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-Website est. 12/15/97-





page updated: 12/19/08



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 12/11/08 - 11/11/08)


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12/11/08

Afternoon, folks! Well, it's Day Three of The Twelve Days of Bits-Mas, so you know what that means... another holiday themed disc review. And today, our own Barrie Maxwell offers up a look at Warner's Fred Claus on Blu-ray Disc. Enjoy!

In news today, remember how I was saying that Warner's The Dark Knight was likely to be the biggest selling title of the year? Yeah, it is. According to this story at Home Media from our friend TK Arnold, the title sold 3 million combined units on Tuesday, a whopping 600,000 of them on Blu-ray Disc. That's right, 600,000 copies on Blu-ray in a single day. The previous record holder was Paramount's Iron Man, with 500,000 units, not in a single day but in its first week of release. One of these two titles is going to be announced as the first million seller on the Blu-ray format and soon.

In announcement news today, Genius Products and The Weinstein Company have set Soul Man for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 2/3. The film was the last to star the late Bernie Mac and Isaac Hayes.

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set its January release schedule as follows: On 1/6, watch for Bangkok Dangerous (DVD and Blu-ray), Disaster Movie (DVD and Blu-ray), Secret Diary of a Call Girl: Season One, Bob the Builder: Race to the Finish - The Movie, Barney: Once Upon a Dino Tale and Barney: Be My Valentine. On 1/13, you'll get My Best Friend's Girl (DVD and Blu-ray), Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys, The Marriage Counselor, House of Payne: Volume Three, I Do: How to Get Married and Stay Single, My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition and Fireman Sam Saves the Day. 1/20 will see the release of Saw V: Unrated Director's Cut (DVD and Blu-ray), Saw V: Unrated Collectors Edition, Repo! The Genetic Opera (DVD and Blu-ray), Girls of Little House on the Prairie: Prairie Friends and Girls of Little House on the Prairie: Country School. Finally, 1/27 will bring The Lucky Ones, The Gene Generation, The Road Killers and Hulk Vs (DVD and Blu-ray).

Also today, Paramount has set Tales from the Darkside: The First Season for release on DVD on 2/10.

If you check The Rumor Mill today, you'll learn of a couple great classics that Fox is planning to bring to Blu-ray in early 2009. You fans of musicals will definitely want to check it out.

Finally, we've saved the best news for last: MGM has just officially set Raging Bull for Blu-ray Disc release on 2/10 (SRP $34.99 - distributed by Fox). Video will be 1080p/1.85:1 with audio in DTS-HD 5.1. Extras will include commentary by director Martin Scorsese and editor Thelma Schoonmaker, a cast and crew commentary (with Irwin Winkler, Robbie Robertson, Robert Chartoff, Theresa Saldana, John Turturro, Frank Warner, Michael Chapman and Cis Corman), a storyteller commentary (with Mardik Martin, Paul Schrader, Jason Lustig and Jake LaMotta), The Bronx Bull documentary, 4 featurettes (Raging Bull: Before the Fight, Raging Bull: Inside the Ring, Raging Bull: Outside the Ring and Raging Bull: After the Fight), the DeNiro vs. LaMotta shot-by-shot comparison in the ring, the LaMotta Defends Title newsreel and the film's theatrical trailer.

Here's some Blu-ray art: MGM's Raging Bull, and Lionsgate's Saw V: Unrated Director's Cut and Hulk Vs...

Raging Bull (Blu-ray Disc)Saw V: Unrated Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)Hulk Vs (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

12/10/08

Our Twelve Days of Bits-Mas continues this afternoon, with a review (from yours truly) of Comedy Central's A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All!, now available on DVD. This baby's become an instant classic at our house, so if you even remotely like Steven Colbert, we highly recommend it. Stock up on your nutmeg and beware of bears!

In news around the Net, Netflix CFO Barry McCarthy told an investor group on Monday that Blu-ray has exceeded the company's year-end goal of 500,000 members renting the format. You can read more here at Home Media.

Also at Home Media, research firms NPD Group and DisplaySearch have confirmed that the Blu-ray format sold more than 147,000 standalone players during the week after Thanksgiving - more than three times the total of the format's most successful sales week prior to that period. DisplaySearch is now predicting that nearly 4 million standalone Blu-ray players will be sold in 2009. That would certainly keep the format on pace with DVD in its first few years.

In announcement news today, Sony has officially set Gandhi and Kramer vs. Kramer for release on Blu-ray Disc on 2/17. A double-feature of Capote and In Cold Blood is also set for 2/17, and Frozen River streets on both DVD and Blu-ray on 2/10.

Warner has set its animated The Zeta Project: The Complete First Season for release on DVD on 3/17.

Buena Vista will debut its High School Musical: Remix Edition for the first time on Blu-ray Disc on 2/17, timed to coincide with the (TBA) DVD and Blu-ray release of High School Musical 3.

We've received word that MGM's The Silence of the Lambs Blu-ray is now due on 4/3.

They haven't officially announced it yet, but retailers say that Universal will be releasing the long-awaited
Howard the Duck on DVD on 3/10. (You can already preorder it on Amazon by clicking the link provided.) You'll get anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, 6 featurettes (A Look Back at Howard the Duck, Releasing the Duck, News Featurette, The Stunts of Howard the Duck, The Special Effects of Howard the Duck and The Music of Howard the Duck) and trailers. Hey, I think another pig just flew by my window...

And finally today, we announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of The Venture Bros.: Season 3 yesterday, both due on 3/24. We've just confirmed with Adult Swim that both versions will include uncensored versions of the episodes, deleted scenes and multiple audio commentary tracks. As we mentioned yesterday, the Blu-ray will also include the complete soundtrack for the season on a bonus CD. Here's the cover art (below). We LOVE that they've made these look like old Atari 2600 game cartridge packages (for those of you old enough to recall such things)...

The Venture Bros: Season 3 (DVD and Blu-ray)

Stay tuned!

12/9/08

Happy Dark Knight Day, folks! It's certainly going to be the biggest release of the year, so run out and get your copy on DVD or Blu-ray quick or the Joke(r's) on you.

Well... my Blu-Con 1.0 panel yesterday went well, I think. I had a good discussion about Blu-ray special features creation, with Adam Vadnais from Trailer Park, Cory Watson and Andrew Carlson from New Wave, and Robert Read from Universal. As I said Friday, there's meant to be no reporting on the event, and I was certainly not there as a reporter, so I'm just going to give you a couple of general impressions on the day as a whole. I was very impressed with the event itself. Attendance was excellent, with people on hand from the studios, replicators, support companies, manufacturers, etc, including very senior executives. Panels, reports and demonstrations were offered on a variety of informative topics. The latest Blu-ray format sales numbers will be made public at CES, so be patient - all will be made clear then. I'll just say that this Blu-Con event was really terrific - sort of a meeting of the minds, and therefore different than any other such event I've had the good fortune to attend in this industry in well over a decade of involvement with it. One thing is absolutely clear: Anyone who doubts Hollywood's level of commitment to Blu-ray Disc is in for a serious eye-opener. My thanks to Guy Finley, Amy Jo Smith, Marc Finer and everyone at Blu-Con and the DEG for inviting me to be involved, and special thanks to my panelists as well.

Now then... our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section today, with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray Disc cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. As usual, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and we surely appreciate it.

We've kicked off TWO new Giveaways today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's The Dark Knight: Two-Disc Special Edition and Comedy Central's A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All on DVD! We're also continuing to accept entries for Fox's Firefly: The Complete Series on Blu-ray Disc. Entries for all three titles will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, December 14th. Click on the links to enter and good luck!

Also today, we're kicking off a fun little holiday feature here at The Bits... The Twelve Days of Bits-Mas (and special thanks to Adam for the idea)! Each weekday leading up to Christmas Eve, we'll be offering you a new holiday-themed DVD or Blu-ray Disc review. And on the first day of Bits-Mas, Dr. Jahnke gave to me... a review of Warner's A Charlie Brown Christmas: Remastered Deluxe Edition for you! Relax, I'm not going to keep the silly song lyric thing going each time. But there are 11 more reviews coming, so enjoy!

And in honor of the gift giving season, we're pleased to announce that we've got new Digital Bits T-Shirt designs for you! Actually, what we've done is to take our much loved Digital Bits Athletic Department DVD-themed design and give it a little Blu-ray makeover. Behold, our new Digital Bits Hi-Def Department Shirts (click the link to see them), available in blue on gray and white on blue! They're just $13.99 each plus shipping (extended sizes are a little more) and they'll start shipping by the end of this week. Maybe they're not quite the GREATEST gift of all, like The Colbert Christmas, but they're still pretty awesome we think. We hope you like them!

Digital Bits Hi-Def Department Shirts!

In release news today, Adult Swim has just officially announced the coolest thing we've heard in a LONG time: The Venture Bros.: Season 3 will be their first official day and date DVD and Blu-ray Disc release! Due on 3/24/09 (via Warner Home Video), you'll be able to get the entire season on your choice of format (SRP $29.98 and $44.98, respectively). All 13 uncensored episodes will be included, complete with special features and commentaries (TBA). Additionally, the Blu-ray will come with an exclusive CD featuring "20 tracks that comprise the full musical score from the television series' third season." NICE!!!!

Speaking of Warner, the studio will release Nights in Rodanthe on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 2/10.

In other news, Sony has set The Films of Michael Powell for DVD release on 1/6, including the restored director's cut of Age of Consent as well as A Matter of Life and Death (SRP $24.96). Fireproof follows on 1/27, with Screamers: The Hunting, Touch the Top of the World and I Served the King of England set for release on DVD on 2/17. The big news from Sony is that Quarantine hits both DVD and Blu-ray on 2/17 as well. Extras will include commentary with writer/director John Erick Dowdle and writer/producer Drew Dowdle, and 3 featurettes (Locked In: The Making-of Quarantine, Anatomy of a Stunt and Dressing the Infected: Make-Up Design).

