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page updated: 5/7/08



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/28/08 - 4/7/08)


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(LATE UPDATE - 4/28/08 - 11:15 AM PDT)

We've got some pretty exciting release news for you today (at least we think so): New Line (via Warner) is releasing a Dark City: Director's Cut on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/29 (SRP $19.97 and $34.99). According to the studio's press information, both discs will feature "enhanced picture and sound, never-before-seen footage and three commentary tracks that take you deeper than ever before into the world of one of sci-fis most exciting and revered tales." The Blu-ray will be a BD-50 disc, but we don't know what the audio format will be yet. Director Alex Proyas' new cut of the film runs 111 minutes (the original version was 96 minutes). Dark City is a GREAT little sci-fi flick, so this is pretty cool news in our book. You'll find the cover art for BOTH versions below.

Also today, Sony has set Vantage Point for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/1. The BD version will include a GPS Tracker option that will allow you to follow the complicated movements of the characters. Both versions will also feature audio commentary, deleted scenes and interviews with the cast and crew. Sony has also set Impact Point for DVD release on DVD on 7/8, along with I Dream of Jeannie: The Complete Fifth Season.

Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has announced Sleepwalking for DVD and Blu-ray release on 7/8.

MGM has set Asylum for DVD release on 7/15 (SRP $26.98), but don't expect any extras.

Paramount has finally announced South Park: The Complete Eleventh Season for DVD release on 8/12, along with The American Mall, Caroline in the City: The First Season, Kenny vs. Spenny: Season One - Uncensored, Dave's World: The First Season, Muhammad Ali: Made in Miami, Ni Hao Kai-Lan: Super Special Days! (we have no idea what that is either) and The Love Boat: Season One, Volume Two. Affinity, Dexter: The Complete Second Season and John Oliver: Terrifying Times will follow on 8/19.

Universal has set Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day for DVD release on 8/19.

And finally, Warner has set Funny Games for release on DVD on 6/10, with Guardians following on 7/15 (for Lightyear).

Here's the DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover art for New Line's Dark City: Director's Cut, along with the DVD artwork for Criterion's High and Low (7/22)...

Dark City: Director's CutDark City: Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)High and Low (Criterion)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/28/08 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, folks. Boy, it was hotter than blazes here in So-Cal this weekend. It got up to 100 degrees here in The OC - so hot I must have lost my marbles, because I somehow managed to forget how to walk properly and sprained my ankle. What are you gonna do? Wraps and ice and a lot of Advil. It happens. Anyway, I hope YOU all had a great weekend.

Here at The Bits this morning, we've got a couple things for you to enjoy with your coffee and what-have-you.

First, we're very pleased today to present you with Golden Hollywood, a new regular column here at The Bits by Robert Siegel. You may know Rob from his previous writings on the subject of classic film for Widescreen Review and the Minneapolis Star/Tribune, as well as his own Movies on Laserdisc magazine and Classics on Video website. Rob's family has long been associated with the film industry. His grandfather worked for Universal Pictures, and later became a booking manager for Rothstein Theaters in Canada, while his mother was an editor at Paramount.

Rob has a particular interest in movie advertising and, over the years, has amassed a large collection of press material from the Hollywood films of the 1940s on through the 1980s. His Golden Hollywood is designed to complement Barrie Maxwell's excellent Classic Coming Attractions column here at The Bits. Barrie reviews classic films on disc, and examines the availability and release history of classic titles on DVD and Blu-ray, whereas Rob will focus more on the production history of the films themselves, with information and cool images culled from his extensive library of vintage material. Robert's first column features a look at MGM's Kings of the Sun and Taras Bulba, both of which have recently been released on DVD. We think you'll really enjoy it.

We've got more great columns coming this week as well. Tomorrow, we'll have a brand new High-Definition Matters piece from Barrie, featuring new Blu-ray reviews. And on Wednesday, we'll have a new installment of Yellow Layer Failure by our own Robert A. Harris. Be sure to check back for those.

In announcement news this morning, Warner has set a 2-disc How the West was Won: Special Edition for release on 8/26. The film is presented in all its 3-strip Cinerama glory, along with audio commentary by film historians, the vintage The Making of How the West was Won featurette, the new Cinerama Adventure documentary and more. We expect both DVD and Blu-ray editions to be available. Also on the way to DVD on 8/26 are The Law and Jake Wade, Escape from Fort Bravo, Many Rivers to Cross, Saddle the Wind, Cimarron (1960) and The Stalking Moon, as well as the Errol Flynn: The Warner Westerns Collection box set (containing Virginia City, San Antonio, Rocky Mountain and Montana).

Meanwhile, Shout! Factory is releasing the animated Stargate Infinity: The Complete Series on DVD on 5/13 as a 4-disc set (SRP $34.99). You'll get all 26 episodes, along with an effects test, walking character models, a storyboard-to-screen comparison for the pilot and original concept art.

And here's one more thing that's going to drive some of you crazy: We've learned that Best Buy is going to have an exclusive bonus disc with New Line's The Golden Compass: 2-Disc Platinum Edition on Tuesday, featuring "over 45 minutes worth of extra footage." In other words, it would seem, deleted scenes. The deleted scenes that aren't yet being restored to the movie itself... and which aren't included on the Blu-ray Disc version. Which means, there's going to be a double-dip one of these days (probably when the sequels show up in theatres, which we hear WILL happen because Compass made so much money internationally, even though it hasn't yet been officially announced). What's more, to our knowledge, the bonus disc is only available with the DVD version. In other words, if you're a Blu-ray fan... yes, you ARE getting screwed. You know, we don't mind retailer exclusives like special packaging or swag items, but when ACTUAL CONTENT is only available at a particular retailer - especially something this interesting to fans of the film - that just sucks. Period. Whoever made this decision at New Line or Warner should know better. [Editor's Note: We've heard back from sources that this material is not actual deleted scenes, but some kind of additional behind-the-scenes material instead. So that's good. Unfortunately, it's still only available on DVD.]

All right, anyway. Some things just piss a guy off. As a fan of movies on disc, you hate feeling like you're being taken advantage of, you know?

Back with more later. Stay tuned....

4/25/08

We've got some new title announcement news for you today, as well as a bunch of other news from the far corners of the Interweb (including some pretty awesome Hobbit news and more). So let's get right into it, yes?

First up, Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of City of Men on 7/1 (SRP $29.99). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and the City of Men: Unveiling the Reality featurette.

Buena Vista has also announced the release of a whole mess of TV titles, including the Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fourth Season - Sizzling Secrets Edition (on 9/2), Gray's Anatomy: The Complete Fourth Season - Expanded (also Blu-ray) and Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season (both 9/9), Private Practice: The Complete First Season - Extended Edition and Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete First Season (both 9/16), Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Second Season and Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season (both 9/23), and Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience (12/9 - also Blu-ray). All will be presented in anamorphic widescreen. Here's a rundown of what each set will contain...

Brothers & Sisters: The Complete Second Season will include 16 episodes on 5 DVDs (DVD only, SRP $59.99). Extras will include audio commentaries (with director Ken Olin, and actors Dave Annable, Sarah Jane Morris, Matthew Rhys, Emily VanCamp and Patricia Wettig), deleted scenes, bloopers and 3 featurettes (Guest Book, TV Dinners: Food from Season 2 and Open House).

The Desperate Housewives: The Complete Fourth Season - Sizzling Secrets Edition will include 5 discs of episodes (DVD only, SRP $59.99), along with deleted scenes, bloopers and 2 featurettes (Getting Desperate from Beginning to End and The Men of Wisteria Lane). There's also something called Couples Commentary, but it's unclear from the studio's press release whether this is actual audio commentary or a featurette. Either way, many of the show's cast members will be included.

Dirty Sexy Money: The Complete First Season (DVD only, SRP $39.99) will include audio commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers and 4 featurettes (The Road to Excess: Making Dirty Sexy Money, Enter the Penthouse: A V.I.P Set Tour, Haute Couture: Dressing the Darlings and The Other Woman: Candis Cayne).

Gray's Anatomy: The Complete Fourth Season - Expanded will contain all 16 episodes on 5 DVDs (SRP $59.99) or 4 Blu-rays ($96.99). Extras on both will include an extended episode (Forever Young) with audio commentary by actress Lauren Stamile and executive producer and director Rob Corn, additional audio commentaries by actress Chyler Leigh and associate producer Karin Gleason, deleted scenes, bloopers and 3 featurettes (New Doc on the Block, On Set with Patrick & Eric and Good Medicine: Favorite Scenes).

