Morning, folks! Well, we've got some pretty big release news to talk about this morning, so let's get right to it...
We told you last week that Warner Home Video was getting close to making an official announcement on the long-awaited release of The Lord of the Rings Trilogy on Blu-ray, and now they've finally gone and done it. Their 9-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Blu-ray box set will finally arrive in stores on 4/6/2010 (SRP $99.98 - available for pre-order on Amazon NOW for just $69.99), obviously on their New Line label. As we've reported previously, the box set will contain only the theatrical versions of the three films. Per Warner's press release "Extended versions of the films will be released at a later date on Blu-ray Disc." Our own sources tell us that the extended cuts are being held back at director Peter Jackson's request so that he can prepare more elaborate Blu-ray releases of those for debut closer to the theatrical and home video release of the two Hobbit films (now due in 2011 and 2012).
For this initial release, the transfers will present the films in 1080p HD video (VC-1 codec), in the correct widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. English audio will be present in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 format, along with Dolby Surround, along with subtitles in English, English SDH, French and Spanish. There will be 3 BD discs (BD-50s, containing the movies) and 3 standard DVD discs (containing legacy extras). The set will also contain 3 additional DVDs with Digital Copy versions of each film. They'll come delivered in a multi-disc Elite package set inside a premium rigid slipcase.
The good news for fans is that Warner's new Blu-ray release is a near-exact port of New Line's original 2-disc DVD Theatrical Edition releases, so you'll be able to safely sell the DVDs (see our previous reviews here, here and here) and not worry about losing any content. Essentially, the only difference is that the original videogame preview trailers (for EA's The Two Towers, The Return of the King and The Battle for Middle-earth Continues games) have been replaced by HD trailers for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment's forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest videogame. That and, of course, the new editions have HD-upgraded content and Digital Copy. To break down the specific extras disc by disc, here's what you'll get...
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Disc One (Blu-ray) - the Theatrical Edition film (HD), both teaser trailers and the final theatrical trailer (HD) and The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest videogame trailer (HD)
Disc Two (DVD) - 3 behind-the-scenes specials/documentaries (Welcome to Middle Earth, Quest for the Ring and A Passage to Middle Earth), 15 Lord of the Rings.net featurettes, 6 TV spots, Enya's May it Be music video, Special Extended DVD Edition preview and The Two Towers film preview
Disc Three (DVD) -
Digital Copy version of the film
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Disc One (Blu-ray) - the Theatrical Edition film (HD), the teaser and theatrical trailer (HD) and The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest videogame trailer (HD)
Disc Two (DVD) - 2 behind-the-scenes specials/documentaries (On the Set - The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return to Middle Earth), Sean Astin's The Long and Short of It short film, The Making of The Long and Short of It featurette, 8 Lord of the Rings.net featurettes, 16 TV spots, Emiliana Torrini's Gollum's Song music video, Special Extended DVD Edition preview and The Return of the King film preview
Disc Three (DVD) - Digital Copy version of the film
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King
Disc One (Blu-ray) - the Theatrical Edition film (HD), both theatrical trailers (HD), the Lord of the Rings Trilogy "supertrailer" (HD), Special Extended DVD Edition preview (HD) and The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest videogame trailer (HD)
Disc Two (DVD) - 3 documentaries (The Quest Fulfilled: A Director's Vision, A Filmmaker's Journey: Making The Return of the King and National Geographic Special - The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King), 6 Lord of the Rings.net featurettes and 13 TV spots
Disc Three (DVD) - Digital Copy version of the film
Note that all of the Blu-ray Discs will also feature BD-Live connectivity to online content (TBA). Here's a look at the packaging, just as we first saw it last year (click on the cover to visit Amazon's pre-order page)...
But that's not all... for those who enjoyed Ralph Bakshi's animated adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, that film will ALSO arrive on Blu-ray Disc format on 4/13/10 (SRP still TBA). This will be a new Deluxe Edition release that will include remixed 5.1 audio and newly-created bonus material.
So there you go: The Lord of the Rings on Blu-ray at last! Now if we can just get George Lucas to roll out the Star Wars films on Blu-ray in 2010, we'll really be in business.
Also here at the site today, we have a cool update for you on a MAJOR Blu-ray release set for sometime in 2010 - Fox's Alien Anthology. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill this morning, so do check it out.
Okay, we've got some cool stuff to report for you today to close out the week...
First of all, for those of you who have been eagerly awaiting Magnolia's revised U.S. Blu-ray version of Let the Right One In, with the English (Theatrical) subtitles instead of the mediocre translation on the original BD release, we have our first official sighting. Bits reader Mike L. just found a copy at a Barnes and Noble store in Evansville, Indiana, and he was kind enough to take pix of the packaging to prove it...
So it looks like the disc is finally out there. We'll let you know when we can confirm that Amazon has the fixed stock. And no, we don't know of any exchange program with the studio (but if we can get a response from them we'll let you know). Thanks Mike!
In other news today, Disney has sent word to retailers that their Toy Story: Special Edition and a Toy Story 2: Special Edition will finally arrive as Blu-ray Disc + DVD Combo Packs on 3/23 (SRP $39.99 each). There's no official word yet on the extras, but we think it's reasonable to assume that at least come of the previous DVD special features will carry over. We also know that there will be all new bonus features exclusive to Blu-ray, and that each will include exclusive sneak previews of Toy Story 3 (due in theatres on 6/18). Toy Story will include The Story of Toy Story 3 featurette, while Toy Story 2 will include Meet the Characters of Toy Story 3. Single-disc DVD versions of each film will also be available on 5/18 (SRP $29.99). Here's what the temp packaging looks like (we'll post the final art when available if it changes)...
Disney is also working on new 2-disc DVD special editions of Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro and KiKi's Delivery Service, for release on 3/2 (SRP $29.99 each), timed to coincide with the DVD and Blu-ray + DVD release of Miyazaki's Ponyo also due on 3/2 (SRP $29.99 and $39.99). The discs will include new The World of Ghibli special features that explore the studio's animated creations (Enter the Lands) and take you behind the scenes at the studio (appropriately titled Behind the Studio) with new documentaries and interviews with Miyazaki himself. Sadly, these will not be available on Blu-ray, at least for now, which we think is a huge shame (and a missed opportunity). We know a LOT of people who would love to own those earlier films in HD, including ourselves. Here's what the temp cover art looks like on those (again, we'll post the final art when available). They're now available for pre-order on Amazon.com by clicking on the links...
Speaking of Ponyo, the Blu-ray + DVD version will include more The World of Ghibli features (also including Enter the Lands and Behind the Studio), along with a Meet Ponyo introduction by the producers, and a storyboard presentation of the entire movie! Pretty cool. Here's the cover art for that (they're also now available for pre-order on Amazon)...
Also today, we have word that Fox's 4-disc DVD release of Defying Gravity (due 1/19, SRP $49.98) will not only include all 13 episodes (5 of which were never broadcast in the U.S.), but also 29 deleted scenes, the Mission Accomplished: A Look at Defying Gravity featurette and a photo slide show (containing images on the spacecraft design, set design, costume and prop design, production graphics and promotional photography). I've actually seen all 13 episodes, and I think it's a real shame this show never took off. Most people - even science fiction fans - never gave it a chance, and I'll tell you it's a helluva lot better than anyone gave it credit for. Especially those last few episode - that obviously never aired on ABC - were really quite good. I only wish this was going to be available on Blu-ray too.
Around the Net today, Home Media is reporting that Sony's BD-ready PlayStation 3 recorded its third best month of sales ever in the way of its recent price cut and the Black Friday sales push.
Digital Trends has a good story up from a couple weeks ago on what media market experts are now saying about the Blu-ray format - specifically that it's here to stay and that its future is tied to another key media product: HDTVs. Haven't we been saying that for like 3 or 4 years now? ;)
We have word from Bits reader Drew S. that our old friends over at Original Trilogy.com have a new petition going to get the original versions of the Star Wars films preserved on Blu-ray. Any of you remember how, way back in the day, we were all wrapped up on that Star Wars on DVD Campaign effort? Original Trilogy.com was born as part of that, so what the hell - go check 'em out and add your John Hancock to the petition. I have a sneaking suspicion that we're going to hear a LOT more about the Star Wars films hitting Blu-ray in 2010. In the meantime, thanks to Drew for the heads-up.
And finally... for those of you who have been following the hype building up to the theatrical debut of James Cameron's 3-D Avatar next weekend, here's something cool: The early reviews have finally started to break... and damned if they aren't overwhelmingly positive, even from critics who had previously been quite skeptical. Some of them are even full-on raves. Maybe this little giant
blue Smurf film is a good'un after all. Guess I'll have to check it out.
Okay, that's all for another week. Have a great weekend. And you might want to check back in with us on Monday morning. EARLY. I'm just saying...
