Well folks, sad but true, your faithful editor is sick in bed. This
cold is among the worst I've ever had - one day I feel better, then the
next, I'm feeling like pond scum. This really sucks, let me tell you.
I've got several reviews from both Todd and I that just need to be
formatted and posted, and I'll try to get that done later this evening.
You may have noticed that I was able to muster enough energy last night
to change that anti-Divx graphic on the button bar to our next rallying
cry - the much maligned (at least at a few studios I can think of)
anamorphic enhancement of widescreen DVD.
This will definitely be the focus of some major efforts here at The
Digital Bits - we think far too many studios are sacrificing
quality by forgoing it. Now that DVD is going mainstream, some in
Hollywood are of the attitude that, "mainstream consumers don't
care about anamorphic widescreen." Well, lest they forget,
anamorphic is the future of television, and it is absolutely what the
majority of DVD's most avid, high-end consumers demand from the format.
Anamorphic enhancement can result is as much as a 33% improvement in
vertical resolution - our feeling is that it ABSOLUTELY should be
standard on widescreen DVDs, whenever and wherever affordable. It should
certainly be included on all new films coming to DVD, AND on the most
loved classic films as well. This is why Paramount's forthcoming
non-anamorphic Titanic DVD has
resulted in much ambivalence and even anger among some DVD fans. An
anamorphic transfer of the film exists, and could have been used, but
for the decision-making of a few studio executives who just don't seem
to understand what DVD is all about.
Those of you who may be new to DVD (including some of you studio execs)
editorial I did last year on the subject, explaining the basics
and benefits of anamorphic widescreen DVD in fairly simple terms. We'll
be talking a LOT more about this subject in the coming weeks and months,
and this is as good a place to start familiarizing yourself with it as
any. By the way, as with our anti-Divx logo, our policy is that anyone
who wants to steal the new anamorphic support logo for their own pages
and web sites, is more than welcome to do so. The more we get people
talking about it, the more likely Buena Vista, Fox and Paramount will be
to get the message.
Now, I'm going back to bed. Actually, I'm going to the doctor this
afternoon, then back to bed. This cold is really starting to piss me
off. In the meantime, I'll try to get those reviews posted for you by
tomorrow morning. Keep spinnin' those DVDs, and thanks for your
Our own Todd Doogan's been busy over the last few days, working up a
bunch of new DVD reviews. Today, we've got his take on Columbia
as well as a look at two of MGM's new Kubrick releases,
Kiss. These 3 new reviews bring our grand total to exactly
150 unique DVD
reviews here at the Bits.
We've updated the
DVD player sales chart again today, with the latest sales
numbers, just in this morning: 28,207 players sold in the week ending
We've also got 20 more Upcoming
DVD Cover Art scans for you today, including Witness,
Smoke Signals, Wing
Commander and lots more. And we've added a second navigation
menu to the bottom of each of the artwork pages, making it easier to
move from page to page.
Around the Internet, Image
Entertainment has updated their
News page to include Titanic,
and other new titles. This is a big update, which also includes Heat,
From the Past, Analyze This,
Message In A Bottle and lots more,
so do check it out.
I have to say, I'm still peeved that Titanic
will not be anamorphic. Fox claims that they've worked closely with THX
on the transfer to ensure "the highest quality possible" from
the DVD format (see
release). But I've seen some pretty questionable looking
THX-certified discs (True Lies
just barely rated a B- from us for video quality). And anamorphic
enhancement gives you some 33% more vertical resolution in widescreen on
DVD. Frankly, I'd rather have anamorphic than THX on a disc any day. I
think it may be time to sit some studio people down and give them a
lesson on anamorphic widescreen. More on that soon, because you can BET
that anamorphic widescreen will be The
Digital Bits' next crusade in the post-Divx era...
Speaking of Divx, there are a few new articles on the demise of the
story over at the LA Times,
one over at the San Jose Mercury News.
here for a funny "retouched" picture, showing a possible
new career direction for one of Divx's irritating TV spokespersons.