Lost: The Complete Fourth Season - The Expanded Experience will include all 14 episodes on 5 DVDs (SRP $59.99) or 5 Blu-rays ($96.99). Extras will include audio commentaries, bloopers, deleted scenes, 5 featurettes (tentatively titled Lost on Location, Freighter Folk, Transforming Hawaii, Gun Tracking and The Music of Lost) and more features TBA.

Private Practice: The Complete First Season - Extended Edition (DVD only, SRP $39.99) will include audio commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers, 2 extended episodes and 2 featurettes (the tentative titles are Kate Walsh: Practice Makes Perfect and Alternative Ensemble: Behind the Scenes of Private Practice).

Samantha Who?: The Complete First Season (DVD only, SRP $29.99) will include deleted scenes and bloopers.

Finally, Ugly Betty: The Complete Second Season will include all the season's episodes on 5 DVDs (DVD only, SRP $59.99), along with deleted scenes, a Betty 'Bloops' bloopers featurette and 2 additional featurettes (On Set with the Besties and Wilhelmina Slater: Love to Hate Her).

If you're looking for older seasons of Lost and Gray's (or other shows, like Smallville) on Blu-ray, you'll have to wait a little longer. Industry sources are telling us that BD authoring and replication facilities are packed with work on new release and catalog film titles for the holidays, so older TV product is taking a back seat right now, at least until later in the year. They'll come eventually, but it's going to take some time.

Also today, Warner Home Video has set Get Smart's Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control for release on 7/1 (SRP $27.95), with the horror title Guardians following on 7/15 (for Lightyear) and the BBC's 2-disc Life in Cold Blood (a documentary series on reptiles) due on 8/5 (SRP $34.98).

In other news today, there have been reports that Managed Copy wouldn't be a part of the final AACS license this summer, but apparently no so says Media Wonk. Per an AACS spokesperson e-mail to The Wonk: "[Managed copy] is still very much a part of the Final documents. Nothing has changed in that regard. It’s just taking time."

Meanwhile, Video Business has a story up about how the studios are struggling to find the sweet spot with Blu-ray Disc software pricing, and they're probably not going to find it until the market gets a little bigger later this year.

Here's something we missed a couple weeks ago that could potentially be interesting: Home Media says that a company called NetBlender has created software that will let you play Digital Copy content from Blu-ray movies on your iPhone. Interesting.

For you Trekkers, our friend Anthony over at TrekMovie has posted official word from CBS Digital that they've just completed their CG effects work on Star Trek: The Original Series - Remastered. The last shot was finished on 4/21. Now if CBS would just get off their backsides and announce the damn show for Blu-ray Disc (like they should have from the BEGINNING, we might add), we could all enjoy the new effects in their full high-def glory as we were meant to. We're just saying. This is what happens when you let Toshiba pay the authoring bill.

Finally today, we've saved the best for last: It's now official. Per Variety, Guillermo del Toro has signed on the dotted line to direct not one but TWO movies based on The Hobbit. Peter Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens will write and produce, and WETA will do the creature and effects work. The films are expected to hit theaters in 2011 and 2012, around which time you can also reasonably expect The Lord of the Rings to arrive on Blu-ray Disc in some ultimate version. And if all that doesn't warm your little geek hearts, we don't know what will. SMAUG!!

Okay, okay... here's one more cool thing: Remember that Venture Bros third season preview video we linked to yesterday on YouTube? Here's a much better Flash version (below, sans screaming) from the show's creators at Astrobase Go! (via QuickStop Entertainment - you can download it here in Quicktime format). Obviously (cue pirate voice), there be mild spoilers here. It's also streaming (and popular right now), so it might be a tad slow loading for a while. But if you're a fan of the show, it's well worth checking out. The new season debuts on 6/1 on Cartoon Network's [adult swim], and it looks like it's gonna be pretty great. Enjoy...



John... Bonham... Rocks...

Don't forget, there's new Battlestar tonight on Sci-Fi. We'll be back on Monday with a new featured columnist and more. Until then, have a great weekend!

4/24/08

Okay... we've got a few announcements to report this morning.

Fox is releasing the Carmen Miranda Collection on 6/17 (SRP $49.98), containing Doll Face (1946), Greenwich Village (1944), If I'm Lucky (1946), Something for the Boys (1944) and The Gang's All Here (1944). The individual titles will also be available separately (SRP $14.98 each).

Meanwhile, MGM is releasing The Outer Limits: The Original Series Complete Box Set as a 7-disc set on 7/1 (SRP $79.98). MGM is also working on a Bright Lights, Big City: 20th Anniversary Edition DVD release for sometime in August or September.

And for you horror fans, Warner has set the Jekyll: Special Edition for release on 7/8 for Lightyear (SRP $19.97).

Speaking of Warner, we've learned that the Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition Blu-ray Disc will be released in Digibook packaging, like the recent Bonnie and Clyde. Again, it's a single-disc BD-50 release, currently due on 11/4 (SRP $28.99).

Finally this morning, if you're a fan of The Venture Bros, you might get a kick out of this. It's a YouTube link to a video recording of a preview of the upcoming season from New York Comic-Con this past weekend (say that ten times fast). The quality is only so/so, but it's still pretty funny and if you love the show as we do, it's worth checking out. June can't come fast enough, that's for sure. And when it comes to DVD eventually, it'll be in ANAMORPHIC WIDESCREEN EXTRA-GOODNESS too (the show is being produced in 1.78:1 high-def for the first time this season). Take that, Dr. Girlfriend!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/23/08 - 2 PM PDT)

In more new announcement news today, Warner has set Sidekick and Funny Games for release on 6/10, with the BBC's Earth: The Biography on 7/22 and for the kids The Wiggles: You Make Me Feel Like Dancing on 7/29. DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures is also coming to DVD from the studio, either in late July or early August (SRP $24.98).

Also, checking Warner Home Video's press site, it seems that they'll be releasing New Line's Be Kind, Rewind on Blu-ray Disc on 6/10, a week before the DVD release (currently set for 6/17). [Editors' Note: We've checked with Warner and the 6/17 date was in fact a typo in their database. The actual street date for BOTH the DVD and Blu-ray is 6/10. Be sure to update your plans accordingly.]

We have some new details on the extras you'll find on Warner's 10,000 B.C. on DVD and Blu-ray too (both due 6/24). Each will include 2 featurettes (A Wild and Wooly Ride and Inspiring an Epic), as well as deleted scenes and an alternate ending. Audio on the Blu-ray will be Dolby TrueHD.

Meanwhile, we promised you a little more on Universal's The Mummy: Special Edition - Universal Legacy Series DVD (the 1932 film - due on 7/8, SRP $26.98). The 2-disc set will include audio commentary (with film historian Paul M. Jenson), a second commentary (with Rick Baker, Scott Essman, Steve Haberman, Bob Burns and Brent Armstrong), 4 documentaries/featurettes (including Mummy Dearest: A Horror Tradition Unearthed, He Who Made Monsters: Life and Legacy of Jack Pierce, Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy and Universal Horror), a trailer gallery and a gallery of poster artwork and production stills.

As for the new Deluxe Editions of Stephen Sommers' The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, and the Collector's Edition of Van Helsing, it looks like they'll include some of the same extras as the previous DVDs, along with a few new features. The Mummy DVDs will also include previews of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and Digital Copy versions of the films. Here's a breakdown...

The Mummy: 2-Disc Deluxe Edition (7/8, SRP $19.98) will include audio commentary (with director/writer Stephen Sommers and Editor Bob Ducsay), a second commentary (with actor Brendon Fraser), a third commentary (with actors Oded Fehr, Kevin J. O'Connor and Arnold Vosloo), deleted scenes, the An Army to Rule the World, Part 1 documentary, 3 featurettes (Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy, Visual and Special Effects Formation and Building a Better Mummy), a storyboard-to-film comparison, a photo montage, Egypology 101, the preview of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and the Digital Copy of the film.

The Mummy Returns: 2-Disc Deluxe Edition (7/8, SRP $19.98) will include audio commentary (with Sommers and executive producer/editor Bob Ducsay), outtakes, the An Army to Rule the World, Part 2 documentary, 4 featurettes (Unraveling the Legacy of The Mummy, Visual and Special Effects Formation, An Exclusive Conversation with The Rock and Spotlight on Location), a storyboard-to-film comparison, Egypology 201, the film's theatrical trailer, Live's Forever May Not Be Long Enough music video, the preview of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and the Digital Copy of the film.

