Afternoon, folks! Boy, we've got some good stuff for you today...
First up, A&E has announced some more details for the upcoming Farscape: The Complete Series Megaset. We now know that it's due to arrive in stores on 11/17 (SRP $149.95). You'll get 25 discs containing all 88 episodes. Seasons 1-3 are in the original 4x3 TV format, while the rest of the series is 16x9. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 for all. Extras will include 29 episode commentaries with the cast and crew, multiple featurettes and documentaries (including In the Beginning: A Look Back with Brian Henson, Making of a Space Opera and Inside Farscape: Save Farscape), multiple video profiles featuring archival clips and cast/crew discussing their characters and roles on Farscape, over 90 minutes of deleted scenes, slideshows and archival photo galleries (including character concepts and promo photos), production design galleries (featuring screenshots, rough drafts and concept slide shows), behind-the-scenes interviews (with Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Anthony Simcoe, Virginia Hey, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Wayne Pygram and others), original TV promos and trailers, and more. It SOUNDS like it's most (of not all) of the previous Starburst content, along with new material as well. We'll try to confirm that. [Editor's Note: THIS JUST IN - we've confirmed with A&E that the set contains ALL the previous Starburst DVD content, PLUS never-before-released material.] In addition to the complete series, you can also purchase all four individual seasons for SRP $44.95 each. Here's a look at the packaging...
One other cool announcement: Severin Films has just announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of the teen T&A classic Screwballs on 8/25. Extras will include newly-recorded audio commentary and an in-depth documentary with the film's cast and crew.
Now let's talk Star Trek (2009) for a second. Thanks to our friend Anthony over at Trek Movie, we've got a picture for you of the Best Buy-exclusive Blu-ray version, which features a set of badass replica Starfleet division pins (as worn by the cast in the film) from QMx! Love it! Here's what the set looks like...
Also today, we've even got a little bit of Star Wars Blu-ray news for you - not the Clone Wars set mind you, but the actual 6-film Saga! Brian Young of Examiner.com interviewed Lucasfilm's Steve Sansweet down at Comic-Con, and he asked about the possibility of the long-awaited "ultimate" Star Wars Saga box set coming to DVD and Blu-ray. Steve says it's definitely coming in the next few years, and work is already underway on the content. You should definitely check out Brian's original story here for the full update on the set.
Finally this morning, thanks for all the kind words about my custom Battlestar Blu-ray packaging (posted yesterday). Yes... I am a crazy fan. I appear to have reached a whole new level of "geekdom" in some readers' eyes! Speaking of Battlestar, SyFy.com has posted the full video of the Battlestar/Caprica panel from Comic-Con here for you all to check out. I love that Eddie Olmos is a Blu-ray fan! You go, brother.
That's all for now. Stay tuned!
We've got a couple more announcements to report today, but first an update on one from yesterday...
We mentioned that Universal is releasing The Claudette Colbert Collection: Universal Backlot Series on DVD on 11/3. We've now learned from the studio that the set will include the films Three-Cornered Moon, The Maid of Salem, I Met Him in Paris, Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, No Time for Love and The Egg and I. Plan accordingly.
Now then... some of you may have heard that Warner Home Video is preparing a Watchmen: Ultimate Collector's Edition for release sometime in December (5-discs, presumably to both DVD and Blu-ray but it's unclear if both formats will be 5 discs). The set will apparently include a whole new cut of the film, which is the Director's Cut with the scenes from Tales of the Black Freighter edited in. The set will also include new commentary with director Zack Snyder and Dave Gibbons, 2.5 hours of additional bonus content including Under the Hood, and the complete Watchmen Motion Comics. The current Watchmen Blu-ray has an insert promoting the release, which also says that WB Insider members (registered here) can get $10 off on the UCE. That's all the details we have available at the moment, but as soon as there's new information and artwork, we'll post it here.
Also today, retail sources tell us that Disney's The Proposal is due on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/13.
Okay, I've got another quick comment on Universal's Battlestar: The Complete Series for you. I've come to a decision about the set's packaging. I really do like what Universal's done with the look of the complete series box, but I didn't like the fact that the discs have no episode listing on them, to make it easier to find any particular ep that you might want to watch. So I decided to create my own custom packaging...
What I did, was to purchase a package of archival CD/DVD binder sleeves to hold the discs. Then, to make sure the printing on the disc didn't stick to the package and also to identify the episodes, I went through the Blu-ray set disc by disc and created inserts for the sleeves that I printed out and trimmed to fit, each with a complete listing of the episodes and extras found on the discs. I even created inserts for the La La Land Records soundtrack CDs, and even some of the DVD-R recorded discs I have (of the various TV specials that aren't found in the set). Then, to hold them all, I found a 3-ring binder. But not just ANY 3-ring binder... the same brand and model they used as props on the set of the series! You can buy the actual screen-used prop binders from my friend Alec Peters over at Propworx (they have several available in their eBay store but they aren't cheap - $250 to $300 each), if you've got the budget and desire for it. What I did, however, was to make a replica. The brand of binder the prop masters used in the show is called Axcess in the U.S. and KEBAergo in Europe, made by a company called Keba in Sweden (you can read more on them here - they're available online with a little searching for about $20 each). A couple of stickers and a quick trim of the binder's corners to match those in the series later, and voila - cheap, more functional packaging! Yeah, I know. I'm a SERIOUS fan. Any old 3-ring binder should suffice. But if you'd like to do what I did with the inserts, I've made available for downloading a zip file of all my printable Blu-ray disc inserts (in widely compatible Word 97-2003 .doc format - if you have the DVD set, you should be able to cut and paste what I did to match your discs - I've also updated my review with the download link). The font I used is Arial Narrow, which is common - you may already have it installed on your computers. Trust me, the inserts make it a LOT easier to find the eps and features you want to watch. Here are a few pictures of the result...
Yeah... you wanna know how a guy ends up running a DVD and Blu-ray news site for more than a decade, and mixing it up in format wars and whatnot? Because he's the kind of guy who goes to the above lengths to make his own custom Blu-ray packaging! You can laugh, but I know there are PLENTY of you guys out there who can relate.
That's just the way I roll, y'all... ;)
One last BSG note: It seems that Patrick Norton over at HD Nation is as excited about the Blu-ray release as I've been - so much so that he mentioned my review of the box set on their latest online show! Thanks to Patrick for that, and also our friend Justin Sluss, who runs HighDefDiscNews.com, for the heads-up. Enjoy the discs guys!
Back tomorrow with more news and some new disc reviews. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks. So, I'm betting a least a few of you came down with a sudden case of Battlestar flu today in order to stay home and enjoy your discs. I'm about 8 episodes into Season One now, and I'll tell you I'm REALLY digging it. We've got a bunch of release news to report today, but first...
Our own Russell Hammond has once again posted an update of the Release Dates & Artwork section, with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon pre-order links. Always, 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 appreciate it.
Now then... in release news today, Fox has set X-Men Origins: Wolverine for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 9/15. The single-disc DVD (SRP $29.98) will include the film, the Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins featurette and Anti-Smoking PSAs. The 2-Disc DVD Special Edition (SRP $34.98) will include that, plus commentary by director Gavin Hood, a second commentary with producers Lauren Shuler Donner and Ralph Winter, 2 more featurettes (The Roots of Wolverine: A Conversation with X-Men creators Stan Lee and Len Wein and Wolverine Unleashed: The Complete Origins), deleted and alternate scenes, the Alternate Tag Scene: Japan and a Digital Copy version of the film. The Blu-ray Disc (SRP $39.99) will include all that, plus 4 additional featurettes (Wolverine Weapon X Mutant Files Featurette: 10 Character Chronicles, The Thrill of the Chase: The Helicopter Chase Sequence, X Connect and On Set With Gavin Hood and Fox Movie Channel Presents: World Premiere), additional deleted scenes with commentary by Hood, an Alternate Memory Erase Sequence, an X-Facts: Trivia Track, and special BD-Live "Live Lookup" technology that allows you to access updated IMDB actor/crew information while watching the film. Here's a look at the cover art for all three versions...
MGM (via Fox) also has Boot Camp: Unrated coming to DVD on 8/25 (SRP $26.98).
Meanwhile, CBS (via Paramount) has set Flashpoint: The First Season on DVD on 10/13, followed by Hawaii Five-0: The Seventh Season, Numb3rs: The Fifth Season and Vegas: The First Season - Volume 1 on 10/20, and Mannix: The Third Season, The Fugitive: Season Three, Volume One and The Guardian: The Complete First Season on 10/27.