Cudos to whoever came up with that one - it's a good laugh.
We'll be back on Monday with a bunch of new reviews. Have a great
NOTE: Thanks to Bits reader Ian
Cameron Smith, for his contribution to the site today. He added the "We
Win!" to the anti-Divx logo on our button bar, and we couldn't
agree more with the sentiment. DVD fans everywhere are the winners
today. Thanks, Ian!
Well, the repercussions from the death of Divx just keep coming. You
should all check out
In Depth Coverage page, with links to lots of articles on the
demise of the "pay-per-dubious" format.
Washington Post and
both have stories up today, among many others. The rejoicing continues.
A reader who claims to be a manager of a Circuit City store reports to
me today, that store managers and employees were informed of the Divx
shutdown at 8 AM this morning. The stores are dumping loads of Divx
software at $1.99 a disc today, and customers are being given instant
$100 discounts right at the register on the remaining Divx players, so "all
Divx customers are being taken care of". Also, he reports that
sales people are quite happily removing all of the Divx signage in his
store, and that they're glad not to have to push the technology any
longer. I don't blame them.
Our friends over at
are welcoming Divx customers to the DVD fold, by offering them 5 free
DVD rentals as part of a new special offer (see
Eyes is offering Divx customers a $4 per disc credit if they
exchange their Divx discs (up to 5 a customer) for DVDs of the same
On to other news - no doubt you've heard the
announcement of Paramount's DVD version of Titanic.
The DVD (which we first reported in the
Mill late last week as streeting on August 31st) will be
THX-certified, and will include English 5.1 sound, English and French
surround sound, Spanish subtitles, a theatrical trailer, and a booklet.
The disc will be RSDL dual-layered, and it will be in widescreen, but it
will NOT be anamorphic enhanced for 16x9 displays, which is a HUGE
mistake in my opinion. Keep in mind, that the film HAS been transferred
for high-definition broadcast on HBO in full anamorphic widescreen, so
an anamorphic master IS available. SRP on the disc is $29.99.
We've got the DVD cover artwork for Titanic
in our Upcoming
DVD Cover Art section, along with new cover scans from 13
other upcoming DVDs as well. We've also linked each cover scan, so that
clicking it will take you to the order page for that title over at
Express. Organizing this section is very time consuming (just
keeping track of the ever-changing street dates for some of these titles
would be a major effort), but at least with these links, you can get an
idea of the cost and features for each title, and order if you're so
We've also updated the
DVD Sales Chart with the latest DVD player sales numbers (both
chart and the listing above).
Finally today, we've posted a major Fall & Winter DVD title update
in today's Rumor
Mill, with the latest information on a host of DVD titles from
several major studios. There's lots of good titles mentioned, so do
check it out.
We'll be back tomorrow with DVD some new reviews, so see you then! And
don't forget to keep those
(LATE UPDATE - 6/16/99 -
2 PM PDT)
In light of today's news, we've just received a fax from our friends
over at Warner Home Video. The following statement comes straight from
Warren Lieberfarb, the president of WHV:
"Circuit City had consistently demonstrated an outstanding ability
for promoting the benefits of new technologies to consumers. We look
forward to working with them in furthering the development of the DVD
And if you close your eyes (and concentrate REAL hard), you can just
picture the grin that must have adorned Warren's face as he composed
that little piece of prose! Call me crazy, but I just had a feeling
you'd get a kick out of that... ;-)
A reader also just pointed out a statement that I made about Divx in
this very column exactly one week ago today: "Remember that
whistling sound that you always heard in World War II movies when a bomb
was about to fall on your head? You get the idea." I guess that
about says it all, doesn't it?
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/16/99 - 11:15 AM PDT)
Well, how do you like that? We're gone for a couple of days here at the
Bits, and Divx decides to fold on
us! Yes, the news you've all been waiting a year and a half for has
finally come to pass - Divx today officially announced that it will
be discontinuing its pay-per-use operations. The details are as
1. Divx expects to provide registered owners with written
notification of the details related to the system phase-out. Effective
today, Divx will no longer register new customers.