Sorry for the lack of an update yesterday. It's been pretty nutty around here the last couple of days. While we're hard at work on more reviews here at The Bits - including a big new review series that we'll be introducing next week - today's post is going to be a catch-up on the latest release news. So let's get started...
MGM and Fox have set their remake of Fame for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/12 (SRP $29.98 and $39.99). Both will include the theatrical and 15-minute longer extended cuts of the film, deleted scenes a music video, character profiles, and 2 featurettes (Fame National Talent Search Finalist and The Dances of Fame). The Blu-ray will add a Digital Copy.
Fox has also officially confirmed the Blu-ray release of The Last King of Scotland, Walk the Line and To Live and Die in L.A. on 2/2. The Last King of Scotland (SRP $29.99) will include 9 deleted scenes, the Fox Movie Channel presents Casting Session special and a theatrical trailer. To Live and Die in L.A. (SRP $24.99) will include the film only on Blu-ray as well as a DVD disc containing the film, deleted scene and alternate ending featurettes, commentary with director William Friedkin, a photo gallery and the Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A. documentary. And Walk the Line (SRP $29.99) will include commentary by director James Mangold, 10 deleted scenes with optional commentary, extended musical sequences and 5 featurettes (Rock and Roll Ruby, Cocaine Blues, Folsom, Cash and the Comeback, Celebrating the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line and Ring of Fire: The
Passion of Johnny and June).
And Fox will also release Kendra: The Complete First Season on DVD on 1/5 (SRP $22.98).
Also on 1/12, Sony and Affirm Films will release The Moment After and The Theory of Everything on DVD only (SRP $14.94 each).
Sony has also set Maid in Manhattan and Mona Lisa Smile for Blu-ray release on 2/2.
Meanwhile, Vivendi Entertainment will release The Circuit and Iron Man: Armored Adventures - Volume 2 on DVD on 1/5, followed by Big Fan and Deep in the Valley on 1/12, and SyFy's Phantom Racer on 2/16.
E1 Entertainment will release Departures, Ian McKellen: Acting Shakespeare, The Whitest Kids U'Know: The Complete Second Season - Uncut and Uncensored, Tru Loved, Doktor Faustus, The Magic Mountain and In Praise of Older Women on DVD only on 1/12.
Indican Pictures is releasing Re-Generation on DVD on 1/12. The film, directed by Anais Granofsky, is billed as "a mix of the Naked Lunch and Outland, or Twilight meets Blade Runner." Interesting.
Lionsgate has announced the DVD (with theatrical & director's cuts) and Blu-ray (director's cut only) release of SAW VI on 1/26, followed by The Wraith: Special Edition on DVD on 3/2.
Have I mentioned that I love Shout! Factory lately? My doorbell rang just a few minutes ago, and what do I find waiting for me via UPS? New DVD editions of Kingdom of the Spiders (yes, the William Shatner cult classic) and Robert Altman's Streamers, which I didn't even know were coming! Spiders includes a new interview with Shatner, the Jim Brockett: Spider Wrangler featurette, audio commentary with director John "Bud" Carlos (and many more members of the crew), rare behind-the-scenes footage, a poster gallery and a trailer. Streamers includes the A Look Back at Streamers featurette. Both street on 1/19 (SRP $19.99 for Spiders and $24.99 for Streamers). Nice.
Speaking of Shout! Factory, the company is also debuting Small Wonder: The Complete First Season on DVD on 2/16 (SRP $34.99). The 4-disc set will include all 24 first season episodes plus cast commentaries and more.
Moving on, IFC Films has set Passing Strange: The Movie, Goliath, Superheroes, The Appeared and A L'Aventure for DVD release on 1/12.
New Video and Arthouse have Herb & Dorothy streeting on DVD on 12/15.
Docurama Films delivers Know Your Mushrooms on DVD the same day.
Anchor Bay Entertainment has set Falling Up for DVD release on 1/5 (SRP $26.97), followed by Dante's Inferno: An Animated Epic on both DVD and Blu-ray on 2/9.
Here's something I'm pretty excited about: A&E will release the History Channel's WWII in HD on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/26 (SRP $29.95 and $39.95). I've watched several of the episodes in HD, and it's pretty compelling to see all of the rare, newly-discovered color footage. I sure wish PBS would release Ken Burns' The War on Blu-ray as well.
In addition, A&E will release the History Channel's Pawn Stars: Season One, JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America, The Kennedy Assassination: 24 Hours After and Cowboys & Outlaws on DVD only on 1/26.
Paramount will release the direct-to-DVD The Penguins of Madagascar: Operation DVD Premiere on 2/9 (SRP under $16). Yes, that's what it's called. I just report this stuff.
Pathfinder is releasing the Jump: A Frogumentary documentary (on the fascinating sport of Frog Jumping) on DVD on 2/9. Yeah, I'll bite. I'd watch that. That's just weird enough to be interesting.
Infinity Entertainment will debut Route 66: Complete Third Season on DVD on 1/10 (SRP $49.98).
And NeoFlix will release The Good Soldier documentary on DVD on 1/12.
We'll leave you today with a look at the Sony's DVD and Blu-ray versions of Zombieland (due 2/2), as well as Pathfinder's Jump: A Frogumentary on DVD...
Okay... we've got a few interesting things for you today...
We'll have more news for you tomorrow, but there's confirmation today that Best Buy is going to have an exclusive on Warner and New Line's Boogie Nights on Blu-ray for at least a few weeks (similar to their recent exclusive version of WHV's The Green Mile on BD). It will be available at your local Best Buy store on 12/15 and will eventually be available at all retailers in early 2010. You can see it on the Best Buy website here.
Also today, our own Dr. Adam Jahnke has turned in his 100th installment of the Electric Theatre, this time featuring his thoughts on Up In The Air, The Road and more! On behalf of all of us here at The Bits, we offer this fitting visual tribute...
And finally today, our own Russell Hammond has updated our Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans, and Amazon.com pre-order links. As ever, a small 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 greatly appreciate it. ;)
Have yourselves a merry little Tuesday evening, folks, and we'll see you back here tomorrow!
Good afternoon, everyone!
Okay... first up today, we've got two new Blu-ray Disc reviews for you from our own Barrie Maxwell: Sony's The Mask of Zorro and Image's Franklyn. Do check them out.
Also today, I've updated my review of the two new Harry Potter: Ultimate Editions on Blu-ray with comments on how they compare, A/V quality-wise, with the previous Blu-ray versions.
Elsewhere here at the site today, we've kicked off two new Giveaways, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Nick's SpongeBob: Season 6, Volume 1 and Universal's Public Enemies on DVD. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, December 20th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
In news today, Sony has just officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of a great little gem - Zombieland. The title will street on 2/2 (SRP $19.95 and $26.95). Extras will include audio commentary (with stars Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg, director Ruben Fleischer and writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese), a pair of featurettes (In Search of Zombieland and Zombieland is Your Land), deleted scenes, visual effects progressions, PS3 wallpaper and promo trailers. The Blu-ray will also include the Beneath the Graveyard PiP viewing mode and movieIQ.
Also newly announced by Sony is the DVD and Blu-ray release of Black Dynamite on 2/16, along with The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume 6 and The Spectacular Spider-Man: Volume 7 on DVD that same day.
And here's something pretty cool: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has created a whole mess of coupons that are good for discounts on upcoming Blu-ray titles from the studio. You can get $10 off the The Mel Brooks Collection, the X-Men Trilogy, the Die Hard Collection, Rocky: The Undisputed Collection and the Alien Quadrilogy (when they're eventually released), and $3 off Family Guy: Something, Something, Something, Dark Side, the Fight Club: 10th Anniversary Edition, Miracle on 34th Street, Home Alone, Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, I, Robot, Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, Alien vs. Predator, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, A Very Sunny Christmas, My Cousin Vinny, Patton, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Kingdom of Heaven, Jumper, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Hitman and Man on Fire. There are also discounts good on a couple of standard DVD box sets as well. All you need to do is check your local newspaper starting on 12/6, OR go to the smartsource.com website and print them out. The coupons should be good at most major retailers. It looks like only the $3 ones are up now, but keep checking back for all of them. Nothing like saving a little money when you buy Blu-rays, right? More on all this is available at Home Media.
We'll leave you today with more new Blu-ray cover art... here's Universal's Atonement, Pride & Prejudice (both 1/26) and Love Happens (2/2)...
Evening, folks! Sorry this post is so late, but I've just finished working on a pair of Blu-ray reviews that took a while to sort though, given all of the content included on each title.