Finally, Fox has announced The Secret Life of Bees for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 2/3, followed by Gospel Hill (DVD only) on 2/10. The classic Get Smart: Season Two will follow on 3/10 (SRP $24.98). And Big Stan will arrive on DVD only on 3/24.

Back tomorrow! Stay tuned...

12/8/09

Morning, folks! We hope you all had a great weekend.

We're headed off to Blu-Con today, but in case you missed it when we posted it Friday evening, we've got a brand new Classic Coming Attractions column for you to check out from our own Barrie Maxwell, featuring some 19 new and recent DVD reviews. And we'll be back with a report on the conference tomorrow morning, along with a fun little holiday treat and plenty of the usual DVD and Blu-ray news. So enjoy Barrie's column and we'll see you then.

Stay tuned!

12/5/08 (ORIGINALLY POSTED 2:45 PM - UPDATED 6 PM)

Okay... as promised, we've got a new Classic Coming Attractions column for you today from Barrie, in which he reviews some 19 new and recent titles, all on good old standard on DVD. The classic titles include Criterion's The Spy Who Came In from the Cold, Paramount's Sunset Boulevard, Roman Holiday and Sabrina, Legend's The Last Man on Earth, The Devil Bat and Bride of the Monster, Lionsgate's One Touch of Venus, VCI's Stranger on Horseback and Dick Tracy Vs. Crime Inc., Fox's Charlie Chan: Volume 5 and Tyrone Power: Matinee Idol Collection, Universal's The Gregory Peck Film Collection, Questar's Victor Borge Classic Collection, and Sony's The Films of Budd Boetticher. Other new release titles Barrie looks at include HBO's The Sopranos: The Complete Series, Acorn Media's Edward the King and First Among Equals, and A&E's The Jewel in the Crown: The 25th Anniversary Edition. Barrie's also updated BOTH the Classic and Western release databases. Enjoy!

Things are a little crazy here this afternoon, as I'm getting ready to moderate a Blu-ray creative panel at the Blu-Con 1.0 conference in Hollywood on Monday afternoon. Blu-Con is really the first event of its kind here: A gathering of industry insiders, where the various Hollywood executives, producers and technologists responsible for the Blu-ray format can gather to share their experiences, offer a status report on the format and brainstorm about its future possibilities. There's no reporting on the event... so people will be able to speak candidly. It's almost like a one-day Blu-ray think tank. The day promises to be extremely interesting. Obviously, I won't be able to report on anything specific I see or experience there, but I will chime in with some general impressions, so check back on Tuesday for those.

Now then... we've got a little bit of announcement news, and another sneak preview for you as well. First the announcements...

20th Century Fox has set The Boondock Saints for Blu-ray release on 2/10/09 (SRP $34.99). Extras will include audio commentary with writer/director Troy Duffy, a second commentary with actor Billy Connolly, 7 deleted scenes, outtakes, the script, the theatrical trailer, filmographies and both the theatrical and director's cut versions of the film via seamless branching.

Paramount has set 7th Heaven: The Eighth Season, Rick & Steve: The Complete Second Season, Nash Bridges: The Second Season, The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Hills: The Complete Fourth all for DVD release on 3/3.

Warner Home Video has confirmed that Quo Vadis will finally arrive on Blu-ray Disc on 3/17. Also newly announced by the studio (for New Line) is Pride and Glory, due on 1/27 in single-disc DVD, 2-disc Special Edition and Blu-ray versions. Warner has also set Ridley Scott's Body of Lies for release as a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc Special Edition and a Blu-ray on 2/17.

And Blue Underground has just announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Two Evil Eyes on 3/31/09. Extras will include 4 featurettes (Two Masters' Eyes, Savini's EFX, At Home with Tom Savini and Adrienne Barbeau on George Romero) and the theatrical trailer. Two Masters' Eyes will include interviews with directors Dario Argento and George Romero, special make-up effects supervisor Tom Savini, executive producer Claudio Argento and Asia Argento.

Now for that sneak peek...

Blue Underground is ABOUT to announce Fast Company for Blu-ray release on 4/28/09. Extras there will include audio commentary with co-writer/director David Cronenberg, 2 featurettes (Inside the Character Actor's Studio and Shooting Cronenberg), two early Cronenberg films (Stereo and Crimes of the Future), the theatrical trailer and D-Box control.

We're not done with Blue-U yet... our friends at the studio have additionally let us know that Circle of Iron is coming to Blu-ray on 5/19 (the date is tentative). Bad Boy Bubby and Living Dead at Manchester Morgue are also on tap for Blu-ray later in 2009. We're also told that the following titles are among those being planned, but they require a lot of HD restoration work, so look for them in either late 2009 or 2010: Fire and Ice, The Crazies, The Toolbox Murders, Daughters of Darkness, Vampyres, The Blood Spattered Bride, God Told Me To, The Prowler, The New York Ripper, Maniac and Vigilante. Nice!

In other news today, there's a good piece on Blu-ray in today's edition of the USA Today by our old friend Mike Clark.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop talks about Blu-ray format sales so far this holiday season with Home Media Magazine.

Scott Hettrick writes about the future of 3-D on Blu-ray in his regular column over at Hollywood in High-Def.

And here's one last item for you: There's a great feature in The L.A. Times today on Hollywood's ongoing efforts to revisit classic science fiction films and TV series. It's written by Goeff Boucher and it's a pretty smart piece of work. The guy clearly knows his sci-fi, and he's gotten some great big-name comments for the story. Give it a look when you get the chance.

We'll leave you with more new Blu-ray Disc cover art. Here's Paramount's Zodiac: 2-Disc Director's Cut (1/27), as well as your first look at Fox's The French Connection and The French Connection II (Amazon has a 1/20 street date for the original film, but Fox says both are still due 2/24), Warner's Quo Vadis and two of the Blue Underground titles mentioned above...

Zodiac: 2-Disc Director's Cut (Blu-ray Disc)The French Connection (Blu-ray Disc)The French Connection II (Blu-ray Disc)

Quo Vadis (Blu-ray Disc)Two Evil Eyes (Blu-ray Disc)Fast Company (Blu-ray Disc)

Okay, even though I'll be at Blu-Con all day, we'll be back with a new update on Monday morning. See you then!

Stay tuned...

12/4/08

In a bit of nifty release news today, our friends over at Lionsgate have sent us details on another sweet little vanity DVD title that's due to street just time to break the hearts of lovers everywhere... and rip them to shreds! Yes, the studio will deliver an über-cool My Bloody Valentine: Special Edition on DVD on 1/13/09. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, and extras will include deleted footage with introductions by the director, cast members and the special effects designer, the ability to watch the deleted footage incorporated back into the film (via seamless branching), the Bloodlust: My Bloody Valentine and Rise of the Slasher Film featurettes, and the Bloodlines: An Interactive Horror Film History. Nice!

Here's a look at the cover for that, along with DreamWorks' Eagle Eye and Ghost Town on Blu-ray (both due 12/28)...

My Bloody Valentine: Special EditionEagle Eye (Blu-ray Disc)Ghost Town (Blu-ray Disc)

Speaking of Eagle Eye, the title will be available in single-disc DVD, 2-disc DVD Special Edition and Blu-ray versions on 12/28. The single-disc version will include the film, 3 deleted scenes and the Road Trip: On Location with the Cast and Crew featurette. The 2-disc Special Edition DVD will add an alternate ending, a gag reel, a photo gallery, 4 featurettes (Asymmetric Warfare: The Making of Eagle Eye, Eagle Eye on Location: Washington, D.C., Is My Cell Phone Spying on Me? and Shall We Play a Game?) and the theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray will include all of the above, and all the video-based features will be in full HD.

In other news, Warner has revealed a little bit more about what you'll be able to do with the BD-Live options on The Dark Knight when it streets on Blu-ray next week. In addition to the usual downloads, the first 100,000 people to register the disc through Warner's BD-Live network will be allowed to participate in a live community screening and Q&A session with director Christopher Nolan on 12/18. Click here for more from Home Media.

Finally today, we happened to get our hands on a copy of HBO's new Deadwood: The Complete Series DVD box set the other day. The set has a new bonus disc of extras (about two hours worth) that's really a gem. You get a Deadwood 360 Tour of the sets, a funny Al Swearengen Audition Reel, a Q&A with the cast and crew from the Paley Center panel, a historical featurette on the real Deadwood and... best of all... a 23-minute featurette called Meaning of Endings, in which series creator David Milch walks the empty sets and, in his unique way, waxes philosophic on the unresolved ending of the show. Those of you who loved Deadwood as much as we did, and so have developed a fondness for Milch himself, will really appreciate it. This one featurette alone is worth the set's weight in gold. We definitely recommend that you check it out if you have the chance.

Stay tuned!

12/3/08

We've got more cool stuff to report for you early this afternoon...

First up, we've kicked off a new Giveaway today here at The Bits, giving each of you the chance to take home one of FIVE copies of Fox's much-loved Firefly: The Complete Series on Blu-ray Disc! So all you Browncoats out there have until Sunday, 12/14 at Noon (Pacific) to get your entries in. Click on the link to get started and good luck!

According to Susanne Alt over at Video Business today, Lost creators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindeloff expect that their entire series will be released on Blu-ray as a full 6-season set at some point (likely in 2010, after the series ends), which COULD make Lost the first major current TV series to arrive complete on the format. OUR sources, however, are telling us that there's a pretty good chance you're going to see a Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set next year, so I guess we've got a bit of a race on our hands.