The Van Helsing: Collector's Edition (also 7/8, SRP $19.98) will include audio commentary (with Sommers & editor/producer Bob Ducsay), a second commentary (with Richard Rob, Shuler Hensley & Will Kemp), bloopers, 9 featurettes (Bringing the Monster to Life, You are in the Movie!, The Legend of Van Helsing, Dracula's Lair is Transformed, The Music of Van Helsing, Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Werewolves and The Women of Van Helsing: Anna & Dracula's Brides), the Track the Adventure: Van Helsing's Map interactive feature, the Explore Dracula's Castle and Explore Frankenstein's Lab interactive tours, the film's theatrical trailer, the Super Bowl TV spot and the Xbox game preview.

In other news, our friends at BTTF.com have posted a little more detail about those reports of the Back to the Future films coming to Blu-ray from Universal (see this Rumor Mill post from yesterday), including the actual comments from writer/producer Bob Gale. There's some good stuff, so do check it out. Our sources tell us that 2009 would be the earliest you'd see the releases, so don't expect them this year.

FYI, we've also updated yesterday's Rumor Mill post with more on those Warner classics titles we mentioned yesterday, so do check it out.

Here's some new cover art... Warner's DC Super Heroes: The Filmation Adventures and Universal's The Mummy: Special Edition on DVD. We've also included the Blade Runner: 5-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition on Blu-ray (now available), because Amazon is running a sale on it right now for just $19.95...

DC Super Heroes: The Filmation AdventuresThe Mummy: Special EditionBlade Runner: 5-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/23/08 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... it's about 7PM (Pacific) on Tuesday night, but we're going to call this the 12:01 AM Wednesday morning post just for kicks. We could have waited to post this until it was actually Wednesday morning, but the news is too cool to sit on that long. Warner has just revealed that it's preparing The Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition for release on Blu-ray Disc later this year. We actually mentioned this title a few months ago, when it was first listed in the studio's online high-def store (for an SRP of $19.95), but the studio's press site finally shows a BD listing with a street date of 11/4 (for an SRP of $28.99, on a BD-50 disc). No other specs have been released yet, and the date is obviously subject to change, as it's a LONG ways off yet. Still, it's exciting news of another great catalog title coming to Blu-ray. We'll post further details as they're available.

As always, stay tuned...

4/22/08

We've got some interesting ground to cover today, so let's get right to it...

First up, our own Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover scans and Amazon pre-order links. As always, when you order ANYTHING through our links, a portion of the sale goes to support our work here at The Bits, and we really do appreciate it.

Now then... see anything you like here?

Men in Black (Blu-ray Disc)Night Watch (Blu-ray Disc)Day Watch (Blu-ray Disc)

That's obviously the FINAL cover art for Sony's Men in Black on Blu-ray Disc (due 6/17), which has officially been announced. As for the other two Blu-ray titles... you MIGHT want to check The Rumor Mill today for details on those, along with new word on the eventual DVD/Blu-ray release of The X-Files: I Want to Believe, L.A. Confidential, Get Smart and the Back to the Future Trilogy. No kidding, they're all in there. Don't miss it!

In other news today, if you happen to drop by your local Best Buy today, you'll find that they're selling an exclusive DVD version of Cloverfield that comes with a 30-minute bonus disc featuring T.J. Miller's Video Diary from the set. A sticker on the front of the package mentions the bonus disc, and the actual bonus disc itself is on the outside of the keep case, in a paper sleeve, sealed inside the plastic wrap (so there's no mistaking which copies have it). It's actually pretty funny and it doesn't cost you anything extra, so if you liked the movie and you can find a copy, why the hell not?

Meanwhile, MGM has set Asylum for DVD release on 7/15, with Picture This following on 7/22 (SRP $26.98 each).

Universal has announced several new DVDs for release on 7/8, including a new 2-disc The Mummy: Special Edition (the 1932 film - a Legacy Series release - SRP $26.98), The Mummy: 2-Disc Deluxe Edition (the 1999 film), The Mummy Returns: 2-Disc Deluxe Edition, a Van Helsing: Collector's Edition, a Jet Li's Fearless: Director's Cut and Dog Whisperer with Cesar Millan: The Complete Third Season. We'll have more details on the monster titles tomorrow (they're obviously set to promote the upcoming theatrical release of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor on 8/1).

And around the Net today, there's word that NetFlix is going to be increasing the price of its Blu-ray Disc rentals. You can read more at Video Business.

Finally, a number of readers who purchased HD-DVD players from Amazon.com (prior to 2/23/08) are informing us that the online retailer is offering them a $50 credit. This would be a gesture similar to what Best Buy recently offered its HD-DVD customers, so we say good for Amazon!

Stay tuned...

4/21/08

Yikes... you go for routine servicing on your car, and it turns into a whole day thing. Anyway, the post today is a little late, but there's a bit of interesting DVD and Blu-ray news to report.

First up, 20th Century Fox and MGM have set a number of classic war films for release on Blu-ray on 6/3, as part of their Father's Day promotion. They include The Longest Day, Patton, The Sand Pebbles, A Bridge Too Far and Battle of Britain (SRP $39.98). Each will include 1080p anamorphic widescreen video and DTS 5.1 HD audio. In terms of bonus material, The Longest Day will offer a historical audio commentary with Mary Corey, a film commentary with Ken Annakin, 4 featurettes (A Day to Remember, Longest Day: A Salute to Courage, Backstory: The Longest Day and D-Day Revisited), a stills gallery and the theatrical trailer. Patton will include an introduction and commentary by writer Francis Ford Coppola, 2 featurettes (History Through the Lens: Patton - A Rebel Revisited and Patton’s Ghost Corps), The Making of Patton documentary, a production stills gallery accompanied by Jerry Goldsmith’s complete musical score, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery accompanied by audio essay on the historical Patton, and the theatrical trailer. Finally, The Sand Pebbles will include audio commentary by director Robert Wise, Candice Bergen, Mako and Richard Crenna, the film's isolated score with commentary by music producer Nick Redman, film music historian Jon Burnlingame and screen writer/historian Lem Dobbs, a trivia track, 13 deleted “Road Show” scenes, 6 featurettes (The Making of Sand Pebbles, Steve McQueen Remembered, Bob Wise in Command, China 1926, A Ship Called San Pablo and The Secret of the San Pablo), a trivia track, the theatrical trailer and 2 radio documentaries (Changsha Bund and the Streets of Taipei and A Ship Called San Pablo). We've posted the other titles cover art previously, but here's art for Battle of Britain, A Bridge too Far and Patton...

Battle of Britain (Blu-ray Disc)A Bridge Too Far (Blu-ray Disc)Patton (Blu-ray Disc)

Meanwhile, Sony has set The Other Boleyn Girl for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/10, with In the Line of Fire following on Blu-ray on 7/1. Married Life also streets on DVD on 7/1.

Also today, Universal has set Definitely, Maybe for release on DVD on 6/24 (SRP $29.98). Look for full frame and anamorphic widescreen editions. Also coming that day is In Bruges (DVD only at the moment, SRP also $29.98).

Here's DVD cover art for In Bruges, New Line's Be Kind, Rewind (6/10) and Warner's 10,000 B.C. (6/24)...

In BrugesBe Kind, Rewind10,000 B.C.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/18/08 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Just a couple more news items and then we'll call it a week..

First up, Sony has confirmed to Home Media (see this link to next week's digital issue) that both Starship Troopers and the new direct-to-video sequel, Starship Troopers: Marauder will arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 7/29. The DVD version of Marauder will street that day as well. DO YOU WANT TO KNOW MORE!? Both Blu-ray releases will include pop-up video segments during the film with graphics and behind-the-scenes information. The Starship Troopers Blu-ray will also include an interactive Recruitment Test, as well as all of the bonus material from the original DVD release (deleted scenes, featurettes, audio commentary, a documentary, episodes of the animated Roughnecks: The Starship Trooper Chronicles and more). Marauder will include 2 featurettes and 2 commentaries on both formats. [Editor's Note: We've since learned that this street date MAY be subject to change, so just be aware of that. The discs are coming, but the date isn't set in stone yet.]

Home Media is also reporting that video software sales are slightly up in the first quarter of 2008, with both DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales outpacing those in the same period last year. Blu-ray sales alone are up an impressive 351%. See... now there's what the end of a format war will do for you.

