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page updated: 7/29/10



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/21/10 - 7/5/10)


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7/21/10

All right
... this is our last update here on the site for this week, as several of The Bits crew are headed down to Comic-Con in San Diego. But though it's short, today's post is still a good one. So read on...

First of all, we want to invite all those of you attending Comic-Con to join us for our Digital Bits: DVD/Blu-ray Producers Panel on Thursday afternoon (tomorrow, 7/22, from 1-2 PM in Room 32AB)! I'll be moderating, Sarah will be on hand, Dr. Jahnke and Doogan will provide the color commentary, and our producer friends will include Cliff Stephenson (Rambo: Director's Cut, Expendables), Charles de Lauzirika (Robin Hood, Alien Anthology Blu-ray), Javier Soto (Predators, Mimic/The Devil's Backbone BDs) and Brian Ward (Transformers, G.I. Joe, Max Headroom). We'll be showing come cool preview clips, talking about all kinds of great upcoming titles, discussing the state of Blu-ray and even doing some Q&A with the audience. Our panel starts 15 minutes after Disney's big Tron: Legacy panel ends, so come on by after and join in all the fun!

After that, also on Thursday afternoon, our own Mark Altman wanted me to invite you all to join us for the State of the Geek Report: From Avatar to Zardoz panel (2:30-3:30PM, Room 3). Panelists will include Steve Melching (The Clone Wars), Ashley E. Miller (Thor, X-Men: First Class), Steve Kriozere (Elvis Van Helsing), Jeff Bond (former Geek Monthly editor), and both yours truly (Bill Hunt) and Todd Doogan from The Bits. Again, it should be a lot of fun.

Click here for the full Comic-Con schedule, and we hope to see you there!

In "unofficial" release news today, here's something VERY cool for you Coppola fans. We've been hearing rumors about this for a while now from our industry sources, and some of you may be aware that director Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope recently licensed a number of their catalog titles to Lionsgate. In fact, Lionsgate just a couple months ago released their own DVD version of Apocalypse Now: Redux. Well... we can confirm that the studio IS currently working on an ultimate Blu-ray release of Apocalypse Now. And from what we've heard, they are absolutely doing it right and including everything you'd want from an ultimate release of the film. (Note that a pre-order listing for just such a release appeared very briefly on Amazon.ca about a week ago, but was quickly pulled. It indicated the set would include BOTH cuts of the film AND the Hearts of Darkness documentary in the same package.) It's still a little early and nothing has been officially announced yet by the studio, so consider this info Rumor Mill worthy for the time being. But hopefully we'll be able to report more when we get back from the Con. Love that smell of napalm in the morning!

Also today, we have a couple more cool new Blu-ray title reveals for you. Again, they're not "official" announcements as no press releases have been issued yet. But they're now up for pre-order on Amazon.com - 2 of them with official artwork - so that usually means the actual announcements are coming soon...

First, it seems that A&E Home Entertainment is going to build on the success of their recent (and awesome) Prisoner Blu-ray release by bowing Space: 1999 - The Complete Season 1 on Blu-ray this Fall! SRP is $99.95 for the 6-disc set, but Amazon has it for just $69.99. Can't tell you how happy that makes me. I LOVED that show as a kid, right from the funky disco theme on to the bell-bottom space duds, baby. (Bits reader Dave C. was kind enough to forward a link to a good piece on the BBC Studios site about their new restoration of the episodes for Blu-ray. Thanks Dave!)

MGM has a RoboCop Trilogy Blu-ray set up for pre-order on Amazon as well (SRP $59.99, available for $41.99).

And not only does 20th Century Fox appear to be releasing a Sound of Music: Limited Edition Collector's Set on Blu-ray (SRP $89.99, available for $62.99)... they look to be bowing a regular Sound of Music BD/DVD Combo Pack version as well (SRP $34.99, available for $24.49).

No street dates are yet available for these titles, but we'll certainly post them as they come in. Meanwhile, here's cover art for A&E's Space: 1999, MGM's RoboCop Trilogy and a DVD we mentioned the other day, MDV's Bird on a Wire (due 8/31)...

Space: 1999 - Season 1 (Blu-ray Disc)RoboCop Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire (DVD)

And with that, we'll call it a wrap for this week. We'll be back on Monday with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray news updates from the Con, and be sure to check our Digital Bits Facebook page for pictures from the event later this week.

Stay tuned!

(ORIGINAL POST - 7/20/10 - 11AM PDT - UPDATED 4 PM PDT)

We've got some AWESOME news for you Gladiator fans today, folks! More on that in a minute...

First, we're pleased today to bring you a new High-Definition Matters column from our very own Barrie Maxwell. In this edition, Barrie reviews 8 new and recent titles on Blu-ray, including Sony's The Last Station, Alliance Canada's In Bruges and Shakespeare in Love, Warner's Absolute Power and Where Eagles Dare/Kelly's Heroes double feature, Paramount's Shutter Island, Fox's Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief and E1 Entertainment's The Greatest. Enjoy!

Also here at the site today, our own Russell Hammond has posted his weekly update of the Release Dates & Artwork section, featuring all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover scans, and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a portion of anything you order from Amazon after clicking through to them from our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits, and we really appreciate it.

All right... now for that awesome Gladiator news. If you've been reading any of the A/V enthusiast forums in the last 24 hours or so, you may now be aware that Universal has just released the new remastered Gladiator Blu-ray in Holland. Fans will know that the previous U.S. Blu-ray release - a DreamWorks title distributed by Paramount, with elements provided by Universal - featured a (shall we say) somewhat disappointing and recycled high-def transfer. Let me rephrase that: It was an extremely disappointing transfer. Well... the good news is that a brand new 4K transfer of the film was done several months ago with fresh elements, and the title has been re-authored to include it. It's this new transfer that's now available on Blu-ray in Europe, and early word is it's spectacular. Here's a link to a good online screenshot comparison of the new and old Blu-rays. (The first image that appears is the old Blu-ray - roll your cursor over it to see the same shot on the new Blu-ray). As expected, the difference is pretty shocking. You see? There IS a real quality difference when a studio spends a little extra money on the A/V presentation of a Blu-ray to get it right.

Anyway, word (and visual proof of) the new transfer appearing on Blu-ray in Holland has resulted in hundreds of concerned U.S. Gladiator fans e-mailing us in the last day or so, understandably hoping/pleading/begging for any information as to when they might be able to get their hands on the new disc here in the States. So here's the AWESOME news: Paramount Home Entertainment is about to initiate an exchange program for anyone who would like to swap their previous Gladiator Blu-ray for an otherwise identical disc with the new transfer. Here's their official statement:

"We are implementing a limited exchange program. This program is only for those consumers that may have preferential issues with some of the technical DVNR (digital video noise reduction) and EE (edge enhancement) choices made in the original source transfer, and so would prefer to exchange it for one that addresses those preferences in a different manner.

While the version that we originally distributed was of the highest quality, some enthusiasts may prefer to view it without the Edge Enhancement and DVNR implemented as standard process in bringing the film to hi-def. This new master resolves those issues."


[Editor's Note: You can call Paramount Home Entertainment's UPDATED customer service hotline number (888-889-9456 - give them a couple days to get things together) to arrange the swap. Replacement discs will be available soon. For those in the U.S. and Canada who don't yet own the disc, a running production change has been initiated, so future copies shipped to retailers will include the new transfer. Rest assured, we'll post details as to exactly how you'll be able to identify the new discs (likely via some kind of packaging marking) when they start becoming available in stores in the coming weeks. And for those of you in other countries around the world, the new disc is being gradually rolled out in each region, so contact your local distributor for the details.