2. Existing, registered Divx customers will continue to be able
to view discs during a two-year phase-out period. All Divx discs,
including those previously purchased by consumers and those remaining in
retailer inventories, can be viewed on registered players anytime
between now and June 30, 2001. Subsequent viewings also will be
available during that period. Discs can no longer be upgraded to
unlimited viewing, known as Divx Silver.
3. Digital Video Express will provide a $100 cash rebate to all
consumers who purchased Divx-enhanced players prior to June 16, 1999.
The rebate will ensure that no Divx customers have paid more for the
Divx-featured player than they would have paid for the least expensive,
comparable DVD player available at the time of their purchase. All
Divx-featured DVD players are fully functional DVD players and will
continue to operate as such.
You can read the official statements at PRNewswire,
(which also includes Circuit City's posted losses after halting Divx),
and our favorite, Divx.com.
This announcement comes as a fortuitous IN YOUR FACE to the few studios
and studio executives who saw fit to provide their films to Divx before
DVD (gee... guess we wont be seeing those Disney animated Divx discs
after all). And all of you Circuit City and Divx employees who started
supposedly impartial Divx fan-boy sites on the Net, need to get a new
hobby now, eh? Now, I'm not going to say I told you so, but... oh,
hell... yes I am going to say it: The Digital
Bits told you so! And DVD File
told you so! And DVD Resource told
you so! And The Big Picture told
you so! And so did almost everyone else out there with a stitch of
common sense. Divx was a format that NO ONE wanted except the more
greedy in Hollywood, and it had to be shoved down consumers' throats via
high-priced ad blitzes and in-store hard-sells. Well, consumers weren't
swallowing, and today, Circuit City is the one having to choke down some
$114 million in losses. See Divx... Joe Average consumer isn't as stupid
as you thought. And I, for one, couldn't be happier. ;-)
Guess we're gonna have to change that Free DVD Fight Divx
banner aren't we? Maybe something to do with anamorphic enhancement on
all widescreen DVDs? I declare June 16th a yearly holiday here at The
Digital Bits! We'll have to figure out something special to
mark the occasion...
Finally, today, I wanted to explain our delay in posting to the site,
after returning from Minneapolis. The weekend was nothing less than a
whirlwind of running around, stress, and lack of sleep. Not to mention,
the cottonwood trees there were shedding like mad (it looked like it was
snowing) so my hayfever went nuts. By the time Sarah and I got on the
plane to return home, I felt a major head cold coming on, and have been
knocked out in bed on AlkaSeltzer Plus cold medicine ever since.
However, I'm finally feeling human enough to do some work, and what with
the news of the day... well, I think that's the best medicine of all,
don't you? We will be back tomorrow with a bigger post, including a
couple of reviews.
I'd like to thank you all for your many e-mails today about the good
news - we've gotten some 628 so far, as of 11 AM - by far a new daily
record! Seems like a lot of you are in a celebrating mood. So wherever
you are, and whoever you are, enjoy this day. The format war is over.
Divx has officially left the building.
Divx is dead... long live DVD!
Contest is now on! We're giving away a new player this month,
the Sony DVPS530, and lots of copies of The
Paris Concert for Amnesty International. The contest runs
until June 25th, and there will be 10 winners in all this month (1 Grand
Prize winner and 9 runners-up), so do get your entries in!
We've been getting reports that some of the Alien
Legacy packages are missing the coupon for the 5th
documentary DVD disc, and the pack of collector's cards. One of our
readers faced this problem, and found a phone number for you to call if
you're missing the them too - 1-888-223-2369. They'll send
replacement coupon and cards out via mail. Thanks, Philip!