Home Media is reporting that Blu-ray sales and searches were up for Cyber Monday. Online sales overall were up 21% from last year. I'll be curious to see what some of the manufacturers and the BDA have to say about holiday unit sales of hardware and software for the format. They'll likely release such news at CES in January, and we'll be there.

Now then, our industry sources have revealed another cool title being planned for Blu-ray Disc release next year, so check out The Rumor Mill to see what it is. Here's a hint: HOLD THE LINE!! But that's not the only title we reveal in there today. Hell, we'll talk about a whole BUNCH of upcoming titles in The Rumor Mill today, some you may know about and some we haven't mentioned before, so just don't miss it.

In announcement news today, in case we haven't mentioned it previously, Warner Home Video has set The Notebook for release on Blu-ray Disc on 1/20, just in time for Valentine's Day, as a $39.99 gift box edition including swag items. Also, Warner and the BBC have announced Cranford for Blu-ray release on 4/14. The 1961 BBC production of Anna Karenina is also coming that day to DVD only. And National Geographic's Journey to the Edge of the Universe has been announced for both DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 3/31.

We've got a little more new cover art for you to check out today... here's Buena Vista's Miracle at St. Anna on Blu-ray and Blindness on DVD (both 2/10), as well as Lionsgate's W. on Blu-ray (also 2/10)...

Miracle at St. Anna (Blu-ray Disc)BlindnessW. (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally this afternoon, I'll be spending time this weekend completing the wireless bridge I've been working on for the home theatre here - dual-band Wireless N. So I'll finally be able to really start digging into, and commenting on, all the latest BD-Live offerings on Blu-ray. This technology business, man... there's never a moment's rest. I'll tell you one thing I've discovered though: I really like Panasonic's new BD55 player. The thing plays discs smooth as butter so far. I'm looking forward to checking out its online connectivity options.

Stay tuned...

12/2/08

How's about we give you some new DVD and Blu-ray cover art to start the afternoon? Our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest cover scans and Amazon preorder links. And don't forget, Amazon.com still has lots of great deals on Blu-ray players from every major manufacturer, as well as Blu-ray movie titles for as low as $10.95. A portion of any purchase you make from Amazon through our links helps to support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.

In news today... it seems that Blu-ray may have done fairly well in terms of unit sales over the holiday shopping weekend, particularly on Black Friday. According to the National Retail Federation, demand for discounted Blu-ray players and movies (as well as traditional DVD purchases) helped fuel a 17% increase in shoppers heading out to the stores. According to this story at Home Media, "Top-selling items included flat screen high-definition televisions, GPS systems, digital frames and cameras, video game systems and Blu-ray players."

Home Media is also reporting that Netflix is set to begin offering streaming 720p HD movie and TV show rentals to profile 2.0 Blu-ray Disc players from Samsung and LG later this month, in addition to the existing service to the Xbox 360. This is a really great idea, and it's one that we wish more Blu-ray manufacturers would adopt. The ability to both purchase 1080p titles to own in the highest quality on Blu-ray Discs, and to rent 720p titles via streaming online download, would make these Blu-ray players killer apps. My only concern is that Samsung and LG haven't exactly been at the top of the reliability scale with regard to firmware updates. Panasonic? Maybe you'd care to add Netflix too?

In release news today, Warner Home Video has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Appaloosa on 1/13/09. Extras will include commentary by director Ed Harris and screenwriter/producer Robert Knott, deleted scenes and 4 featurettes (Bringing the Characters of Appaloosa to Life, Historic Accuracy of Appaloosa, The Town of Appaloosa and Dean Semler's Return to the Western).

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has set Oliver Stone's W. for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 2/10, including director's commentary, deleted scenes and 2 featurettes (Dangerous Dynasty: The Bush Presidency and No Stranger to Controversy: Oliver Stone's George W. Bush).

Here's something cool: When Fox's Office Space arrives on Blu-ray on 2/3, look for it to include 8 deleted scenes, the Out of the Office: An Office Space Retrospective with Mike Judge featurette and the theatrical trailer, as well as cool new BD-Java interactive options including Jump to Conclusions 2.0, Grab the Stapler, Printer Beat-Down, Last Piece of Cake, Whack-a-Drone, Post-It Pandemonium and The Apathy of Man: History Track. Some of those could definitely be worth a few laughs.

Fox has also set Bottle Shock for DVD only release on 2/3.

And file this is the Rumor Mill category, but our industry sources tell us that Fox and MGM are currently working on Blu-ray editions of The Silence of the Lambs (see art below) and Escape from New York, each set for Spring 2009 release.

Also, Sony has set Against the Dark for DVD only release on 2/10, starring Steven Seagal.

And there's one more bit of Battlestar news to report today... according to Variety, Sci-Fi Channel has just officially green-lit the Caprica prequel series for a 20-episode first season order (including the already completed 2-hour pilot). The series is now set to premiere in 2010. So Battlestar isn't going to be over, even when it's over.

We'll leave you with some new cover art... New Line's Appaloosa, Fox's Max Payne: Unrated (1/20), Buena Vista's Pretty Woman (2/10), Paramount's Friday the 13th: Uncut (2/3), Anchor Bay's Righteous Kill (1/6) and MGM's The Silence of the Lambs (TBA)...

Appaloosa (Blu-ray Disc)Max Payne: Unrated (Blu-ray Disc)Pretty Woman (Blu-ray Disc)

Friday the 13th: Uncut (Blu-ray Disc)Righteous Kill (Blu-ray Disc)The Silence of the Lambs (Blu-ray Disc)

Watch for more tomorrow. Stay tuned...

12/1/08

First of all, welcome back! I hope you guys all had a wonderful holiday with family and friends... and maybe got some great deals on DVD and Blu-ray over the weekend too.

I should start out by saying that today's post isn't quite what I'd planned, but there's a funny story behind that related to the kind of holiday Sarah and I just experienced...

You know that movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles? The one where getting to Thanksgiving is a nightmare, but everything turns out all right in the end? Yeah, we had exactly the opposite experience. Sarah and I traveled to Iowa to spend the holiday with her family. The trip there was trouble-free, we enjoyed a nice relaxing flight and drive, we had a couple of great meals (cheeseburger chowder at the Smokey Row in Pella, loose hamburgers and strawberry-rhubarb pie at the Canteen in Ottumwa). Then we picked up Sarah's grandmother and met the rest of the family in Bettendorf for the big day. Thanksgiving Day itself was wonderful... about 30 family members were there, and there was much laughing, catching up, good food and drink. You know the drill. Everything was great up to that point. But that night, the wheels came off the bus. You see, among the family gathered, there were babies. Cute, sweet, cuddly little babies... acting as petri dishes... with the stomach flu. Anyway, long story short, everyone started getting sick, a couple people badly enough to require a trip to the hospital. Let me tell you, traveling home with the stomach flu (three hours in a car and five hours on two planes) is NO kind of fun. Today, I'm still dealing with chills, fever, aches and I can't turn my head too quickly or I feel like falling over. Suffice it to say, I think I'll be staying home for Thanksgiving next year... ;)

Anyway, flu aside, I do have some interesting things to report today. To start with, I've got an update in The Rumor Mill today that should make you Bond fans happy: Word on the titles you can expect in the next round of catalog Bond Blu-rays, which are due sooner than you'd think. Be sure to check it out.

Also today, the good folks at Criterion have just launched a new feature on their website: The Criterion Collection Online Cinematheque! This gives you the ability to stream and preview many of the great films in the Criterion Collection that are available on DVD (and Blu-ray too). It costs $5 per film for a one-week rental, during which you can watch the film as many times as you want. And here's the great part: If you end up enjoying the film and want to own a copy, that $5 will be applied toward the purchase price of the film on either DVD or Blu-ray (if available) from the Criterion online store! We think this is a really cool way to let people "try before they buy," and also to expose an even wider audience to the great titles Criterion has to offer - titles some of you may never have had the chance to see until now. They'll have other great new features on the site as well, including filmmaker interviews and much more, so we strongly encourage you to check it all out. As always, our hats off to Criterion for their continued fine work. We'll be reviewing more of their new Blu-ray titles in the next couple weeks, so be sure to watch for them.

While we're on the subject of Criterion today, we've learned that the first wave of catalog titles by legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa has just been announced for release on Blu-ray Disc in Japan. Rashomon, Ran, Madadayo and The Quiet Duel are all expected on 2/6/09 in a box set from Jesnet. So how does this relate to Criterion? Well, Criterion owns the U.S. release rights to many of the Kurosawa films, and was involved in the new HD transfers. So it's likely that we'll start to see some of them released on Blu-ray by Criterion here in the States next year as well. Here's the page over at CD Japan where the titles are listed, though keep in mind that the Japanese discs will likely NOT have English subtitles (so you don't want to go importing them unless you're fluent with Japanese - just wait for the eventual U.S. releases). We'll look into this and keep you up to date as any U.S. release news becomes available.

Meanwhile today, Warner Home Video has just announced some of the BD-Live options those of you with profile 2.0 players will be able to enjoy on the forthcoming Blu-ray release of The Dark Knight (due in stores next Tuesday, 12/9 - see our review here). And it turns out, they're actually pretty cool. First, you'll be able to host your own live community screenings of the film with friends online, and chat with them during the film. If you have a webcam on your computer, you'll also be able to record and post your own user-generated video commentary for the film, that others will be able to view and enjoy as a PiP option during the film. As you'd expect, you'll be able to download new exclusive online special feature content too, and you'll have access to the usual e-mail, studio store and previews for upcoming titles. The custom commentary thing is pretty interesting. $5 says that some of those folks who showed up at the theaters in Joker costumes will create their own insane in-character Joker commentaries. Should be pretty entertaining stuff.