On behalf of Gladiator and Blu-ray fans everywhere, I'd like to send out a big Bits THANK YOU to everyone involved in the decision to do the new transfer, to those talented mastering wizards involved in the actual work (for a job well done!), and to the folks at Paramount for implementing their exchange program. THAT'S how you do right by your customers, and it's very much appreciated.]


In other new release news today, Anchor Bay has set Dolph Lundgren's The Killing Machine for release on DVD on 10/19 (SRP $26.98). Bevare... he vill break you!

And for those of you who like a good catfight, Vivendi Entertainment has set Sorority Wars for release on DVD on 8/17.

Also today, Warner Home Video has announced a 6-disc Peanuts Holiday: Ultimate Collection Edition for release on Blu-ray on 11/16, that will include It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, A Charlie Brown Christmas, It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown, It's Magic, Charlie Brown and The Mayflower Voyagers, along with all the Deluxe Edition extras.

And did any of you guys happen to watch The Jensen Project on NBC last Friday night? The while scientist-family-saves-the-world plot was a little cheesy to be sure, and the thing had way too much product placement, but at the same time I do like seeing primetime programming that actually encourages kids to think being smart is a good thing. Naturally, the ratings tanked. But if you missed the show and you're interested, you can purchase the film on DVD and Blu-ray exclusively at Wal-Mart (the show was a co-sponsored by the retailer). It's just $13 for a DVD+CD soundtrack combo and $15 for Blu-ray+CD soundtrack.

Finally this morning... can anybody guess what happened 41 years ago today? If you said this, you're right! The Apollo 11 mission landed on the moon on July 20th, 1969, and Neil and Buzz got out, walked around and took some cool pictures. Still an amazing thing after all these years. On to Mars! Thanks to my friend Ed for reminding me. ;)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPADTE - 7/19/10 - 2:15 PM PDT)

Okay... we've got a couple more new announcements for you this afternoon, and also an update on an earlier one.

First the update - Warner's Mutiny on the Bounty Blu-ray (due 11/16 - SRP $34.99) features a brand new restoration of the film. According to the studio's official press release, it's "undergone a full photochemical restoration sourced from the film long-thought-lost, and recently rediscovered, original nitrate camera negative. The film's audio track has also been restored for this presentation." In addition to the Pitcarin Island Today featurette and Academy Awards newsreel, you'll get trailers for both the 1935 and 1962 versions. The Blu-ray book packaging will also include 30 pages of photos from the archives of FrankLloydFilms.com. The film will be presented in the original 1.33 B&W with mono audio. Note that I've inquired with the studio as to the Blu-ray release status of the 1962 version, and I'll update you all when I'm able.

By the way, Warner has also set My Dog Skip for Blu-ray release on 10/19 (SRP $24.98), followed by Freaknik: The Musical on DVD on 10/26 (SRP $14.98).

In other release news, Summit Entertainment has set Furry Vengeance for DVD and DVD+Blu-ray Combo format release on 8/17 (SRP $22.99 and $40.99). Extras will include audio commentary with the cast and director, deleted scenes, a gag reel and 2 featurettes (The Pitfalls of Pratfalls and Working with Animals: A Portrait of Ken Beggs). Okay... ain't nobody gonna buy this film for $40. I'm just saying.

Also today, Lionsgate has set Burning Bright, Ca$h, Wolverine and the X-Men: Final Crisis Trilogy and Keeping Up with the Kardashians: The Complete Third Season for DVD release on 8/17, followed by The Bad Mother's Handbook on DVD on 8/24. The studio has also announced a new slate of Blu-ray catalog titles for release on 10/5, including The Blair Witch Project, an Open Water/Open Water 2: Adrift double feature, 2001 Maniacs, High Tension, Hard Candy, Bad Lieutenant, Secretary and Wonderland (SRP $19.99 each). I'll be curious to see what the reaction is in some quarters of the Net to the video presentation of The Blair Witch Project and Open Water, as the former was shot on Hi8 video and 16mm, and the latter was shot in DV format. I give Lionsgate a TON of credit for doing it - and especially for releasing the Open Water titles as a double feature for max $ value - but I can just hear select fanboy complaints now. "Oh my god, it's a... blurry... storm! This isn't what Blu-ray's supposed to look like! Why, Blair Witch should look perfect on my HDTV...!" ;)

Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has set the thriller Gangster's Paradise: Jerusalema for DVD release on 9/28 (SRP $26.98). Extras will include audio commentary with producer/writer/director Ralph Ziman, composer Alan Lazar and actor Jafta Mamabolo, as well as deleted scenes and the theatrical trailer.

For you music fans, Kayos and Eagle Rock are releasing the Classic Albums: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - Damn the Torpedoes documentary on DVD and Blu-ray on 8/3 (SRP $14.98 each).

Keeping with the music theme a moment, MDV has set Leonard Cohen's 1972 tour film Bird on a Wire for DVD release on 8/31. The packaging includes a limited edition reproduction of the film's iconic poster.

And here's something interesting... the good news is that market research by the Digital Entertainment Group (DEG) shows that home entertainment spending increased by 2.3% in the first half of 2010. The bad news is that spending is still down 3.3% from the same time last year overall. The bright spot, however, is that Blu-ray spending rose a very handsome 84% to $733 million. For the second quarter of this year alone, sales were up 112% thanks to Fox's Avatar. You can read more here at Home Media.

Here's a little more new cover art for you to finish off the day... a look at Warner's Mutiny on the Bounty and Lost Boys: The Thirst (due 10/12) Blu-rays, as well as the DVD version of their new The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut (due 10/5, we've posted the BD art previously)...

Mutiny on the Bounty: 75th Anniversary Edition (1936 - Blu-ray Disc)Lost Boys: The Thirst (Blu-ray Disc)The Exorcist: Extended Director's Cut (DVD)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/19/10 - 2 AM PDT)

Morning, folks. Welcome to Comic-Con week! It's gonna be a busy one for sure.

In announcement news this morning, Warner Home Video has revealed that its long-awaited Mutiny on the Bounty: 75th Anniversary Edition will street on Blu-ray Disc on 11/16 in Blu-ray book packaging. This is the original 1935 version, starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable. Among the extras on board will be the Pitcairn Island Today featurette and a period Academy Awards newsreel. The title has been released previously on DVD. Now if only we could get the 1962 Brando version as well, which Warner has released previously on both DVD and HD-DVD...

Warner Home Video and HBO have also set the Bill Clinton/Tony Blair drama The Special Relationship for DVD only release on 11/30 (SRP $26.98).

Meanwhile, retail sources are telling us to expect Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/14. Word is you'll find a single-disc DVD, a single-disc Blu-ray and a 3-disc Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy available on that date. Check out the preview artwork for the DVD and 3-disc Blu-ray versions below. Keep in mind, Disney hasn't yet officially announced this title, so file this in the Rumor Mill category and salt accordingly until their press release hits the wires. Rest assured, we'll let you know when that happens.

In other release news this morning, Image Entertainment has set Necromentia for DVD release on 9/14 (SRP $27.97). Extras will include audio commentary with director Pearry Teo, a video Q&A with Teo and actor Chad Grimes and the film's trailer.

IFC Films has set The Red Riding Trilogy (includes 1974, 1980 and 1983) for DVD and Blu-ray release on 8/17 (SRP $29.98 and $34.98). They also have The Good, The Bad and The Weird due on DVD and Blu-ray the same day (SRP $24.98 and $29.98).