Those of you who have been waiting eagerly for Anchor Bay to ship the
fixed version of their Black Hole
DVD (without that nasty missing audio channel), will be happy to know
that the fixed discs have begun to ship. I've gotten a copy, so I can
confirm that they are corrected. I have seen them on the rack at Best
Buy stores, and I'm sure other retailers have them now too. You can tell
the fixed discs, because they have a small red dot sticker on the back
of the packaging, near the top of the case.
By the way, the winner of our impromptu spot-the-layer-switch contest
yesterday, was Dean Winkelspecht. He was the first to confirm that the
RSDL layer switch in Elizabeth
is at 57:44 (in chapter 10). This switch is so well handled, that 8
times out of 10, there is NO VISIBLE PAUSE in the playback on my Sony
7700. I'm really impressed. Anyway, Dean... your copy of Pecker
is in the mail! Hhmmm... that last sentence almost has a whole different
meaning, doesn't it?
Entertainment has just posted a new update to their
News page. Several new DVD titles are listed, including Orson
Wells' restored version of Othello,
and Criterion's For All Mankind
and The Unbearable Lightness Of Being.
The LA Times yesterday featured a
5-page pull-out section on "Digital Entertainment", and right
up front was a story called "DVD: Seeing is clearly believing".
The piece included several DVD-related stories on the success of the
format, a glossary of technology terms, and even a small piece on Divx.
Circuit City had a full page ad in the pullout, but curiously, Divx was
nowhere to be seen in the ad. Warner also had a large full-color ad.
Despite the brief mention of Divx, the rhetoric was overwhelmingly
Finally today, I wanted to let you all know in advance, that there will
be no update on Monday. Sarah and I are going back to Minneapolis, to
attend my brother's college graduation this weekend (atta-boy, Jason!).
I'll be doing some HTML tweaking from the laptop over the weekend, but
that's about all. We will, however, be back on Tuesday with a bunch of
new DVD reviews for you. So until then, everyone have a great weekend,
get out and see the new Austin Powers
flick, and we'll see you back here on Tuesday!
Smashing baby, yeah!
Okay, I wanted to get a quick update in to let you all know what's up
around the Bits for the next few
days. We're doing a lot of site maintenance and upgrading work over the
next week or so, to make things run smoother. We're also doing some
advance preparation for the upgrade to version 2.0 of the web site (no
we haven't forgotten!).
Part of the problem, as been that it's extremely difficult to get
anything accomplished with the redesign, while still keeping up with new
news, reviews and the like. We definitely do not want the conversion to
v2.0 to result in a reduction of the daily work we do around here. And
for the longer term, we're examining features we'd like to add to the
site, and how they will eventually plug into the redesign. We are
definitely planning 2.0, we just want to make it as smooth and
functional as we can.
In any case, we've gone through and smoothed out some glitches and bugs
in our Review
section. We've updated the look of the older reviews to match
our current style, and done away with the "capsule review"
designation. You'll notice that a few of the reviews are shorter than
others, but Todd and I have pretty well settled into our style for doing
reviews. Most reviews will be
length, and special discs we think worthy of additional attention
will get slightly
We've also gone into our reviews, and added a clickable link to
purchase the disc from
Express, similar to our "rent from
links. We think they have good prices on discs, which is why we've
established an advertising relationship with them. Just so you know, we
aren't trying to rack up commissions by mentioning this. It's just that
if you DO decide you want to buy or rent a disc we've reviewed, clicking
those links to do so makes our sponsors happy, which will help to ensure
they continue to support our work here at the Bits.
Okay... the ten-cent pitch over now!
You may also notice some weirdness with our banners over the weekend.
Please be patient - we're doing some work on our banner software over
the next week or so, so the tags are all being changed.
Now, on to some news. We will be starting our monthly
Trivia Contest at midnight, and it's
another fun one this time. We're giving away another DVD player this
month - this time a Sony DVPS530. One grand prize winner will take that
home, along with a copy of the new Paris
Concert for Amnesty International DVD, and a Trio for DVD care
kit. Nine other runners-up will take home the Paris
Concert DVD as well (we wanted to spread the fun around a
little more this month!). So watch for that.
