD will add the usual Internet options. Audio will be Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 and DTS HD 7.1 on both discs. You'll find the cover art for both versions below.

Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has just signed an exclusive worldwide distribution deal for the complete Charles Schulz Peanuts catalog of some 50 films and shorts. The titles had previously been distributed by Paramount. As part of this deal, all of the titles will be remastered and re-released on DVD by Warner with newly-created special features. Several direct-to-DVD original titles will be created as well. The first titles set to be reissued by Warner will be Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown on 1/15/08, followed by It's the Easter Beagle, Charlie Brown on 2/26. Additional, less familiar Peanuts titles will be released in collections similar to Warner's Looney Tunes Golden Collections. You can read more here at Home Media.

Warner will also release Squidbillies: Volume One for Adult Swim on 10/16. The 2-disc set will include 20 episodes, deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage and more.

Also today, Manga Entertainment and Starz have announced the DVD release of KARAS: The Revelation on 10/23 (SRP $19.97). A 2-disc set containing both KARAS: The Prophecy and KARAS: The Revelation will be available on 11/20 (SRP $29.97).

And Digital Leisure has set the HD PC release of Don Bluth's Space Ace videogame for sometime in November. The title is expected to be released on both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD in 2008.

We'll leave you today with more cover art. Here's Paramount's Braveheart: Special Collector's Edition (12/18), along with both high-def versions of New Line's Pan's Labyrinth...

Braveheart: Special Collector's EditionPan's Labyrinth (Blu-ray Disc)Pan's Labyrinth (HD-DVD)

Stay tuned...

10/3/07

We're pleased today to bring you the third installment of Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest, featuring a review of Mondo Macabro's Mystics in Bali on DVD. It's pretty creepy stuff, so don't miss it!

In announcement news today, Warner has set a trio of new TV DVD titles for release on 11/6, including the Gilligan's Island: The Complete Series Collection, the Kung Fu: The Complete Series Collection and the Wonder Woman: The Complete Collection.

Meanwhile, Universal has announced the DVD release of Seaquest DSV: Season Two on 1/1/08. Adrift in Manhattan will follow on 1/22/08. The studio will also release HD-DVD versions of Timecop and the previously-delayed Cat People on 12/26.

Also today, Paramount has set Rob & Big: The Complete Seasons 1 & 2 - Uncensored for release on 1/8/08. Dora the Explorer: Undercover Dora and Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: The Third Season follow on 1/15. Then on 1/22, the studio will deliver Wonder Pets: Save the Beetles!, Avatar: The Last Airbender - Book 3: Fire - Volume 2, Hawaii Five-O: The Third Season and The Odd Couple: The Third Season.

20th Century Fox has set The Girls Next Door: Season 3 for release on 1/22/08.

And Criterion is releasing its Eclipse Series, Volume 6: Carlos Saura's Flamenco Trilogy on 10/16. The 3-disc set (SRP $44.95) will contain Blood Wedding, Carmen, and El amor brujo.

In other news from around the Net today, Sony DADC has announced that they've just replicated the 10 millionth 50GB Blu-ray Disc (see press release). For the record, it was produced at their Terre Haute, Indiana facility and was part of the forthcoming Spider-Man 3 shipment for Sony. Those of you fascinated by such technical things as manufacturing yield rates will be interested to know that Sony DADC rates for single-layered BD25 discs are "are consistently around 85% and daily machine output levels are approaching parity with our DVD assets." Meanwhile, yield rates for BD50 dual-layered discs "have increased steadily, and are consistently between 75% and 79%." Between the company's three replication plants in Terre Haute, Salzburg, Austria and Shizuoka, Japan, DADC can produce some 21 million Blu-ray discs per month. You can read more here at Video Business.

While were on the subject of Blu-ray, Matsushita (Panasonic) has revealed that their forthcoming Blu-ray Disc recorder - due to be launched in Japan in November - can record up to 18 hours of full HD programing on a single dual-layered disc. This is the model that's equipped with a one-terabyte hard drive as well, allowing it to store 381 hours of HD programming. But get this... the company is also going to be selling three models of regular DVD recorder in Japan in November that can record actual HD programming on a standard DVD-R disc. Now if only we could get our hands on some of those here in the States. You can read more here at MSNBC and here at Home Media.