Mill Creek Entertainment has announced a pair of horror double feature Blu-rays for release on 8/17 (SRP $14.98 each), including Total Terror Double Feature: A Brush with Death/Harvest of Fear and Total Terror Double Feature: Demonic/Uninvited. Note that Demonic is also known as Forest of the Damned.

And Lionsgate has set Saturday Night Live: The Best of Adam Sandler and Saturday Night Live: The Best of Eddie Murphy for DVD release on 9/28, followed by Blue Mountain State: Season One (DVD and Blu-ray) and Bratz: Pampered Petz and The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss: There Is Nothing to Fear in Here (DVD only) on 10/5.

Also today, Bits reader Michael C. e-mailed over the weekend to say that Fox's The Last of the Mohicans: Director's Definitive Cut is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Upon further investigation, it appears that Fox's Moulin Rouge!, William Shakespeare's Romeo+Juliet, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show Blu-rays are also available for pre-order there. The SRP is $34.99 each (Amazon has them for $24.49 each). Fox's The Sound of Music: Limited Edition Collector's Set Blu-ray is also up for pre-order at an SRP of $89.99 (Amazon has it for $62.00). What's more, MGM's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is also now available for pre-order as a BD/DVD combo pack for SRP $34.99 (again, Amazon has it for $24.49). Street dates aren't yet available for these titles, but we'll be sure to keep you up to date when they come in.

In case you missed it when we posted the news on Friday evening, be sure to check out all the great new DVD and Blu-ray titles that Criterion's just announced - think Seven Samurai, Paths of Glory, The Darjeeling Limited and more!

Finally this morning, our good friend John Latchem of Home Media's Agent DVD has posted a pretty good rundown of most of the interesting DVD and Blu-ray related goings-on down at Comic-Con later this week. Hope to see you all there!

We'll leave you this morning with a look at the cover art for Paramount's Iron Man: 2-Disc Digital Copy Edition DVD (due 9/28), as well as Fox's The Last of the Mohicans: Director's Definitive Cut Blu-ray (TBA), Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time on DVD and 3-disc Blu-ray (also TBA), and both versions of IFC's Red Riding Trilogy...

Iron Man: 2-Disc Digital Copy Edition (DVD)Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (DVD)Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (3-Disc Blu-ray)

Red Riding Trilogy (DVD)Red Riding Trilogy (Blu-ray Disc)The Last of the Mohicans: Director's Definitive Cut (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 7/16/10 - 8 PM PDT)

We've got one more update for you this week... and it's a good one!

Criterion today announced several more new Blu-ray and DVD additions to the Collection, and we're thrilled to at the titles! Due on 10/12 are Ingmar Bergman's The Magician (Cat #537) on DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $24.95 and $39.95) and Wes Anderson's The Darjeeling Limited (#540) on DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $29.95 and $39.95). Following on 10/19 is perhaps the single greatest BD title we've been waiting for here at The Bits... Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (#2) as a 2-disc set (SRP $49.95)! Then, get this: On 10/26, Criterion will release Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (#538) and Nobuhiko Obayashi's House (#539) on both DVD and Blu-ray (SRP $29.95 and $39.95)! I'll confess, I don't think I EVER expected to see Paths of Glory on Blu-ray - very, very cool news.

In terms of bonus materials, The Magician will include a new visual essay by Bergman scholar Peter Cowie, a short 1967 video interview with director Ingmar Bergman and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Geoff Andrew, a reprinted essay by Assayas, and an excerpt from Bergman's autobiography Images: My Life in Film. The Darjeeling Limited will include audio commentary on the film by Wes Anderson and co-writers Jason Schwartzman and Roman Coppola, Anderson's short film Hotel Chevalier with commentary, a behind-the-scenes documentary by Barry Braverman, footage of Anderson and filmmaker James Ivory discussing the film's music, Anderson's American Express TV commercial, on-set footage shot by Coppola and actor Waris Ahluwalia, audition footage, deleted and alternate scenes, stills galleries, the trailer and a booklet featuring an essay by critic Richard Brody and original illustrations by Eric Anderson. Seven Samurai will include everything found on the current (and awesome) 3-disc DVD release by Criterion. Paths of Glory will include new audio commentary by critic Gary Giddins, a 1979 TV interview with star Kirk Douglas, new video interviews with Kubrick's longtime executive producer Jan Harlan, producer James B. Harris and actress Christiane Kubrick, an excerpt from a French television program about real-life World War I executions, the theatrical trailer and a booklet with an essay by Kubrick scholar James Naremore. Finally, House will include the Constructing a House featurette with interviews with director Nobuhiko Obayashi, story scenarist and daughter of the director Chigumi Obayashi, and screenwriter Chiho Katsura, Obayashi's 1966 experimental film Emotion, a new video appreciation by director Ti West, the trailer and a booklet with essay by Chuck Stephens.

Here's the only artwork Criterion's released thus far for the above titles (along with BD art for Universal's Red Dragon)...

The Magician (Criterion DVD)The Magician (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)Seven Samurai (Criterion Blu-ray)

House (Criterion DVD)House (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)Red Dragon (Blu-ray Disc)

There you go! Have a great weekend and see you Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 7/16/10 - 7 AM PDT)

So... Christopher Nolan's Inception opens today. Dr. Jahnke and I had the chance to see it last night, along with our wives. Without giving anything away, I'd say it's a pretty good film. Upon first reflection, I think I enjoyed it intellectually more than emotionally, just for the sheer audacity of its concept and storytelling approach. There are literally levels upon levels of drama, each dependent upon the next, and the result is surprisingly effective. This is not a film that panders to its audience. It's a highly complex story that demands you pay attention right from the start, and dares you to keep up. In a way, that's also what keeps it from achieving true greatness. My own personal experience is that my mind was working so hard to keep up early on, that about halfway through my thinking was actually racing ahead of the story, trying to puzzle out all the twists and layers, and I eventually outraced the ending, so to speak. This is sort of what I meant by enjoying it more intellectually than emotionally. I didn't really connect with the characters on an emotional level, but I thoroughly enjoyed the mental puzzle. I'll be curious to see what some of you think. I expect that some of the reviews are going to be overly generous just because it's so high-concept, and because this has otherwise been a pretty bleak summer at the cineplex. In any case, while I didn't love Inception, I liked it a great deal. The cast is terrific, the visuals and staging are stunning, and the film is well worth seeing. Just make sure you thoroughly caffeinate beforehand.

In announcement news today, this is a little something that slipped under the radar amid all the Alien Anthology buzz yesterday, but Fox's press release also made mention of a few other great catalog titles coming to Blu-ray before the end of the year (as part of the studio's 75th Anniversary celebration), including The Rocky Horror Picture Show, William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, Moulin Rouge!, The Last of the Mohicans and The Sound of Music. You can also add to that list Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from MGM - we've heard from multiple sources now that that title is coming to Blu-ray, and in fact it's now also begun running on HDNet.

Here's something else that might get you excited: It looks as though Vivendi Visual Entertainment and The Weinstein Company are finally getting around to releasing Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez' complete Grindhouse double-feature on Blu-ray. Amazon currently has the title available for pre-order, with an SRP of $39.95 and a 10/5 street date. Thanks to Bits reader Eric J. for the spot!

In other news today, Universal has officially set The Bionic Woman: Season One for 4-disc DVD release on 10/19. They've also added Saturday Night Live: Best of 2009-2010 for DVD release on 9/21. On the catalog Blu-ray front, look for the studio to release Red Dragon on 10/12. And the studio has revealed that Blue Crush 2 will be released exclusively on DVD and Blu-ray next Spring (street date TBA).