By the way, the digital issue of HMR also features a Q&A with yours truly on the subject of Blu-ray Disc special features and advanced, online interactivity. If you happen to be interested in such things, do check it out.

Enjoy the weekend! Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/18/08 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... we've got a couple new announcements and updates on previously announced titles for you this morning.

Criterion has revealed their planned July DVD slate, which includes Claude Jutra's Mon oncle Antoine (catalog #438), Jacques Tati's Trafic (#439), Akira Kurosawa's High and Low (#24 - a substantial upgrade of a previously released edition) and Carl Theodor Dreyer's Vampyr (#437). All will be 2-disc sets (SRP $39.95 each). I have to tell you, I am really pleased with the work Criterion is doing with Kurosawa's films, and High and Low is one of my favorites. I hope they get around to releasing the director's remaining older films at some point, perhaps on their Eclipse series. Visit their coming soon page to check out all the specs and features.

Also this morning, New Line's Be Kind Rewind (due on DVD only on 6/17 - SRP $27.95) will include both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and the Passaic Mosaic featurette. The lack of extras (not to mention a Blu-ray version) makes us wonder if a more elaborate version might not be planned for farther down the line.

Now then... don't forget that there's a new episode of Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi tonight. But if you don't want to wait that long, Sci-Fi is going to be streaming it online every hour on the hour for a good chunk of the day today, from 9AM to 4PM (Eastern). Enjoy!

Okay, the rest of the post today - barring any major breaking news, of course - is about having a couple of good laughs.

First, a little set-up: Doogan sent me this statement to post the other day, and for some reason it just didn't register on my radar screen. I don't know, my head just wasn't in the game or something. But here's what he sent:

"So, our good buddy Lance over at Filmdrunk is known the world over for his velvety smooth writing style, and he's quite possibly the single most badass film critic director Uwe Boll considered way too badass to fight when Boll was challenging film critics to box him a while back. Well, today Lance posted a video comment from the good Dr. Boll himself about the Anti-Boll petition going around the Internet tubes of late. Boll’s apparently not a fan of one-sided fist fights and calls for a Pro-Boll petition. Much like Lance, we wholeheartedly endorse this PRO-BOLL Petition and urge you all to sign your name with ours. Yeah, Boll may be a hack, but he deserves the right to make movies for stoners, drop outs and the elderly – just like everyone else. So click here and join the fight. And tell your friends – we need a million names!"

Okay, so that's what Doogan sends me, right? And I'm all like... WTF?! "Yeah, I'll get it up in the next day or so." And he's thinking it's just gonna get recycle binned and that's that. Now... Doogan is no particular fan of Uwe Boll that I know of. And I think Jahnke's actually laid his life on the line in a review of two of Boll's films on DVD. I can't say I've been much of a fan of the guy either... at least, that is, until I saw the following. It seems that in response to the Anti-Boll petition, which at this point has something like 200,000 signatures, Uwe has posted another video in which he claims to have investigated the petition and discovered that most of the people who signed it are really just Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay, signing it repeatedly under different false identities. Seriously, I'm not kidding. It's priceless. Boll then proceeds to critique a short film made by some of the people who started the Anti-Boll petition ("Internet nerds"), and... well, you just need to see his comments for yourself. Suffice it to say, after having enjoyed a few good giggles over it all, I am now firmly an Uwe fan. This is just self-promotion at its finest. Did we mention Boll has a movie debuting in a few weeks on the same day as Indy 4? He does. So everybody go watch his first video, then his second one, and after you stop laughing go sign the Pro-Boll petition. Doogan, what can I say? When you're right, you're right. Priceless.

The other laugh we'd like to direct your attention to today comes from the dog-eat-dog world A/V cabling. No, seriously. It seems that the legal mucky-mucks at Monster Cable recently sent a "cease and desist" letter to a folksy, mom and popsy outfit called Blue Jeans Cable - something involving connector patent infringement and other jargony what-have-you. Apparently, Monster Cable has something of a reputation for being a bit of a legal bully, or so they say. However Kurt Denke, the senior cablero over at Blue Jeans, has cried foul... and as it turns out, he seems to have been something of a Denny Crane before he got into the wiring biz. So Kurt sent Monster back a finely-crafted, highly entertaining letter of his own, and you can read it yourselves thanks our good friends over at Audioholics. Pour yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy - it's definitely worth checking out.

Seesh, here we thought Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD was the testiest corporate dispute in the home theater world recently. Wonder what Uwe makes of it all...

All right, that's enough fun for one day. Have a great weekend everybody. Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/17/08 - 9 AM PDT)

It's official. Universal just issued this press release, announcing its first Blu-ray titles and BOTH Seasons One and Two of Heroes on the format:

Universal Unveils Inaugural Slate of Film and TV Offerings Coming to Blu-ray(TM) Disc Day and Date With DVD

Heroes: Season Two Will Mark the Studio's First Global Event Release

Lineup to Include Summer 2008's Most Anticipated Films From Universal Pictures: THE INCREDIBLE HULK, Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Mamma Mia! and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, As Well as Some of the Studio's Other Biggest Titles


UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif., April 17 /PRNewswire/ -- Universal Studios Home Entertainment revealed its initial lineup of film and television properties arriving later this year on Blu-ray(TM) Disc, day and date with DVD, it was announced today by Craig Kornblau, President, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Universal Pictures Digital Platforms. Marking the rollout of the studio's first global release on Blu-ray(TM) will be the "Heroes: Season Two," which will debut beginning August 26, 2008.

The highly anticipated premier of the sophomore season of NBC's "Heroes" will be buoyed by the simultaneous debut of "Heroes Season One" on Blu-ray(TM). Later in the year and in time for the holidays, five of the year's most promising feature films will arrive in high definition: THE INCREDIBLE HULK, the action-packed new chapter of one of the most popular Super Hero sagas of all time that stars Edward Norton, William Hurt and Liv Tyler; Wanted, the action-thriller from stunning visualist director Timur Bekmambetov that stars Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie; Hellboy II: The Golden Army, the epic vision of imagination from acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro; Mamma Mia!, the musical romantic comedy in which Meryl Streep leads an all-star cast in the adaptation of the beloved musical; and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, the next installment in The Mummy franchise in which Jet Li, Maria Bello, Michelle Yeoh and newcomer Luke Ford join the returning Brendan Fraser and John Hannah for a supernatural adventure that shifts the series to the Far East.

"We are thrilled that our preliminary slate of Blu-ray(TM) offerings comprises such a brilliant collection of high-def centric fare," said Mr. Kornblau. "As awareness for Blu-ray(TM) continues to grow, consumers will learn to rely on the superior quality picture, sound, interactivity and connectivity that only high-definition home entertainment delivers."

The first wave of Universal Blu-ray(TM) releases, which hits U.S. stores July 22nd, gives fans of The Mummy franchise a chance to relive the iconic blockbuster films' thrilling beginnings in crystal-clear high-definition. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, starring Brendan Fraser, and the hugely successful action-packed spin-off The Scorpion King, starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, all will be released on Blu-ray(TM) for the first time that day.

The first of Universal's new theatrical Blu-ray(TM) releases hitting store shelves this summer day and date with its DVD counterpart is the apocalyptic thrill-ride DOOMSDAY, starring Rhona Mitra, Malcolm McDowell and Bob Hoskins. Other titles on deck for 2008 include American Gangster, Knocked Up, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Miami Vice, End of Days, U-571 and Land of the Dead, among others.

Furthering Universal's aggressive rollout of Blu-ray(TM) product globally, Universal Pictures International Entertainment, the company's international home entertainment arm, is concurrently announcing its initial slate of Blu-ray(TM) releases for the international marketplace today.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (http://www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80%-owned by General Electric, with 20% owned by Vivendi.


--END---

Great news! And of course, this means that Paramount is officially the last one to the Blu-ray party... which should surprise nobody. Do you suppose Alan Bell will chime in with an official quote in support of the format? Alan, it's time to make nice with Blu-ray fans, man. We want to see you marching up and down Melrose, outside the Bronson gate, banging a drum with a Blu-ray hat on. Any time now, you can do it.