And that's all for today. There's not much news to report, and what there is we'll catch you all up on next week. So in the meantime, enjoy the reviews, have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
Boy, we've sure been hearing an earful about Universal's flipper disc announcement over the last 24 hours. After we posted the news (and my own thoughts) yesterday afternoon, e-mails from readers started pouring in. It seems like many of you share my lack of enthusiasm. It's funny - I actually waited to comment until a full day after the news was first announced on Tuesday, just to get a sense of the early reaction of our readers. I certainly knew how I felt about the whole flipper idea, but I wanted to see if you readers shared the same reaction. Turns out that you do, and pretty overwhelmingly. The most positive thing I can say about enthusiast/reader reaction to the Universal news is that it's been... ahem, "mixed". Like I said, I'll eat my own words if it turns out that all these discs work great, and Blu-ray fans have no problems with them. But given the issues BD fans are already dealing with in terms of disc/player compatibility problems and the need for constant firmware updates, I can't see how Universal's new plan is going to make things any easier for consumers. We'll see.
We're working on more disc reviews today, but we do have a couple of quick announcements for you this afternoon...
First, Warner has set Ricky Gervais' The Invention of Lying for release on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 1/19 (SRP $27.87 and $35.99). Extras are set to include 4 featurettes (More Laughter: Corpsing and Outtakes, Prequel: The Dawn of Lying, Meet Karl Pilkington and A Truly "Honest" Making of Featurette with Ricky Gervais), Ricky and Matt's Video Podcasts, deleted scenes and a Digital Copy version. I missed this one in theatres and it looked funny, so I can't wait to give it a spin on disc.
And Anchor Bay has set a number of titles for release in the next few weeks, including Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (Blu-ray), Lost Treasures of the Grand Canyon (Blu-ray), Lower Learning (Blu-ray), Red Mist (Blu-ray), Sands of Oblivion (Blu-ray), Walled In (Blu-ray) and While She Was Out (Blu-ray) on 12/8, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (DVD and Blu-ray), Flowers in the Attic (DVD), Ghost Machine (DVD) and The Philadelphia Experiment (DVD) on 12/22, and Fallin Up (DVD) on 1/5. Of the Blu-ray specific releases, I believe all are already available on standard DVD.
Okay... we've got two more Blu-ray Disc reviews for you today. I've checked out Warner's new Heat BD for you all, and Jeff's given Bandai Home Entertainment's Escaflowne: The Movie a review. Both discs are now available, so enjoy!
In other news today, and speaking of Blu-ray, Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced something I... well, I'm afraid I'm not particularly excited about. Presumably in an effort to reduce the number of SKUs they have to prepare and ship, they've announced that they've developed new Blu-ray "flipper" discs, which have Blu-ray content on one side and standard DVD content on the other. In other words, DVD/BD Combo discs. I really kind of hate this. In principle, it's a great idea - give people one disc that includes both versions, making it cheap and easy to upgrade to Blu-ray. BUT... let's look at Universal's track record with this kind of thing. They pushed hard to get DVD-18 format DVD discs (dual-sided, dual-layered) into the market, and various bonding and layer rot problems meant that a very high percentage of these releases either shipped defective or stopped working within months of release. Then, a couple years ago, Universal pushed hard to get DVD/HD-DVD Combo discs into the market, and TONS of those didn't work properly. Frankly, more than half of the Combo discs I had skipped, glitched or simply wouldn't play. Are we now to expect that they're going to have better luck with DVD/BD Combo discs? I highly doubt it. Let me tell you, most experienced and avid movie disc consumers I know HATE these combo discs. More than likely, Universal is going to release some titles exclusively in this new Combo format, and at least some of them aren't going to work right or will fail more quickly over time, and it's going to be a consumer NIGHTMARE. From the studio's press release:
"Universal's flipper discs are the perfect way for consumers to future-proof their collections while still enjoying their favorite movies on all their existing DVD players," said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. "The flipper disc offers an easy way for viewers to convert to Blu-ray now or at any time in the future, confident in the fact they will be able to experience their home entertainment purchases in the highest quality picture and sound when they do."
Well... on my honor, I'll EAT MY WORDS if this thing goes off without a hitch. But I sure as heck wouldn't bet on it.
Anyway, the first titles to be released in this new DVD/BD Combo format (that's MY term - Universal is just calling them "flipper discs") will be single-movie editions of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, which will arrive in stores on 1/19. Let the circus begin...
In other release news today, Kino has hinted in their latest catalog that Buster Keaton's Our Hospitality and Sherlock Jr. are coming to Blu-ray sometime in 2010. This would be in addition to their current release of Keaton's The General on the format, which is now available. Thanks to Bits reader Frank G. for the heads-up!
Warner Home Video has set Elmo's Potty Time, Lola Adventures, Bienvenida la primavera and Welcome Springtime for release on 1/5, followed by Whiteout (DVD and Blu-ray) on 1/19, Doctor Who: The Complete Specials (DVD and Blu-ray), Doctor Who: The End of Time, Parts One & Two (DVD and Blu-ray) and Doctor Who: The Waters of Mars (DVD and Blu-ray) on 2/2, Naruto Shippuden: Vol. 7 and Cartoon Network Hall of Fame: Johnny Bravo Season One on 3/9, Honey and Clover: Box Set 3 on 3/16, NHL Chicago Blackhawks Great Moments and Classic Games, NHL Washington Capitals 10 Greatest Games, Bleach: Vol. 26, Pokemon Elements: Vol. 10 - Rock and Pokemon Elements: Vol. 9 - Ghost on 3/23, and finally Cartoon Network: Ben 10 Alien Force: Volume Six on 3/30.
Paramount has set My Three Sons: Season Two, Volume One and Sinbad: Where U Been? on 2/23, followed by Matlock: The Fourth Season, Olivia: Olivia... Takes Ballet, Super Why!: Peter Rabbit and Other Fairytale Adventures and The Backyardigans: Escape from the Tower on 3/2.
Universal will release In Plain Sight: Season Two and Tremors: The Complete Series on DVD on 3/9. The studio also has Love Happens due on DVD and Blu-ray on 2/2.
Image Entertainment has announced its January release slate, including The Hip Hop Project, Ghost Hunters: The Best of Ghost Hunters and Taylor Hicks: Whomp at the Warfield on 1/5, The Detonators, Earthquake presents: From the Outside to the White House, Feeding Frenzy, The New Adventures of Black Beauty: Season 1 and Volcanoes of the Deep Sea: IMAX (Blu-ray) on 1/12, Across the Hall (DVD and Blu-ray), Artie Lange: Jack and Coke (DVD and Blu-ray), Jethro Tull: Classic Artists and Macho Men and the Women That Love Them on 1/19, and $5 a Day (DVD and Blu-ray), Bridget's Sexiest Beaches: Season 1, Louis Armstrong: Good Evening Everybody and Wild Ocean: IMAX (Blu-ray) on 1/26.
Finally, We've got some good news for Disney Blu-ray fans in The Rumor Mill today, so do check it out.
We'll leave you with more new cover art... here's both the DVD and Blu-ray versions of MGM's SGU 1.0 (due 2/9) and also Universal's Battlestar Galactica: Season One on Blu-ray (due 1/5)...
Welcome to December, Bits-ers! Boy, 2009 sure is flying by, isn't it? Hard to believe it's already almost over.
And as always, our own Russell Hammond has finished the weekly update of our Release Dates & Artwork section, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a small portion of anything you purchase from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really do appreciate it.
There's a little bit of release news to report this afternoon, but given all the reviews and other updates here at the site today, we've decided to leave that for tomorrow. In the meantime, we do have one quick announcement for you...
Our old friend Mark Altman has sent us word of some exciting Trek-related film screenings this Friday and Saturday night (12/4 & 12/5) up in Los Angeles. The American Cinematheque is honoring the 10th anniversary of Free Enterprise by screening the original theatrical print on Friday, December 4th at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, at an event co-presented by TrekMovie.com. The screening, as well as a cast and crew reunion featuring director/writer Robert Meyer Burnett and writer/producer Mark A. Altman, will take place Friday following a screening of J.J. Abram's Star Trek (2009) at 7:30 PM. In addition, on Saturday the Cinematheque also screens Star Trek II, III and IV and will offer a Q&A with director Nicholas Meyer, talking about his new book as well as his work on the films. There will also be giveaways of all kinds of Trek-related goodies and swag throughout the weekend. More information is available online here, and tickets can be purchased at Fandango.com. Maybe we'll see you there!
Okay... back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned...
Evening, folks! Hope you had a great long holiday weekend. Sure went fast, didn't it?
Sarah and I caught a screening of Pirate Radio on Friday night, which is an awesome film. I highly recommend it. Very funny and well worth your time. Also worth your time is The Road, which Matt and I saw on Saturday morning. But it's not... shall we say... a heartwarming film. If you've read the Cormac McCarthy novel, you'll understand what I mean. The film is, however, a very faithful and well done adaptation of the book. I think it's one of the best films of the year. Viggo Mortenson should get Oscar attention for his performance.
Anyway, sorry this update is later than anticipated, but unexpected stuff came up to keep me busy all afternoon. But let's catch you all up on some release news this evening...
Warner Home Video has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray Disc release of the 1981 classic Clash of the Titans on 3/2. The Blu-ray will come in book packaging. Extras will include the A Conversation with Ray Harryhausen featurette, a Maps of Myths and Monsters image gallery, and trailers for both the 1981 film and the upcoming 2010 remake.