Also, Showtime (also Paramount) will release The L Word: The Final Season on 10/20.
Sony has announced a number of new and re-issue DVD releases, including Virtual Sexuality, A Man Called Sledge, Moscow on the Hudson, Hellcats of the Navy, Devil at Four O'Clock, They Came to Cordura, Agnes of God, Big Trouble, Breakout, The Bride, Hangman's Knot, Hanky Panky, The Man Who Loved Women, Someone to Watch Over Me, Mrs. Winterbourne, Sweet Hearts Dance and Murder in Greenwich all for release on 9/1. Also coming on 7/20 are The Freshman, The Long Gray Line, The Owl and the Pussycat and Jakob the Liar.
In terms of Blu-ray, Sony has set Facing the Giants and Fireproof for release on 9/29. Easy Virtue streets on both DVD and Blu-ray on 9/15.
Not done with Sony - the studio has also announced the 1980s classic Night of the Creeps: Director's Cut for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/20. Extras on both will include audio commentary with members of the cast, commentary with writer/director Fred Dekker, deleted scenes, the alternate theatrical ending, a trivia track, 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Birth of the Creeps, Cast of the Creeps, Creating the Creeps, Escape of the Creeps, Legend of the Creeps, Tom Atkins: Man of Action and The 2009 Alamo Drafthouse Cast Reunion), the trailer and a trivia track.
Universal has announced a few new DVD releases, including The Claudette Colbert Collection: Universal Backlot Series (we're not sure yet what specific films are included) on 11/3, a Mamma Mia! The Movie: Gimmie! Gimmie! Gimmie! More DVD Gift Set on 11/10 and Wild Child on 11/17.
Lionsgate has announced their September DVD and Blu-ray slate, which will include Homeboy, Barney: Halloween Party, HIT Favorites: Trick or Treat Tales, Shaun the Sheep: Little Sheep of Horrors and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Season 8 on 9/1, Crank 2: High Voltage (DVD and Blu-ray), Requiem for a Dream (Blu-ray), Thomas & Friends: Hero of the Rails - The Movie and Mad Monster Party: Special Edition on 9/8, Bodyguard: A New Beginning, Four Dragons, Barney: Jungle Friends, Fear Itself and Denise Austin: Best Bun & Leg Shapers on 9/15, and Battle for Terra (DVD and Blu-ray), Care Bears: Bear Buddies, Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, Doodlebops: Where's Moe and Wallace & Gromit: The Complete Collection (DVD and Blu-ray) on 9/22. Here's a little more art...
And here's something that has me REALLY excited... Criterion is releasing one of my all-time favorite films, Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, on DVD and Blu-ray (cat #490 - due 10/20)! Also newly announced for release on both formats is James Ivory's Howard's End (#488 - 10/20) and Mira Nair's Monsoon Wedding (#498 - 10/13). Currently due on DVD only is Costa-Gavras's Z (#491 - 10/27). Here's more cover art...
By the way, we've got one other Comic-Con note: Usually, when you go to the Con and you zombie-walk the dealers room (a process that takes at least 3 or 4 hours), there's always one cool thing you see and want to buy. Some kind of exclusive collectible, a rare graphic novel, what have you. This year's item for me, was (as it happens) created in part by my old friend Mojo (a.k.a. Darth Mojo, as he's known on his blog). It's a set of 17" x 10" 3-D Trek Lenticular Prints, featuring images of the different class of Enterprise starships from Star Trek. You can get them for $15 each from Roddenberry.com here (or $40 for a set of three). Over on Mojo's blog, you can see what they look like in actual 3-D if you have 3-D glasses handy, but keep in mind that the final product is lenticular and they need no glasses. My favorite is the classic shot of the TOS Enterprise firing its phasers. GORGEOUS! Do check them out.
(LATE UPDATE - 7/27/09 - 4:45 PM PDT)
All right... for the second half of our Comic-Con 2009 wrap-up, a few words about our Digital Bits DVD/Blu-ray Producers Panel... or as I introduced it at the show, the "Sorry You Couldn't Get Into Hall H" Panel. You see, as we were planning the panel, we were all getting ready to do our thing as usual. We had our panelists lined up, we got our hall assignment from the Con planners in the schedule... everything was going swimmingly. And then the biggest panel of the weekend got scheduled directly opposite ours: James Cameron's 3-D preview of Avatar. No kidding. (So, no... we DIDN'T get to see the Avatar preview. D'oh!)
Anyway, WTF are you going to do? The show must go on... and it did. I'm pleased to say that it went very well. Actually, I think it was one of our best panels ever. Todd, Jahnke and myself were all on hand, as was Sarah and a few other Bits staffers. Among our panelists were several old friends, including Robert Meyer Burnett (The Hills Run Red, Free Enterprise: The Wrath of Shatner, Superman
Returns... and a mysterious project called Moonami!), Charles de Lauzirika (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood, Blade Runner: The Final Cut, Alien Quadrilogy, Twin Peaks) and Cliff Stephenson (Crank 2: High Voltage, Gamer, Crank, Rambo). New to our panel was Laura Gross (Coraline, 9, Toy Story 2), who was delightful as expected. We'd also planned to have David Naylor (Fringe, Bad Lieutenant) join us, but due to a last-minute schedule conflict he was unable to do so. Thankfully, our old friend Van Ling (Titanic, Terminator 2: Skynet Edition) stepped in. Most of us had gone out for dinner and drinks at the Hard Rock Hotel the night before the panel (and had a great time, it's worth mentioning) so the panel was really just a continuation of those discussions. One of the great things about Comic-Con is that it's a chance to get together with all your friends in the industry and hang out - people you've known for years but rarely get the chance to spend time with, because you're all working too hard the rest of the year. We had a great time.
Our panel was slated to run for an hour, but the way the Con schedule works, you only really have 50 minutes, allowing time for people to get in and out of the room. As our producers had nearly 30 minutes worth of footage to show the audience, we started with that first. Cliff gave us all a preview of his behind-the-scenes work on Crank 2, which included an amusing look at the decidedly "low-budget" cameras used. Laura showed off a couple behind-the-scenes segments from the Coraline Blu-ray (in stores this week). Van revealed that he's helping produce a new documentary DVD about the legendary Bob Burns (called Bob Burns and Friends Present The Halloween Extravaganzas) that he's hoping will be out by the end of this year, and he showed a preview of it. Robert debuted the trailer for Dave Parker's The Hills Run Red (which Robert produced - it's coming to DVD on 9/29), BEFORE its scheduled "world premiere" at an official Warner Con panel the next day. Robert also played a second segment, in which Dave introduced footage showing the actor playing "Babyface" seeing his mask for the first time. Finally, Charlie showed off some great behind-the-scenes video of director Michael Bay on the set of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Bay actually introduced the clip exclusively for our panel, and then proceeded to jokingly scold Charlie for "taking time off to visit Comic-Con when he ought to be BLEEPING finishing the BLEEPING special edition material for my BLEEPING movie." It was pretty funny stuff. Whatever you think of the film itself, the forthcoming DVD/Blu-ray documentary promises to be one of the most honest looks at Bay's directing process yet.
After all the clips, we had about 20 minutes left for audience questions, which included discussion on the Blu-ray format, the unfortunate cover art studios sometimes release for their titles, the trend to offer retail-exclusive versions of DVD and Blu-ray releases, downloading and much more. In terms of upcoming releases that our panelists are working on - stuff that hasn't really been announced yet - I asked Charlie about rumors that he's working on a Blu-ray upgrade of The Alien Quadrilogy box set. He responded by reading a prepared statement (approved by 20th Century Fox) in which he was told "You can say that you're unable to confirm or deny the reports at this time (wink, wink)." (Rest assured, The Alien Anthology Blu-ray box should be out sometime next year.) Robert then asked Charlie about rumors that he recently got hired as the special edition producer for future DVD and Blu-ray versions of James Cameron's Avatar... and he smiled and responded by reading the exact same statement, getting a laugh from the audience! As it happens, Van also announced that he's currently working on a new Skynet Edition of the original The Terminator, which will street on DVD and Blu-ray sometime in 2010.
For those of you who couldn't make it, here are a few pictures that Sarah took during and after the panel...