In other new release news, Fox has set Max Payne for release on single-disc and two-disc DVD as well as Blu-ray Disc on 1/20 (SRP $29.98, $34.98 and $39.99). The single-disc DVD will include both the theatrical and unrated versions of the film in anamorphic widescreen, with audio commentary (by director John Moore, production designer Daniel Dorrance and visual effects supervisor Everett Burrell). The two-disc DVD Special Edition will include that, plus the Picture: Part 1 featurette, the Michelle Payne animated graphic novel and a Digital Copy version of the unrated film. The Blu-ray will include all of the above, and will add the Picture: Part 2 featurette and two BonusView options: a Walkthroughs & Cheats: Making Max Payne PiP production featurette (on the theatrical version only) and additional PiP interviews with the director.

Fox has also announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Futurama: Into the Wild Green Yonder on 2/24 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Extras on both will include audio commentary (by Matt Groening, David X. Cohen, John DiMaggio, Maurice LaMarche, Michael Rowe, Lee Supercinski, Patric M. Verrone and Peter Avanzino), the Into the Wild Green Yonder, Part 1 storyboard animatic, 7 featurettes (Matt Groening and David X. Cohen in Space!, How We Make Futurama So Good, Louder! Louder!: The Acting Technique of Penn Jillette, Zapp Brannigan's Guide to Making Love at a Woman, Bender's Movie Theater Etiquette, Golden Stinkers: A Treasury of Deleted Scenes and How to Draw Futurama in 10 Very Difficult Steps) and a gallery of 3D models with animator discussion. The Blu-ray will include all of the above, except that many of the featurettes will be in HD, and the commentary will be PiP.

Sony has set Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist for DVD and Blu-ray release on 2/3/09 (SRP $28.96 and $39.95). BD extras will include a trivia track, Cinechat, a Telestrator commentary with the director and cast, audio commentary with the director and writers, deleted and alternate scenes, outtakes, storyboard animations, 4 featurettes (A Nick & Norah Puppet Show by Kat Dennings, Ari Graynor's Video Diary: A Look Behind-the-Scenes, Storyboard Animation Piece and Faux Interview with Kat Dennings and Eddie Kaye Thomas), Peter Sollett's photo album and Bishop Allen's Middle Management music video. Also due on DVD and Blu-ray on 2/3 from the studio is RENT: Filmed Live on Broadway.

Not done yet: Universal has set The Express: The Ernie Davis Story for DVD and Blu-ray release on 1/20/09.

Warner Home Video has set A Time to Kill and The Pelican Brief for Blu-ray Disc release on 2/10/09 (SRP $28.99 each).

Image Entertainment has set Ping Pong Playa for DVD and Blu-ray release on 1/6/09.

And last but not least (in terms of announcements), Shout! Factory has just announced a VERY cool 3-disc DVD release: The Secret Policeman's Balls, due in stores on 1/27 (SRP $39.99)! Those of you familiar with these live U.K. fundraisers for Amnesty International will know that they've featured an amazing array of musical and comedy talent over the years, including Monty Python, Beyond the Fringe, Rowan Atkinson, Jennifer Saunders, Hugh Laurie, Pete Townshend, Sting, Phil Collins, Bob Geldof, Peter Gabriel, Donovan, Jackson Browne, Lou Reed, Kate Bush, Joan Armatrading, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Mark Knopfler and Chet Atkins. The set includes FIVE complete classic Balls, including Pleasure at Her Majesty's (1976), The Secret Policeman's Ball (1979), The Secret Policeman's Other Ball (1981), The Secret Policeman's Third Ball (1987) and The Secret Policeman's Biggest Ball (1989), along with the 2004 Remember the Secret Policeman's Ball? documentary, introductions and audio commentaries by series co-creator Martin Lewis, ultra-rare and never-before-seen sequences and performances, and TV spots, trailers and news footage from the events. Very cool indeed!

Finally today, you Battlestar fans might want to check out Sci-Fi's new teaser website for the final ten episodes. It's called YouWillKnowtheTruth.com. Every couple days, the site will offer a new clue as to the shocking revelations in store when the show returns in January. Better still, the new Battlestar webisode series, The Face of the Enemy, will begin running on Sci-Fi.com on 12/12. You'll get two new webisodes per week, leading up to the 1/16 premiere.

So there you go. If there are any errors in the above, chalk it up to the fact that I'm only semi-coherent at the moment. Also, please give me a couple days to get caught up on e-mail and whatnot. And just so you know, we're already working on more new DVD and Blu-ray reviews, and we have great new columns from Rob and Barrie on the way too.

Okay, is time for chicken soup, aspirin and a nap for me. Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

11/25/08

We're back as promised! And yes... we're very pleased to present our in-depth review of Warner's long-awaited 2-disc edition of The Dark Knight on Blu-ray Disc! Also available this morning for your enjoyment is a look at Universal Music's new Blu-ray upgrade of Sting: Bring on the Night. The former hits store shelves on 12/9, while the latter arrived at retailers yesterday. And in case you missed them when I posted them last night, be sure to check out our new reviews Criterion's Chungking Express, New Video's The Universe: The Complete Season One and Fox's Firefly: The Complete Series on Blu-ray as well. Enjoy!

Also this morning, Russell's once again 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, a small portion of ANYTHING you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links helps to support our work here at The Bits, and we greatly appreciate it!

Okay... this is going to be our last post for this week, as we've all got big plans to spend time with family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday. (Just so you know, I'll also be out of e-mail contact until Saturday, in case any of you try to contact me before then.) Never fear though - we'll see you back here on Monday, with a special post (or is that pre?)-holiday treat. And don't forget to take advantage of all the great deals on Blu-ray players and movies you'll find on Black Friday! Check your local retailers' ad circulars for all the latest. Good luck, shoppers!

From all of us here at The Digital Bits, we wish you all a very Happy (and safe) Thanksgiving!

11/24/08

Evening, Bits-ers! This post is a little later than expected today, but trust me... it's a good one.

Now available for your enjoyment are my reviews of Criterion's first ever Blu-ray Disc release, Chungking Express, as well as New Video's The Universe: The Complete Season One! Also up tonight is Jeff Kleist's take on Fox's Firefly: The Complete Series on Blu-ray. All three titles are worth a look. I'll add that I was personally VERY impressed with the A/V quality of Chunking Express. Criterion's really put a lot of effort in the high-def presentation quality here, and it shows in spades. Chungking streets on 12/16, while the other two titles are now available.

What... that's not cool enough for you? Okay, how about this: I'll be back at Midnight with an in-depth review of Warner's long-awaited Blu-ray Disc edition of The Dark Knight! No kidding.

See you in a few hours... ;)

11/23/08

Hey guys, I hope you're all having a great weekend. I just wanted to jump in here quickly to remind you all that 24 returns to Fox tonight for a 2 hour movie prequel to the new season (which begins in January): 24: Redemption. And don't forget, it'll also be available on DVD on Tuesday if you're interested.

Also, our friends over at Galactica Sitrep have posted video of the preview for the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica (Season 4.5) which premieres on 1/16/09 on Sci-Fi Channel. Looks pretty damn great to me. I can't wait.

In the meantime, while we're waiting for BSG to return, I've got to tell you... I have a new favorite show: Storm Chasers on Discovery HD. Which means I also have a new favorite website: Tornado Videos.net, run by a few of the guys who chase tornados on the show. Now, that's my idea of a vacation! Their fuel bill must be nuts. Reed Timmer's a mad man.

Finally, one last reminder: Don't forget again that Universal's Hellboy II BD-Live event with Guillermo del Toro is tonight. You'll find all the details here.

All right, that's it for now. Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/21/08 - 1 PM PST)

Okay... we've got a few things to report today, but first a reminder...

On Sunday night (11/23) at 6 PM Pacific, Universal is going to be holding its big Hellboy II BD-Live online chat event with director Guillermo Del Toro! In order to participate, you obviously need the Hellboy II Blu-ray and a BD-Live capable player with an Internet connection. To take part in the event, here's what you need to do:

Step 1: Log on to www.UniversalHiDef.com to create a user name and password - or - login if already registered.

Step 2: Once registered, in My Account, select the Director's Chat tab to submit up to three questions for Del Toro to answer.

Step 3: Connect your Blu-ray player to the Internet just before 6 PM PST (Pacific) on Sunday and enjoy the chat!

Also today, our friends over at BTTF.com have just announced that Universal will re-release all three Back to the Future films on DVD on 2/10/09, and Back to the Future will be a 2-disc Special Edition with new bonus material. It's good news to be sure, but we'll start getting excited if and when the studio confirms a Blu-ray Disc release of the set. Unfortunately, we don't expect one at this time.

Also today, this would normally go in The Rumor Mill (so salt it accordingly), but industry sources are telling us that Sony will release Gandhi on Blu-ray Disc in early 2009. The title is tentatively set for release on 2/19 in the U.K. but we're told that this date is not set in stone. Expect the U.S. release around the same time. The key thing to know that it IS coming in early 2009.

In other news today, 20th Century Fox has set Igor, City of Ember and American East for DVD release on 1/20, followed by College on 1/27. Igor will also be released on Blu-ray Disc on 1/20.

Also, retail sources are reporting street dates for a number of new Fox and MGM catalog Blu-ray Disc titles, including Stargate: The Ark of Truth on 1/13, Unfaithful on 1/20, Drumline and The Pink Panther on 1/27, Sideways, Little Miss Sunshine and Napoleon Dynamite on 2/3, Raging Bull and The Boondock Saints on 2/10, and The Passion of the Christ: Definitive Edition on 2/17. Here's a look at some cover art...