Also newly announced by Warner is a Clint Eastwood: 35 Films 35 Years at Warner Bros. DVD box set, due on 2/16 (SRP $179.98, includes 36 films on 19 DVDs - Eastwood's entire filmography with Warner Bros. - from 1968's Where Eagles Dare through 2008's Gran Torino), and a Blu-ray release of Neverending Story, due on 3/2.
Meanwhile, Sony has set Halloween II for release on rated and unrated DVD and Blu-ray on 1/12, followed by Michael Jackson: This Is It on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/26, Maid in Manhattan on Blu-ray on 2/2, and Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 1 (Two of a Kind, The Killer That Stalked New York, Bad for Each Other and The Glass Wall) and Bad Girls of Film Noir: Volume 2 (Night Editor, One Girl's Confession, Over-Exposed and Women's Prison) on DVD on 2/9.
Universal has set Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas for Blu-ray release on 2/2.
Lionsgate has announced their January DVD and Blu-ray release slate, which will includes Barney: Please & Thank You and Thomas & Friends: Splish Splash Splosh on 1/5, The Best of Bob the Builder, Care Bears: Helping Hearts, Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself (DVD and Blu-ray), Tyler Perry's House of Payne: Volume 5, Music Makers: A Man Called Adam, Music Makers: Ballad in Blue, Music Makers: Buena Vista Social Club and Music Makers: Beyond the Sea on 1/12, Gamer (DVD and Blu-ray), Weeds: Season 5 (DVD and Blu-ray), Blood Creek, No Greater Love and Fraggle Rock: The Animated Series on 1/19, and Fireball and Jackie Chan presents Wushu on 1/26.
Finally, 20th Century Fox will Whip It on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/26, followed by Stargate Universe (SGU) 1.0 on DVD and Blu-ray on 2/9. SGU 1.0 (SRP $49.98 and $69.98) will be a 3-disc DVD and 2-disc BD set, including the first 10 episodes of the show's first season (Air: Part 1 through Justice), along with episode commentaries, scores of featurettes, video diaries and more.
We'll leave you with a look at some new cover art. Here's Lionsgate's Gamer (both formats), Fox's Whip It on Blu-ray, Warner's Clash of the Titans (both formats) and Universal's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Blu-ray...
Back tomorrow with reviews... earlier this time. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! Hope you're all enjoying the long holiday weekend. It's a good time to take in a film or two with family and friends, and there are some interesting films out there.
There are no specific Amazon deals to report at the moment. There was an X-Men Trilogy Blu-ray box set available for a short time as one of Amazon's Gold Box "lightning" deals, but it's already expired. More such deals are appearing on the site every few hours however, and lots of other DVD and Blu-ray titles are also on sale on Amazon this week for prices a little more discounted than usual, so be sure keep your eyes peeled for specific titles you're interested in.
I did want to mention one other special offer today: Warner Archive is offering a special Black Friday price on its available selection of titles. You can buy most titles discounted to $14.95 each, or buy any ten titles for just $99.95. The price discount will last for FOUR days (until 11/30) and you get free shipping on all orders. Not bad, especially if there are titles you're interested in. Thanks to Bits reader Bill W. for spotting that.
I've got one other interesting item to mention for you today. It's not movie, DVD or Blu-ray related, but if you're interested in science, I think it's pretty cool. The physicists at CERN in Switzerland have finally gotten the Large Hadron Collider back up and running this past week, and have already started the first test proton collisions. They've even got an interesting update video available on their site with the latest information and behind-the-scenes video. Do any of you Bits readers work at CERN on the project? Drop me an e-mail and say hello. My congratulations to all of you guys on getting the LHC going! I can't wait to see what interesting discoveries you make.
Okay, my weekend is going to be about putting up Christmas decorations, and maybe catching a movie or two. Matt and I are thinking The Road, which we've been waiting a long while to see.
Hope you all have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here on Monday!
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone! Hope you're all having a great day. I can almost smell the turkey cooking in the oven...
Also this morning, a quick reminder in case you missed it when we posted it yesterday afternoon: Barrie Maxwell's new Classic Coming Attractions column is now up for your 'tween turkey reading enjoyment. ;)
In the meantime, we hope you all have a happy and wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with your family and friends. Safe travels and enjoy all that great food and company. I've already got my rhubarb pie cooling on the kitchen counter. And don't forget to nap up for all that good Black Friday shopping!
First up, they've got an LG BD270 Blu-ray Disc Player for just $99! It's only profile 1.1 (so it has BD-Java/BonusView but no BD-Live), but then again it's only $99, which is $100 off the regular SRP. Not bad if you're looking for a cheap 1st or 2nd BD deck.
Also, s far as Blu-ray software, Amazon has a Gold Box deal for their Watchman Owl Ship exclusive Blu-ray for just $49, which is $25 off Amazon's usual price and more than $50 off the SRP. That one only lasts until supplies are exhausted, so act fast if you want it.
Those are just two of TONS Amazon is running (be sure to check out the deals in the Movie & TV section). We'll post details each day the rest of this week - including tomorrow - with word on more of these great deals, so do check in for them. You never know what you might find!
Also this morning, Sarah's kicked off a new Giveaway here at The Bits, featuring a chance to take home DVD copies of Funny People thanks to our friends at Universal. You'll have until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, 12/6 to enter, so click on the link to get started and good luck!
We'll be back with Barrie's column in a few hours, so stay tuned...
Morning, everyone! So, there's not a lot of news to report on this Thanksgiving week, but there are a couple things worth noting...
First though, our very own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section to include all of the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover artwork, and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and we really appreciate it.
Speaking of Amazon, the retailer is running some amazing Black Friday deals ALL THIS WEEK on DVD and Blu-ray hardware and software, as well as gaming gear and lots more! Be sure to check them out each week via this link to see what specials are available and to take advantage of them while you can. And again, thanks for supporting us by using our links to them.
Okay... let's get to those announcements. First of all, Disney has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Surrogates on 1/26/10 (SRP $29.99 and $39.99). Extras on the Blu-ray will include audio commentary with director Jonathan Mostow, 4 deleted scenes, 2 featurettes (A More Perfect You: The Science of Surrogates and Breaking the Frame: A Graphic Novel Comes to Life) and Breaking Benjamin's I Will Not Bow music video. The DVD includes just the commentary and music video.
Meanwhile, Sony has set Black Dynamite for DVD and Blu-ray release on 2/2/10 (SRP $24.96 and $34.95). Extras will include filmmaker and case audio commentary, deleted and alternate scenes and 2 featurettes (Lighting the Fuse and The Comic-Con Experience). The Blu-ray will add an exclusive featurette (The '70s: Back in Action) and movieIQ.
Also coming from Sony on 2/2/10 is the DVD and Blu-ray release of Universal Soldier: Regeneration (SRP $24.96 and $34.95), featuring commentary with Dolph Lundgren and the director and the Behind the Lines featurette. The BD will also add movieIQ.
On 2/9, Sony will release the 2010 remake film Ice Castles on DVD only (SLP $24.96).
This one's interesting: Icarus Films is releasing Patricio Guzmán's The Battle of Chile on DVD on 12/8 (SRP $44.98). The 4-disc DVD set includes Part I: The Insurrection of the Bourgeoisie (96 min.), Part II; The Coup d'Etat (88 min.) and Part III: The Power of the People (79 min.), along with Guzmán's Chile, Obstinate Memory (57 min.), a video interview (22 min.) with Guzmán and a 16-page booklet.
Blue Underground has set Vampyres for Blu-ray release on 3/30/10 (SRP $29.95). Extras will include audio commentary with director José Ramón Larraz and producer Brian Smedley-Aston, the Return of the Vampyres featurette, and the film's international and U.S. trailers. The title is already available on DVD.
Fox has announced a number of new titles including Kendra: Season One for DVD on 1/5/10, Cheaper by the Dozen 2 for Blu-ray on 1/5 and The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Season Six for DVD on 2/2.
Warner has set the direct-to-video animated film Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths for release on DVD, DVD special edition and Blu-ray Disc on 2/23.
And finally, Paramount has set Paranormal Activity for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/29 (SRP $29.99 and $40.99). Each will include the theatrical cut, plus an unrated version with an alternate ending not seen in theatres. The Blu-ray will also include a Digital Copy version.
Here's both versions of Paramount's Paranormal Activity, Criterion's Make Way for Tomorrow DVD (2/23/10) and Revanche Blu-ray (2/16/10), Blue Underground's Vampyres Blu-ray and Disney's Surrogates on Blu-ray...
We'll be back tomorrow with Barrie's latest Classic Coming Attractions column, so be sure to check back for it. Stay tuned until then!
Well... good evening, folks! Man, have I ever had a day...