Warner Home Video and TNT will release Men of a Certain Age: The Complete First Season on DVD on 11/2 (SRP $39.98). The 2-disc set will include all 10 episodes, along with audio commentary by stars Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula with series co-creator Mike Royce, deleted scenes, a gag reel and behind-the-scenes footage.

Warner has also set Lost Boys: The Thirst for DVD and Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy Combo Pack on 10/12 (SRP $27.95 and $35.99). Extras will include 4 featurettes (What is the Thirst?, How to Kill a Vampire with Edgar Frog, Charisma Carpenter Hosts The Art of Seduction: Vampire Lore and The Return of the Frog Brothers Hosted by Corey Feldman).

And Warner and the Cartoon Network have set Metalocalypse: Season 3 for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/2.

On the music front, La La Land Records has announced a trio of great new soundtrack releases that will be available on their website next week (and in their booth at Comic-Con), including Predators (John Debney), a 2-CD Batman: Limited Edition (Danny Elfman) and and a 2-CD Krull: Limited Edition (James Horner). You'll find more details here.

Speaking of music, though it's not soundtrack related, U2 fans might be interested to learn that retail sources are reporting that a deluxe remastered version of the band's Achtung Baby album is planned for release later this year. There are also reports that a new album of material from the band, reportedly called Songs of Ascent, is possible before the end of the year as well. The band has also just announced the re-scheduled dates for the second leg of their U.S. tour in 2011 - dated delayed due to Bono's recent back injury, from which he's now recovering. More here on their official website.

Finally today, a sad note: It's come to our attention that the voice of TV's original animated Speed Racer, Peter Fernandez, has passed away of lung cancer at the age of 83. Fernandez also voiced many of the show's other characters, and did similar English dubbing work for other early Japanese anime titles. Among his last film appearances was a brief cameo as a track announcer in The Wachowski Brothers' 2008 film updating of Speed Racer (which I still say is a damn great little flick). Fernandez will certainly be missed by this Racer fan, and by others I'm sure.

We'll leave you with cover artwork for Disney's forthcoming CG-animated A Christmas Carol, due on DVD, single-disc Blu-ray and 4-disc Blu-ray/Blu-ray 3D/DVD/Digital Copy Combo Pack on 11/16...

A Christmas Carol (DVD)A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray Disc)A Christmas Carol (Blu-ray Disc/Blu-ray 3D/DVD)

Have a great weekend and stay tuned!

ORIGINAL POST 7/15/10 - 12:30 PM PDT - UPDATED 3:30 PM PDT

Afternoon, folks. We've got major announcement news today, and an interesting Harry Potter update as well.

Obviously, the big news today is that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has finally officially announced the 10/26 release of the Alien Anthology on Blu-ray Disc (SRP $139.99 - Amazon now has it for pre-order for just $97.99). The 6-disc set will include all four films in full 1080p resolution, mastered from new transfers, with English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio (also English 4.1 Dolby Surround, English Dolby Surround, French 5.1 DTS, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Portuguese 5.1 Dolby Digital, subtitles in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese and there will be captions).

Here's the disc by disc breakdown of the extras on the set (additional details will be added over the next few hours):

DISC ONE: Alien - 1979 Theatrical Version, 2003 Director's Cut with Ridley Scott introduction, audio commentary (by director Ridley Scott, writer Dan O'Bannon, executive producer Ronald Shusett, editor Terry Rawlings, actors Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Veronica Cartwright, Harry Dean Stanton and John Hurt), audio commentary (for Theatrical Cut only) by Ridley Scott, final theatrical isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith, composer's original isolated score by Jerry Goldsmith, deleted and extended scenes, and MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream (BD-Java)

DISC TWO: Aliens - 1986 Theatrical Version, 1991 Special Edition with James Cameron introduction, audio commentary (by director James Cameron, producer Gale Anne Hurd, alien effects creator Stan Winston, visual effects supervisors Robert Skotak and Dennis Skotak, miniature effects supervisor Pat McClung, actors Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Jenette Goldstein, Carrie Henn and Christopher Henn), final theatrical isolated score by James Horner, composer's original isolated score by James Horner, deleted and extended scenes, and MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream (BD-Java)

DISC THREE: Alien³ - 1992 Theatrical Version, 2003 Special Edition (Restored Workprint Version), audio commentary (by cinematographer Alex Thomson, B.S.C., editor Terry Rawlings, alien effects designers Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., visual effects producer Richard Edlund, A.S.C., actors Paul McGann and Lance Henriksen), final theatrical isolated score by Elliot Goldenthal, deleted and extended scenes, and MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream (BD-Java)

DISC FOUR: Alien Resurrection - 1997 Theatrical Version, 2003 Special Edition with Jean-Pierre Jeunet introduction, audio commentary (by director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, editor Hervé Schneid, A.C.E., alien effects creators Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr., visual effects supervisor Pitof, conceptual artist Sylvain Despretz, actors Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon and Leland Orser), final theatrical isolated score by John Frizzell, deleted and extended scenes, and MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream (BD-Java)

DISC FIVE: Making the Anthology - In addition to over 12 hours of candid, in-depth documentaries, you now have the ability to go even deeper into Alien Anthology history with nearly five hours of additional video Enhancement Pods created exclusively for this collection, presenting behind-the-scenes footage, raw dailies and interview outtakes from all four films. At topical points in the documentaries, you may access these pods to enhance your experience, or watch them on their own from the separate Enhancement Pod index. Contents include...

The Beast Within: Making Alien (Star Beast: Developing the Story, The Visualists: Direction and Design, Truckers in Space: Casting, Fear of the Unknown: Shepperton Studios, 1978, The Darkest Reaches: Nostromo and Alien Planet, The Eighth Passenger: Creature Design, Future Tense: Editing and Music, Outward Bound: Visual Effects and A Nightmare Fulfilled: Reaction to the Film) PLUS Enhancement Pods

Superior Firepower: Making Aliens (57 Years Later: Continuing the Story, Building Better Worlds: From Concept to Construction, Preparing for Battle: Casting and Characterization, This Time It's War: Pinewood Studios, 1985, The Risk Always Lives: Weapons and Action, Bug Hunt: Creature Design, Beauty and the Bitch: Power Loader vs. Queen Alien, Two Orphans: Sigourney Weaver and Carrie Henn, The Final Countdown: Music, Editing and Sound, The Power of Real Tech: Visual Effects and Aliens Unleashed: Reaction to the Film) PLUS Enhancement Pods

Wreckage and Rage: Making Alien³ (Development Hell: Concluding the Story, Tales of the Wooden Planet: Vincent Ward's Vision, Stasis Interrupted: David Fincher's Vision, Xeno-Erotic: H.R. Giger's Redesign, The Color of Blood: Pinewood Studios, 1991, Adaptive Organism: Creature Design, The Downward Spiral: Creative Differences, Where the Sun Burns Cold: Fox Studios, L.A. 1992, Optical Fury: Visual Effects, Requiem for a Scream: Music, Editing and Sound and Post-Mortem: Reaction to the Film) PLUS Enhancement Pods

One Step Beyond: Making Alien Resurrection (From the Ashes: Reviving the Story, French Twist: Direction and Design, Under the Skin: Casting and Characterization, Death from Below: Fox Studios, Los Angeles, 1996, In the Zone: The Basketball Scene, Unnatural Mutation: Creature Design, Genetic Composition: Music, Virtual Aliens: Computer Generated Imagery, A Matter of Scale: Miniature Photography and Critical Juncture: Reaction to the Film) PLUS Enhancement Pods

MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience to access and control Enhancement Pods

DISC SIX: The Anthology Archives

Alien - Pre-Production (First Draft Screenplay by Dan O'Bannon, Ridleygrams: Original Thumbnails and Notes, Storyboard Archive, The Art of Alien: Conceptual Art Portfolio, Sigourney Weaver Screen Tests with Select Director Commentary and Cast Portrait Gallery), Production (The Chestbuster: Multi-Angle Sequence with Commentary, Video Graphics Gallery, Production Image Galleries, Continuity Polaroids, The Sets of Alien and H.R. Giger's Workshop Gallery), Post-Production and Aftermath (Additional Deleted Scenes, Image & Poster Galleries, Experience in Terror, Special Collector's Edition LaserDisc Archive, The Alien Legacy, American Cinematheque: Ridley Scott Q&A and Trailers & TV Spots)

Aliens - Pre-Production (Original Treatment by James Cameron, Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Videomatics with Commentary, Storyboard Archive, The Art of Aliens: Image Galleries and Cast Portrait Gallery), Production (Production Image Galleries, Continuity Polaroids, Weapons and Vehicles, Stan Winston's Workshop, Colonial Marine Helmet Cameras, Video Graphics Gallery and Weyland-Yutani Inquest: Nostromo Dossiers), Post-Production and Aftermath (Deleted Scene: Burke Cocooned, Deleted Scene Montage, Image Galleries, Special Collector's Edition LaserDisc Archive, Main Title Exploration, Aliens: Ride at the Speed of Fright and Trailers & TV Spots)

Alien³ - Pre-Production (Storyboard Archive, The Art of Arceon, The Art of Fiorina), Production (Furnace Construction: Time-Lapse Sequence, EEV Bioscan: Multi-Angle Vignette with Commentary, Production Image Galleries, A.D.I.'s Workshop), Post-Production and Aftermath (Visual Effects Gallery, Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive, Alien³ advance featurette, The Making of Alien³ promotional featurette and Trailers & TV Spots)

Alien Resurrection - Pre-Production (First Draft Screenplay by Joss Whedon, Test Footage: A.D.I. Creature Shop with Commentary, Test Footage: Costumes, Hair and Makeup, Pre-Visualizations: Multi-Angle Rehearsals, Storyboard Archive, The Marc Caro Portfolio: Character Designs, The Art of Resurrection: Image Galleries), Production (Production Image Galleries, A.D.I.'s Workshop), Post-Production and Aftermath (Visual Effects Gallery, Special Shoot: Promotional Photo Archive, HBO First Look: The Making of Alien Resurrection, Alien Resurrection promotional featurette and Trailers & TV Spots)

Anthology (Two Versions of Alien Evolution, The Alien Saga, Patches and Logos Gallery, Aliens 3D Attraction Scripts and Gallery, Aliens in the Basement: The Bob Burns Collection, Parodies, Dark Horse Cover Gallery, Patches and Logos Gallery and MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience)

---

How's that for loaded? Not only is everything from the original Alien Quadrilogy carried over (and you'll find more on all that content by reading our in-depth review of the set here at The Bits), there's a TON of new content added just for the Blu-ray as well - over FOUR HOURS of all-new added material. For example, you'll note the never-before-available "Burke Cocoon" deleted scene is finally here, as are a few other new deleted scenes. Rare unseen Sigourney Weaver screen tests are now included. You'll get thousands of new still photographs from the Fox archives. Not only is Wreckage and Rage: Making Alien³ the uncut and restored version of the documentary - originally titled Wreckage and Rape - that was edited for the Alien Quadrilogy DVD release, an additional 30 minutes of ALL NEW material has been added to this documentary as well. The Enhancement Pods contain extensive new material, as does the MU-TH-UR Mode Interactive Experience with Weyland-Yutani Datastream. You'll note also that both The Alien Legacy and Alien Saga documentaries - which were excluded from the Quadrilogy - are finally included here in this set. AND... the Restored Workprint Version of Alien³, which was originally created in 2003 for the Quadrilogy release, has gotten a new audio mix polish for this Blu-ray release, including having many of the original actors return for new ADR sessions of their dialogue. The set will even include a booklet: the Alien Anthology: MU-TH-ER Mode Viewer's Guide! In short: Fox's new Blu-ray set is going to make the already spectacular DVD release even better... and THAT'S saying something.

Here's what the final cover art looks like (and don't forget, you can pre-order it on Amazon.com right now by clicking on the cover). As you can see, we've also included images of the special "limited edition" packaging version featuring "The Guardian" - an exclusive illuminated statue sculpted by Sideshow Collectibles (SRP $149.99). We're not sure if this is going to be a retailer exclusive (we're working to find out), but Comic-Con attendees will have the first chance to pre-order the limited edition at the Fox booth (#4313) and you'll also be able to pre-order it on www.foxconnect.com next week...

The Alien Anthology (Blu-ray Disc)Alien Anthology LIMITED EDITION packaging (Blu-ray Disc)

Alien Anthology LIMITED EDITION packaging (Blu-ray Disc)

Also today, we've got a follow up for you on those two new Harry Potter Ultimate Edition box sets - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will both street on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/19. As you know, we've confirmed that there will be no extended cut of these films on the discs, unlike the first two Potter UEs, and a lot of you wanted to know why. We asked Warner Home Video for a little more information, and what they essentially said was that they would do an extended version if there was significant or important scenes left out by the filmmakers - scenes that would add more than just length to the film if they were restored. So Warner gave the filmmakers the option to create extended cuts, but in the case of both Prisoner of Azkaban and Goblet of Fire, the directors felt that the best material was already in the film, so there was really no need. Anyway, I just thought some of you would like to know.

Stay tuned...!

7/14/10

More announcement news today...

Universal has set a Smokey and the Bandit: The 7-Movie Outlaw Collection for DVD only release on 10/12. The set will include all 3 theatrical films, along with all 4 of the follow-up TV movies. I wish the three theatrical films were available on Blu-ray, but it'll be cool to see a few of these again after so many years regardless.

Warner has offered some details on their new The Essential Bugs Bunny Collection due on DVD on 10/12 (SRP $26.99). The 2-disc set will include 20 classic shorts, 3 of which are completely new to DVD. Among the shorts included will be Elmer's Candid Camera, A Wild Hare, The Old Grey Hare, Baseball Bugs, Hair Raising Hare, Hairdevil Hare, Eight Ball Bunny, Rabbit of Seville, Rabbit Fire, Show Biz Bugs, Knighty Knight Bugs, What's Opera Doc?, My Dream is Yours, How Bugs Bunny Won the West (new to DVD), Bugs Bunny Wild World of Sports (new to DVD), Carrotblanca and Hare in Loathing in Las Vegas (new to DVD). The set will also include the all-new Ain't I a Stinker featurette, the 1990 short Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers (first seen with Space Jam, but included here in its original uncut form for the first time), the Emmy-nominated Bugs Bunny Bustin' Out All Over TV special and the 1976 The Carnival of the Animals TV special.

Warner has also set The Venture Bros.: Season 4, Volume 1 for DVD only release on 10/26 (SRP $23.98). Included will be the episodes Blood of the Father, Heart of Steel, Handsome Ransom, Perchance to Dean, Return to Malice, The Revenge Society, Self-Medication, The Better Man and Ghosts. One suspects a full Season 4 Blu-ray will be available at a later date, when the Season 4, Volume 2 DVD is eventually released.