L to R (Above): Robert Meyer Burnett, Adam Jahnke, Todd Doogan, Charles de Lauzirika,
Bill Hunt, Cliff Stephenson, Laura Gross and Van Ling
You might notice that some of us on the panel were looking a little sun-burned. That's because we had waited in line (with about 7,000 other Con attendees) earlier that morning to see Disney's Hall H previews of Robert Zemeckis' CG-animated A Christmas Carol, Tim Burton's live-action Alice in Wonderland and the long-awaited Tron 2 (now officially called Tron Legacy), all in amazing 3-D! Let me tell you, each of these films looks like it's going to be a blast. First off all, the 3-D effect was pretty spectacular. State of the art for theatrical 3-D has really advanced in recent years. A Christmas Carol looks much more intense and refined than expected - gone are the soul-less CG characters that plagued Polar Express - and Zemeckis himself was on hand to discuss the film. (It's worth noting that he also teased the possibility of a sequel to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) Tim Burton introduced the trailer for his own film, and a surprise appearance was made by Johnny Depp himself, though the latter did very little but walk on stage and wave to the crowd. But the most exciting thing in our minds was the mind-blowing preview for Tron Legacy. The panel for Tron featured the original film's director, the sequel director and much of the new film's cast, which includes the original Flynn himself... Jeff Bridges (looking very Dude). The footage shown included the early test sequence (now re-rendered in full 3-D and featuring the revised title), which you can see here...
Also shown was a great sequence in which Flynn's son visits his father's abandoned Arcade early in the film, and a very cool demo video of production art and stunt test footage. Tron Legacy is set to debut in late 2010, and we REALLY can't wait to see it!
Anyway, I digress. I'd like to say thank you to all those of you who showed up for our Con panel. We hope you had a great time! We'd also like to extend our very special thanks to all our panelists and their support staff (not to mention the studios and talent they're working with) for participating, as always.
Speaking of the panel, one of the questions we often get asked by readers is, why not videotape the panel and show it on The Bits afterwards, so that ALL our readers can enjoy it? Well, the answer is... we've tried to do this a few times. But the problem is always that much of the exclusive footage we show at the panel is cleared by the studios ONLY for use on our panel and ONLY during the event itself. The studios are VERY sensitive about any of the footage showing up online before the street dates. So posting the panel online is really not possible, unfortunately.
In any case, our old friend John Latchem attended our panel this year, and he's posted a great (and nicely comprehensive) report on the event here at Home Media Magazine. It's definitely worth a read. Thanks for the write-up, John!
One last panel comment today: We closed the event with a bit of a sad note. While Charlie and I were waiting to see the Tron panel on Thursday morning, we got word that our friend Paul Prischman had taken a turn for the worst. Paul, as many of you who have been following our Paul's Brain Trust efforts, is a fellow DVD producer, a very dear friend of ours and just an all around great human being, who has been fighting an aggressive brain tumor for the last year or so. As it happens, Paul was hospitalized early Thursday morning with complications. He seems to be doing a little better at the moment (as I post this a few days later), but as I said to the audience at the end of our panel... if any of you would care to send your good thoughts, prayers and general positive vibes his way, we'd surely appreciate it. And Paul and his family could definitely use them. We'll post more updates on Paul soon, rest assured.
Paul, we love you brother. Stay strong and know that we're all thinking about you!
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/27/09 - 1:15 PM PDT)
Afternoon, folks! Comic-Con was a blast and we're still recovering. There was definitely some interesting release news revealed there. More on that in a minute though. First, some site business...
Now then, let's give you a quick round-up of the major DVD and Blu-ray release news from the Con...
First up, Paramount has finally released some cover artwork for the DVD and Blu-ray release of Star Trek (2009 - due on 11/17) that was heavily promoted in their booth on the Con floor. Here's what the 2-disc DVD Special Edition and 3-Disc Blu-ray versions will look like...
By the way, as you can see, we've also included cover art for the studio's Blu-ray release of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut (due on 10/13).
Meanwhile, director Peter Jackson revealed in media interviews for District 9 at the Con that he expects the Extended Cuts of The Lord of the Rings films to arrive on Blu-ray "about a year" after the Theatrical Versions, which street on 11/3 from Warner. This follows the pattern we saw with the previous DVD releases from New Line, and would tentatively mean the Extended Cut Blu-rays will street late next year, likely for the holidays 2010, as part of the build-up for the theatrical release of The Hobbit. You can read a little on this here at Collider. FYI, the story also confirms our own past reports that the eventual Extended Cut Blu-rays will include new bonus material.
In other news, there were lots of rumors floating around the Con floor (as there are every year) that Lucasfilm would use their big panel on Friday (broadcast on G4's Attack of the Show) to finally announce Blu-ray releases of the Star Wars films. Yeah, right. We knew, of course, that was just a lot of B.S., and suspected that all Lucasfilm would do would be to promote the upcoming DVD and Blu-ray release of Star Wars: The Clone Wars - Season One... and that's exactly what happened. On a positive note, the set (due on both formats on 11/3 from Warner) looks like it's going to be pretty cool. More on what the set will include can be found here at Star Wars.com.
Meanwhile, we've reported previously that A&E Home Video is delivering a Farscape: The Complete Series Megaset on DVD in November, and the release was promoted at a special 10th anniversary panel at the con featuring Brian Henson and members of the show's cast. The box set will include every episode, 90 minutes of bonus footage and some 29 episode commentaries, though official details and art have yet to be revealed by A&E. More on the panel itself can be found here at SciFiCool.com.
Also, 20th Century Fox has revealed that its X-Men prequel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, will finally arrive on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 9/15. Official details will be announced next week, and we'll post them all here. You can read more on this at Video Business, in a story on Hollywood's 4th quarter release slate. The piece also reports that Disney and Pixar's Up will street in November, and Warner's Terminator: Salvation is expected to arrive in December.
One more bit of release news: Sony has just officially set Year One for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/6. Rated and Unrated DVD versions will be available (SRP $28.96) as well as an Unrated Blu-ray Disc (SRP $39.95).
Okay, we'll be back in a bit with a report on our own Digital Bits Comic-Con Producers Panel. Stay tuned!
Well... we've got a couple goodies for you this morning, and then we're off to San Diego Comic-Con!
First of all, we're very pleased to bring you Jeff's review of Shout! Factory's new 17-disc G.I. Joe: The Complete Series Collector's Set, which comes in a replica Army footlocker no less! The set is currently only available directly from Shout! online, but will be more widely available in stores later this year. If you're a Greenshirt, the box is pretty darned cool, so do check it out.
Speaking of Shout! Factory the company just announced a DVD release that we hinted at a couple weeks ago in The Rumor Mill: It's Garry Shandling's Show: The Complete Series will arrive on DVD on 10/20. The 16-disc set will include all 72 episodes of the show, along with TONS of new bonus content produced with the participation of Garry Shandling himself. Should be pretty great. We'll post more details when they're available.
Also here at the site today, we've updated our review of Universal's Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set with some better pictures of the packaging, for those many of you who asked us for a better look. Note that the DVD packaging is virtually identical.
In a bit of news from around the Net this morning, Hollywood Reporter is... er, reporting that Sony Pictures is about to ink a deal with AEG Live for the rights to make a film using the high-def rehearsal footage for Michael Jackson's last tour. The plan is to have it out in theatres in time for Halloween, where you know it's going to make hundreds of millions of dollars, and you can bet a DVD and Blu-ray release will follow.
All right... there's a small chance we might be back on Friday with a quick DVD/Blu-ray news update from Comic-Con, but more likely we'll return on Monday with a big news round-up. It's going to directly depend on how "geeked-out" we all are. You know how it is, I'm sure! In the meantime, we hope you all have a great rest of your week (and weekend). And for some of you... we'll see you at the Con!
(LATE UPDATE - 7/21/09 - 1:45 PM PDT)
Okay, we're back this afternoon to update your on our panel at Comic-Con on Thursday...
The Digital Bits' DVD/Blu-ray Producers 2009 panel discussion will be held from 2:30-3:30 PM on Thursday (7/23) in Room 7AB of the San Diego Convention Center. I'll be there (Bill Hunt) to host and moderate, as always, as will The Bits' own Adam Jahnke and Todd Doogan. This year's producer panelists will include a mix of new and familiar faces, among them Robert Meyer Burnett (The Hills Run Red, Free Enterprise: The Wrath of Shatner), Laura Gross (Coraline, 9), Charles de Lauzirika (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood), Van Ling (T2: Skynet Edition, The Terminator: Skynet Edition) and Cliff Stephenson (Crank 2: High Voltage, Gamer). We'll preview great upcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases they're working on, discuss the state of the industry, answer audience questions and more. It should be a great time, so we hope to see you all there. And don't forget, our Digital Bits Comic-Con 2009 T-shirts are now in stock if you're interested!