So there I am last night, working on a couple of disc reviews... watching discs on my PC to check various quality issues... when suddenly my Windows Vista desktop completely freezes on me. Just totally locks up, nothing to do for it but reboot. And then, when I reboot... every time it gets to the desktop, same result. Crash! Again and again, with me getting more and more pissed off. So after a night (and most of today) of troubleshooting, turns out the culprit is my NVIDIA graphics driver. I'd recently (about two weeks ago) updated my video card drivers, and apparently Vista didn't like it one bit, but took a couple weeks to let me know about it. HELL'S BELLS! Once I suspected what the problem was, I went and picked up a new video card - with an ATI chipset, cause NVIDIA can BLOW ME - ripped out the old card, swapped the new one in, and bam - problem solved. Then I went online just to see if anyone else had been having such problems, and it turns out something like 30% of the Vista crashes are because of corrupt or buggy NVIDIA drivers. Go figure. Tell you what: I will NEVER buy an NVIDIA graphics card again. Not for a very long time anyway.
And yeah... I know you Mac guys are all smirking your asses off right now, thinking how superior your hardware is versus anything running Windows, and I don't even want to hear it. Bastards. ;)
All right... the long and the short of it is, here's a review: The promised Farscape: The Complete Series, newly re-issued on standard DVD from the good folks at A&E Home Entertainment. The Cliff's Notes version is that the set is pretty good, especially if you've never owned the show on DVD before. For the SRP and sale price, it's a great value. But if you already have the previous Starburst Edition discs from ADV, you'll definitely want to stick with those instead. Anyway, you'll find all the details in the review. Enjoy.
Back tomorrow with more news, etc... hopefully with less aggravation involved. Stay tuned...!
Afternoon, everyone! Today's post is going to be a quickie, but we've finally got a couple of those reviews for you...
Our own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with a look at Sony's new Angels & Demons: Two-Disc Theatrical & Extended Edition Blu-ray, which hits stores next Tuesday (11/24). Also, Jeff Kleist has turned in his thoughts on Disney and Pixar's excellent UP Blu-ray, which is now available. Both are well worth your time and attention, so enjoy!
Meanwhile, I'm working on a review of A&E Home Video's new Farscape: The Complete Series DVD box set, among other titles. There's a LOT to cover in the box, but I hope to have that review for you on Monday.
Before we sign off for the week, however, I do have one quick update for you on Let the Right One In. As we posted yesterday, Magnolia has finally re-released the Region 1 DVD version in the States with corrected theatrical subtitles, but a corrected Blu-ray version is still MIA here. HOWEVER, the good news is that if you love the film and you just can't wait for Magnolia to get its BD fix in stores... we're told that Momentum Pictures' U.K. Blu-ray release (available here at Amazon.co.uk for about $22 USD shipped to the States) DOES have the correct theatrical English subtitles AND it's an all-region disc, compatible with U.S./Region A players. Thanks to all you crafty/import-savvy Bits readers who sent us e-mails to let us know about this edition. Where there's a will, there's a way... [EDITOR'S NOTE: We're now getting reports that the DTS-HD MA track on this import BD is defective, and that Momentum will have fixed copies available soon. Wait to order your copy until we've confirmed that fixed copies are in stock at Amazon.co.uk. Guess this film just had bad luck all around on Blu...]
All right, it's back to Farscape for me. Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
Okay, those reviews are coming. We should have a couple of them up for you tonight and there will be more tomorrow. The reason for the delay gets back to our dog rescue story - the one I told you about on Monday. Turns out, our sweet German Shepherd now has a new home!
First of all, thanks to all those of you who e-mailed about the dog, either with advice and encouragement or with interest in getting her adopted. It's sure nice to know that there are lots of good people out there willing to help an animal in need. As it turns out though, she already has a new home! It seems that Matt's sister-in-law (Sally Jo) and her husband had been looking for another big dog to adopt as a friend and playmate for one they already have. So I went over to the vet a couple hours ago to visit the dog and be there when her new mom arrived. It was pretty adorable - the staff at the vet had bathed her, given her a new bandana and were generally doting over her like crazy, so when I arrived she was all clean and shinny. Then she met her new mom and they hit it off right away! Maizy (that's her new name) was just as excited as can be. So the story has a very happy ending. Best of all, Sarah and I will get to keep seeing her on a regular basis! Here's a couple pictures of Maizy with her new mom, and the two of them riding off into the sunset...
Anyway, back to business! We've got a couple of interesting bits of information for you today...
First, it seems that Magnolia has finally fixed that subtitle issue on DVD copies of Let the Right One In. As you may recall, there were a lot of complaints that the English subtitles on the disc were a new (and decidedly lackluster) translation, rather than the theatrical subs seen in theatres. Well, the new DVD version is in stores now and it says "English (Theatrical)" right on the back where it lists the subs. You can also still choose the original English DVD subs, though I think if you compare you'll agree the theatrical subs are far superior. There's still no word as to when Blu-ray copies with the theatrical subs will begin appearing in stores, but we'll keep our eyes peeled. Let us know if you spot them. Thanks to Bits reader Bob G. for the heads-up about the DVD version.
In announcement news, Anchor Bay will be releasing Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story on DVD and Blu-ray on 12/29. The company also has Cyclops, Behind the Mask and The Alphabet Killer set for Blu-ray on 12/8 (all three are already available on DVD). And on standard DVD only, look for Ghost Machine on 12/22, followed by Trek vet Walter Koenig in Inalienable on 1/19/10.
Also, we've got an update on that Fight Club note from yesterday. Turns out that when you put the Blu-ray in your player, menus for the film Never Been Kissed appear for a few moments before the Fight Club menus finally appear. This isn't an authoring error - it's a deliberate gag director David Fincher cooked up with the approval of actor Drew Barrymore. Nice.
Meanwhile, media market research firm Screen Digest is predicting that some 45.4 million Blu-ray capable devices will be in homes around the world by the end of the year (18.4 million stand-alone decks and another 27 million PS3s), which they believe will mean that Blu-ray will help offset DVD sales declines going into 2010 and beyond. You can read more on this at Home Media.
And finally, we wanted to say a few words of acknowledgement about the passing of actor Edward Woodward, who died on Monday at the age of 79. U.S. audiences will likely best recall him from his starring role in TV's The Equalizer. Film fans will no doubt remember him fondly for his turns in The Wicker Man and (my favorite) Bruce Beresford's Breaker Morant, or any of dozens of other TV and big screen appearances. Most recently, Woodward appeared in Hot Fuzz and the BBC's Eastenders TV series. He'll be missed.
Here's a bit of new cover art: Sony's Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Blu-ray (due 1/5/10), and Universal's The Wolf Man: Special Edition (with a revised cover) and She-Wolf of London: The Complete Series on DVD (both now set for 2/2/10, though Amazon claims to have Wolf Man in stock now in the originally promoted packaging)...
Back later. Stay tuned...
We're still working to get those reviews up today if possible, but first I wanted to check in with some pretty interesting breaking news...
If you haven't heard, word has leaked that Wal-Mart is planning to sell a Magnavox profile 1.1 Blu-ray player for just $78 on Black Friday. They're also planning to sell profile 2.0 models from Sony and Samsung for just $148. You can read more at Home Media, Video Business and even CNN. Rest assured, Wal-Mart isn't going to be alone. Many other retailers are planning MAJOR BD player sales over the Black Friday weekend. So If you've just been waiting for super-low hardware prices before jumping on the Blu-ray bandwagon, get ready. They're coming.
In release news today, Magnolia has set The Burning Plain for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 1/12/10 (SRP $26.98 and $29.98). Extras will include a trio of behind-the-scenes featurettes.
Newly announced by Anchor Bay is the recent sci-fi thriller Pandorum for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/22/09 (SRP $29.98 and $39.98). Extras will include audio commentary, deleted and alternate scenes, a behind-the-scenes featurette and still galleries. The Blu-ray will also include a Digital Copy version.
Meanwhile, Criterion has announced a number of new releases due in stores in February, including Götz Spielmann's Revanche (#502), Steve McQueen's Hunger (#504) and Max Ophuls' Lola Montčs (#503), all on both DVD and Blu-ray. Also due on DVD only is Leo McCarey's Make Way for Tomorrow (#505).
Universal has rescheduled its delayed The Wolf Man: Special Edition for DVD release on 2/2/10. Also coming that day on DVD are Murder, She Wrote: The Complete Eleventh Season and She-Wolf of London: The Complete Series.
Sony has set Soul Power for DVD and Blu-ray release on 1/26/10. Also coming that day on DVD only are St. Trinian's and Bright Star.
Paramount and CBS have set Beverly Hills 90210: The Ninth Season and Dynasty: Season Four, Volume Two for DVD release on 2/2/10, followed by JAG: The Final Season, The Sarah Silverman Program: Season Two, Volume Two and Vegas: The First Season, Volume 2 on 2/9, and Barnaby Jones: The First Season and Cannon: Season Two, Volume Two on 2/16.
And Fox has set The Keeper (starring Steven Seagal) for DVD release on 1/19/10.