All right, how about this? Shoe money! I got a $100 bucks for the first Paramount employee that e-mails me a picture of Alan Bell in a Blu-ray T-shirt. A real one, now - not a Photoshop job. I'll even keep your name on the down-low. Come on now, that's eeeeeeeeasy money... ;)

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/17/08 - 6 AM PDT)

The Digital Bits has learned from industry sources that Universal is finally about to announce its first titles on the Blu-ray Disc format. Word is that titles will begin arriving in stores from the studio in July, and the planned slate will include nearly 50 titles throughout the second half of 2008. The Hollywood Reporter (via Reuters) is also indicating this morning that among the year's releases will be obvious new theatrical titles like Doomsday, The Incredible Hulk, Wanted, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Mamma Mia and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, as well as recent and classic catalog hits like American Gangster, Knocked Up, The 40 Year-Old Virgin, Miami Vice, End of Days, U-571 and Land of the Dead, among many others. The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King will be among the first titles released on 7/22. An official announcement is due imminently from the studio. We'll have all the details as soon as they're available, so watch this space.

More to come...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/17/08 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning folks...

Well, it looks like we finally have an idea what's going to be on CBS and Paramount's Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two Remastered (SRP $99.99 - due 8/5). The 8-disc set will include all 26 remastered episodes, along with two bonus episodes connected to the season's The Trouble with Tribbles (including Deep Space Nine's Trials and Tribble-ations and The Animated Series' More Tribbles, More Troubles), 9 featurettes, the trailers for each episode and more of Billy Blackburn's film footage from the set. Audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1, and obviously this set is DVD only, so no 1080p - 480p only - and no advanced interactive features. The packaging will match the Season One DVD/HD-DVD Combo edition (see below), and you'll get more episode guide data cards as well. No Blu-ray edition has yet been announced. Thanks to Dave at TVShowsonDVD for the update.

Speaking of Paramount, we've been getting a few complaints about the cardboard packaging for the studio's There Will Be Blood: 2-Disc Collector's Edition. Specifically, the discs inside have a tendency to come loose and get scratched in shipping. So the studio is offering a replacement program. If you have damaged discs, e-mail this address to arrange replacement: PHE_CustomerService@Paramount.com

Meanwhile, Warner has announced a number of new DVD releases, including a triple feature of Shaft, Shaft's Big Score and Shaft in Africa on 5/6, Sidekick on 6/10 (for Lightyear), Shaggy and Scooby-Doo Get a Clue: Volume 2 on 7/8, NFL: In Just One Play on 7/22, Charlie & Lola: Volume 8 - I Am Collecting a Collection and Sensitive Skin: The Complete First and Second Seasons on 8/5 (for the BBC), Hu$tle: Seasons 1-4 (also BBC) and Tom and Jerry: Tales: Volume 5 on 8/12, and NFL Greatest Games Series: Denver Broncos, NFL Greatest Games Series: Detroit Lions and NFL Greatest Games Series: Green Bay Packers on 8/26.

Image Entertainment has a few more Blu-ray titles set for release in the months ahead. On 5/20, look for Company and a Short Circuit: Special Edition, followed by The Air I Breathe on 5/27. in June, watch for Fearless Planet on 6/3, and Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire: Live at the Greek and Heart: Alive in Seattle on 6/10. And currently on tap for July are Roy Orbison: A Black & White Night and The Moody Blues: Lovely to See You - Live, both on 7/8.

Just FYI, the Short Circuit: Special Edition will be available on both DVD and Blu-ray on 5/20 (SRP $14.98 and $19.98 respectively). Both will contain audio commentary by director John Badham and writers S.S. Wilson and Brent Maddock, an isolated music and effects track, the theatrical trailer, The Making of Number 5 featurette, cast and crew video bios and filmographies, a promotional photo gallery, a robot construction and production design gallery and additional behind-the-scenes footage. The Blu-ray will obviously add 1080p video, as well as DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio.

And for you standard DVD sci-fi fans, Image will release a 3-disc TekWar set on 6/10 (SRP $39.98) containing all 18 episodes of the series.

Also today, Arts Alliance America and Morgan Spurlock will debut the docu-comedy What Would Jesus Buy? on DVD on 5/20 (SRP $24.95), complete with environmentally friendly packaging. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and some 15 minutes worth of extras (TBA).

And MGM has set Stargate: Continuum for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/29 (SRP $26.98 and $39.98). Continuum is the direct-to-video follow-up to The Ark of Truth, starring Beau Bridges, William Devane and Richard Dean Anderson. Extras will include audio commentary with producer/writer Brad Wright and director Martin Wood, and 3 behind-the-scenes featurettes (The Making of Stargate: Continuum, Stargate Goes to the Arctic and The Layman’s Guide to Time Travel). The DVD will feature anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, while the Blu-ray will offer 1080p anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 DTS HD Lossless Master Audio.

In other news today, it looks like the X-Files sequel film finally has a name. Look for The X-Files: I Want to Believe in theatres on 7/25. Hell, I want to believe too. Fingers crossed this one delivers the goods.

Finally, man... I am so plugged into this Speed Racer thing. I'm not quite sure what it is, but Speed Racer is just one of those things that zaps right into the pleasure center of my brain. I LOVED the original animated series as a kid. I used to run home after school to catch the local UHF channel's broadcast in the afternoon. That car, man... I wanted few things more than a Mach 5 when I was a kid, and I still do. This new movie looks like a more glossy Matrix for the young and young at heart. Car-fu. Dude... count me IN. For those of you who have kids of your own (particularly boys who dig Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars), it's gonna be a blast to take them to see this movie and watch their little brains explode. This film COULD very well be the Star Wars for Generation Z, and that's a cool thing indeed.

Okay, enough nostalgia. Here's a little cover art for you to chew on... TekWar, Short Circuit (on Blu-ray) and Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two Remastered. Enjoy!

TekWarShort Circuit (Blu-ray Disc)Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two Remastered

Stay tuned...

4/16/08

We've another bit of sad news to report, I'm afraid. We've seen the end of an era in film. Animation legend Ollie Johnston has passed away. He was 95. Perhaps the best thing that can be said today is that Johnston lived a long and full life, and gave us some incredible gifts over the years. Johnston was the last surviving member of Walt Disney's hand-picked team of animators, the legendary Nine Old Men. As such, he worked on nearly all of Disney's early and most beloved animated classics, including Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, Fantasia, Song of the South, Cinderella, Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, Sword in the Stone, Mary Poppins, Robin Hood, The Rescuers, The Fox and the Hound and my personal all-time favorite, The Jungle Book. Johnston often worked closely with his best friend and fellow animator, Frank Thomas, who passed away in 2004. The two of them had their own website together and were the stars of the 1995 documentary Frank and Ollie, which is available on DVD and we simply can't recommend it more highly (you can read Barrie's review here - and if you visit their website, be sure to read this story - trust me, it's worth it). The pair is pictured below, both in reality and as they appeared in a cameo in Brad Bird's The Incredibles (Ollie's the one on the right in both pictures). It's funny - I was looking around today for pictures of Ollie for this post, but there aren't all that many good ones without Frank in them. And you know... somehow, I suspect Ollie would rather they be remembered together anyway. You can read more at Animated News and CNN. I think I speak for all us when I say, Ollie... you'll be missed. Thanks for all the great memories.

Frank and Ollie (live)Frank and Ollie (virtual)

In other news today, Paramount has licensed 17 of their older classic titles and serials to Legend Films for release on DVD, including the likes of Phase IV, King of the Gypsies, Serial, Villa Rides, Papa's Delicate Condition, Possession of Joel Delaney, Mandingo, The Busy Body, Hurricane, Houdini and others. The first of them rolls out on 6/3 on Amazon and elsewhere, though several are now available directly from Legend if you're interested. Thanks to Bits reader Brad for the heads-up. [Editor's note: Several people have e-mailed to say that they've purchased a few of these titles and they're decent quality. Just FYI. Thanks to everyone who has e-mailed us about it.]

Speaking of Paramount, the studio has also set The Spiderwick Chronicles for release on DVD on 6/24. There will be single-disc versions in full frame and anamorphic widescreen, as well as a 2-disc special edition. We'll post more details when they're available.

In news around the Net today, it seems that New Line has laid off some 450 people following the Warner takeover of the mini-major. Home Media has more on that.

Also at Home Media today are reports that Blockbuster is planning to triple the number of its stores carrying Blu-ray Disc for rental, and that Blockbuster is interesting in purchasing Circuit City (though Wall Street doesn't seem to like the notion). More on both stories here and here.