Stargate: The Ark of Truth (Blu-ray Disc)Napoleon Dynamite (Blu-ray Disc)Sideways (Blu-ray Disc)

The Pink Panther (Blu-ray Disc)Little Miss Sunshine (Blu-ray Disc)The Passion of the Christ (Blu-ray Disc)

Meanwhile, Paramount has set DreamWorks' Ghost Town and Paramount Vantage's The Dutchess for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 12/28.

Universal has set Mamma Mia! The Movie for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 12/16, along with the DVD release of The Mummy: The Animated Series, Volumes 1-3. Also, Emergency!: Season Five and The Rockford Files: Season Six are due on DVD only on 1/20/09. Here's hoping the second season of Baa Baa Black Sheep is on the way...

Speaking of Universal, we've have it on good authority that Battlestar Galactica is in the works for Blu-ray Disc release later in 2009, POSSIBLY as a complete series box set. One of the show's producers, Mark Verheiden, has made a couple of posts on his blog in recent months that indicate work is well under way, and that he's shot interviews new for the release (click here and here for that). VERY cool news indeed.

Criterion has announced a number of new DVD releases for February, including Luis Bu˝uel's The Exterminating Angel (catalog #459) and Simon of the Desert (#460), and David Lean's Hobson's Choice (#461). John Cassavetes's Shadows (#251) and Faces (#252) will also be released as individual editions (they were previously only available in the John Cassavetes: Five Films box set).

Finally, Warner Home Video has announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of Guy Ritchie's RocknRolla on 1/27. We'll post confirmed specs when we have them. Also newly announced for DVD only release by the studio are Sex and the Single Girl and Splendor in the Grass on 2/3, National Geographic's Fight Science, the BBC's Hotel Babylon: Season 3 and the NHL's New York Islanders: 10 Greatest Games on 3/3, NHL's History of the Boston Bruins on 3/24, and the BBC's An Age of Kings on 3/31.

All right... we MIGHT be back later tonight or even tomorrow with another update, but if not be sure to check back on Monday for all the latest. And again, don't forget the Hellboy II BD-Live chat on Sunday night.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/21/08 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning, folks! How's about some Blu-ray Disc reviews? Okie dokie, then. Here's my take on Disney and Pixar's Wall-E: 3-Disc and HBO's high-def upgraded Band of Brothers, along with Jeff's two cents on DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda. All three titles are now available in stores, and all are worthy of your time and money.

More reviews ARE coming, so enjoy and stay tuned...

11/20/08

Okay, I really didn't expect to get on a rant today, but circumstances have determined otherwise...

Specifically, MGM has officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Ronin on 2/24 (SRP $34.99 - we posted the cover art yesterday), thus sending a round of cheers through The Bits' offices. That's the good news. The bad news is that the disc includes NOTHING in the way of special features... not even the previous DVD CE material. And that quickly turned the cheers around here into groans. Seriously, a movie only Blu-ray for $34.99? That's just unacceptable. For $24.99, maybe. But for $34.99, MGM damn well ought to at least port over the previous DVD extras. Movie-only releases for FULL price just doesn't cut it.

While we're talking about Blu-ray peeves (following my rant from last week about Sony's movie-only La Femme Nikita and The Messenger), here's a couple other things that need to change: Warner needs to stop using excessive DNR on their titles, and start making lossless audio MANDATORY ON EVERY RELEASE. This has been an ongoing problem - one that we thought Warner had agreed to address earlier this year. But too many titles are still slipping through the cracks with lackluster specs. And on their catalog Blu-rays, Universal needs to stop taking perfectly good featurettes and documentaries and cutting them up for use as U-Control Picture-in-Picture material.

Look guys (and I'm talking to you studio folks now, so LISTEN UP), here's the thing: Do you REALLY want to impress consumers with your Blu-ray titles? Then here's how you do it: You focus on ENTHUSIASTS. You impress the enthusiasts with top-notch A/V quality and decent extras at a fair price. If you can please them, you'll please almost everyone else too. Blu-ray is ABOUT offering the best video and audio quality possible, so that should be a given. As far as extras, almost no one gives a s--t about BD-Live and U-Control if you can't be bothered at least to include the previous DVD bonus material! Why? Because you're asking movie fans to UPGRADE to the Blu-ray, when many of them probably already own the DVD special edition. Upgraded picture and sound, with downgraded extras and a higher price - that's a net NEGATIVE! Do you get it?! This stuff isn't rocket science, guys. If, after including all the previous DVD content, you really want to add on some advanced interactive stuff too, then fine. But Blu-ray is still being driven by enthusiasts, and enthusiasts - hell, I would think ALL Blu-ray consumers - demand top quality and VALUE for their money. So shape up, studios!

Okay, one other thing: We've got a few more sub-$300 Blu-ray player models to add to our list (available here), including the following...

Samsung: BD-P1400 (1.0)

Memorex: MVBD2510 (1.1)

Curtis Mathes (Target): CMMBX72 (1.1)

Olevia (Target): BD-100 (1.1)

A couple notes: Again, avoid profile 1.0 players if at all possible. The hassle just isn't worth it. Also, with Blu-ray still a relatively new format, we'd generally recommend sticking with major brands, which usually have better functionality. Major manufacturers are also more likely to be prompt with firmware updates and to provide better customer service. The EXCEPTION right now seems to be Samsung. My first experience with Blu-ray was Samsung's initial BD-P1000, and it was buggy to say the least. I've had no personal experience with the brand since then, but I can report anecdotally that Samsung seems to be the major brand most often reported as problematic by our readers. We've also heard that they aren't as quick to post firmware updates when problems are reported. So take that as you will.

I know, I know... we're working on those reviews. But stuff keeps coming up! What can you do?!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/19/08 - 7 PM PST)

Hey guys... we'll be back tomorrow with more, but I wanted to jump in here quickly this evening with confirmation of a MAJOR catalog Blu-ray Disc release. This has been reported elsewhere online over the last day or two, but we wanted to wait until we had confirmed specs and artwork to post the news, as it's a title a LOT of people have been waiting for on Blu-ray.

Universal has officially set The Bourne Collection, including The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, for Blu-ray Disc release on 1/27/09 (SRP $119.98). Video will be 1080p with audio in DTS-HD MA 5.1, and each disc will be a BD-50. Here's the film by film features breakdown:

The Bourne Identity will include feature commentary with director Doug Liman, deleted and extended scenes, an alternate opening and ending, 10 featurettes (The Ludlum Identity, The Ludlum Supremacy, The Ludlum Ultimatum, The Birth of the Bourne Identity, The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum, Access Granted, From Identity to Supremacy - Jason & Marie, The Bourne Diagnosis, Cloak and Dagger and Inside a Fight Sequence), as well as Moby's Extreme Ways music video. New for the Blu-ray version will be U-Control Picture-in-Picture, Bourne Reminders, a Bourne Card Battle Strategy Game and the Treadstone Files (ported from HD-DVD), as well as BD-Live My Scenes Sharing.

The Bourne Supremacy will include feature commentary with director Paul Greengrass, deleted scenes and 11 featurettes (Matching Identities: Casting, Keeping It Real, Blowing Things Up, On the Move with Jason Bourne, Bourne to Be Wild: Fight Training, Crash Cam: Racing Through the Streets of Moscow, The Go-Mobile Revs Up the Action, Anatomy of a Scene: The Explosive Bridge Chase Scene, Scoring with John Powell, The Bourne Mastermind: Robert Ludlum and The Bourne Diagnosis, Part Two). New for the Blu-ray version will be U-Control Picture-in-Picture, Bourne Reminders, a Bourne Card Battle Strategy Game and the Supremacy Dossier (ported from HD-DVD), as well as BD-Live My Scenes Sharing.

Finally, The Bourne Ultimatum will include feature commentary with director Paul Greengrass, deleted scenes, the Be Bourne Spy Training interactive option and 5 featurettes (Man on the Move: Jason Bourne, Rooftop Pursuit, Planning the Punches, Driving School and New York Chase). New for the Blu-ray version will be U-Control Picture-in-Picture, Bourne Reminders, a Bourne Card Battle Strategy Game and the Blackbriar Files (ported from HD-DVD), as well as BD-Live My Scenes Sharing.

In short, it looks like everything from the previous DVD releases (or nearly so) will be included in the Blu-ray set. Here's a look at the artwork for the box...

The Bourne Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)Ronin (Blu-ray Disc)Office Space: Special Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we've also included art for MGM's Ronin (TBA February or March '09) and Fox's Office Space (due 2/3/09) on Blu-ray as well.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/19/08 - 11 AM PST)

Hey folks... okay, we're going to get some reviews done today come hell or high water.

But first, the DEG has issued an official list of Blu-ray Disc players that will be priced from around $300 to under $200 for the holiday shopping season at various retailers. I should note that the list did NOT include Best Buy's custom Insignia brand, so I've added it below. The specific models to look for are as follows (newly added models are in yellow):

Magnavox: NB500MG9 (1.1)

Panasonic: DMP-BD30 (1.1) and DMP-BD35 (2.0)

Philips: BDP7200 (1.1)

Samsung: BD-P1000 (1.0), BD-P1200 (1.1), BD-P1400 (1.0) and BD-P1500 (1.1, updatable to 2.0)

Sharp: BDHP2OU (1.0) and BDHP21U (1.1)

Sony: BDP-S300 (1.0), BDP-S301 (1.0), BDP-BX1 (1.1, updatable to 2.0) and BDP-S350 (2.0)

Sylvania: NB500SL9 (1.1) and NB501SL9 (1.1)

Insignia (Best Buy only): NS-BRDVD (1.1) and NS-2BRDVD (2.0)

Memorex: MVBD2510 (1.1)

Curtis Mathes (Target): CMMBX72 (1.1)

Olevia (Target): BD-100 (1.1)

You'll note that after the model number of each player, I've specified whether the unit is profile 1.0 (basic interactive features), 1.1 (BonusView, for PiP video and advanced interactive features) or 2.0 (BD Live, for online features), as many readers have been asking for this information when we've posted news of sale prices. In general, we'd recommend that you get at LEAST a profile 1.1 player. If you can find a great deal on a profile 2.0 unit, that's ideal. (They'll generally be priced in the $200 to $300 range for now, while the 1.0 and 1.1 units will be anywhere from $200 to as low as $128.) It's not that we've really seen profile 2.0/BD-Live extras that really blow us away yet, but having the ability to connect to the Internet makes firmware updates MUCH easier. And sooner or later, someone really will push BD-Live in a direction that'll be worth checking out.