Also on the high-def front this afternoon, this time the HD-DVD side, here's a development that you just KNEW was coming. Now you can purchase lots of the great products you see in your favorite films on Universal HD-DVD interactively, with just the click of a button while watching the discs, from the studio's new U-Shop store. No, I'm not kidding. I've been saying for I don't know how long that sooner of later all these interactive bells and whistles were REALLY going to be used to let you click on Will Smith's tennis shoes while watching his latest movie and buy them at the frickin' studio store... and sure enough, that day has arrived. It's the dawn of a new consumer age. Okay, so it starts with Steve Carell in Evan Almighty rather than Will Smith. Still, don't you feel all warm and fuzzy? You can read more here at Home Media Retailing. Okay, I'd like the Big Lebowski's complete bowling ensemble. What, it's not available?

Ah whatever. To heck with it, Dude.

Stay tuned...

10/2/07

I'm very pleased today to bring you my own review of Warner's new Blade Runner: The Final Cut - one of the first reviews of the film anywhere. The restored classic just made its public debut at the Venice Film Festival, and begins a limited theatrical run here in the States at the Ziegfeld in New York and the Landmark in Los Angeles this coming Friday (10/5). As you know, it also arrives on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD on 12/18. Matt, Adam and myself were fortunate enough to attend the first ever screening of the just-completed restoration, several weeks ago up on the Warner lot, and today we can FINALLY talk about it! Do you have any idea how hard it is to see something THAT cool and then have to sit on it for more than a month? It ain't easy, brother, that's for sure. Anyway, you will all be happy to know that The Final Cut is simply stunning. The film has truly never looked and sounded better. If you love Blade Runner, you're definitely not going to want to miss it. We will, of course, be reviewing the DVD and high-def versions closer to their release date. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the movie review.

Speaking of Adam, he's just posted his latest edition of Jahnke's Electric Theatre today, featuring reviews of several new theatrical releases, including Into the Wild, The Kingdom and The Game Plan, as well as his own take on the forthcoming Blade Runner: The Final Cut. Don't miss it!

Also today, Adam's turned in his second installment of the Hell Plaza Oktoberfest, featuring a review of Mondo Macabro's The Blood Rose on DVD. Click here (or on the banner above) for the index of all Adam's Oktoberfest reviews as they come in.

Elsewhere here at The Bits, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover art and Amazon pre-order links. Remember, any time you order titles through our links, it helps to support our work here at The Bits. We very much appreciate it.

On the subject of Blade Runner again, there's a new feature on The Final Cut over at The New York Times today. The L.A. Times has a piece on it too. There's also a good look at the restoration process on the film here at Digital Content Producer. Doogan and I have written a new article on the film as well for our regular DigiBits column in the latest issue of Geek Monthly (it's in the October 2007 issue, with Tina Fey on the cover, on newsstands now). And we'll have more on Blade Runner: The Final Cut here at The Bits later this week, and in the weeks ahead.

In DVD announcement news today, MGM has revealed that it will reissue a number of catalog titles under the "Decades" label on 12/4 (SRP $19.98 each), including 12 Angry Men, Some Like It Hot, Guys & Dolls, The Graduate, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, Carrie, Mad Max, Moonstruck, When Harry Met Sally and The Sure Thing. According to the studio's press release, each will include "a collectible booklet by LIFE Magazine highlighting historical events from that particular decade along with a compact disc featuring the classic music that defined each generation."

In other news, Content Agenda has as story up on the Blu-ray camp's decision to evaluate China's AVS video codec for possible inclusion in future Blu-ray players to be sold in that country. HD-DVD has already made a similar move.

Finally today, we'll leave you with this... one of the prettiest things we think you will ever see in high-definition. The Japanese Space Agency (JAXA) has just launched a new probe called SELENE (a.k.a. KAGUYA in Japan) that's designed to orbit and map the Moon. But here's the cool thing: NHK (the Japan Broadcasting Corporation) has included a high-definition video camera on the mission - the first HDTV camera ever to leave Earth orbit. It's designed to take video of both the Earth and the Moon, and the hope is to capture the famous Earthrise vista in actual 1080 high-definition. In the meantime, the probe just shot its first 8 minutes of HD video on Saturday night, and sent it back to Earth on Sunday. JAXA hasn't released the whole video yet, but they have released the first snapshot from the footage. So here you go, everyone. This is what you all looked like in HD from halfway to the Moon over the weekend...