Finally this morning, some creative HD-DVD supporter has created a clever video in response to the end of the format war. Weary vets on both sides of the conflict should appreciate it. It's available here at YouTube. Young sir, we feel you pain.

Stay tuned...

4/15/08

Okay, we've got a couple of things for you this morning.

First up here at the site, we've got another new Giveaway started, offering each of you the chance to take home a copy of Mike Birbiglia's What I Should Have Said Was Nothing! stand-up comedy DVD. The contest will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, April 27th. This is in addition to the other giveaways already running until the same day.

Also, Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with lots more new DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover scans and Amazon pre-order links, which again help support our work here at The Bits. As always, there's lots of cool stuff to see, so do check it out.

On another front, we've been getting a few questions from high-def fans about several upcoming Warner Home Video Blu-ray Disc releases. So we've contacted the studio for answers, as follows...

First, a number of you had concerns about The Perfect Storm BD (due 7/22). The HD-DVD transfer had some troubling technical issues, but those appear to have been corrected for the BD version. Here's Warner's response on the subject:

"The BD release we have produced for Perfect Storm includes the new 1080p master. This is a brand new encode of a brand new 1080p master."


Also, a number of you have asked about the BD transfers/encodes for V for Vendetta (5/20), Batman Begins (7/8) and The Matrix Trilogy (TBA 4th Qtr), so here's the reply from the studio:

"Each of these releases will repurpose the encode used on the HD release. They looked beautiful on HD and will look beautiful on BD. Each of these titles will be released on BD50s. We are very excited that the Matrix titles will be coming out on BD... they are going to look awesome. And with Animatrix added (not part of the HD release) it should be terrific."

So there you have it.

Speaking of Warner, the studio has just begun soliciting pre-orders from retailers for 10,000 B.C. for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in June (the exact street date and specs are still TBA). We'll post more soon. [Editor's Note: We're now hearing that 6/24 is the street date. SRP $28.98 for the DVD and $35.99 for the Blu-ray. Details on extras to follow.]

Also, Warner has announced Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers for Blu-ray Disc release on 6/10 (SRP $34.99). Extras will include audio commentary with Stone, deleted scenes, an alternate ending, Charlie Rose's interview with Stone, the theatrical trailer and a 42-page book featuring rare photos and press materials as well as a new essay by Stone on the film.

Meanwhile, Universal has set Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins for DVD release on 6/17. Full frame and anamorphic widescreen DVD versions have been announced (SRP $29.98 each), with extras set to include audio commentary with director Malcolm D. Lee, an alternate opening, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes, Joe's We're Family music video and 3 featurettes (Bringing the Family Together, On Location: Getting Down and Dirty and Going Home: Real Stories of the Cast).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/14/08 - 2:15 PM PDT)

Well... we've got a few more announcements for you today.

Paramount has set Jackass Presents: Mat Hoffman’s Tribute to Evel Knievel for DVD release on 5/27. The studio has set a series of "double feature" DVD releases for 7/1, including Boomerang/Harlem Nights, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral/Last Train from Gun Hill, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance/Shane and Vanilla Sky/The Firm. 7/29 will see the DVD release of All About Fall, Beverly Hills 90210: The Fifth Season, Baldwin Hills: The Complete First Season, Girlfriends: The Fourth Season, Go Diego Go! The Great Dinosaur Rescue: Special Edition and The Hills: The Complete Third Season. And we have word that the studio will release Back at the Barnyard When No One's Looking, Family Ties: The Fourth Season, The Executioner's Song: Director's Cut and yes... Star Trek: The Original Series Remastered - Season Two (DVD only for now - we've requested official specs and details), all on 8/5. Still no official word on Godfather or new Blu-ray titles.

Meanwhile, Sony has set The Tattooist for DVD release on 4/14.

Lionsgate has revealed their June release slate, set to include The Eye, Cuando Seas Mia, The Dead Zone: The Final Season, The Meridian Collection: The Red Violin, The Meridian Collection: Diva, Weeds: Season 3 (DVD and Blu-ray), An Eye for an Eye and The Evil Woods all on 6/3, a Catherine Deneuve 5-Film Collection (includes Le Sauvage, Hôtel des Amériques, Manon 70, Le Choc and Fort Saganne), a Sophia Loren 4-Film Collection (includes I Girasoli, Carosello Napoletano, Attila, Madame Sans-Gene and the Sophia Loren: La Diva Popolana featurette), What Up?, Witless Protection and the High Noon: Collector's Edition all on 6/10, Caramel and Dead or Alive on 6/17, and The Eye 3, The Serial Killer Collection (includes Zodiac Killer, Black Dahlia and Green River Killer), Raising Jeffrey Dahmer and a Step into Liquid Blu-ray Disc on 6/24.

Finally, Warner Home Video has set Ben 10: Season Four for release on DVD on 8/5.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/14/08 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning, folks! Hope you had a fine weekend, as always.

So you remember that Godfather restoration post we made in The Rumor Mill a couple weeks ago? Well... this morning brings interesting news on that front. It seems that Paramount's European arm has released official details of the DVD release of the restored trilogy there, and the title is now available for preorder at a number of retailers. The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration will contain all three films in the trilogy along with both new and old bonus material. It will arrive on 6/2 in the U.K. (priced at £29.99). The good news is that U.S. fans can almost certainly count on a DVD release as well, though of course Paramount Home Entertainment here in the U.S. hasn't yet officially announced the title, or even acknowledged that a restoration was undertaken. As for the possibility of a high-definition version, obviously the studio hasn't yet announced any new Blu-ray Disc releases either, though given this news from Europe, we would expect that the studio is going to have to break its silence on one or both subjects shortly.

In the meantime, the U.K. release will feature material recycled from the previous box set, along with new material as well. Recycled extras will include audio commentary by director Francis Ford Coppola on all three films, additional scenes, The Godfather: A Look Inside documentary, 5 featurettes (On Location with Dean Tavolarous, Gordon Willis on Cinematography, Music of The Godfather, The Godfather: Behind-the-Scenes 1971 and Puzo and Coppola on Screenwriting), storyboards and animatics, the Rogue's Gallery and The Family Tree features, the Acclaim & Response Gallery (including the Academy Award acceptance speeches), photo galleries, theatrical trailers and filmmaker bios. It's too early to say if it's everything from the original set, until we get more details from the studio. The new material includes 5 featurettes totaling nearly 75 minutes in all (Godfather World, The Masterpiece That Almost Wasn't, When the Shooting Stopped, Emulsional Rescue: Revealing The Godfather and The Godfather on the Red Carpet), 4 short films (Godfather vs. Godfather Part II, Cannoli, Riffing on the Riffing and Clemenza) and a hidden Easter egg. And while we're at it, here's a look at the cover art for the box set...

The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration

When Paramount finally gets around to announcing the Region 1 release, we'll have the details for you here. Meanwhile, we have a couple other quick items this morning...

On the announcement front, Lionsgate will release Weeds: Season Three on 6/3 on DVD (no word yet of a Blu-ray version). [Editor's Note: A Blu-ray Disc version HAS also been announced for release on 6/3 as well.]

I believe we've already mentioned that MGM will release a City Slickers: Collector's Edition on DVD on 6/3 as well. Extras will include audio commentary by director Ron Underwood and stars Billy Crystal and Daniel Stern, along with 4 featurettes and a pair of deleted scenes. Also coming that day from MGM is a Casino Royale: 40th Anniversary Edition.

Next up, we've updated our AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list today to include the revised 2007 version of the list, as well as the original list from 1998. Ironically, the exact same title remains the ONLY film on either list not yet released on DVD... The African Queen. And yes, it rests in the hands of Paramount. There's probably a joke to be made there.

Also today, we have a new Digital Bits Power Buy available to you on Pioneer's new flagship Blu-ray Disc player, the BDP-05FD, which is profile 1.1 compatible. Do check it out.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/11/08 - 3:30 PM PDT)

Okay, we've got a few more DVD release announcements to report this afternoon.

First up, New Line has just set the DVD release of Be Kind, Rewind for 6/10 (SRP $27.95). There's no word yet on extras, or if a Blu-ray version will also be available.

Meanwhile, Universal will release Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins on DVD in late May or early June (the exact street date is still TBA).

20th Century Fox will release Picture This on DVD on 7/22.

We've learned that Warner's DVD release of Mama's Boy (due 6/3, SRP $27.95) will include director's commentary and additional scenes.