Be sure to watch your local retailers' websites and ad circulars for the latest sales, PARTICULARLY as pertains to Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving). As you know, Black Friday is the biggest shopping day of the year here in the States, so sales and discounts are plentiful. Retailers are expected to be especially aggressive with sales this year, given the slowing economy. So keep your eyes peeled for those bargains! And if you learn of additional BD players that should be included above, e-mail me and I'll add them to the list above.

By the way, several of you have asked which brands we recommend here at The Bits. Personally, I swear by Panasonic. They're very reliable, when there's a (rare) problem the firmware updates are quick, and the company has been closely involved with the technical development of the Blu-ray format, from perfecting the video quality to the development of new BonusView and BD-Live features, so you can count on them to be on top of all the latest developments. That's not to say other brands aren't great too - just that my personal experiences with Panasonic have been excellent.

Also this morning, a quick update to our news (from yesterday's post) of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Warner's animated Wonder Woman - the street date has just officially been revised to 3/3/09. Adjust your plans accordingly.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/18/08 - 5:45 PM PST)

We've got one last batch of Blu-ray announcements for you today... Buena Vista has set Pretty Woman for release on the format on 2/10/09, along with Spike Lee's The Miracle at St. Anna's (also on DVD). Also coming on 2/10, though on DVD only, is Fernando Meirelles' Blindness.

Meanwhile, Genius Products has set Superhero Movie: Extended Edition for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/13.

An indie called Peace Arch Entertainment has set The Deal, staring William H. Macy an Meg Ryan, for DVD and Blu-ray release on 1/20.

Finally, Warner Home Video has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of the direct-to-video animated Wonder Woman on 2/24. Look for the DVD to be available in single-disc and two-disc special edition SKUs. Extras will include the A Subversive Dream and The Daughters of Myth documentaries, a Digital Copy version, "100 minutes of extra content" and cover art done by legendary animation artist Adam Hughes.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/18/08 - 12:30 PM PST)

Afternoon, folks! Okay, we've got a bunch more DVD and Blu-ray release news for you today. We'll get to that in a second.

First up, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order through our links helps support our work here at The Bits and we certainly do appreciate it.

Also today, you'll recall that on Friday I referenced a white paper with new market research data on HDTV and Blu-ray sales and purchasing habits from the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) and SmithGeiger. According to its projections, consumers in the U.S. will purchase more than 2.38 million standalone Blu-ray players in 2008, up from 700,000 in 2007. The prediction for 2009 is that some 5.31 million players will be sold. This is in addition to the millions of PlayStation 3s. These sales trends for Blu-ray are being driven by demand from HDTV owners, who (according to the research) believe that the format offers them the best quality and value for delivering high-def content. Anyway, I thought you guys might be interested in seeing the research for yourselves, so the DEG has kindly given me permission to post the 20-page document in its entirety for you. You'll find it here in Adobe PDF format. Enjoy!

Now then... the release news...

Fox has just officially set The Rocker for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 1/27/09. Extras will include commentary with the filmmakers, a second commentary with the cast, deleted scenes, a gag reel, numerous featurettes, PSAs, the I'm Not Bitter music video and a Digital Copy version of the film.

Fox has also officially announced the Blu-ray Disc release of The French Connection and The French Connection II on 2/24/09 (SRP $34.99 each), as predicted in The Rumor Mill last week. The French Connection will be a 2-disc set, including a new William Friedkin introduction (HD), audio commentary by Friedkin, audio commentary with stars Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider, a new trivia track, a new isolated score in 5.1, the theatrical trailer, D-Box enhancement, 8 deleted scenes with Friedkin analysis (HD), The Poughkeepsie Shuffle BBC documentary, the Making the Connection: The Untold Stories of The French Connection documentary and 7 new HD featurettes (Anatomy of a Chase, Gene Hackman on Popeye Doyle, Friedkin and Grosso Remember the Real French Connection, Scene of the Crime, Color Timing The French Connection, Cop Jazz: The Music of Don Ellis and Rogue Cop: The Noir Connection). The French Connection II will be a single-disc release including audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer, 2 HD featurettes (Frankenheimer in Focus and A Conversation with Gene Hackman), an HD still gallery, a new isolated score in 5.1 and D-Box enhancement.

Also newly announced by Fox for Blu-ray release on 2/24 is Vanishing Point. Extras will include both the U.S. and extended U.K. versions of the film via seamless branching, audio commentary with director Richard Sarafian, the Interactive 1970 Dodge Challenger, the Build for Speed: A Look Back at Vanishing Point and OA-5599 HD featurettes, the Cars, Cops and Culture 70s trivia track, an in-movie trivia challenge, the Super Soul Me BonusView look at the film's soundtrack featuring interviews and more, TV spots and D-Box enhancement.

Meanwhile, MGM will debut The Last House on the Left: Collector's Edition on DVD on 2/24/09. Extras will include audio commentary with select members of the cast, 4 featurettes, a deleted scene, never-before-seen outtakes, Wes Craven's annotated scripts and a photo gallery. The film will be anamorphic widescreen.

Anchor Bay will debut Righteous Kill on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 1/6. This is the film starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. DVD extras will include commentary with director Jon Avnet and 2 featurettes. The Blu-ray will add Digital Copy and BD-Live connectivity.

Paramount has set Tales from the Darkside: The First Season, Friday the 13th: The Series - The Second Season and Melrose Place: The Fifth Season, Volume One for DVD release on 2/10/09. Following on 2/17 are The Beverly Hillbillies: The Official Third Season, a Beverly Hillbillies: Two Season Pack, Christopher Titus: Love is Evol and Sabrina the Teenage Witch: The Fifth Season. National Lampoon's Stoned Age is also due on 1/20 in rated and Unrated DVD versions.

Universal has set the Friday Night Lights feature film for Blu-ray Disc release on 1/6, featuring deleted scenes, audio commentary, featurettes and more.

Sony has set Groundhog Day for Blu-ray release on 1/27, along with Lakeview Terrace (DVD and Blu-ray), Open Season 2 (DVD and Blu-ray), Fireproof, Deep Winter and Blood+: Volume 4 (all DVD only).

Criterion's first wave of Blu-ray Disc titles, including Bottle Rocket, The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Third Man and Chunking Express, has been delayed until 12/16. The Last Emperor will now follow on 1/6/09. The titles were originally due to street today. Adjust your plans accordingly.

Finally, Warner Home Video has set New Line's Amusement and Poison Ivy 4: The Secret Society for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 1/20/09.

Don't forget that Disney's Wall-E streets on DVD and Blu-ray Disc today! The title is pretty great - watch for our review soon.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/17/08 - 5:30 PM PST)

We're pleased this afternoon to present Barrie Maxwell's new edition of High-Definition Matters, featuring capsule reviews of some 19 Blu-ray Disc titles, including Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Warner's Cool Hand Luke, L.A. Confidential, How the West Was Won, Pale Rider, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Poltergeist, Genius' Lonesome Dove, MGM and Fox's Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Thunderball, Fox's The Omen Collection, Romancing the Stone and Jewel of the Nile, Blue Underground's The Final Countdown, Paramount's The Love Guru and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Lionsgate's The Bank Job and Questar's Scenic National Parks. I think you'll enjoy them, so do check them out.

Also today, we've just posted THREE new Giveaways, offering you each the chance to take home copies of Universal's Burn After Reading, Lionsgate's Garden Party and Sony's Columbia Best Pictures Collection on DVD. Entries for these giveaways will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, November 23rd. Good luck!

Finally today, I just wanted to let all of you know that tonight on the National Geographic HD Channel, the network is debuting a program called Direct from the Moon that features some of the new HD video from the Japanese Kaguya probe. It's on Nat Geo HD at 9 PM (Eastern/Pacific). It should be pretty cool, so don't miss it.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/17/08 - 11:30 AM PST)

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

First things first: Here's the new Star Trek trailer. Official link, available in high-definition. On second, third and fourth glance, I think I'm going to like this new film. Maybe not love it, but I'm warming to the vibe pretty fast. I love Karl Urban as McCoy, that's for sure. I suspect this is going to end up something like the Star Wars prequel movies, and let me be clear: I DON'T mean that as a slam in terms of the film's quality. It's way too early to pass judgment on that. What I mean is that while the prequel movies DID turn off a lot of older, life-long Star Wars fans, they also attracted a whole new generation of young viewers to the Star Wars franchise - kids who had little connection to the older films, but now love everything with the Star Wars on it. If that happens to Star Trek, it could mean a bright future for a franchise that's more than 40 years old. No small thing. We'll see.

Second, thanks to all of you for your e-mails about Quantum of Solace. I received a couple hundred over the weekend from people who agreed with my take on Friday morning, and of course a couple from people who think I'm clearly a moron for liking the film. Hey, you know... it takes all kinds. The flick made $70 million this weekend though, so I guess someone out there likes it. I'm already excited for the next one.