In addition to our panel, a few of the studios are hosting panels of their own to reveal or discuss specific upcoming DVD and Blu-ray releases. And you can bet that a few of the booths on the dealer/show floor will feature at least some Blu-ray displays. Be sure to check the Comic-Con schedule for the full list of events.
Speaking of which, if you can't make the Con but you have a copy of Warner's Watchmen Blu-ray with a BD-Live connected player, you can watch director Zack Snyder's live commentary session directly from the convention on Saturday, 7/25 (at 9:30 PM Pacific), and you'll have a chance to ask questions of him via online chat. Click here for all the details on how to participate. Should be cool!
By the way, in addition to appearing on our panel, Doogan is going to be working the Adult Swim booth on the con floor (#3351) on Friday (8AM to 2PM) and Saturday (2PM to 8PM). According to Doogan the booth will have, "an exclusive Venture Bros. hoodie, prints, DVD and Blu, Robot Chicken Skate Tour shirts and hoodies for sale, plus free stuff. There will be a hole you stick your arm through and will be given a blind prize. It's going to be a lot of fun." So be sure to stop on by and say hello!
Now then... we have a quick round-up of interesting stories to report, some movie-related and some not...
First, Trek fans will be excited to learn that Film Score Monthly and Screen Archives Entertainment are releasing James Horner's complete soundtrack to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan on CD. The disc features 23 tracks - a whopping 77 minutes worth of music, including much previously unreleased material. (The previous soundtrack release was just 45 minutes in total.) The disc is available RIGHT NOW online only directly from filmscoremonthly.com for just $19.95. Visit their website and you can even listen to clips. Soundtrack fans know that this one is a long-desired holy grail CD release, so it's very cool to see it finally happen.
And just a quick head's up... Warner's Heat and Logan's Run Blu-rays are now available for pre-order on Amazon.com, as is Paramount's new Star Trek (the J.J. Abrams version, though there's still no cover art available).
Now then... here's some OTHER cool stuff...
We surely hope this comes to pass: Actor Russell Crowe is apparently in early negotiations to reprise his role as Captain Jack Aubrey in a sequel to the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Word is that the project would be based at least in part on the 11th entry in the classic Patrick O'Brian series of novels (which I HIGHLY recommend, by the way), The Reverse of the Medal. Man, I would LOVE to see it happen. Fingers crossed. You can read more here at USA Today. Thanks to our old friend Andy Patrizio for the heads-up.
Given the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing yesterday, this is pretty interesting: It seems that Lowry Digital is working with NASA to digitally restore the best available recordings of the television broadcasts from the surface. The project has apparently been underway for about three weeks, and is expected to be finished in September. Preview clips were released last week so the public could see the initial stages of progress. This happened at a press conference in which it was revealed that the original slow-scan recordings NASA made at the time - which would have been far better quality than anything the public had ever seen before, and for which an exhaustive search was conducted - were likely lost when the data tapes were recycled and reused in the late 1970s or early 1980s. An interesting bit of news, however, was the discovery that an engineer at the Parkes facility in Australia actually made test recordings of at least two hours of slow-scan material, just as a oddball side project to see if he could do it. Two tapes were apparently recorded in this way, and they MAY have survived, so the search for these is still on. Botton line: There's still a SMALL hope that some of the original slow-scan footage could resurface. You can read more on this here, see the partially restored footage here, and view the press conference here on YouTube. (The key bit about the Parkes recordings is very near the end.)
Finally, while we're on the topic of space... remember some 15 years ago when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter, and it kind of woke everyone up to the idea that stuff can fall out of the sky and be a major threat to humanity? Well, it's happened again. JPL just released images of what appears to have been ANOTHER major impact on Jupiter yesterday. Is it just me, or is this a little disconcerting? Anyway, you can read more here on NASA's JPL website.
Okay, we'll be back tonight (for tomorrow) with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie, as well as a review of Shout! Factory's G.I. Joe: The Complete Series on DVD. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/21/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Okay... we'll have more later this morning, but first we've got a bit of news, a new column, and some eye candy for you!
First up, this is pretty cool: It seems that Sony's new Blue Thunder Blu-ray Disc release (due on 8/11) includes... wait for it... the film's TRAILER! Could this be the start of a glorious new trend for Sony Blu-ray? Let's hope so. Let the folks over at Sony know you appreciate this and maybe we'll see trailers more often, in addition to previews for other titles. Our thanks to whoever at the studio decided to include the trailer this time. People really do appreciate having them on the disc.
Here at the site today, Adam's just checked in with a new Electric Theatre column featuring a review of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (now in theatres) and Special on DVD. Enjoy!
Also here at the site this morning, we've got the latest update of the Release Dates & Artwork section from Russell, featuring lots of new DVD and Blu-ray cover scans, as well as Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you buy from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we appreciate it.
And while we're talking covers, here's a look at some new DVD and Blu-ray cover art hot off the presses: Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation - Motion Picture Collection on DVD and Blu-ray (due 9/22) and Warner's North by Northwest: 50th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray (11/3)...
We'll be back later with an update on our Comic-Con DVD/Blu-ray Producer's Panel and more. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 7/20/09 - 1:45 PM PDT)
Boy... I guess, given that this is Comic-Con week, the studios wanted to get the jump on their announcement news early, because there's a TON of news to report to you guys today, and almost all of it would quality as pretty major.
First, CBS and Paramount have rolled out the rest of their Star Trek Blu-ray announcements this morning (just as we've been predicting in The Rumor Mill), starting with the Star Trek: The Next Generation Motion Picture Collection on 9/22 on both DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $39.99 and $69.99). The set will include Star Trek: Generations, Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection and Star Trek: Nemesis, plus the exclusive Star Trek: Evolutions bonus disc. Specific extras on each disc will include...
Star Trek: Generations on DVD and Blu-ray will include audio commentary by director David Carson and Manny Coto and 6 featurettes (Next Generation Designer Flashback Andrew Probert, Stellar Cartography on Earth, Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond - Part 1, Trek Roundtable: Generations, Starfleet Academy: Trilithium and Scoring Trek). The Blu-ray will add all the previous DVD extras plus more new material, including an additional commentary by Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, an interactive Library Computer viewing mode, deleted scenes, storyboards, a production gallery, the film's trailers and multiple featurettes (including Production featurettes, Visual Effects Scene Deconstruction featurettes, A Tribute to Matt Jefferies, The Enterprise Lineage, Captain Picard's Family Album and Creating 24th Century Weapons) and the Star Trek I.Q. BD-Live game.
Star Trek: First Contact will include on DVD and Blu-ray will include audio commentary by Damon Lindelof and our friend Anthony Pascale (from Trek Movie) and 6 featurettes (Industrial Light & Magic: The Next Generation, Greetings from the International Space Station, SpaceShipOne's Historic Flight, Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond - Part 2, Trek Roundtable: First Contact and Starfleet Academy: Temporal Vortex). The Blu-ray will again add all the previous DVD features plus more new material, including audio commentary by director and actor Jonathan Frakes, commentary by screenwriters Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore, the interactive Library Computer viewing mode, storyboards, deleted scenes, trailers, multiple featurettes (including Production featurettes, Scene Deconstruction featurettes, The Borg Collective featurettes, Jerry Goldsmith: A Tribute, The Legacy of Zefram Cochrane and First Contact: The Possibilities) and the Star Trek I.Q. BD-Live game.
Star Trek: Insurrection on DVD and Blu-ray will include audio commentary by Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis and 5 featurettes (Westmore's Legacy, Marina Sirtis: The Counselor Is In, Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond - Part 3, Trek Roundtable: Insurrection and Starfleet Academy: The Origins of the Ba'ku and Son'a Conflict). The Blu-ray will add previous DVD features plus more new material, including a Library Computer viewing mode, deleted scenes with intro by Peter Lauritson, storyboards, a photo gallery, trailers, multiple featurettes (Production featurettes, Creating the Illusion featurettes, Westmore's Aliens and Star Trek's Beautiful Alien Women) and the Star Trek I.Q. BD-Live game.