Well, finding the RSDL layer switch on Polygram's new Elizabeth
DVD is driving me nuts. Anyone out there have any idea where it is?
Please let me know so I can update the review. In fact, the first person
to tell me exactly where it is, will get a free copy of New Line's Pecker
DVD. How's that for a spur of the moment contest? I'll accept entries
via e-mail until 3 PM
We've got a couple more new DVD reviews up today for you to check out.
I really enjoyed Polygram's new Elizabeth
special edition disc (even if it isn't marked "special edition"
on the package - go figure). I've also given Fox's new DVD edition of
Lies a spin, so do be sure to give them both a read. Todd and
I are working hard to review as many discs as we can, including a good
mix of new, hit titles, and some of the more eclectic stuff too - let us
know what you think. The two of us have compiled nearly 150 unique
here at the Bits, almost a third
of them in the last two months. And we promise to keep 'em coming.
Ever thought about swiping a couple of DVDs from your local store? Of
course you haven't - we know that you Bits
readers are better than that! But think twice in any case. According to
a recent report in Video Store,
many of the studios are beginning to source-tag their DVD product with
anti-theft tags inside the packaging, right at the factory. Wal-Mart has
requested in writing that all of the studios source tag their VHS and
DVD product by October, and many of them are already doing so.
Finally today, we've been seeing some interesting Divx news lately, so
we figured it was time for a status report on the format. Despite a
recent rash of titles appearing on Divx (the Disney animated films, the
Alien series, and a few others),
the format still seems to be putting along at the same lackluster pace.
Circuit City has been forced to up its ownership investment in the "pay-per-useless"
format, from two-thirds to fully three-quarters. This comes despite
claims that CEO Richard Sharp has made of "an outstanding product
launch", AND despite the company's best efforts to find equity and
distribution partners for the format. Surprise - it seems no one is
interested. Whodda thunk it? As of February 28th, Circuit City had sunk
$207 million into the format, with lots of cash still promised to the
participating studios for the next four years or so. Ouch. And despite
good sales for May,
City is reporting that its share in Divx will cut company earnings
by some $16 million in the 1st quarter. Ouch again. Finally, do you
recall that Dow Electronics had been carrying Divx product for a while?
No longer - they've been purchased by the Tweeter Group, which is
returning all Divx product to the manufacturers, and will not carry it
again. And Future Shop closed its doors in the U.S. a few months ago.
Remember that whistling sound that you always heard in World War II
movies when a bomb was about to fall on your head? You get the idea.
Let's get right to it, shall we? We've got three more DVD reviews for
you today, including my take on Universal's new Battlestar
Galactica DVD, as well as Todd's look at the new Gods
and Monsters: Collector's Edition (also from Universal), and
Criterion's funny Fishing
with John. Todd has also revised his
DV review, to include lots of hidden production notes and
audio commentary that he discovered.
Around the site, we've also got a bunch of new upcoming Fall DVD
information, from 20th Century Fox and others, in today's
Mill update. Among the titles mentioned there, are DVDs of
X-Files and Futurama
TV episodes, so don't miss it.
Add the Marantz DVD 930 to the list of players that can't play
DVD-ROM/DVD Video hybrid discs, like the Alien
DVD. Marantz is aware of the problem, and like Toshiba, suggests that
you get player upgraded. You can call them at 1-800-654-7333.
Finally, a reminder to all you studio types and DVD producers out
there: The deadline for submitting nominations for the 1999 Discus
Awards for Creative Excellence is June 15, 1999. The awards ceremony
will be held at the DVD PRO Conference & Exhibition Monday, August
16, 1999 at the Hyatt Regency at the Embarcadero in San Francisco, CA.
You can submit your nominations now at
Get 'em in quick!
We'll have some more interesting Divx news tomorrow, as well as several
more DVD reviews, so stay tuned...
Everybody have a good weekend? A old high school friend of mine, who
now lives in Canada, dropped by for dinner and, of course, a DVD movie.