Image has set Love and Other Disasters for DVD release on 6/17, with Careless following on 6/24 (SRP $27.98 each).

And Lionsgate has announced a High Noon: 2-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition for release on 6/10 (SRP $19.98). Extras will include audio commentary with members of the cast and crew, the all-new Inside High Noon documentary (50 minutes), The Making of High Noon documentary hosted by Leonard Maltin, 2 featurettes (Behind High Noon and Tex Ritter Museuem) and video of Tex Ritter's full-length song performance. The good news is that this edition will feature the full Paramount restoration of the film, which has never been seen on DVD before. Unfortunately, no Blu-ray is forthcoming.

Finally, Fox has The Onion Movie: Revealing the Raw Truth set for release on DVD on 6/3 (SRP $26.98), including 10 minutes of deleted scenes and outtakes.

Also today, we've updated a number of the DVD and Blu-ray format stats we track here at the site (above).

And here's a little more DVD cover art... Fox's The X-Files: Revelations (7/8), and Genius Products/The Weinstein Company's The Fall of the Roman Empire: Limited Collector's Edition (4/29) and Legend of the Black Scorpion: Two-Disc Ultimate Edition (now available)...

The X-Files: RevelationsThe Fall of the Roman Empire: Limited Collector's EditionLegend of the Black Scorpion: Two-Disc Ultimate Edition

That's it - enough for this week. See you all on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/11/08 - 10:30 AM PDT)

Okay, this is a quick early update. More is coming later. But I wanted to jump in here early with word that Warner Home Video is releasing another title that was previously HD-DVD exclusive on Blu-ray Disc on 7/22 - The Perfect Storm (SRP $28.99). Extras will include all the bonus material from the DVD special edition in full high-def, and I've confirmed with the studio that the title WILL feature English TrueHD audio (there's been some confusion on the audio issue until now). The official press release will be issued by the studio soon. On a related note, I've confirmed this morning that Warner's V for Vendetta Blu-ray (due 5/20) will feature English TrueHD audio as well. Here's cover art (click for Amazon pre-order links) for both...

The Perfect Storm (Blu-ray Disc)V for Vendetta (Blu-ray Disc)Point Break (Blu-ray Disc)

I'm Not There: Collector's EditionJohn AdamsDiary of the Dead

As you can see, I also included cover art for Fox's Point Break on Blu-ray (7/1), as well as The Weinstein Company's I'm Not There: Two-Disc Collector's Edition (5/6) and George Romero's Diary of the Dead (TBA), and HBO's John Adams miniseries (6/10).

Don't forget, there's a new episode of Battlestar Galactica on Sci-Fi tonight... Six of One. And speaking of BSG, it looks like the ratings for last week's season opener were much improved from last season's average (see this link at Reuters). Apparently an estimated 2.1 million people tuned in. Now see... that's what a little promotion will do for you.

Back later. Stay tuned...

4/10/08

Okay, let's get right down to cases, shall we? There's some interesting stuff to report today.

First, 20th Century Fox has set the Point Break: Pure Adrenaline Edition for release on Blu-ray Disc on 7/1 (SRP $39.98). Audio will be DTS MA 5.1, with extras including 8 deleted scenes, 4 featurettes (It’s Make or Break, Ride the Wave, Adrenaline Junkies and On Location: Malibu), a still gallery and 3 theatrical trailers.

On standard DVD, Fox has set Saving Grace: Season One for release on 7/15 (SRP $49.98). You'll get all 13 original episodes on four discs, with bonus features including behind-the-scenes featurettes, interviews with the cast and crew, select episode audio commentary, an Everlast music video and more.

Fox has also just announced another compilation of X-Files episodes on DVD to promote the theatrical release of the new, as-yet-unnamed X-Files feature film on 7/25. The X-Files: Revelations will street on 7/8 (SRP $22.98). The 2-disc set will include 8 episodes selected by series creator Chris Carter himself. Each episode will feature a new video introduction with Carter and producer Frank Spotnitz, revealing why it was chosen and how it relates to the upcoming film. The episodes are the Pilot, Beyond the Sea, The Host, Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose, Memento Mori, The Post-Modern Prometheus, Bad Blood and Milagro. Extras will include the theatrical trailer for the new film and a 38-minute video of the recent WonderCon Panel with Carter, Spotnitz and series stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. You'll also get $8.50 in "Movie Money" to see the new film in theaters. Speaking of which, here's a look at the film's teaser poster (click it to visit the official site)...

The X-Files 2 teaser poster

Finally, Warner has set National Geographic's Hooked: Monster Fish for DVD release on 8/8.

Also, there's great news for you PS3 Blu-ray users today. Sony has just confirmed that both DTS-MA and DTS-HD decoding capability on Blu-ray Disc are coming soon to the PlayStation 3, added as a response to your numerous requests. This capability will be added as part of firmware version 2.30, available in mid-April, which will also add a revamped PlayStation Store interface. You can read more on both upgrades in this update at Sony's PlayStation.Blog.

And since we're talking Blu-ray Disc, we thought we'd compile a rundown of all the major upcoming Blu-ray release news we've reported in the last few weeks in The Rumor Mill today, and we've added some new stuff too. Is anyone out there interested in finally seeing The Animatrix in 1080p? Do check it out.

Stay tuned...

4/9/08

First up today, a word of acknowledgement. I'm not sure how we missed this, but director Jules Dassin has died. Dassin was blacklisted in Hollywood in the 1950s and so worked in Europe instead. Among his films were such classics as The Naked City, Night and the City, Topkapi, Thieves' Highway, Brute Force and the all-time classic heist film, Rififi. He was 96. You can read more here at The New York Times.

Here at The Bits this afternoon, we've got a pair of new Blu-ray Disc reviews for you from Jeff Kleist... Sony's Monty Python's Life of Brian: Immaculate Edition and Bandai Visual's Yukikaze. Both are now available in stores.

In announcement news, 20th Century Fox has just set Charlie Bartlett for release on DVD on 6/24 (SRP $27.98). The disc will include both full frame and anamorphic widescreen (on opposite sides of the disc), audio commentary with director Jon Poll and writer Gustin Nash, a second commentary with Poll and editor Alan Baumgarten, a third commentary with Poll and actors Anton Yelchin and Kat Dennings, Restroom Confessionals, Spiral Beach's Voodoo music video, deleted scenes and a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes. By the way, Yelchin (who plays the title character) is also playing Pavel Chekov in the new Star Trek feature film.

A quick follow up on our recent news about Sony's 6/17 DVD and Blu-ray release of Men in Black: A couple days earlier (on 6/15), there will be a Best Buy-exclusive bonus disc available that promotes the theatrical release of Will Smith's Hancock. Presumably it's something you'll get free with the purchase of Men in Black on either format.

Disney has set Shall We Dance for Blu-ray Disc release on 5/6 (SRP $29.99). Extras include audio commentary by director Peter Chelsom, deleted scenes with optional commentary, 3 featurettes (Behind the Scenes of Shall We Dance?, Beginner’s Ballroom and The Music of Shall We Dance?) and the Pussycat Dolls' Sway music video.

And Warner Home Video has set Birds of Prey: The Complete Series for DVD release on 7/15, with Street Stars: The Karlton Hines Story following on 8/12.

Also here at the site today, Russell Hammond has updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with tons of new DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover scans, as well as accompanying Amazon pre-order links. As always, ANYTHING you order after clicking to Amazon through our links goes to help support our efforts here at The Bits and we greatly appreciate it. Speaking of which, Amazon has a "buy two, get one for free" sale going on now (until 4/18) on select Blu-ray titles.

And we've kicked off two new Giveaways, offering each of you the chance to take home DVD copies of Echo and Other Elephants, The 11th Hour, David Attenborough's Wildlife Specials, Sharkwater, My Boy Jack and Appleseed Ex Machina, along with Battlestar Galactica: Season 3 and David Lynch's Lost Highway! We'll accept entries for these giveaways until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, April 27th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!

Here's cover art for Fox's Charlie Bartlett, and Universal's Xanadu (6/24) and Warner's Birds of Prey: The Complete Series on DVD...

Charlie BartlettXanaduBirds of Prey: The Complete Series

Stay tuned!

4/8/08

Afternoon, folks. We've got a quick one for you today...