Star Trek: Nemesis on DVD and Blu-ray will include audio commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda and 6 featurettes (Reunion with the Rikers, Today's Tech Tomorrow's Data, Robot Hall of Fame, Brent Spiner: Data and Beyond - Part 4, Trek Roundtable: Nemesis and Starfleet Academy: Thalaron Radiation). The Blu-ray will add previous DVD features plus more new material, including commentary by director Stuart Baird, commentary by producer Rick Berman, the Library Computer viewing mode, deleted scenes with intro by Rick Berman, storyboards, trailers, multiple featurettes (Production featurettes, The Romulan Empire featurettes, A Star Trek Family's Final Journey, A Bold Vision of The Final Frontier and The Enterprise E) and the Star Trek I.Q. BD-Live game.
And the Star Trek: Evolutions bonus disc will include 7 featurettes (The Evolution of the Enterprise, Villains of Star Trek, I Love the Star Trek Movies, Farewell to Star Trek: The Experience, Klingon Encounter, Borg Invasion 4D and Charting the Final Frontier).
Note that Blu-ray audio is Dolby TrueHD 5.1 format, while the DVD is Dolby Digital 5.1 EX. No cover artwork is available yet, but we'll post it as soon as it comes in.
Note that the Star Trek: Original Motion Picture Collection will also be released on DVD on 9/22 (SRP $59.99 - it's already available on Blu-ray). Four of the films will also be available on DVD and Blu-ray individually on 9/22, including Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: First Contact (SRP $12.99 and $24.99).
Not done yet... CBS has also set Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two for Blu-ray release on 9/22 (SRP $79.99). All 26 episodes will be included on 7 discs in full 1080p (full frame) audio with DTS-HD MA 7.1 audio and the original 2.0 mono audio. As with Season One, you'll be able to switch back and forth on the fly between the original broadcast version and the new "remastered" version with new special effects. Nearly all of the original DVD features are included, along with many new features, and the set is "Mobile Blu" enabled, which allows you to use your iPhone as a remote. We'll post more details on this set as they're released.
Still not done yet. Switching gears to our friends over at Sony, the studio has just announced the Blu-ray Disc release of Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal on 9/29 (SRP $27.95). Labyrinth will include The Storytellers PiP viewing mode, audio commentary with Brian Froud and 3 featurettes (Making of Documentary: Inside the Labyrinth, Journey through the Labyrinth: Kingdom of Characters and Journey through the Labyrinth: The Quest for Goblin City). The Dark Crystal will include audio commentary with Brian Froud, a PiP Storyboard Track, deleted scenes, Original Skeksis Language: Test Scenes with Introduction by Screenwriter David O'Dell, 4 featurettes (The Book of Thra: Dark Crystal Collector, The World of The Dark Crystal, Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Light on the Path of Creation and Reflections of the Dark Crystal: Shard of Illusion) and the SkekTek's Crystal Challenge trivia game.
Not even close to done yet! Our friends over at Warner have announced that the North by Northwest: 50th Anniversary Edition will street on 11/3 on both DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $24.98 and $34.99). The Blu-ray will come in exclusive Digibook packaging. Extras will include 2 new documentaries, including The Master's Touch: Hitchcock's Signature Style and North by Northwest: One for the Ages. You'll also get audio commentary by the film's screenwriter, a music-only track, a photo gallery, a trailer gallery, the 2003 TCM documentary Cary Grant: A Class Apart and the Destination Hitchcock: The Making of North by Northwest special hosted by Eva Marie Saint.
Nope... not yet: Warner has also just announced the BD release of Heat, The Negotiator and the classic Logan's Run on 11/3 (SRP $28.99 each). Heat will feature an all-new HD transfer supervised by director Michael Mann himself. Extras will include commentary by Mann, 3 featurettes (The Making of Heat, Pacino and De Niro: The Conversation and Return to the Scene of the Crime), as well as deleted scenes and theatrical trailers. The Negotiator will include 2 featurettes (The Eleventh Hour: Stories from Real-Life Negotiators and On Location: Why Chicago) and the theatrical trailer. Logan's Run will include audio commentary by Michael Anderson, Michael York and Bill Thomas, the A Look Into the 23rd Century featurette and the theatrical trailer.
Okay... we've got one more bit of news... and it's a biggie: Over the weekend, the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun reported word from unnamed sources that "Toshiba will in fact adopt the format it once battled against. Toshiba was aiming to recover from its setback by developing a next-generation technology that would supersede the Blu-ray format, but it changed the policy because the market is growing too big to ignore." We're not going to say we told you so, but... ah, screw it. Yeah, we told you so! Toshiba would be stupid not to release a BD player in time for the holidays. Here's the original link. And here's a good piece on this by Melissa Perenson over at PC World.
Believe it or not, there's MORE announcements to report, but we'll get to them tomorrow. These are the biggies for now. Meanwhile, here's a little cover art from Warner...
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/20/09 - 11:15 AM PDT)
I'll be back with more later this afternoon, but first I wanted to jump in here with a quick reminder that today is the 40th anniversary of man's first landing on the Moon. On July 20th, 1969, Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin descended to the lunar surface, got out and walked around.
And if you tune in to We Choose the Moon.org or this link at NASA in about 1 hour and 30 minutes (there's audio right now if you want to start early), you'll get to hear an audio recording of the actual landing and moon walk "live" in real time as it happened 40 years ago. That is pretty damn cool, let me tell you. You can bet I'll be listening in.
And NASA TV has a live spacewalk up on the space station happening right now - 13 people up in space on board the ISS and Shuttle Endeavour as we speak. Click on this link for NASA TV. The public channel has Apollo 11 celebration events today, while the Live Space Station Video channel is exactly what you think - actual LIVE video from space (when available per tracking).
Back later! Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 7/17/09 - 5:30 PM PDT)
Sorry guys... one last post this week, and it's very sad news to have to report. Veteran CBS journalist Walter Cronkite has died today at the age of 92. Sadly, I fear quality journalism died with him. I just don't have the words to describe how huge this loss is for the profession and how much I respected and already miss the guy. So for those of you who, like me, grew up watching Walter - widely considered to be "The Most Trusted Man in America" back in the day - on the CBS Evening News, and for those of you who never had the privilage, here's at look back...
And that's the way it was. Rest in peace, Walter.
(LATE UPDATE - 7/17/09 - 5 PM PDT)
I've just updated the Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series Blu-ray box set review with some new information. First, we've added instructions for accessing the set's TWO Easter eggs. Second, and more important to many of you, we've confirmed that the set is NOT LOCKED TO REGION A ONLY. One of our sources informed us that it wasn't this morning and sure enough, when we tried the discs in Power DVD 9 playback software set to Regions B and C, they still played just fine. That's good news indeed for some of you international fans of the series. So feel free click here and import away!
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 7/17/09 - 2 PM PDT)
Okay... we've got a follow up on our early post with official specs and details for Star Trek and Battlestar Galactica: The Plan...
Star Trek will street on 11/17 as a single-disc DVD (SRP $29.99), a 2-disc DVD special edition (SRP $39.99) and a 3-disc Blu-ray (SRP $39.99). The single-disc DVD will include film in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director J.J. Abrams, writers Robert Orci and Alex Kurtzman, producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer Bryan Burk, the A New Vision featurette and a gag reel. To this, the 2-disc DVD will add 9 deleted scenes with optional commentary (including Spock Birth, Klingons Take Over Narada, Young Kirk, Johnny and Uncle Frank, Amanda and Sarek Argue After Spock Fights, Prison Interrogation and Breakout, Sarek Gets Amanda, Dorm Room and Kobayashi Maru (original version), Kirk Apologizes to the Green Girl and Sarek Sees Spock), 4 more featurettes (To Boldly Go, Casting, Aliens and Score), a Digital Copy version and DVD-ROM features (including a free XBox 360 game trial for Star Trek: DAC, and weblinks to PC and PlayStation Network free trials). The Blu-ray is another animal entirely, with the film obviously presented in full 1080p with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio. It too will have the film with commentary, and also a BD-Live NASA News feature that will allow you to check for updates on real NASA space missions. That's all on Disc One. Disc Two will include all of the DVD deleted scenes, gag reel and featurettes (all in full HD), plus 5 BD-exclusive featurettes (including Starships, Planets, Props and Costumes, Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek and Gene Roddenberry's Vision). Several of the featurettes will also include exclusive "branching pods" on Blu-ray that will allow you to break out into even more behind-the-scenes material (To Boldly Go features The Shatner Conundrum, Red Shirt Guy, The Green Girl and Trekker Alert!; A New Vision includes Savage Pressure; Starships includes Warp Explained, Paint Job, Bridge Construction Accelerated, The Captain's Chair, Button Acting 101, Shuttle Shuffle and Narada Construction Accelerated; Aliens includes The Alien Paradox, Big-Eyed Girl, Big Bro Quinto, Klingons and Drakoulias Anatomy 101; Planets includes Extra Business and Confidentiality; and Props and Costumes includes Klingon Wardrobe). Still not done: Blu-ray
Disc Two also includes an interactive BD-Java Starfleet Vessel Simulator that allows explore the Enterprise and Narada and their technical details via 360-degree fly-arounds and close-ups. You also get Digital Copy, and as we said earlier the packaging includes a hologram sticker that, if you hold it up to a computer webcam, will allow you to unlock an online website with a 3-D holographic tour of the Enterprise. Pretty damn cool. Says J.J. Abrams in today's press release...