Meanwhile, Fox has set Dollhouse: Season 2 for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 10/12 (SRP $49.98 and $59.99). Extras will include audio commentary on the episodes Vows and Belonging, a Blu-ray exclusive commentary on the episode Getting Closer, outtakes, deleted scenes and 2 featurettes (Defining Moments and Looking Back).

The BBC has set Days That Shook The World: The Complete Series and Days That Shook The World: The Complete Third Season for DVD release on 8/3, followed by A History of Scotland and Simon Schama: A History of Britain: Special Edition on 8/17, and The Great Rift and The Incredible Human Journey on 8/24.

PBS has set NOVA: Mt. St. Helens - Back from the Dead for DVD release on 7/20.

First Run Features has set Off and Running, Four Seasons Lodge and Heart of Peloton for DVD release on 8/17.

And for you English readers, Universal is releasing Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang on DVD and Blu-ray in the U.K. on 7/19 (the film is coming out in the U.S. in August as Nanny McPhee Returns).

One other note: Paramount's Iron Man 2 Blu-ray is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com at this link.

Here's a look at three of those Dragon Dynasty Blu-rays that were announced yesterday (due on 8/10), along with Warner's The Venture Bros.: Season 4, Volume 1, and Lionsgate's Delicatessen and The Third Man Blu-rays (due on 9/14)...

Jet Li's The Legend (Blu-ray Disc)The Empress and the Warriors (Blu-ray Disc)Invisible Target (Blu-ray Disc)

The Venture Bros.: Season 4, Volume 1 (DVD)Delicatessen (Blu-ray Disc)The Third Man (Blu-ray Disc)

Stay tuned...

7/13/10

Hey Guys - as always, hope you're all having a great day.

Dr. Jahnke and I had the great pleasure and honor of attending a ceremony at Sony Digital in Culver City last night, in which they dedicated one of their theaters to the great Ray Harryhausen, in honor of his 90th birthday. Director John Landis was there and gave a tribute, along with other notables including director Sam Raimi and many other effects industry pioneers. Harryhausen himself couldn't attend, but the event was videotaped for him to see back at his home in London. I've met Ray a few times over the years, and he's just a gentlemen. The honor is richly deserved! While at the event, we had the chance to speak with a few people from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, which is always a pleasure, and let me just say again how much I admire and respect the work of Grover Crisp and his mastering team at Sony. The ceremony was followed by a screening of Jason and the Argonauts in the newly christened Ray Harryhausen Theater - introduced by Crisp, who explained how the restoration was carefully and thoughtfully done - and let me tell you, the film (and the new Blu-ray release) just looks fantastic. Crisp and his people have done a beautiful job. If you're a fan of Harryhausen's, don't hesitate to buy the new disc. My hearty congrats to everyone involved!

By the way, if you're in the L.A. area and you want to see more of Harryhausen's amazing work on the big screen, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is holding a special double-feature screening of 20 Million Miles to Earth and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad at their Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills on this Friday night (7/16). Doors open at 6:30 PM, and tickets are available here or at the Academy Box Office. They also have a wonderful exhibition of Harryhausen artifacts going on that you can see before and after the screening. Don't miss it!

One other note before we get to the news: Our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a small portion of anything you order from Amazon after you click to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.

Now then... the big release news today, is that Paramount has announced that Iron Man 2 will arrive on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/28. You'll be able to buy the film as a single-disc DVD (SRP $29.99), a 2-disc DVD limited edition with Digital Copy (SRP $39.99) and a 3-disc Blu-ray+DVD+Digital Copy combo (also $39.99). If you buy the Blu-ray or 2-disc DVD, you'll get audio commentary with director Jon Favreau, an alternate opening, 3 deleted scenes, AC/DC's Shoot to Thrill music video, and 2 featurettes Creating Stark Expo and Practical Meets Digital. The Blu-ray will exclusively add the interactive S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Vault, pre-viz and animatics and the multi-part Ultimate Iron Man: The Making of Iron Man 2 documentary. Given Paramount's fine work on the last Iron Man Blu-ray, as well as Transformers and Star Trek, I have little doubt it will be pretty cool. You can read more here at Home Media, and here's a look at the cover art for the Blu-ray and single-disc DVD...

Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray Disc)Iron Man 2 (single-disc DVD)Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: UE (Blu-ray Disc)

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: UE (DVD)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: UE (Blu-ray Disc)Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: UE (DVD)

As you can see, I've also posted art for all four of the newly-announced Harry Potter: UEs - both the DVD and Blu-ray versions.

And for those of you loving Vivendi and Weinstein's Dragon Dynasty titles, the studios have announced the release of 4 more titles on Blu-ray on 8/10 (SRP $19.97 each): Tai Chi Master, The Legend, Invisible Target and An Empress and the Warriors. Very cool, news!

Back with much more tomorrow, so stay tuned...

7/12/10

Afternoon, everyone. Hope all's well in your world, or at least in your cubicle/immediate vicinity.

We've got some sad news to report today. Comic writer Harvey Pekar has died this morning at the age or 70. Some of you may recall that he was the subject of a great little film, American Splendor, back in 2003. You can read more on his passing here at CNN today...

...AND our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke has written a nice remembrance of Pekar for his latest installment of Jahnke's Electric Theatre today. So do check it out.

Well, I would say the big release news today, is that Warner Home Video has just announced the next pair of Harry Potter Ultimate Edition box sets. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will both street on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/19 (SRP $39.92 for DVD and $49.99 for Blu-ray). All of the previous DVD and Blu-ray special features will be included, along with the new Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 3: Creatures documentary (on Azkaban) and Creating the World of Harry Potter Part 4: Sound & Music (on Goblet of Fire). Each will also include a bonus Digital Copy. Azkaban will also include a 48-Page Creatures photo book, 2 collectible Character Cards (Hermione Granger and Sirius Black) and a Year 3 Lenticular Card, while Goblet of Fire will include a 44-Page Sound & Music photo book, 2 more collectible Character Cards (Ronald Weasley and Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody) and a Year 4 Lenticular Card. [Editor's Note: We have confirmed with WHV that - unlike the first two Potter UEs - there will be no extended versions of the films on these sets.]

Warner has also set TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Busby Berkeley Musicals (includes Dames, Gold Diggers of 1937, Footlight Parade and 42nd Street) and TCM Greatest Classic Films Collection: Astaire and Rogers (includes The Gay Divorcee, Swing Time, Top Hat and Shall We Dance) for DVD release on 9/28 (SRP $27.92 SRP).

Meanwhile, Lionsgate has added Doc West and Fierce People to its 9/7 DVD slate, followed by the Studio Canal titles Delicatessen and The Third Man on Blu-ray on 9/14, and The Legend of Bruce Lee on DVD only on 9/21.

Sony has set The Experiment for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/21. The studio will release Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs on DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/21 as well. [Editor's Note: The 9/21 street date is listed on the studio's press site at the moment, but a PR source is now telling us that Micmacs is being moved to the end of the year, so adjust your plans accordingly. We'll post an update with the new street date as soon as it's available.]

Hey! Here's some good Blu-ray catalog news: Paramount and DreamWorks have set The Peacemaker for Blu-ray release on 9/21, along with an American Beauty: Sapphire Series Blu-ray. Peacemaker will include Stunt Footage, From the Cutting Room Floor... and the trailer (in HD), while extras on American Beauty will include commentary with director Sam Mendes and screenwriter Alan Ball, the American Beauty: Look Closer... documentary, a Storyboard Presentation with Mendes and director of photography Conrad L. Hall, and theatrical trailers (in HD). Maybe the high-def catalog offerings are starting to pick up from the Mountain! We sure hope so.