Afternoon, everyone! So did any of you peek outside last night to catch the Leonids? Matt (Mr. MusicTAP himself) and I went way out to the high desert near Joshua Tree National Park to see the display, braving cold, coyote and potentially crazy/mutant/toothless hill people. Turned out to be a pretty good show. There was no moon to contend with, and not a cloud in the sky, so over the course of 9 or 10 hours laying back on our trusty reclining lawn chairs (purchased for just this sort of occasion) we saw over 200 great meteors, including some that streaked almost from one horizon to the other, a couple that flashed brightly, many that left glowing trails and one that actually exploded overhead with a loud pop. This was intersperced with the consumption of various snacks and beverages, and the lengthy philisophical discussion of a wide range of topics from the possibility of being attacked by mountain lions while watching meteor showers, to the value of eBook readers (vs. just reading eBooks on your iPhone), to the greater mysteries of the Universe at large. It's a pretty nice way to spend an evening, provided you don't mind being tired the next day. Next year's display is supposed to be even better, so I expect we'll be out there again. Anyone want to tag along?
Before we get started, thanks for all your nice e-mails about the dog (per yesterday's post). We've got a line on several adoption possibilities, so fingers crossed we'll get this girl a new home soon. We'll definitely update you on all the developments. ;)
Here at The Bits today, Dr. Jahnke's turned in a new Electric Theatre installment, featuring all his thoughts on Fantastic Mr. Fox and 2012 (both now playing on the big screen) and In China They Eat Dogs and Old Men in New Cars on DVD in his Tales from the Queue. By the way, Jahnke's E-Theatre now even has its own spiffy page on Facebook, so do check it out!
And our very own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links! As always, a small portion of anything you purchase from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we do appreciate it.
Some interesting news today... if you go buy yourself a copy of Battlestar Galactica: The Plan at Best Buy, you can get a DVD copy of Ron Moore's Virtuality pilot for just $4.99. You can also buy it stand-alone for just $9.99. Apparently the title is a Best Buy exclusive. Who knew?!
Speaking of exclusives, Target today has a "movie disc-only" version of Gone with the Wind on Blu-ray, sans the box and all the other swag therein (SRP $34.99). [Editor's Note: It's also missing the second BD disc of extras, so if you want all the disc-based content you might want to steer clear and get the full SCE box instead.] This is similar to what they recently did with Wizard of Oz, so if you want just the movie in HD, there you go. That Target-exclusive Goonies BD doesn't seem to have materialized as rumored, but we'll keep our eyes peeled for it from Warner.
Also, for those of you who pick up Fox's Fight Club Blu-ray today... don't be surprised to see something a little odd on the disc after you put it in your player. It's not a defect - it's a deliberate gag cooked up by David Fincher himself. Just so you know. ;)
And here's something very cool: Warner has just kicked off a new online program allowing you to upgrade Warner DVD titles for the equivalent title on Blu-ray (if available) for a reduced price. Some 55 titles are now available for exchange at the studio's DVD2Blu.com website. The upgrade cost is $7.95 or $9.95 depending on the title, and shipping is free for orders over $25. That's a pretty great way to make their long-time customers happy, if you ask us. Additional titles will be added to the program in the coming months.
We'll be back tomorrow with a number of new disc reviews and more. See you then!
Afternoon, folks! Hope you all had another fine weekend, as always.
I had a pretty busy one. Sarah's brother got married in Lexington, Kentucky over the weekend, so we spent a few days in Bluegrass country. Pretty nice place, I have to admit. I'd never been to Kentucky, and didn't know what to expect, but the place sure was pretty and we had a great time. In addition to the wedding and various family activities, we managed to take a tour of thoroughbred horse farms and even a bourbon distillery. When in Kentucky, right? Plus the Wildcats played their first basketball game of the season in the events center next to our hotel, so I've never seen so much blue in one place in all my life. And to top it all off, there was one of those 'little miss' beauty pageants going on in the hotel on Sunday too. So I'd say we got to experience the full local flavor.
In any case, it's going to take me until tomorrow to get my head screwed back on, so today's post is of the 'just checking in' variety. The main reason is that a funny thing happened as Sarah and I were driving home from LAX last night . We spotted this lost dog running around in the middle of the street. Poor thing was limping and almost got hit by a car multiple times. Turns out it was a beautiful female German Shepherd, about a year old. Just friendly as can be, sweet, calm... though at the time scared out of its mind and clearly lost or abandoned. She had a collar but no tag, and she wasn't chipped. And there wasn't a residential neighborhood nearby, so she'd obviously been wandering around a few days. We couldn't just leave here there so... long story short, she rode home with us in the back of our Ford Escape, spent the night in our garage and is now being boarded at our local vet. She's completely healthy and just a super-friendly dog. We'd actually LOVE to keep her, but Sarah's allergic and it just isn't an option. So we're now trying to find her a good home. Anybody out there in L.A. or the O.C. need a great dog? Drop me an e-mail.
Speaking of e-mail, I've been away for a few days and I have a mountain of e-mail messages to catch up on. So if you're trying to reach me, it'll probably be a couple days before I can get back to everyone.
Okay, I'll be back tomorrow afternoon to catch up on all the latest news, and post a review or two as well. Don't forget that Star Trek and a lot of other great titles street tomorrow on DVD and Blu-ray!
And if you're an astronomy buff, one of the best meteor showers of the year happens tonight and early tomorrow morning. The Leonids are supposed to be pretty great this year. All you have to do is poke your head out between Midnight and dawn. The prediction is for 20-30 really good meteors per hour and the peak could be higher (peak is around 1 AM local, whatever your time zone). Matt and I are going out to take in the show tonight, so I hope you guys enjoy it as well.
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned!
To kick things off early today, we've got another new Blu-ray Disc review for you: My take on Paramount's HD spiff of the classic It's a Wonderful Life. One thing's for sure - the film looks better than ever. Speaking of Blu-ray (and DVD) reviews, we're working on a lot more, including Up, The Prisoner: The Complete Series, Heat, Leon: The Professional, Farscape: The Complete Series and much more, so stay tuned over the coming days.
In announcement news today, Lionsgate has set Death Warrior for DVD release on 12/1, followed by The Cove on 12/8 and Facing Ali on 12/29.
Meanwhile, Warner Home Video has set Southland: The Complete First Season for DVD only release on 1/16/10 (no Blu-ray version is yet announced), followed by Scarecrow and Mrs. King: The Complete First Season on 3/9/10.
Universal has set Atonement and Pride & Prejudice for Blu-ray release on 1/26/2010. Both are already available on DVD. It appears that all the previous DVD extras will be included.
And Fox has set Jennifer's Body for DVD and Blu-ray release on 12/29, followed by Post Grad on both formats on 1/12/10 and Whip It on both formats on 1/26/10. In terms of catalog Blu-ray releases, look for Walk the Line and The Last King of Scotland on 2/2/10. Fox will also release MGM's previously announced (but delayed) To Live and Die in L.A. Blu-ray on 1/6/10.
In other news - following up on yesterday's word of impending holiday Blu-ray software price drops - Video Business is also now reporting that Amazon.com, Best Buy and Wal-Mart have joined Target is selling select new release and catalog titles for under $20.
And speaking of Best Buy, the retailer has just increased its retail store presence for Blu-ray by up to three times what it offered the format last year for the holidays. You can read more here at Home Media.
Here's a look at more new cover art... Fox's Jennifer's Body, Walk the Line and The Last King of Scotland Blu-rays...
By the way, just so you know in advance and don't wonder, there will be no Friday post here at The Bits. We've got family visiting, so we're going to be spending the day with them. But we'll be back on Monday with the usual news updates and more. So have a great weekend (in advance) and we'll see you then!
Today's post is going to be a quick one, but we've got a couple good things for you. First of all though, we wanted to send a big shout out to all you folks serving your country in uniform around the world, or those of you who have served in the past. Thank you all, and here's hoping this day finds you well.
Also today, there's word from Video Business that key retailers are going to be offering amazing sales prices for Blu-ray Disc movie titles on Black Friday. In particular, Target will be offering select titles priced at just $9.99 each! That's pretty tough to pass up.
What's more, Home Media is reporting that premium pricing for Blu-ray titles is starting to become less common as we move into the holiday shopping season this year. Growing pressure from consumers and retailers to see the format hit mass market acceptance levels is resulting in key new release titles priced as low as $20 at select retailers. We're pleased to finally see this start happening. It's about time!
That's all for now. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, folks! We've got a few good things for you today.
First of all, our own Barrie Maxwell has checked in with a pair of new Criterion Blu-ray Disc reviews... James Ivory's Howards End and Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire. Both are exceptionally well mastered and filled with great extras. In fact, the Wings of Desire Blu-ray even carries over some of the bonus content DVD producer Mark Rance created for the recent MGM special edition, including the director's commentary. Do check it out.