"I cannot wait for fans of Star Trek to check out the home entertainment release of the film. The behind-the-scenes features on the DVD -- and especially the Blu-ray -- give a wonderful look at the crazy hard work and incredible fun that went into making this movie. The cast and crew were truly extraordinary to work with -- watching these special features, you'll see why. And for people who didn't catch Star Trek in the theater, I hope they do now, as Paramount has done an exceptional job with this release; the picture and sound quality are both excellent."
Hell, it sounds pretty damn cool. Count me in! By the way, that pricing info comes from our friends over at Home Media. Interesting that the elaborate DVD and Blu-ray are priced the same. Clearly, the studio is hoping people will choose Blu (and why wouldn't you?).
Now then... Universal has official announced that Battlestar Galactica: The Plan will street on DVD and Blu-ray (as expected) on 10/27 (SRP $26.98 and $39.98 - it will also be available for digital download that day). We believe the SyFy broadcast happens in November, but it hasn't yet been announced. Both the DVD and Blu-ray will feature deleted scenes, commentary with actor/director Edward James Olmos and 4 featurettes (including From Admiral to Director: Edward James Olmos and The Plan, The Cylons of The Plan, The Cylon Attack and Behind The Plan). The Blu-ray will also offer exclusive BD-Live access and an interactive Battlestar Galactica Trivia Game.
Cover art for both Star Trek and The Plan is expected to be available next week, so we'll post it as soon as it comes in. By the way, a LOT of you have been e-mailing to ask whether Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Series on Blu-ray is region-coded. The packaging doesn't specify, but we've got an e-mail into the studio to confirm, so we'll let you know here as soon as they get back to us.
[Editor's Note: We have confirmed that this set is NOT Region A locked - it's ALL REGION.]
In other news today, Home Media is reporting on a Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) report on the current state of the home entertainment business. DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download business combined is down about 3.9% from this time last year, obviously due to the recession, but the good news is that Blu-ray alone is actually up 91% from last year. What's more the DEG notes that even though home entertainment is down almost 4% overall, that's still a pretty minor decline in tough economic times compared to other industries - a sign that the industry is still relatively robust. One of the reasons for this, as we've always said, is that when
times get tough, people tend to stay home more as opposed to going on trips and the like. And when you've got the whole family at home, movie-watching is an obvious entertainment choice.
Okay, that's it for this week. I'm gonna go watch more Galactica Blus. You guys all have a great weekend, and we'll be back on Monday with more news, another review or two, and to tell you all about Comic-Con BD goings-on. See you then!
Now then... the big news this morning, is that Paramount's just officially announced J.J. Abrams' new Star Trek feature film for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 11/17. Available will be a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc DVD special edition and a 3-disc Blu-ray (SRPs for each are still TBA). Extras on the multi-disc versions will include audio commentary with Abrams and his team, scores of deleted scenes and featurettes, a Starfleet Vessel Simulator, BD-Live NASA updates and more. Both the 2-disc DVD and 3-disc Blu-ray will also include a digital copy version of the movie. And the packaging will apparently feature a hologram of some kind that, if you hold it in front of your computer's webcam, will unlock a special website featuring an interactive 3-D holographic tour of the U.S.S. Enterprise. The list of special features we posted in The Rumor Mill a few weeks back is very close to the final, and we expect to have confirmation and cover art in the next few days. We expect full final specs and artwork soon. In the meantime, you can read more here at Variety.
Also today, as expected, Universal has just revealed that Battlestar Galactica: The Plan will street on 10/27. We believe this will be a DVD and Blu-ray release. We expect additional details and artwork shortly.
And Warner has set Ghosts of Girlfriends Past for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/22 (for New Line - SRP $28.98 and $35.99). And remember how we mentioned that Warner is re-issuing the Amadeus: Director's Cut on Blu-ray on 9/15 in standard blue plastic BD case (as opposed to the previously release Digibook)? Turns out they're doing that for Casablanca on Blu-ray as well (which had previously been available only in an expensive UCE box set). SRP for each is $28.99.
Finally this morning, our friends over at Lucasfilm have sent over the Blu-ray Disc cover artwork for Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season One (due 11/3). Here's also the cover art for Fox's 1947 Miracle on 34th Street (10/6) on BD and Universal's Phantasm II on DVD (9/15)...
The set isn't perfect, but I'm pretty pleased with it on the whole. Believe me, these episodes look and sound amazing in 1080p and 5.1 lossless! And the box set delivers nearly everything that was on the previous DVDs, and much new material as well, including several exclusive deleted scenes and no less than THREE extended episodes, including the series finale (with over an hour of unseen footage). There's a good 70 hours of bonus material here in all, so you fans will be kept busy for a LONG time. Hell... I may just have to take the month of August off at this rate!
Kidding. But I would if I could, believe me.
Anyway, enjoy the Blu-ray review! We'll be back tomorrow with more, as usual, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/16/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We've got some major release news to report for you this morning...
First of all, Warner Home Video and Lucasfilm have officially set Star Wars: The Clone Wars - The Complete Season One for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 11/3 (SRP $44.98 and $59.99). All 22 episodes will be included with DTS 5.1 audio (we assume DTS-HD MA on Blu-ray). Seven of the episodes will be presented as "director's cuts," including Rising Malevolence, Shadow of Malevolence, Lair of Grievous, Rookies, Storm Over Ryloth, Innocents of Ryloth and Liberty on Ryloth. Extras will include 22 episodic featurettes taking you behind the scenes on the making of the show with supervising director Dave Filoni and his crew and a 64-page production journal (book) with sketches, production notes and other artwork. The Blu-ray will also include the exclusive Jedi Temple Archives database, featuring "test footage, early concept art, 3-D character and object turnarounds, early animation and much more." Here's a look at the DVD cover art...
As you can see, we've included a look at Paramount's Chinatown: Centennial Collection on DVD (10/6) and Fox's Home Alone 2: Lost in New York on Blu-ray (also 10/6) as well.
As it happens, 20th Century Fox has also set both the 1947 and 1994 versions of the classic holiday tale Miracle on 34th Street for release in separate Blu-ray editions on 10/6.
Finally, our sources tell us that Universal Studios Home Entertainment is expected to announce the DVD and Blu-ray release of Battlestar Galactica: The Plan later this morning. The original movie was directed by series star Edward James Olmos and will air on SyFy in November. We'll post all the details and artwork as soon as they're available.
Be sure to check back for more this afternoon. And don't forget: The Apollo 11 40th anniversary fun (including real time mission coverage) begins over on We Choose the Moon.org in just a few hours, so be sure to take a look.
So fess up: How many of you guys are suffering from lack of sleep this morning for attending Midnight screenings of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night? I have to say, Sarah and I saw the film early yesterday evening at a 7PM preview, and it was pretty darn good. Very enjoyable. The book is one of my favorites in the series, and the movie delivers the gist of it nicely. What was even more pleasing, is that when we emerged from the theatre afterwards, there were just hundreds of kids (and "kids at heart") waiting in multiple (LONG!) lines for the Midnight shows. It's nice to know that youngsters these days still get excited about reading and movies once in a while, you know? It reminded me strongly of sitting in a similar line with a group of my friends back in 1983, playing Trivial Pursuit while waiting many hours to be the first to see Return of the Jedi. Good times!