In anticipation of the sequel release next weekend, we watched the
original Austin Powers, which he
had never seen. As they used to say in the social column of my home town
newspaper, "A good time was had by all."
So we've got some new street date information in today's
Mill, regarding Fox DVD titles for August. There's
Something About Mary and several other good titles are
listed, so don't miss it.
Finally today, we've updated the CEMA DVD player sales numbers to show
the complete month of May. Some 279,756 players shipped to dealers in
the entire month (157,616 in the last week alone), making it once again,
another record month. Check the
chart, and the above listing for the details.
Those of you in the Los Angeles and New York City areas can start
anticipating a preview of the latest in theater technology - digital
projection of movies. Starting on June 18th, two theaters in each area
will be showing Star Wars: Episode I
via digital projection, courtesy of CineComm Digital Cinema and Texas
Instruments. Check this link out via
official Star Wars web site for the skinny. Just FYI - the
film earned over $200 million in its first 13 days, breaking previous
records. Could it still beat Titanic?
Well, this weekend, the film earned another $32.2 million, bringing its
total take to $255 million in 19 days, a record which Titanic
36 days to reach. Yikes, that's a boat-load of cash...!
Speaking of Star Wars, could
there be yet ANOTHER Star Wars: Special
Edition in the works? The latest rumor is that Lucas still
wasn't happy with Episode IV, even
after the recent Special Edition
was released, and has had his artists doing as many as 17 more tweaks,
fixes and digital changes since then. Also, according to an "insider
report", ILM is working to completely digitize every frame of all
three of the original films, for preservation purposes - a task which is
on-going and won't be done until next year. If true, this could be one
of the reasons we're all still waiting for the DVDs. Check out
page over at Corona's
Coming Attractions for the full report.
We'll be back tomorrow, with lots more reviews. See you then!
We've got more reviews for you today. I'm very pleased to present you
with your first look at Image Entertainment's terrific new DVD of the
Concert for Amnesty International. If you're looking for cool
live music performances on DVD, this disc really delivers with realistic
Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and great looking video. The concert features
some really terrific performances by the likes of Alanis Morissette,
Peter Gabriel, Bruce Springsteen, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, Tracy
Chapman and more. And the disc captures the live experience very nicely.
You'll definitely want to check it out.
We've also got reviews up today of Warner's budget line Fearless
disc, and the cool new Film-Fest
DV 1:1. And we've posted a few new scans of
DVD artwork today as well, so don't miss it.
We've been digging into those problems with the Alien
DVD not playing on certain Toshiba players, specifically the 3108.
Apparently, this is a problem with the player itself, and not the disc.
Those of you who have this particular player, who tried to play the
fourth disc in the From the Earth to the Moon
set, experienced the same problem. The basic issue is that the 3108 has
problems recognizing hybrid DVD discs - that is, DVD discs with both DVD
Video and DVD-ROM data encoded on them. This explains why the the fourth
disc of FTETTM crashes the player
- it is the only disc of the set with ROM content on it. The same is
true of Alien in The
Alien Legacy box set - it is the only disc of the four with
ROM content. There is apparently a firmware upgrade available from
Toshiba that will fix this problem, for those of you who are
experiencing it. Contact Toshiba's consumer electronics Customer Support
service at 1-800-631-3811, or e-mail them at
to make arrangements for the repair of the problem on your player. You
will have to either send your player back to them, or take it to a local
authorized service center, to get the repair done. I gave the phone
number a call earlier, and confirmed that they WILL be able to help you
Around the Net today, there's a
article over at Fortune.com
on Divx ("the video technology geeks love to hate"). You
see... Josh Dare is a heck of a nice (and highly beleaguered) guy, even
if his employer does bite. Anyway, I think you'll find the piece an
Finally today, I had a nice discussion with the folks over at Warner
Home Video this morning, about their basic DVD philosophy. Among the
topics covered, were their reasons for using the Snapper case, as
opposed to the Amaray keep case. The basic reason is cost - using an
Amaray case adds to the price of the disc (as much as .15 to .18 cents