Also today, Dr. Jahnke - having mostly recovered from his recent Oktoberfest effort - has delivered a new installment of his Jahnke's Electric Theatre column for you all to enjoy. Included in this edition is Adam's take on The Men Who Stare at Goats (now in theatres) and Sony's Synecdoche, New York on Blu-ray. Enjoy!
Also today, we've posted the weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover artwork and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you purchase from Amazon after clicking to them through our links goes to help support our efforts here at The Bits and we greatly appreciate it.
In release news today, Universal has just kicked off a new level of BD-Live bonus content on their discs, some of it compatible with Apple's iPhone. These features will be found on the forthcoming Blu-ray versions of Bruno, 9, Funny People, American Pie Presents: The Book of Love, Inglourious Basterds and Public Enemies. You can read more here at Home Media.
Finally this afternoon, I wanted to mention one last thing from last week's Blu-Con 2.0 conference. Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese addressed the conference as the keynote speaker live via satellite from the Film Foundation offices in New York City. He spoke very positively about the Blu-ray format: "BD's potential to replicate the original theatrical experience is the best I've seen in forty years of [movie] collecting. Blu-ray offers the ability to see the film as it was intended." The most interesting quote he offered, however, was something I HOPE was not lost on the audience of studio executives and mastering engineers on hand. He noted that Blu-ray is capable of displaying "a film grain texture which I think is very important in recreating the film experience." Can I get an AMEN?
Before we get going today, we wanted to acknowledge the passing of someone who isn't widely known, but who had a big impact on the geek world. Comic-Con founder Sheldon Dorf has died. He passed away in Los Angeles last week, and you can read more here at the L.A. Times. Obviously, Comic-Con has transformed into a different animal than it was originally intended to be, but it's become such a huge touchstone in the geek world each year - from comics to movies to TV shows to even videogames and toys - that it's hard to imagine life without it. Dorf was 76, and hats off to his vision, which was WELL ahead of its time.
Also today, in case you missed it, I posted a review of Paramount's new STAR TREK Blu-ray late Friday afternoon. In a word, it's AWESOME. Street date is next Tuesday, 11/17.
We're working on a number of additional disc reviews today, but first I wanted to check in with a little bit of release news...
Sony has finally OFFICIALY set Duncan Jones' Moon for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 1/12/10 (SLP $27.96 and $37.95). Extras will include audio commentary with Jones, D.P. Gary Shaw, concept designer Gavin Rothery and production designer Tony Noble, a second commentary with Jones and producer Stuart Fenegen, 2 featurettes (The Making of MOON and Creating the Visual Effects), video of a science center Q & A with Jones, and video of a Sundance Film Festival Q & A with the filmmakers.
Sony has also announced Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs for release on 1/5/10. There will be a single-disc DVD, a 2-disc DVD and a Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack (SLP $28.96, $34.95 and $39.95). Extras will include commentary, featurettes and deleted scenes, interactive games and more.
Warner has set its CG-animated, 8-episode anthology Halo Legends for release on DVD, 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray on 2/9. From the studio press site: "This 8 episode anthology of 10-15 minute length each, explores the origin and historical events of the HALO universe, and various characters inhabiting the world. Like Animatrix and Batman Gotham Knight, each of the 8 episodes will be created by a separate prominent Japanese anime producer." Could be pretty cool. Also coming to DVD only on 2/16 are Bugs Bunny's Easter Funnies, The First Easter Rabbit: Deluxe Edition and Scooby-Doo: Abracadabra-Doo. And following on DVD on 2/23 is Superjail: The Complete First Season.
Disney has Army Wives: The Complete Third Season coming to DVD on 2/9/10, along with Gary Unmarried: The Complete First Season.
Finally, although it's not officially announced, Amazon.com is now taking pre-orders for Paramount's The African Queen on both DVD and Blu-ray. Street date is TBA. We'll let you know when Paramount makes the official announcement, but it's coming.
Here's a look at the cover art for Sony's Moon (both versions) as well as Warner's Halo Legends Blu-ray...
So yeah... this post is later than expected, but for a VERY good reason. As so often happens, I had this whole plan worked out for what I was going to spend my time on today: Going over a little more Blu-Con stuff, working on some BD reviews. Then the doorbell rang this morning as I was brewing up my coffee. And what to my wondrous eyes should appear? Paramount's awesome new STAR TREK on Blu-ray! Oh yeah, baby. That'll tend to throw your day plan all out of whack. (But in a good way!) As is entirely appropriate given the title, I immediately dropped everything but my coffee, and have spent the entire day combing through the set's two BD discs (and a Digital Copy disc) full of 1080p goodness from top to bottom. So here's my full review for you.
What a nice way to close out the week! Anyway, I hope you enjoy... and we'll see you back here on Monday. ;)
All right... let's talk Blu-Con 2.0. The event was held on Tuesday up at the Beverly Hilton, and it was at least 3 or 4 times bigger than last year's event - no doubt a reflection on the end of the format war and the format's growth. I moderated a panel discussion last year on BD special feature production at the event, and was set to do another this year with a trio of well known directors, but one (?) was never locked down, which caused another (McG) to flake, resulting the third (John Singleton) to flake as well. Ah well. Hey... I wasn't coordinating this stuff, and not doing the panel was actually nice, because it gave me the chance to really sit back and soak in all the day's information (and there was a LOT of information, as you'll soon see).
Very senior representatives were on hand from the home video divisions of all the major studios, as were the same from all the major consumer electronics manufacturers involved with the Blu-ray format. Also on hand were engineers, authoring, mastering and replication folk, content producers, industry analysts, select media - you name it. The number of these people whom I've gotten to know over the last decade is quite high, so in many ways it felt like old home week or some kind of DVD industry class reunion. I've always enjoyed that aspect of these events.
As I mentioned, a TON of interesting Blu-ray statistics, market research and "state of the industry" type information was revealed at the event, so I'm going to take up most of today's post to run it all down. Note that this information comes from a variety of sources: The DEG, CEA, specific retailers, a little from the BDA and much from various market analysis firms (InStat, Adams, etc). Where possible I've tried to note the specific source, but the info came pretty fast and furious. None of it was considered controversial or suspect, so I have no reason to doubt it.
Ready? Here goes...
Expect holiday Blu-ray player prices to be around $99 for profile 1.1 players and $149 for profile 2.0 players. SOME of the 2.0 may be as low as $99. That's considered to be the mass market price needed for sales to really start breaking out in 2010.
Blu-ray customer satisfaction: 90% of Blu-ray owners are very happy with the format and 85% would recommend it to a friend.
BD software sales are up 80% for the first three quarters of 2009 over the same timeframe last year.
For the biggest blockbuster titles, as much as 30% of all disc sales have been on Blu-ray.
Best Buy is expecting 95% U.S. household penetration of HDTVs by 2013. The CEA (Consumer Electronics Association) predicts the 60% penetration by the end of this year.
CEA: Despite popularity, DVRs are still only in about 30% of U.S. households.
Best Buy believes that software pricing and perception of value is going to be key in driving Blu-ray into the mass market. Adding DVD and Digital Copy to BD packages is good, but charging a premium for that is not.
Blu-ray player sales are growing faster than any other electronics category, and the initial 4-year period of Blu-ray player sales growth is matching or exceeding that of standard DVD during its first 4 years.
Best Buy expects as many as 10 million BD players to be in U.S. homes by the end of this year, and predictions are that 18.6 million will sell by the end of 2010. (Includes PS3).
Consumer awareness of Blu-ray is a key area the industry needs to work on. Best Buy research shows that only 32% of its consumers are familiar with Blu-ray this year, up from 29% last year and 19% in 2007.
The good news is that 60% of consumers who are familiar with Blu-ray have at least some intent to purchase the format in the next year, especially if the price is below $150.
Research indicates that Blu-ray players' backwards compatibility with DVD is a mixed blessing - most people who have purchased Blu-ray players still purchase at least 1/3rd of their movie titles on standard DVD. HOWEVER, as Blu-ray software prices drop, there's no reason to believe that Blu-ray won't be 100% of the mix at some point in the next few years.
Consumers consider some titles worth buying and owning on Blu-ray, while other titles are considered best as rentals or DVD purchases only (at the existing software price points).
Adams Media Research is confident that Blu-ray will eventually take over from DVD as the playback format of choice for home video, but Blu-ray sales will probably not completely offset DVD sales declines.
The Consumer Electronics Association has been tracking Blu-ray sales and says they're exactly where they expect them to be compared to the sales trends for DVD at this same point in that format's life. Year 4 was the breakout year for DVD, and we're just now going into Year 4 for Blu-ray. They believe the hardware price point - under $150 - is exactly where it needs to be for Blu-ray to break fully into the mass market. The expectation is that 2010 WILL be the breakout year, barring additional economic shocks.
According to CEA research, Blu-ray has made the Top Ten list of "devices people want" for the first time this year.