Speaking of Harry Potter... Warner Home Video seems to have planned new Blu-ray (and possibly DVD) Ultimate Collector's Editions of the first two Harry Potter films: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The studio hasn't officially announced them yet, but Bits reader Jake L. e-mailed late yesterday to alert us that they were available for pre-order on Amazon.com. No street date is listed, but there's an SRP of $49.99 ($34.99 is the final cost on sale). It looks like there may be at least some new bonus content and swag items, but we can't be sure. We'll post more details when we have them. In the meantime, here's a look at the cover art...
As you can see, we've also included the cover art for Universal's newly-announced An American Werewolf in London (9/22), Shaun of the Dead (9/22), Army of Darkness: Screwhead Edition (9/15) and Van Helsing on Blu-ray (also due 9/15). Some are now available on Amazon for pre-order by clicking the links above.
Also this morning, I wanted to alert you all to something really cool that's happening starting this week. Thursday (as in tomorrow) begins the celebration of the 40th anniversary of the flight of Apollo 11 - the first manned mission to the Moon. Forty years ago Thursday, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins blasted off from Kennedy Space Center to begin their landmark space mission, and you're going to be hearing a lot about it in the coming days. Until we get around to curing cancer and Alzheimer's, or ridding the world of nukes (good luck!), landing on the Moon is - in my opinion - still the coolest thing we humans have ever done. The actual 40th anniversary of the landing happens on Monday. Rest assured there will be TV specials and news coverage. But here's one of the coolest things about all this: NASA, the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library are all kicking off very special coverage of the mission via the Internet. Each is going to be offering streaming mission video, audio and interactive features online. You can even follow the flight - as if you were watching and listening LIVE, just like they did back in 1969 - in real time from start to finish! Clicking on the links provided will take you to each of the sites (the JFK Library's We Choose the Moon.org looks particularly cool) and allows you to check out all the action. (You can read more here.) Do yourself a favor and check it out. Better yet, share it with your kids - they might even thank you for it. I've had the pleasure of meeting Buzz Aldrin several times, most recently a couple weeks ago at a book signing here in the O.C., and I was pleased to see how many young kids were there and were interested in spaceflight. Here's a pic of Buzz himself at that event (taken by Sarah)... and standing on the lunar surface 40 years ago (taken by Neil Armstrong)...
Pretty damn cool, I'll tell you. I think it's about time we chose to go back... and on to Mars as well!
Anyway... that's all for now. Enjoy. Stay tuned, folks!
(LATE UPDATE - 7/14/09 - 3 PM PDT)
Many months ago, we predicted that Blu-ray players would almost certainly reach - or even break - the $100 price point in time for the holidays this year. That has now, in fact, happened. CNet and others are reporting that Wal-Mart has recently dropped the price of the Magnavox NB530MGX to just $98, down from an original $168 and recent sale prices of $128. It's only a profile 1.1 (BonusView) player, but that's still a helluva price and we expect the unit will sell fast, if it hasn't already sold out.
Given the long-awaited arrival of such low-priced Blu-ray players, we thought it might be good to offer you a little round-up of the different low-priced BD player options, and whether they're profile 1.1 (which means they can access advanced BD-Java special features, usually called "BonusView") or profile 2.0 (they can access BonusView features plus additional online content via a built-in Ethernet connection to the Internet, usually called "BD-Live" - these players can often also update their own firmware via this connection to provide upgrades and other performance quality improvements). Here's a list of the BD players now available on Amazon.com for $200 or under, ranked by price starting with the lowest (please note that all prices listed below are current as of the date of this post, but are obviously subject to change without notice)...
One other model is intriguing, though it isn't listed above because it's set to be a Wal-Mart exclusive - Vizio's profile 2.0 VBR100. You might recall that we mentioned this player in our CES report back in January. Word is it will arrive exclusively at Wal-Mart stores sometime this month for just $188.
For those of you who wish to jump into Blu-ray fully profile 2.0 ready, there are some good additional options priced at under $300...
We're not endorsing any particular model - we just provide the above for your reference, as a way of seeing what's available and affordable. Of the above models, we only have personal experience with the Panasonic DMP-BD60, which we've found to be an excellent and reliable profile 2.0 player (at $197.95). Note that several of the above models stream additional free and rental video content from YouTube, Pacasa, Amazon VOD, NetFlix and other online services. Samsung in particular has just signed a deal to stream Blockbuster OnDemand content to their HDTVs and BD players. (Note that different manufacturers have deals with different online video services.) As a general rule of thumb, the more established the brand, the better quality, performance and tech/customer support are likely to be, though there are certainly ALWAYS exceptions. We encourage each of you to search out the reviews of fellow enthusiasts on any model you're interested in before you purchase.
For enthusiasts who demand more features of their Blu-ray hardware, and can afford a somewhat higher price point, we'd suggest a look at one of these models (among others)...
Sony BDP-S560 ($349.99 - profile 2.0 plus built-in wireless & "6-sec access") Sony PlayStation 3 80GB ($399.99 - also a next-gen game console, streams additional online video content) Oppo BDP-83 ($499.99 - profile 2.0 plus DVD-A/SACD)
We've been playing with the Oppo over the last week or so here at The Bits, and we're completely blown away by it. We'll post a full review soon. The Sony S560 isn't available until August, but we've seen it in action. Both the S560 and Sony's S360 (available now above for $234.99) both have a "6-second access" feature that allows you to jump right into the content on your favorite discs without the extended load times of other players. The S560 also has a built-in wireless modem - a feature so obviously beneficial that we're surprised more manufacturers haven't adopted it already. Sony's PS3 is obviously a capable next-generation videogame system, and has long been one of the best BD players available. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the price is likely to drop to $299.99 in the next few months.
So as you can see, there are a LOT of good options available if you're looking to jump into Blu-ray for the first time and at a reasonable price. Looking ahead, we strongly suspect that you'll see dramatic sales and deals for Blu-ray players as we get closer to football season, Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. We'd be very surprised if there weren't at least a few more models discounted closer to $100, and you can likely expect a number of great HDTV/BD player combo deals as well, especially as football season begins.
That's all for now. Stay tuned!
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/14/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning everyone! We figured you might like another early post today to enjoy with your coffee, so here you go...
First up here at the site, Dr. Jahnke has posted another great installment of his Electric Theatre, featuring reviews of the L.A. stage production Nevermore, Sacha Baron Cohen as Brüno now in theatres and The Sender on DVD (in his regular Tales from the Queue). Enjoy!
Also today, Russell's just completed the weekly update of the Release Dates and Artwork section here at the site, featuring a look at all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. Don't forget that a portion of anything you buy from Amazon after clicking to them through our links helps to support our efforts here at The Bits and we really appreciate it. So thank you!
Now then... we have a couple of interesting new announcements for you this morning...
Warner has just officially confirmed that they're going to be releasing a trio of animated classics on Blu-ray in time for the holidays - the How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Deluxe Edition, A Charlie Brown Christmas: Deluxe Edition and the Horton Hears a Who!: Deluxe Edition! The street date isn't official yet, but we expect them in late September or early October. [Editor's Note: Warner has informed us that the street date for all three is 10/6 - SRP $29.99 each.] All of the extras on the previous DVD versions will be carried over. We'll have more details soon. In the meantime, here's a look at the cover art...
Speaking of Warner, we've just confirmed that the studio is FINALLY releasing Casablanca on Blu-ray in a standard blue BD case without all the UCE box swag! Look for it on 9/15 (SRP $28.99). Let's hope this becomes a trend, because we hear from a LOT of you guys that you don't always want the full Ultimate Collector's Edition box - you just want the movie disc. Sometimes, us too.
In other news, MGM has set Fame: Season One & Two for DVD release on 9/15 (SRP $39.98) as well. Each season comes in its own case with a slipcover to hold both together.
(LATE UPDATE - 7/13/09 - 6:30 AM PDT)
Busy morning! We've got a BUNCH more catalog DVD and Blu-ray announcements to report for you today, so hang on to your coffee...
Here's a great one: Universal has just set John Landis' An American Werewolf in London: Full Moon Edition for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/15 (SRP $19.98 and $26.98). The Blu-ray is a loaded BD-50, while the DVD is a 2-disc set. Extras will include two completely new bonus features: The 100-minute Beware the Moon retrospective documentary (featuring Landis and Rick Baker) and the I Walked with a Werewolf featurette. You'll also get the previously released features, including audio commentary with cast members David Naughton and Griffin Dunne, 4 featurettes (Making An American Werewolf in London: An Original Featurette, An Interview with John Landis, Make-up Artist Rick Baker on An American Werewolf in London and Casting of the Hand), outtakes, storyboards and a photo montage. The Blu-ray will also feature BD-Live access. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 on DVD and DTS-HD MA 5.1 on Blu-ray.