at the manufacturing level). That may not sound like much, but when you
multiple that by manufacturing lots of hundreds of thousands (and
eventually millions) it adds up significantly. The feeling at Warner is
that if DVD is to really break out like VHS videotape did, the prices
have to be kept as low as possible. This is also why they're
aggressively supporting their budget line of $14.99 discs - VHS wasn't
really successful until the prices came down into the $15 and under
range. Warner has been by far the most ardent studio supporter of the
DVD format, and certainly has been the driving force behind it from day
one. Their strategy is to market the DVD format to mainstream consumers
of all levels, not just the serious, laserphile-type collectors. In the
long run, that strategy will probably pay off big for the format as a
Lest we serious collectors feel slighted, I also asked about the recent
lack of significant special edition titles from the studio. This is
absolutely not a case of concentrating on the $15 line at the expense of
premium titles - producing the SE discs just takes a lot of time. Warner
has a number of features-loaded special edition discs in the works,
including the forthcoming DVD release of their animated The
King and I. I'm also assured that when The
Matrix hits DVD later this year, it will be one of the most
impressive DVD special edition titles to date. Wild
Wild West and Deep Blue Sea
are also expected to be loaded with all of the extras DVD fans crave,
when they street later in the year.
We'll be talking much more with Warner in the coming months. In the
meantime, rest assured that while the studio's DVD strategy may at times
seem puzzling to we avid collectors, the studio is definitely thinking
strategically in terms of pushing the DVD format to its fullest
potential... and it's hard to argue with that.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Well, we had quite the time last night. Sarah and I were fortunate
enough to have been invited to attend the Alien
20th Anniversary Gala Event up at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood, and
it was quite a fun evening. Lots of the cast and crew were in
attendance, along with some other celebrity guests, and lots of industry
and press. Sarah brought the digital camera along, so
here for a full report and lots of pictures from the evening.
Speaking of Alien, we've been
getting some reports that the Alien
DVD will not play properly on the Toshiba 3108 DVD player, and that some
who purchased the boxed set haven't received the coupon for the 5th
disc. We'll keep you up to date as we learn more.
On the way up to the screening yesterday, I had the chance to drop in
over at Columbia TriStar, and get a hands-on look at their new Ghostbusters
DVD. This thing is really terrific. The animated menus are a blast to
surf through, and they've been set up so that you can access many
features from more than one menu page - you can't miss anything. The
live commentary is excellent, and was recorded on the disc using the
subtitle track (yes, you can record audio and video on a DVD subtitle
track). This means that you can toggle through actual subtitles,
commentary (with or without the MST3K-style
talking heads), and the text of a book on the making of the film, using
your remote's subtitle button, while watching the film! Also the disc
includes several special effects scenes in two versions - the original
work print (w/o effects) and the final film - that have been matched
frame for frame, so that using your remote's angle button, you can
switch back and forth between them on the fly to compare the before and
after. The disc is just extremely cool, and I think you'll find it well
worth the wait.
While there, I also asked about those two Columbia titles that have
appeared in Snapper cases recently - Taxi
Driver: SE and Gloria.
I've gotten lots of concerned e-mails from readers, worried that the
studio may switch to the Snapper for good. You'll be glad to know that
this isn't the case. These two titles were simply used as test cases, to
gauge the cost-effectiveness of the Snapper case (as opposed to the
Amaray keep case). Rest assured, the studio has decided that the trusty
keep case is the better option. In a related note, I was also told that
Dr. Strangelove WILL be in the
Snapper when it appears in Warner's upcoming Kubrick
Collection. According to Columbia, this had to be done to
conform with the packaging Warner is using for the entire collection.
Other than these three, no others should appear in Snappers.
Finally, we had a very funny moment yesterday. Before going over to the
Egyptian for the Alien event last
night, Sarah and I stopped by the Beverly Center for dinner. In a vast
city of millions, who do you suppose we just happened to bump into?