Paramount is also releasing Shogun on DVD on 9/14, and they've set South Park: A Little Box of Butters and The LXD: The Uprising Begins for DVD release on 9/28 for Comedy Central.

We also expect the official DVD and Blu-ray announcement of Iron Man 2 to happen sometime in the next two weeks, prior to Comic-Con, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Here's another cool announcement: First Look is releasing the first ever producing collaboration between David Lynch and Werner Herzog on DVD on 9/14 (SRP $24.98), the psychological thriller My Son, My Son What Have Ye Done, starring Michael Shannon, Chloë Sevigny, and Willem Dafoe. Extras will include commentaries by Herzog, writer Herb Golder and producer Eric Bassett, interviews with Golder and Herzog, behind-the-scenes footage, and the director Ramin Bahrani's short film Plastic Bag.

Shout! Factory has set The Norm Show: The Complete Series for DVD release on 9/7. The 8-disc set will include all 54 episodes, plus exclusive commentary by series creators Norm Macdonald and Executive Producer Bruce Helford, a DVD booklet and liner notes written by Helford and Macdonald.

And Sony Pictures is offering each of you the chance to vote on which Harryhausen classic you'd like them to release next on Blu-ray! The choice is between The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Mysterious Island and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. Click here for the details. Thanks to Bits reader Jack P. for sending this in!

Here's cover art for Criterion's The Thin Red Line on Blu-ray (due 9/28), along with Paramount and DreamWorks' The Peacemaker and American Beauty...

The Thin Red Line (Criterion Blu-ray Disc)The Peacemaker (Blu-ray Disc)American Beauty (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally today, here's something completely non-movie related, but sweet. Guess what we found in our backyard last night here in Orange County, happily sleeping away in a pile of cute...

Napping Raccoons

Stay tuned... ;)

7/9/10

Okay, we've got a little more news for you today to close out the week. But first, two items of business...

Our Digital Bits Comic-Con 2010 T-shirts are now for those of you who may be interested. They're affordable (just $13.99), they're damn-fine quality Hanes Beefy-Ts and they even feature a clever slogan our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke came up with. So do check them out.

Speaking of Comic-Con, the official programming schedule has just started being released, and the good news is that our Digital Bits producers panel is ISN'T scheduled opposite the biggest Hall H event of the weekend for a change! The Tron: Legacy panel starts in Hall H at 11:45 AM on Thursday, and will be over well before we begin at 1PM. For the record, Digital Bits: DVD/BD Producers 2010 will run from 1 to 2PM on Thursday, July 22nd, in Room 32AB. I'll be there along with Doogan and Jahnke, and our panelists will include producers Cliff Stephenson (Rambo: Director's Cut, The Expendables), Charles de Lauzirika (Robin Hood, Alien Anthology Blu-ray), Javier Soto (Predators, Mimic/The Devil's Backbone BDs) and Brian Ward (Transformers/G.I. Joe TV series, Max Headroom). It should be fun as always, so we hope to see you there!

In announcement news today, Home Media is reporting that Best Buy will get an exclusive 2-disc Blu-ray version of DreamWorks' Anchorman. Specifically, the Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy - The Unrated Rich Mahogany Edition will be available in Best Buys stores only starting on 8/31 (SRP $29.99). It appears that most all the previous DVD extras will included, along with new outtakes, table reads, a recording session for Afternoon Delight and cast auditions.

Our friends over at Shout! Factory tell us that the Corman title Attack of the Crab Monsters/Not of This Earth is due in early November. We expect more details soon. [Editor's Note: We've since learned that the title may actually get delayed until early 2011, but it's going to be worth the wait. We'll post more details when we have them.]

Fox has set Mary Tyler Moore: The Complete Seventh Season for DVD release on 10/5 (SRP $29.98). All 24 episodes of the show's final season will be included on 3 discs, along with "the never-before-available and fan requested Final Curtain Call, which aired only once on March 19, 1977." Sounds pretty cool. I really loved Ted Knight on that show.

Magnolia Home Entertainment will release The Job on DVD on 7/27, starring Ron Perlman and Joe Pantoliano.

National Entertainment Media has announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of Triage, starring Colin Farrell, on 8/10 (SRP ($24.98 each). The film a "war-torn psychological drama" from the director of No Man's Land.

Anchor Bay has also set Adam Green's Frozen for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/28 (SRP $29.97 and $34.99).

And here's something kind of cool: To promote the theatrical release of Lionsgate's The Expendables, the studio has had an "8-bit videogame" created that you can play on Facebook. Check it out here.

And in other home video industry news, a group of consumer electronics companies (LG, Samsung, Sony and Valens Semiconductor) has just announced a new HDBaseT cable/signal connection format intended to replace current HDMI. It's based on CAT5e/6 LAN Ethernet cable. Interesting. I haven't looked into this much, so I'm curious to see what some of you industry experts and enthusiasts think. You can read all about it here on the group's official website.

Finally, the Emmy nominations were announced the other day, and Glee and Mad Men look like the big attention-getters. I thought it was pretty cool to see Conan O'Brien's Tonight Show also get a nod, and I was especially glad to see South Park get nominated for the very episodes that caused such a stir recently. Bravo! You can check out the full list here.

Okay, that's a wrap. Enjoy the World Cup finale... and Predators, Despicable Me and what have you. Have a great weekend!

7/8/10

Afternoon, folks... we've got more new titles announcements for you today, as you'd expect...

First though, our very own Dr. Adam Jahnke has updated his Electric Theatre column with reviews of Winter's Bone and Cyrus, now in theatres, as well as a Tales from the Queue look at Mumford and See Spot Run on disc. Enjoy!

We've also got an update on some older announcements: We've learned that MGM's Escape from New York and Bull Durham (due on 8/3) will be Blu-ray+DVD Combo sets. There are no new extras on the Blu-rays, but the DVDs will include all of the previously-released special features. Meanwhile, the Coen Brothers' Blood Simple, which, had also been initially set for release on Blu-ray on 8/3, has been delayed. We'll try to update you on that when there's new information to report.

Escape from New York (Blu-ray Disc)Bull Durham (Blu-ray Disc)Fanboys (U.S. Blu-ray Disc)

Thought I'd toss in the U.S. Blu-ray art for Fanboys (due 7/27) as well, for those of you who haven't already got the Canadian release.

In new announcements, Sony has set the DVD release of Rules of Engagement: The Complete Third Season and Who is Clark Rockefeller? for 9/14, followed by 30 Days of Night: Dark Days on both DVD and Blu-ray+DVD Combo on 10/5.

Warner Home Video has set Scooby's All Star Laff-A-Lympics: Volume Two and Scooby-Doo Where Are You?: Season One, Volume Four for DVD release on 10/19. For the BBC, Warner is also releasing Prehistoric Park on DVD on 9/28.

Any MacGruber fans in the house? Universal's set the film for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/7. Looks like you'll be getting both the theatrical version and an unrated cut on the same disc. Quick, hand me that paperclip, the Twizzlers and some wood putty... *BOOM*

20th Century Fox has set Modern Family: The Complete First Season for DVD and Blu-ray release on 9/21 (SRP $49.98 and $59.99). You'll get all 24 episodes, along with cast interviews, 5 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Real Modern Family Moments, Before Modern Family, Fizbo the Clown, Modern Family: Making of Family Portrait and Modern Family Hawaii), deleted, extended and alternate scenes, a gag reel and more.