The Earth in high-definition!

Sure is a pretty sight, isn't it? You can read more about all this here at Space.com, and clicking on the image will take you to the original JAXA press release. I can't wait to see the actual video footage. I sure hope someone gets around to releasing all the SELENE HD video on Blu-ray or HD-DVD eventually. Wouldn't that be cool?

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/1/07 - 4:15 PM PDT)

Okay... we've got something very special for you today, folks. Our own Adam Jahnke has come up with a fun way to celebrate Halloween this year - one of his favorite holidays. Starting today, and continuing every single day throughout the entire month of October, Adam's going to bring you a new installment of his regular Bottom Shelf column here at The Bits, under the banner of The Hell Plaza Oktoberfest! Every day, we'll be posting a new DVD review from Adam featuring a title of the horror genre, some mainstream and some more obscure and interesting. We're kicking things off this afternoon with a look at the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society's The Call of Cthulhu. Adam's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest is going to be a lot of fun, so we hope you'll join us each day this month for the new installment. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/1/07 - 1:15 PM PDT)

Afternoon, folks. Hope you all had a great weekend.

First up today, Time Life has officially begun taking pre-orders on their long-awaited The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series DVD box set. Due to ship on 11/27, the 41-disc set (SRP $249.99) is only available online at this website: manfromuncledvd.com. All four seasons of the show - 105 episodes in all - come shipped in a special silver attaché case. Each season features an 8-page liner notes booklet. Series stars David McCallum and Robert Vaughn sat down for the first time in 20 years for a 90-minute reunion and interview for the DVD, entitled Double Agents. You'll also get Solo - the original series pilot in color, the One Spy Too Many feature film based on the series, 9 featurettes (The Cloak and Swagger Affair: The Untold History of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Spy-Fi Tour: Archives, Art & Artifacts, Cold War, Hot Spies: U.N.C.L.E. and the Cold War, MGM's Secret Operations, Guns, Gizmos, Gadgets and Garb, Behind the Wheel: U.N.C.L.E.'s Piranha, Fandemonium, The Music from U.N.C.L.E. and The Girls of U.N.C.L.E.), 17 on-camera interviews with those involved in the making of the show, 4 U.N.C.L.E. VIP clip collections showcasing the show's many guest stars, The Secret Tapes of Illya Kuryakin: Home Movies from the Set of U.N.C.L.E., clips from Vaughn and McCallum's appearances on Emmy and Golden Globe broadcasts, a clip of McCallum's appearance on The Andy Williams Show, the Tom & Jerry cartoon The Mouse from H.U.N.G.E.R., a look at memorabilia, Ian Flemming's notes, NBC network memos, research files, set designs and blueprints, a photo gallery and various promos, trailers and TV spots. It looks like a damn fine set - similar in quality to Time Life's recent Get Smart: The Complete Series box set (available here). Here's a look at the packaging...

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Complete Series box set

Also today, Buena Vista has announced the release of Underdog on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/18. Additional details are expected to follow shortly.

Sony has set Magic in the Water and A Perfect Day for DVD release on 12/11, along Blu-ray Disc versions of The Legend of Zorro and Rent. The studio also has a Spice World: Special Edition DVD due on 11/27, and is re-releasing the Ghost Rider: Extended Cut DVD as a gift set packed with a "premium gift item" of some kind on 11/13.

Meanwhile, Warner has set Dave Attell: Captain Miserable for release on 12/11 (for HBO).

And in other film industry news, we'd like to take a moment today to acknowledge the passing of actress Lois Maxwell. Millions of James Bond fans will better remember her has Miss Moneypenny, the character she played in 14 of the 21 films in the series (her final turn in the role was for 1985's A View to a Kill). Maxwell also appeared in TV's The Saint, Stanley Kubrick's Lolita and more recently The Fourth Angel. Everybody give your hats a rakish toss at the office hat rack today in her honor.

Also today, in news from around the Net, Masters of Horror director's Mick Garris has spoken to Home Media Retailing about his feelings on the high-def format war.

We'll leave you with a little bit of DVD cover art. Here's Fox's The Simpsons Movie (12/18), MGM's Bob Hope: MGM Movie Legends Collection (12/4) and Criterion's Breathless (10/23)...

The Simpsons MovieBob Hope: MGM Movie Legends CollectionBreathless (Criterion)

Stay tuned...


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