Also today, on the subject of low-cost Blu-ray players, Bits reader Brian H. is reporting that his local Wal-Mart now has a Magnavox NB500MG9 profile 1.1 player selling for $198. And reader Ross H. tells us that Woot.com has the Memorex MVBD2510 for $139.99 for one day only. It's also profile 1.1, but has no Ethernet port. MANY more such deals are going to be available over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled.

Finally this morning, remember how I said that I'd talk more about that Blu-ray market data I offered on Friday morning from the DEG? Well, for now I'll let everyone else who reported on it have their say. Here's what Hollywood Reporter, Video Business and Home Media Retailing have to say. The gist is that Blu-ray earns high marks from anyone who uses it, and it's become the preferred HD medium for HDTV owners, over VOD, HD cable/satellite and downloading.

We'll be back with more this afternoon, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/14/08 - 1:45 PM PST)

We'll be back on Monday with some reviews and a new column from Barrie. But I just wanted to jump in here quickly today with some interesting Blu-ray news...

First, according to CNN, Wal-Mart will be selling a Magnavox Blu-ray Disc player for just $128. You read that right - $128. Thanks to Bits reader Val for sending the link.

Also today, the Digital Entertainment Group held an interesting press event this morning in Hollywood to talk about the latest HDTV and Blu-ray Disc market research. On hand were senior home video execs from all the major Hollywood studios. Among the interesting revelations (and we'll be talking about them a lot more on Monday) were these: We're now a little over 2 years into the growth of the Blu-ray format. At the same point in the early life of DVD, there were 1.2 million DVD players in U.S. homes. Fox's Mike Dunn claimed that there are more than 2.5 million stand-alone Blu-ray players in the U.S. today, with another 8 million PS3s. Price points for both Blu-ray hardware and software are at about the same level as they were at this point for DVD. BD hardware sales were reportedly up 25% in October from the previous year. And Blu-ray software sales are actually AHEAD of the DVD software sales curve, and have been accelerating even in the last two months as the economic slowdown has become more obvious. The DEG says that a year ago, Blu-ray made up about 10% of total sales of new blockbuster titles. Today, that total is 14%, and the industry expects that to increase to between 18-20% in the next year (likely starting with Warner's The Dark Knight). Much of this is being driven by the adoption of HDTVs in the U.S. (which are now installed in 50% of U.S. households). The DEG's research indicates that some 28% of HDTV households in the U.S. currently view Blu-ray movies. No actual hard numbers were given, but according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are roughly 111 million households in the U.S. (as of 2007), so some 55 million of those current have HDTVs. At a 28%, that comes out to about 15 million U.S. households watching Blu-rays, either on stand-alone players or PS3s. That's our own rough calculation based on the estimated percentages the DEG provided. We suspect the actual number is somewhere between 10 and 15 million, which would more closely match up with the estimated number of BD players and PS3s mentioned above - something north of 10.5 million. Regardless, that's still an impressive figure when you consider that the laserdisc market - at its height - amounted to a total of 2 million LD players here in the States. In a little over two years, Blu-ray has ALREADY far surpassed laserdisc and is currently running ahead of the DVD adoption curve. So much for those claims that Blu-ray will remain a niche market.

Again, we'll have more on all this on Monday. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/14/08 - 3 AM PST)

Okay... so Matt and I just saw Quantum of Solace. I'll tell you what, we both really enjoyed it. (Don't worry, there are no real spoilers here. But there are some things you NEED to know up front.) You may have heard that the film's reviews are mixed, with a number of critics saying it isn't as good as Casino Royale, and that there's not as much humor and style, and that there's too much action up front, and it's too short. Here's what I say to all that: NUTS! Let me give you a bit of sage advice. The best thing you can do for yourself going into Quantum, is to re-watch Casino Royale. Preferably right before you head out for the theatre. That's what we did, and we were very glad for it. Because this movie picks up literally one hour after the last film ended, and there's no recap. You're thrust right smack into the middle of the action, going 100kph with lead flying, and you'd better be ready for it. 'Cause if you're not, you're gonna be left in the dust pretty quickly. Plus, if you'll recall, the complaint about Casino was that it was too long, so too long plus too short - when you watch 'em back to back - equals just right.

The simple fact is, Quantum of Solace isn't the NEXT James Bond film... it's the second half of the last one. Casino and Quantum together tell a complete, self-contained narrative - effectively the origin story of this new incarnation of 007 - and you really have to consider the two films as one. Casino had more humor, and more romance, because it had to. Because it needed to, in order for you to care about Bond and to understand the measure his pain. Conversely, Quantum is all about redemption, and discovering the bigger picture, and about Bond coming to terms with his guilt and his pain in the traditional way. You know... by kicking ass. Bond wants the bad guys and he definitely wants revenge for Vesper's death, but even more than that he needs to know that what he felt for her - that what she felt for HIM - was real. When he's done, a formidable enemy will have begun to take shape, and 007 will be the man he needs to be for this franchise to CONTINUE kicking ass. Hell, the Tosca sequence in this film alone is worth the price of admission. (It's a wonderful nod to Hitchcock too.) Rest assured, James Bond will return. Which is fine by us. We don't miss the old Bond formula one bit, and if we did, there's like 20 versions of it available for revisiting on our DVD shelves (6 of which are now on Blu-ray as well, it's worth reminding you). This 007 is fresh, far more believable than the old... and absolutely thrilling. Daniel Craig confirms in Quantum that he's the best Bond since Connery. Seriously, just go into this film knowing that it's LITERALLY the second half of the last one, and I think you'll dig it. We certainly did.

Now about that Star Trek trailer... wow. I'm still not quite sure what to think, especially having only seen it once. My understanding is that it'll be available for online viewing on Monday morning... which is good, because legions of fans are going to want to analyze it frame by frame. By my quick initial impressions are as follows. First, this is not your father's Star Trek. Not by a long shot. But it could... I think... still be Star Trek, at least in spirit. It's just Star Trek on a much larger scale that we've ever seen it before. MUCH larger. This is big-screen, blockbuster, balls-to-the-wall Star Trek. Not better, but different... and EPIC. I suspect it will thusly have a far greater appeal to the masses than the usual variety. Will it be good? Will it be great? Will life-long Trekkers warm to it? I don't know. But I am intrigued. We'll see.

All right, time for sleep. Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

11/13/08

Afternoon, folks! Boy, I'll tell you, I'm having a really hard time getting any productive work done today. Ever have a day like that?

I woke up this morning to dozens of e-mail responses to my Blu-ray rant yesterday - WAY too many to respond to them all individually, but I really appreciate all the comments. Plus, the phone has been ringing off the hook today, all while I'm sitting here trying to finish off like six Blu-ray reviews.

It also doesn't help that I'm on the edge of my seat with excitement over Quantum of Solace, which opens tomorrow. Matt and I are actually planning on a quick dinner with our wives this evening, followed by a Blu-ray screening of Casino Royale and then a Midnight show of Quantum. Good times, I'll tell you. That's what it's all about right there.

I'm also pretty interested in seeing the new Star Trek trailer, which is apparently attached to the Bond movie this weekend. I'm STILL trying to keep an open mind about it all. I'd like to try to enjoy the film for what it is, rather than worry about what it's not. So I guess we'll see. Next summer's still a long way off.

Anyway, there's a little bit of news to report today, and then I should back to work...

Buena Vista will be releasing a Mary Poppins: 45th Anniversary Special Edition DVD on 1/27, though it appears no Blu-ray is currently planned. On 1/13, however, you'll also get Swing Vote on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Brideshead Revisited will also street on DVD only on 1/13.

Meanwhile, Sony has set Center Stage for Blu-ray release on 1/20. You'll also get The Children of Huang Shi, Vacancy 2: The First Cut and Boogeyman 3 on DVD the same day.

By the way, speaking of Sony, I'm afraid I'm going to have to pick on the studio a little bit today. Their new Blu-ray versions of Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita and The Messenger just showed up yesterday... and they're bare bones. As in movie-only. WTF?! Is anyone else getting tired of catalog Blu-ray releases where the studio doesn't even bother to include the previous DVD special features, and yet still charges full price for the disc? It's irritating as hell. To rub salt in the situation, both discs have a 'Special Features' menu selection, which reveals... previews. None of which, I might add, include the actual trailers for EITHER of these two films. Hey Sony, listen up: A 'preview' for other stuff you want to sell to us is NOT a special feature. Ever! PERIOD. Seriously, you guys need to do better with this. I know that Besson is notoriously difficult to work with in terms of approving transfers and special features, so maybe that was the problem here. But whether it was Besson's fault or Sony just being lazy, I hereby wag my finger at all of you. You can't see it, but I have a very stern expression on my face right now. So there.

By the way, in case I haven't mentioned it, Sony's delivering Judd Apatow's Pineapple Express on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 1/6. With extras.

All right, I'd better get back to work before I get more cranky than I already am. Or maybe I need a quick nap. One of those. I'll check back in with you guys in the morning to weigh in on Quantum and the Trek trailer. Stay tuned...

11/12/08

Hey Guys... hope your afternoon's going well. We've got a couple things for you today...

First, remember our Rumor Mill post about the older Batman films coming to Blu-ray Disc? Well, not only are they officially announced for Japanese release in February '09, they hit stores next month (12/29) in the U.K., and they're set for release in Australia in January. (Thanks to all you readers who sent links.) So they're coming soon here in the States too, rest assured. Watch for announcements in the next few weeks. We posted the official art in The Rumor Mill the other day too, but here it is again (along with the BD art for Fox's Babylon A.D., due on 1/6)...