Cool? Well, here's another good DVD and Blu-ray announcement from Universal... the Army of Darkness: Screwhead Edition streets on 9/15 as well (SRP $19.98 and $26.98). Both versions include the Creating the Deadites featurette, an alternate ending and the film's theatrical trailer. The Blu-ray will also include BD-Live access. Again, audio is Dolby Digital 5.1 on DVD and DTS-HD MA 5.1 on Blu-ray.
Guess what else? Universal will release Van Helsing on Blu-ray on 9/15 too (SRP $26.98). Extras will include commentary with director Stephen Sommers and editor/producer Bob Ducsay, a second commentary with Richard Roxburgh, Shuler Henley and Will Kemp, 6 featurettes (Van Helsing: The Story, The Life, The Legend, Bringing the Monsters to Life, The Music of Van Helsing, Dracula's Liar is Transformed, The Art of Van Helsing and The Masquerade Ball Scene "Unmasked"), the You Are In The Movie! and Track the Adventure interactive viewing options, bloopers, "Monster" eggs, D-Box enhancement and BD-Live access. Audio is DTS-HD MA 5.1.
The studio has also confirmed what we already suspected... that Shaun of the Dead will arrive on Blu-ray on 9/22, the same day as Hot Fuzz (as previously announced).
We've already mentioned this before, but Universal will finally release Phantasm II on 9/15 too, though on DVD only (SRP $19.98). The only extras is a theatrical trailer.
And for those of you interested in the studio's new The Wolf Man: Special Edition - Universal Legacy Series DVD release due on 9/15 (still DVD only, SRP $26.98), extras on the 2-disc set will include commentary with Tom Weaver, The Wolf Man Archives, production notes, 5 featurettes (Monster by Moonlight, The Wolf Man: From Ancient Curse to Modern Myth, Pure in Heart: The Life and Legacy of Lon Chaney Jr., He Who Made Monsters: The Life and Art of Jack Pierce and Universal Horror) and the film's trailer.
Not done yet! Paramount has started revealing its October release slate today (including CBS, MTV and Comedy Central titles), and among the more interesting things you can expect are a Chinatown: Paramount Centennial Collection, Medium: The Fifth Season, Tales from the Darkside: The Second Season, The Hills: Season Five - Part One and The National Parks: America's Best Idea (for PBS - DVD and Blu-ray) on 10/6, followed by Flashpoint: The First Season, Girlfriends: The Seventh Season, Jackass: The Lost Tapes, Nick Swardson: Seriously, Who Farted? and (as reported in The Rumor Mill) South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut on Blu-ray on 10/13. Chinatown is DVD only at the moment, but sources tell us it's likely coming to Blu-ray next year.
Meanwhile, Sony has set a number of new DVD only titles for release on 9/22, including Six: The Mark Unleashed, O'Horten, Mercy Streets, The Mr. Men Show: Season 1, Volume 2 - Little Miss Sunshine Presents: Fun in the Sun! and The Mr. Men Show: Season 1, Volume 4 - Mr. Tickle Presents: Tickle Time Around Town!. We're not even sure what those last two are, but there you go.
Whew! That's a lotta titles for one morning. Guess the studios were saving up for this week. Stay tuned...!
(EARLY UPDATE - 7/13/09 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning, folks! We've got a few early announcements for you today...
First up, Phase 4 Films has set Matt Tyrnauer's fashion film Valentino: The Last Emperor for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 9/8.
Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has set the horror tale Grace for DVD and Blu-ray release on 8/15 (SRP $26.97 and $34.97), followed by Sunshine Cleaning on DVD and Blu-ray on 8/25 (SRP $29.98 and $39.98).
Meanwhile, Starz has set Crash: The Complete First Season, starring Dennis Hopper, for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/15 (SRP $59.97 and $79.97). All 13 episodes will be included, along with alternate endings, featurettes and more.
Warner Home Video has set the newly-animated A Miser Brother's Christmas: Deluxe Edition for DVD release on 10/6 (SRP $19.98), starring the Rankin Bass classic characters Heat Miser and Snow Miser.
Warner has also announced a number of new TV, direct-to-video and catalog Blu-ray releases, including Smallville: The Complete Eighth Season (also on DVD) on 8/25, Supernatural: The Complete Fourth Season (also on DVD) on 9/1, Set it Off, Sphere and Snakes on a Plane (on 9/8, for New Line), Marcus Nispel's Texas Chainsaw Massacre (for New Line) and Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (also on DVD) on 9/29, and finally The Number 23 (for New Line) on 10/6.
Here at the site today, we've kicked off a pair of new Giveaways, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Universal's The Unborn on DVD and, thanks to our friend Stacey Spears, the Spears and Munsil High-Definition Benchmark on Blu-ray. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, July 19th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
First of all, Sarah wanted you all to know that our Comic-Con 2009 T-Shirts are now in stock and they look great! In fact, I'm wearing mine right now. She's already started shipping them out to those who pre-ordered. If you're interested, click here to get one for yourself (starting at just $11.99 each). Here's what the printing looks like...
Now then, in announcement news today, Warner Home Video has set the I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!: Deluxe Edition for DVD release on 10/6 (SRP $19.98).
And here's something cool: Universal has finally set the Hot Fuzz: Ultimate Edition for Blu-ray Disc release on 9/22 (SRP $26.98). Extras will include 5 audio commentaries, deleted scenes, outtakes, storyboards, photo galleries, a storyboard gallery, video blogs, behind-the-scenes featurettes (including The Evidence Room, Forensic, Hearsay: Plot Holes & Comparisons, Falsified: Dead Right, The Fuzzball Rally: Uncut, The Man Who Would Be Fuzz, Hot Funk and Danny's Notebook: The Other Side), trailers, the U-Control Fuzz-o-Meter, D-Box enhancement and BD-Live options. It hasn't yet been officially announced yet, but we believe that Shaun of the Dead will arrive on Blu-ray on 9/22 as well.
Also today, S'More Entertainment is releasing a Cagney & Lacey: The Menopause Years Collection box set for DVD release on 9/29 (SRP $39.95). No, I'm not kidding - that's what it's called. The 4-disc set will include 4 feature-length TV movies that were aired after the conclusion of the series, including Cagney & Lacey: The Return (1994), Cagney & Lacey: Together Again (1995), Cagney & Lacey: The View Through the Glass Ceiling (1995) and Cagney & Lacey: True Convictions (1996).
Severin Films will re-release the original Inglorious Bastards on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 7/28. The film will be fully restored and will come with the A Conversation With Quentin Tarantino & Enzo Castellari featurette as well as other features. This is obviously timed to coincide with the theatrical debut of director Quentin Tarantino's new take on the premise (though don't call it a remake!), which arrives next month.
A&E has set a number of History Channel titles for release on 8/25, including How Bruce Lee Changed the World, Art of War, How the Earth Was Made: The Complete Season One (DVD and Blu-ray), Gangland: The Complete Season Four, Battle B.C.: The Complete Season One and Ultimate Collections: World War II - The War in Europe and The Pacific.
Sony has set Sugar for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 9/1.
Our friends over at Home Media and Trek Movie have confirmed our Rumor Mill report that CBS will release Star Trek: The Original Series - Season Two on Blu-ray Disc on 9/22. Note that CBS and Paramount will have a major presence (and additional Trek DVD/Blu-ray announcements) at Comic-Con, so watch for additional details later this month.
And Shout! Factory has set Adam 12: Season Three and Designing Women: The Complete Second Season for DVD release on 8/11, followed by Simon & Simon: Season Three on 8/18.
Finally today, speaking of Shout! Factory, we've got a nice surprise for you today: Our own Jeff Kleist has just gotten his hands on Shout!'s forthcoming (and long awaited) 16-disc Transformers: The Complete Series - Matrix of Leadership Edition box set, and he's got a full review for you to close out the week! The set is currently only available at this site directly from Shout! (via mail order - shipping starts next week, SRP $140), but will be available more widely in stores later this year.
We'll leave you with a little more new cover artwork... Universal's Hot Fuzz: Ultimate Edition, as well as Lionsgate's Chaos and The Ninth Gate (both due 8/11), all on Blu-ray...