CEA: 2.7 million stand-alone Blu-ray players were sold in the U.S. last year. 3.7 have been sold so far this year, and 40-50% of all sales for the year happen in the 4th quarter, so CEA believes we could easily see the final total of BD stand-alone players sold in 2009 hit 6 or 7 million units. The number could go as high as 10 million, depending on supply and retailer aggressiveness.
CEA: PS3 sales were surpassed by stand-alone BD players for the first time in 2009.
CEA: Blu-ray players are still considered an early adopter product, but that's starting to change this year and there's tremendous growth potential.
Most Blu-ray players that are network-capable STILL aren't connected to the Internet. Convincing people to connect their players to the Net will continue to be a challenge, and must be addressed with wireless modems and a much easier process.
Consumer home video "transactions" were actually up 7% in the 3rd quarter of this year, but actual sales were down 2-3% (reflecting price discounting).
Universal figures that 10% of its customers for movie discs are major collectors, and they're still willing to buy - especially premium product like Blu-ray in collectible packaging.
During the studio panel, the studios could not talk in detail about pricing because of anti-trust considerations, BUT... all agreed that software pricing is going to start coming down soon reflecting pressure from both consumers and retailers to get Blu-ray software priced at a more mass market friendly level. This could start happening as soon as the holidays this year.
The rate of catalog releases on Blu-ray is going to increase in 2010 - particularly Universal suggested that they were going to get more aggressive with their catalog release plans on the format in the year ahead.
The growth trends in home video are going to be Blu-ray, VOD (Video on Demand) and EST (electronic transactions). Digital Copy will gradually evolve such that everyone will eventually have a "locker in the cloud" where they can store digital movie files they've purchased, and all of a person's consumer media devices will be able to "reach up into that cloud" to access the material. The "locker" will also provide security against data loss. But for the foreseeable future, none of this will have the quality level of Blu-ray and avid movie fans and collectors will continue to prefer the physical product. A key idea is to do more bundling, so when you purchase the Blu-ray you also get a DVD and some kind of portable digital version.
One "rental" idea that's being explored is the notion that you could purchase a digital file version from a retail kiosk - you could load it onto a flash drive right in the store and take it anywhere - but there are many technical and security-based hurdles still to overcome.
Regardless, physical product isn't going away. The future is going to be a combination of all three - Blu-ray, VOD and EST - and they should complement each other.
Overall home video sales were down in 2009 because of the recession, but not as bad as late 2008. There are signs that the market is slowly starting to recover. 2010 is expected to be still slightly down (but not as bad as 2009) or even flat. 2011 could start seeing stronger recovery. Studios are cautiously optimistic going into the holiday season.
Sony says that 9 million PS3s will be in consumer homes in the U.S. by the end of the year - 27 million worldwide.
1 million PS3 units were sold globally within 3 weeks Sony's price drop.
90% of PS3 owners watch Blu-ray movies, and 55% prefer Blu-ray over DVD. 39% of them always choose Blu-ray over DVD.
Sony is launching its largest advertising campaign ever for the PS3 in late November, which will strongly emphasize its Blu-ray playback capability.
Sony's PS3 streaming deal with Netflix will start this month. The monthly fee will be $8.99 per month (streaming + DVD rentals) or there will be a Blu-ray deal for $10.99 per month (streaming + Blu-ray rentals).
Sony and Netflix firmly believe that Blu-ray and streaming can coexist - they're largely different customer bases - collectors and enthusiasts versus renters and more casual movie viewers.
Sony is also launching a PSP-Go which will feature all digital/streaming viewing of movies.
Gaming industry market research shows that more Xbox 360 gamers are starting to purchase PS3s too at the new lower price.
Microsoft's Steve Ballmer hinted last week that a Blu-ray add-on drive for the Xbox 360 is on the way.
There are also strong rumors of a Blu-ray-equipped Nintendo Wii coming soon as well, but the consumer/industry value of this unknown.
According to the Blu-ray Disc Association, the final spec for 3D Blu-ray (possibly called 3D-BD or something like it) will be announced by the end of the year, likely in December. The spec WILL REQUIRE that all 3D capable displays (regardless of how they process the 3D-BD signal) will use the same signal. The spec will be DISPLAY FORMAT AGNOSTIC, meaning whether the display is Plasma or LCD based (or whether it uses active or passive glasses) won't matter. So if you buy a 3D-BD player, it will work will all properly marked 3D display technologies. What's more, all 3D-BD discs will be backwards compatible with current Blu-ray players, so the disc will include both a 3D version in the new spec AND a standard 2D version for current players - all in full 1080p. The 3D-BD spec will require full 1080p signal delivery for each eye - left and right. The intent is that there's only one shot to get it right, so make sure it's a standard that will work for a long time to come.
An important point to make: THERE IS NO 3D-BD spec format war. Every company in the industry is cooperating on the final spec. The only difference is that the DISPLAY technology each company uses may be different, but the 3D-BD spec will be used by ALL of them.
Manufacturers will introduce a variety of 3D signal processing technologies, some based on plasma and some on LCD. Some will use active shutter glasses and some will use passive or polarized glasses. These technologies will be on display at CES in January and the first gear (and 3D-BD movie titles) will start arriving by mid-2010. Some product announcements MAY be made at CES. The glasses needed will be sold with the DISPLAYS, not the players, because the type of glasses needed will be dependent on the display.
All of the CE manufacturers stressed that 3D display is here to stay. It's not just about Blu-ray - you'll see cable and satellite offerings, live sports broadcasts and even gaming in 3D. The next round of gaming consoles are likely to support 3D gaming.
There WILL be a premium for the 3D capability in terms of display/player pricing, but as with all new technologies, this will drop over time.
This is particularly interesting: Multiple sources at the event - including one Sony source - informed me that there's a possibility that the PS3 can be firmware-updated to make full 3D gaming and (possibly even) 3D Blu-ray playback possible. All you'd need to do is to buy the glasses as an accessory. This may be possible because of the power of the PS3's Cell processor.
As far as consumer interest in 3D, InStat reports that 10% of consumers are extremely interested in 3D, 15% are very interested, 39% are somewhat interested, 26% not very and only 10% not at all. The interest is very price sensitive however.
Panasonic had their Full 3D HD system on display at the event. Their initial plan is to sell the system as a "3D theatre in a box" - you'll get a large 3D-ready plasma display, a 3D-ready Blu-ray player and a set of 2 or 4 active shutter glasses with an IR transmitter (that sits on top of the TV) to sync the glasses with the display. (You'll likely be able to buy extra pairs of glasses if you need them).
My own observations on the Panasonic system: The 3D effect is VERY good (with only very minor ghosting), but the effect is MUCH more pronounced when there's an object in the close foreground (for example, when the camera is near the ground or sitting next to a foreground object). Compared to LCD projection, I'm not a fan of the black levels of plasma TV. I'd much rather view 3D HD via a front or rear projection system. Multiple viewers (including myself and TV Shows on DVD's Gord Lacey) found that the active shutter glasses induced a certain amount of eye strain on the viewer, though it might have been a problem with the system. Viewing for a few minutes wasn't a problem, but the feeling was that you'd have a pretty good headache watching an entire movie with them. The strain was more pronounced the more your eyes darted around the scene. Again, these are very initial impressions of a prototype - I'm going to withhold my judgments until I see more demos at CES, because the demos I saw last year at CES didn't have the eye strain issue. (I'm willing to believe it was just a technical problem with this particular demo.)
All studios are going to continue trying new BD-Live applications and technologies. While these have less appeal to early adopters of Blu-ray (who tend to be more movie-content interested), as Blu-ray moves into the mass market these features will have more consumer appeal.
Deluxe reports that 50 million BD discs will be connected to the Net via BD-Live by the end of 2009.
Sony reports that once people connect to the Net via BD-Live, 50% of them come back and reconnect at least once.
Studios report that Digital File/Copy redemption rates are in the strong double digits. Research shows that 50% of people using Digital File are watching on laptops or portable devices. Some are also using the Digital File as a "backup" copy to the Blu-ray, or for standard-def viewing situations.
I specifically asked about Digital File expiration dates: The studios responded that when they see download/authorization activity after the expire date has passed, they're simply extending the expire date indefinitely. Fox had this happen with Family Guy: Blue Harvest and their response was to just extended the date.
Managed Copy is still being readied and is expected to launch fully in the next few months.
Warner has noticed that Digital File redemption rates are slightly higher on standard BD/DVD releases (19%) versus special edition (more elaborate) BD/DVD releases (13%).
Okay... that's the most important information to come out of Blu-Con 2.0, based upon my extensive notes taken during the day's various panels. I'll have a little more to say about the event tomorrow, but what's above is the key information. PLEASE NOTE that I've tried my best to get all of the above information down accurately. To the degree that there are errors or contradictions, my apologies. Nobody's perfect, but I've tried my best to get it all down and convey it to you properly here.
That's a lot of information to be sure, so I'm going to let you guys chew on it overnight. ;)