Peter Bracke, of The
DVD File, who was also there for a bite before going to the
Alien event! Sarah snapped a shot
of Pete and I later that evening, but sadly it didn't turn out.
However... so as not to disappoint either of our readers (or Pete, who
knows his cover is blown), here's a "file" picture (no pun
intended) of Pete and I at a Dave's Video event, earlier this year.
Gotcha, Pete! ;-)
We'll be back later and tomorrow with a bunch more DVD reviews. See you
Well, with the new Austin Powers
movie ready to burst onto your local theater screens this month, we
thought it only appropriate to revisit the original. Thus, Todd Doogan
today brings you his 2 cents on
Powers: International Man of Mystery. Todd also takes a look
at a brand new Columbia TriStar DVD release of one of his favorite films
Driver: Special Edition (here's a hint: he likes it, he really
Here at The Digital Bits, we
think it's always nice when a major, highly-respected newspaper weighs
in in favor of our favorite home entertainment format. So we've got a
great article to point out to you today. Tom Shales of
Washington Post has thrown his opinions into the public arena,
and I think you'll like what he has to say. His article is entitled,
We Dance? With DVD, Indeed. He even takes a shot or two at
Divx, so don't miss it.
Finally today (and speaking of Divx), it looks like the pay-per-view
format has definitely kissed some serious you-know-what over at the
Mickey Mouse Club. Another Disney classic has been announced for Divx...
& Broomsticks. And while it isn't quite an A-list classic,
it still makes me mad that Disney has chosen to favor Divx with it's
family titles over DVD. Hey BVHE... what the hell are you people
thinking? For what it's worth, a Buena Vista Home Entertainment
spokesperson had this to say on the subject today: "What can I say
except be patient. The big announcement is a-comin'..." OK, so
we're waiting. But all I can say to Buena Vista is, if you guys announce
the release of classic animation on DVD, it damn well better be in
If it's not one thing, it's another it seems. After being sick for
several days, I got to spend my weekend grappling with a non-functional
cable modem. Seems that the router in my area was being upgraded last
week, and decided to go down on Saturday. Go figure - it's always
Alas, I'm finally able to start bringing you more of those reviews
today, starting with a pair of great DreamWorks titles,
And Todd also weighs in with his look at a nifty little horror flick
from Anchor Bay,
Johnsons. We'll have more reviews tomorrow as well.
I hope all of you enjoyed the long holiday weekend. I did, at least,
get to go with my wife and some friends, to see a surprisingly good
little romantic comedy - Notting Hill,
starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. We really enjoyed it, and I'd
definitely recommend it to everyone (and it's rare that I do that with a
film that is so obviously a chick flick). In particular, keep you eyes
on Spike, the scruffy roommate of Grant's character, who is extremely
funny. The film also features a nice little ensemble cast of friends who
are a lot of fun to watch. All in all, it's a nice little treat of a
Those of you who have been waiting for Saving
Private Ryan to hit a better home video format than VHS, will
be happy to know that the film is expected to appear on laserdisc (from
Image Entertainment) on June 29th. Yes, I know it's not DVD (no word a
possible street date for that yet - look for X-mas at the earliest), but
the laserdisc should be great. The set will include two discs (4 sides
in all), THX certification, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and a $39.99 SRP.
With no DVD in the immediate offing, I'm actually quite looking forward
Speaking of Image
Entertainment, they've updated their
News page to announce Fox's Wing
Commander, and a host of smaller titles from Sony Music, Fox
Lorber and more.
Finally, all of you industry types should get your nominations in for
the DVD Pro
Discus Awards, which are due by June 15th. Any DVD-Video or
DVD-ROM title that was finalized to DVD-R or replicated after July 1,
1998 and before June 30, 1999, is eligible. The finalists will be chosen
by July 26th.
We'll see you back here tomorrow. And all of you suffering the
back-to-work blues, hang in there - remember, it's a short week!