Universal has set The Andromeda Strain Miniseries for release on DVD on 6/3 (SRP $26.98). Video on the 2-disc set will be anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director/co-executive producer Mikael Salomon, executive producers David W. Zucker and Tom Thayer, and editor Scott Vickrey, the Terra Incognita: Making The Andromeda Strain documentary, visual effects breakdowns, a photo and design gallery and the trailer. Also coming from the studio is Honeydripper on 6/24.

Also today, we have some major news in The Rumor Mill for you that will of interest to fans of Firefly and Planet of the Apes. Don't miss it.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/7/08 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Sony has revealed that Men in Black will arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 6/17 (SRP $28.95). The disc will include both new and existing special features, among them a first-of-its-kind on Blu-ray "Telestrator" commentary with director Barry Sonnenfeld and Tommy Lee Jones, a technical commentary with Sonnenfeld, Rick Baker and the Industrial Light & Magic effects team, extended and alternate scenes, 2 featurettes (The Metamorphosis of Men in Black and Frank the Pug), visual effects scene deconstructions with technical commentary, character animation studies, storyboard comparisons, a conceptual art gallery, a scene editing workshop, a production photo gallery, Will Smith and Mikey's Men in Black music video, the film's teaser and theatrical trailers, and the Intergalatic Pursuit: Men in Black BD-Live multi-player trivia game. Audio will be included in Uncompressed PCM English 5.1, French (Parisian) 5.1, Spanish (Latin Am) 5.1, Portuguese (Brazil) 5.1 and Thai 5.1, with subtitles in Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin Simplified), Chinese (Mandarin Traditional), Dutch, English (UK), English (US), French (Parisian), Indonesian/Bahasa, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Spanish (Latin Am) and Thai. And with all that, I'm guessing it's on a BD-50. Check out the cover artwork below.

Men in Black is also being released in a new single-disc DVD edition on 6/17, along with a new So I Married an Axe Murderer: Deluxe Edition on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc, and DVD versions of My Mom's New Boyfriend, Just Add Water and Blood +: Volume Two.

Also today, according to one of the show's stars (via our friends at TVShowsonDVD.com), there's a new special edition DVD release of Firefly: The Complete Series on the way later this year. We're hoping there's a Blu-ray edition coming too, given how often the show plays in 1080 on HDNet. We'll have to wait and see.

Magnolia has revealed that The Signal will street on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 6/10. The DVD (SRP $26.98) will feature special lenticular packaging, along with audio commentary, an alternate beginning and deleted scenes. The Blu-ray version (SRP $34.98) will include the same extras as the DVD.

And we have a little new information as to the extras you can expect on the upcoming Blu-ray Disc release of Disney's Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition (due on 10/7, SRP $35.99). The 2-disc set will include a new 7.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater audio mix, BD-Live online options (including chat, downloads, add-on shopping and the ability to create and swap custom video messages with your friends), the Maleficent's Challenge game and "living menus" that features a real-time castle environment that changes based on your location. The Blu-ray will also include all of the standard DVD extras (TBA).

In other news, did you happen to purchase an HD-DVD player at Best Buy in the last couple years? If you did, you may be about to receive your $50 gift card consolation prize. How do I know? Mine just showed up in the mail this afternoon. Cool of Best Buy to do that. Hats off to them.

Finally this afternoon, we have some new cover art for you. Here's The Signal on Blu-ray, Sony's Men in Black on Blu-ray, both Blu-ray versions of Warner's Batman Begins (due 7/8) and Disney's Sleeping Beauty: Platinum Edition on DVD and Blu-ray...

The Signal (Blu-ray Disc)Men in Black (Blu-ray Disc)Batman Begins (Blu-ray Disc)

Batman Begins: Limited Edition Gift Set (Blu-ray Disc)Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition (Blu-ray Disc)Sleeping Beauty: 50th Anniversary Platinum Edition

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/7/08 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Yeah, I know... it's actually Sunday afternoon. But I wanted to get this up now, and leave it up for Monday morning, as it's kind of a big deal. I am, of course, referring to the passing of Hollywood legend Charlton Heston.

Heston died on Saturday night, at his home in Beverly Hills, apparently with his wife at his side. He was 84. His family issued this statement: "No one could ask for a fuller life than his." And how. Just look at some of the films he was involved with: Dark City, The Greatest Show on Earth, Touch of Evil, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, El Cid, 55 Days at Peking, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Major Dundee, Planet of the Apes, Julius Caesar, The Omega Man, Anthony and Cleopatra, Soylent Green, Airport 1975, The Three Musketeers, Earthquake, Midway, Two-Minute Warning, Gray Lady Down, Tombstone, True Lies. Now THAT's a career, and it's barely scratching the surface of his complete list of credits.

I had my own fascinating brush with Heston. Several years ago, when Warner Home Video first released the restored Ben-Hur on DVD, they held a very small roundtable discussion with the actor, and I had the good fortune to be invited. There were maybe 10 or 15 people there in all, some mainstream press and DVD industry media types like myself. When Heston walked in, he was kind of hobbled over and moving slowly, and it was obvious that age was taking a toll on him. If you've seen his appearance in Bowling for Columbine, you know what kind of condition he was in at that point - this was not long after that. But once he sat down and started talking, he was sharp as a tack. We all began asking him questions by turns. Some of them were about Ben-Hur and his career in film, but it quickly became clear that a couple of those present were more interested in grilling him about his involvement with the NRA than anything else.

Now, I think there's a time and place for things. I know many people feel strongly about such issues, but there I am, having studied film history my entire life, literally sitting right next to Charlton Heston himself. That is as rare an opportunity as they come in this industry, and in that moment, I didn't give a rat's ass about politics or the NRA. I wanted to talk film! As it happens, the 4 or 5 people sitting closest to Heston with me were all of the same mind, and so we asked him all kinds of questions about his career, his experiences in the old studio system, various productions in which he was involved and the like. He seemed to really appreciate that we were actually interested in his film work, and so he turned to us and simply stopped taking questions from the others. What unfolded was this intimate little conversation between those of us closest to him at the table, while the idiots there to grind a political axe sat fuming. And once he got going, Heston certainly didn't disappoint. For nearly an hour, he regaled us with these absolutely amazing stores. At one point, someone asked him about playing Moses in The Ten Commandments, and he turned and pointed his finger right at me and delivered one of his classic monologues from the film. Let me tell you, as a movie fan, when Charlton Heston points his finger at you and puts you on notice in full wrath-of-God voice from like three feet away... trust me, you will NEVER forget it. Then he smiled at me with this twinkle in his eye, and it was really something, I'll tell you. I've been thinking a lot about that moment today.

Anyway, I'm just not one to dismiss someone for having opinions I don't agree with. Heston was a controversial figure to be sure, but given his larger than life status and strong opinions, that's not surprising. For all those who scorn him for his involvement with the NRA (and his famous "cold dead hands" comment), there are those who recall that he marched with Martin Luther King Jr. to Washington D.C. back in 1963, and was standing nearby on the steps (along with Sidney Poitier, Lena Horne, Sammy Davis Jr and Marlon Brando) when King gave his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. You know, the media these days loves to pigeonhole people into nice tidy little categories, like Liberal and Conservative. Thank goodness people are, in reality, far more complicated than that. I'm certainly glad I let myself look past such things when I had the chance to spend an hour with Heston. My life has been richer for it. Hollywood seems a lot smaller today without him.

On a lighter note today, let me borrow The Colbert Report's "Tip of My Hat, Wag of My Finger" schtick for a moment. First, a Tip of My Hat to Stephen Colbert, not only for just winning a Peabody and for Thursday night's episode, which featured a new animated Stephen Colbert presents Stephen Colbert's Alpha Squad 7: A Tek Jansen Adventure, but also for staff editor Jason Baker's rockin' training anthem from the toon, You Are the Best, which basically just repeats the words fight, test and best over and over again for like a full minute in perfect, balls-out Survivor form. AWESOME. I still haven't stopped laughing. You can watch Baker's live performance here.

So who's the Wag of My Finger for? Sadly, also Stephen Colbert. You see, word has reached Bits' H.Q. via the Interwebs (specifically, Jackson Publick's blog - scroll down to the 12/24/07 entry) that Colbert has apparently decided, for whatever unknown reason, not to reprise his role as the voice of Professor Impossible in the new season of The Venture Bros. For shame, sir! Unleash the bears!

One final note: Ironically, the Alpha Squad 7 episode mentioned above features a brief cameo appearance by a character that's clearly inspired by vintage Charlton Heston. Sometimes, synchronicity appears in the weirdest places.

Stay tuned...


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