Batman: The Motion Picture Anthology (Blu-ray Disc)Batman (Blu-ray Disc)Batman Returns (Blu-ray Disc)

Batman Forever (Blu-ray Disc)Batman and Robin (Blu-ray Disc)Babylon A.D. (Blu-ray Disc)

Now then... as you may have heard, Universal has set Peter Jackson's King Kong for Blu-ray Disc release on 1/20/09. The best news is that both the theatrical and extended cuts will be included, with DTS-HD audio. Extras will be a bit limited though, including audio commentary, PiP video and interactive art galleries. So if you have the previous (and more elaborate) DVD box set, you'll want to hang on to it.

In other news, at a Blu-ray release event for Hellboy II last night in Hollywood, director Guillermo del Toro revealed that Lionsgate is about to start working on a Cronos: Special Edition on the format. Good news indeed.

Meanwhile, Paramount has set a Friday the 13th: Uncut - Deluxe Edition for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 2/3/09 (note that this is the only film in the series currently planned for Blu-ray release for the time being). Extras will include audio commentary with director Sean Cunningham, 6 featurettes (A Friday the 13th Reunion, Fresh Cuts: New Tales from Friday the 13th, The Man Behind the Legacy: Sean S. Cunningham, Lost Tales from Camp Blood: Part 1, The Friday the 13th Chronicles: Part 1 and Secrets Galore Behind the Gore: Tom Savini on Part 1) and the film's theatrical trailer (all video-based extras will be in HD).

And Warner has just set the BBC's Simon Schama's The American Future: A History for release on DVD on 1/20.

Around the Net today, our old friend Andy Patrizio has a good piece at Internet News.com on the recent collapse of electronics retailer Circuit City, though I think he gives me a little too much credit for sinking Divx. He's got a good point, however, about the long term result of that failure. I've often wondering how many DVD consumers simply never regained their loyalty to Circuit City after Divx's demise.

Also today, do you recall that rant I posted a couple weeks back about how the talk of Blu-ray's demise was absurd? Our friend Ben Drawbaugh weighed in on the subject over at Engadget as well, and he's clearly of the same mind. Ben and I were e-mailing back and forth recently, and he made a few additional points about Blu-ray and the notion of downloading that I thought were interesting. First, he noted that while Apple was recently thrilled to announce program-to-date high-def TV series sales of $5 million via iTunes download, Blu-ray sold $17 million worth of titles that same week alone. Ben also sent the following, which made me smile...

"Top ten reasons that prove Hollywood is only playing in the downloads world while focusing its real efforts on Blu-ray.

10 - Movie commercials say "now available on Blu-ray and DVD" never mentions downloads.
9 - You can't rent TV shows from any download service, but you can buy them on disc.
8 - 24 hour rental window.
7 - 30 day rental limit.
6 - Extras only available on discs
5 - Can't rent HD movies on the PC (only on boxes like the 360, Vudu etc).
4 - Pulls previously available movies from the selection.
3 - About a 30 day window between when a title is released on disc and on download services.
2 - Digital copies are now included with many discs.
1 - Can't buy HD movies from any service."


Those are good points all. To them, I'll add the fact that according to VideoScan, Blu-ray now regularly hits as much as 10% of total sales of new release titles. In addition, there are now over 1,000 Blu-ray Disc titles released or scheduled for release according to the DVD Release Report (1,057 to be exact). That's a significant milestone after just two full years of format availability. Let's go further... as Blu-ray player pricing drops below $200 and even $150 this holiday season and into 2009, buying a Blu-ray player will become a no-brainer. Just a couple days ago, I was at the dentist and the hygienist was talking about how her DVD player had just died and she needed to get a new one. She asked about "this Blu-ray thing," and when I told her that she could get a BD player for under $200 and that it would play all her DVDs too, she was sold on the spot. That story is going to be repeated millions of times next year. ANYONE who walks into a Best Buy or a Wal-Mart looking to replace a broken cheap DVD player is going to learn about cheap Blu-ray/DVD players and think, "Why the hell not?" Have I mentioned the fact that Hollywood is being relentless in getting the word about Blu-ray Disc out? You're not going to see that with downloading. Why, you ask? You want the real clincher? The REAL reason why Blu-ray is going to be around a long time, and downloading isn't going to take over for a very long time? It's not just bandwidth, folks, though that's a problem too and will be for a while. No, the real roadblock is profit. Hollywood studios will NEVER be able to sell you a downloaded movie for $29.99 or $39.99. It'll NEVER happen. That would be like telling hardcore gamers that they can't buy games on physical discs anymore, but they still have to pay $60 for the latest, greatest titles. What this means is that downloading - best case - is going to take over the movie rental market, not sales. Any movie fans who want extras beyond just the movie itself, and want to actually own the content rather than continually rent it again and again, are going to stick with physical media. And that means Blu-ray. Anyone who tells you otherwise A) doesn't understand the home video industry or the movie enthusiast market, B) is a downloading advocate, or C) preferred HD-DVD and still feels sour grapes. That's not to say everyone who watches DVDs will make the switch to Blu, but this whole idea that Blu-ray isn't here to stay or is going to remain a super-über-high-end niche product is a load of malarkey. I'm just saying. Ben too. (Thanks again, Ben - great talking with you!)

Finally today, Paramount's The Godfather: The Coppola Restoration Blu-ray won big at last night's High-Def Disc Awards. I was fortunate to serve as a judge for the event. Paramount did pretty well on the night for their Blu-ray work, with Iron Man winning best theatrical BD title and Transformers taking best BD audio. You can find the complete list of winners here. Congrats to all of them.

Well, that was a little more wordy than I expected today's post to be. Whatever. When the Bard calls, you've gotta step up. Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/11/08 - 9:30 PM PST)

Okay... it's a little late in the day, but what the hell: Here's my review of Universal Music's new The Police: Certifiable - Live in Buenos Aires on Blu-ray Disc - it's worth EVERY penny to this Cops fan! And while I'm at it, I might as well throw in my take on Warner's new CG-animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars on Blu-ray too. Both streeted today and are now available (though for U.S. readers, The Police: Certifiable is only available at Best Buy stores). Enjoy!

By the way, on a completely different subject, Paramount just released the first image of the new U.S.S. Enterprise (from J.J. Abrams' forthcoming Star Trek reboot film) over at EW Online. I wish I could have recorded the sound I made when I first saw it. It was something on the order of: WWaaaaahhhaaaaaa??? I don't know, man. I'm hoping I warm to it. It looks like something that outta have a BMW logo on the hood. Take a look for yourself and see what YOU think. I'm just going to sit here and keep mumbling, "Keep an open mind... keep an open mind..." The first full trailer hits theatres on Friday with Quantum of Solace, so we'll get a better sense of things then.

We'll be back with more news and Blu-ray reviews tomorrow. Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/11/08 - 11:45 AM PST)

First of all today, we want to send out a quick shout out to all you veterans out there. Our thanks for your service. And for those of you still in harm's way on active duty, stay safe.

Here at the site today, our own Russell Hammond has just 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, a portion of anything you order through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.

Now then... we promised you specs and cover artwork for Universal's Serenity on Blu-ray Disc (due 12/30). The title will include DTS-HD MA audio, audio commentary with director Joss Whedon, BonusView video commentary with Whedon and members of the cast, deleted and extended scenes with optional commentary and 8 featurettes (Future History: The Story of Earth That Was, What's in a Firefly, Re-Lighting the Firefly, A Filmmaker's Journey, We'll Have a Fruity Oaty Good Time!, Take a Walk on Serenity, The Green Clan and Session 416). You'll also get more new BD-exclusive features, including access to an Alliance Database and U-Control features (the Mr. Universe Compendium, a Digital Tour of Serenity, PiP footage and scene sharing). Here's a look at the cover art for Serenity on Blu-ray, along with the DVD and Blu-ray art for Universal's Death Race: Unrated (due 12/23)...

Serenity (Blu-ray Disc)Death Race: Unrated (Blu-ray Disc)Death Race: Unrated

IGN has reported that director Guillermo del Toro will be doing a live online chat via BD-Live on 11/23 (6 PM PST), accessible via the Blu-ray version of Hellboy II: The Golden Army. You'll find more details here.

Anchor Bay will release Traitor on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 12/19 (SRP $29.98 and $39.98 respectively).

Fox has just set Hit and Run: Unrated for DVD release on 1/13/09 (SRP $26.98). Also coming in January on DVD from Fox is Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia on 1/6 (SRP $34.98). We should also note that Fox and MGM have just officially delayed the Blu-ray Disc release of This is Spinal Tap from 1/20 to likely sometime in March, though the new street date hasn't been announced.

Speaking of Fox, we also have word in The Rumor Mill today on a number of upcoming Blu-ray Disc releases from the studio, as well as a little more on Warner's tentative plans for The Lord of the Rings on the format. Do check it out.

Also today, Lionsgate has announced their December release slate, set to include Rise of the Footsoldier on 12/2, The Man Who Came Back on 12/9 and Wild Country, Dirty Dancing: Official Dance Workout, Denise Austin: Body Burn with Dance and Pilates, Denise Austin: Get Fit Daily Dozen, Kathy Smith: Total Body Lift, American Gladiators: Ultimate Workout, The Biggest Loser: Boot Camp and The Biggest Loser: Weight Loss Yoga all on 12/16. So we guess December is weight loss and work out month at Lionsgate.

You Phillies fans will be thrilled to know that Shout! Factory will be releasing MLB's 2008 World Series Film: Phillies vs. Rays on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 12/16.

Finally, Warner has set Towelhead for release on 12/30, with HBO's Summer Heights High due to follow on DVD on 2/24/09.

Before we go, our friends over at The Home Theater Forum have posted a gallery with lots of great photos from their recent L.A. meet. You'll find cool shots from studio tours and more, so do check it out.

Back later with more, including some reviews. Stay tuned!


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