Modern Family: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Disc)Modern Family: The Complete First Season (DVD)Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection (DVD)

Acorn Media is launching Helen Mirren's Prime Suspect: The Complete Collection on DVD here in the States on 9/7 (SRP $124.99). The 9-disc set will include 9 feature-length installments of the British series, along with a 50-minute behind-the-scene special, a Series 6 featurette, a photo gallery and filmographies.

Lionsgate has slated two more of their new StudioCanal Collection titles for Blu-ray Disc release on 9/14 according to Home Media: The Third Man and Delicatessen (SRP $39.99 each). The Third Man will include a new commentary with assistant director Guy Hamilton, actor Simon Callow and crew member Angela Allen, a new "interactive" tour of Vienna, The Third Man on the Radio featurette, audio interviews with actor Joseph Cotten and writer Graham Greene, an alternative opening, an interview with Cornelia Mayer, a stills gallery, trailers and a 20-page booklet. Delicatessen will include commentary with co-director Jean-Pierre Jeunet, a documentary, 2 featurettes (including The Archives of Jean-Pierre Jeunet) and a 20-page booklet.

Don't forget, CBS and Paramount have NCIS: Los Angeles - The First Season coming to BOTH DVD and Blu-ray on 8/31.

Well Go USA has officially announced the DVD and Blu-ray release of the teen thriller Triple Dog on 9/21 (SRP $24.98 and $26.98 respectively). Extras will include deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes interviews and a photo gallery.

E1 Entertainment has set The Deadly Shift for DVD release on 7/27, along with Don't Look Up on DVD and Blu-ray and Ray Bradbury's Chrysalis on DVD.

Infinity Entertainment has announced The Judy Garland Show: Volume 5 for DVD release on 8/31 (SRP $19.98). The 2-episode set will include guests Steve Allen, Mel Tormé, Jayne Meadows and Diahann Carroll.

PBS is releasing the new Among the Righteous: Los Stories from the Holocaust in Arab Lands documentary on DVD on 7/6.

The Cinema Guild is releasing Agnes Varda's Cinevardaphoto on DVD on 8/31 (SRP $29.95). Included are the short films Ydessa, The Bears and Etc., Ulysses and Salut les Cubains. You'll also get 6 additional short films by Varda and a bonus documentary on her work.

On a related note, Bits reader Dave C. informs us that he's learned from Universal that their upcoming Back to the Future Blu-ray set will feature a slipcase and possibly Digipack packaging. However, the studio may consider using standard Blu-ray cases inside the slipcase for each movie (with the individual film artwork) if enough people request it. We don't really have an opinion either way, but if you'd like to weigh in with your preferences, you can contact Universal (politely) here.

Here's something funny from around the Net, sent in by Bits reader Scott S. (thanks Scott!) and posted on SCI FI Wire. It's a plot description for Batman (or is it Spider-Man?) printed on the back of the packaging for a bootleg copy of... Batman? We think Batman. And if your brain isn't bleeding after reading it, you're a better man than I. Very funny!

Elsewhere around the Net today, Variety is reporting (on a page you can't read) that Fox is re-releasing Avatar into theaters on 8/27 for a limited time (exclusively in 3D) in a new Special Edition with 8 new minutes of footage, including new creatures and action scenes. No Na'vi sex scene however, reports SCI FI Wire. That's probably being saved for the ultimate DVD/BD box set. So you know... there's still something for the kids to look forward to.

And in completely non-DVD or Blu-ray related news, there's a Famous Monsters of Filmland convention in Indianapolis, IN all this weekend at the Wyndham Hotel. So if you happen to see zombies walking down the street in Indy this weekend, don't be alarmed! Perfectly natural. There's also a Dark Shadows convention coming here to L.A. on July 16-18th at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Hotel.

Stay tuned!

7/7/10

How's about some more new announcements for you guys this morning?

Here's a good one: Anchor Bay Entertainment has finally, officially, announced the 2-disc Blu-ray Disc release of The Evil Dead on 8/31 (SRP $29.99). Here's what's cool about that: Director Sam Raimi has personally supervised TWO brand new 1080p HD transfers, both of which will be included on the Blu-ray in the set - a 1.85 aspect ratio presentation and the original director-composed 1.33 ratio. Both will be presented with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio, and the set will include a brand new audio commentary track with Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and start Bruce Campbell! In addition, a second DVD disc will contain many of the previous DVD special features - some of which haven't been available in print in several years - including One by One We Will Take You: The Untold Saga of The Evil Dead, The Evil Dead: Treasures from the Cutting Room Floor, The Ladies of The Evil Dead Meet Bruce Campbell, Book of The Dead: The Other Pages, Discovering The Evil Dead, Unconventional and At the Drive-In. We've posted it before, but here's the cover art one more time. Awesome...

The Evil Dead (Blu-ray Disc)The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Blu-ray Disc)The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season (DVD)

Meanwhile (see art above), 20th Century Fox has officially set The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 8/24 (SRP $49.98 and $59.99). All 22 episodes will be included, along with audio commentaries on every episode (featuring executive producers, writers, directors, cast and notable guest stars on select episodes including Stan Lee, Joe Mantegna, Delroy Lindo, Robert Pinsky and others), deleted scenes, 7 featurettes (A Token from Matt Groening, Ralphisms, The People Ball, The 13th Crewman, Blame It On The Monkeys, The Games and The Sweet Life of Ralph), Animation Showcases for the episodes The Parent Rap and Sweet & Sour Marge (including animatics and storyboards via PiP), sketch galleries, TV commercials, a Special Language Feature and Easter eggs. And those of you who head down to Comic-Con later this month will be able to purchase the "molded head" DVD more than a month early at the Fox booth (#4313) - you'll also get a collectible limited edition lithograph with the purchase.

In other news today, as reported by Ralph Tribbey's excellent DVD Release Report, Warner Home Video has confirmed that it will release Robert Altman's long-awaited Brewster McCloud on DVD on 7/13.

Shout! Factory has finally, officially, announced the DVD release of Max Headroom: The Complete Series as a 5-disc set due on 8/10 (SRP $49.97). You'll get all 14 episodes in special 3-D lenticular exterior packaging. Extras will include 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Live on Network 23: The Story of Max Headroom, Looking Back at the Future, The Big-Time Blanks, The Science Behind the Fiction, Producing Dystopia and The Writers Remember) each featuring all-new interviews with members of the creators, cast and production crew.

MTI has set Say Goodnight for DVD release on 8/10.

Summit Entertainment has set Letters to Juliet for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 9/14. Extras will include director's commentary, deleted scenes and a pair of behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Lionsgate has set Under the Mountain for DVD release on 8/10.

E1 Entertainment has set Helen (starring Ashley Judd) for DVD and Blu-ray Disc release on 8/10, along with Manuela & Manual and Just Say Love on DVD.

HBO is releasing Bill Maher... "But I'm Not Wrong" on DVD on 9/14.

One more Anchor Bay note - they're also releasing Stripped Naked on DVD only on 9/21 (SRP $19.98).

And on the CD soundtrack front, La La Land Records has just released the score from Diary of a Wimpy Kid (SRP $15.98 - music by Theodore Shapiro), along with a CD of the combined scores from Office Space and Idiocracy (SRP $19.98 - music by John Frizzell and Theodore Shapiro).

Stay tuned...

7/6/10

Morning, folks! Hope you're all back from the holidays rested and recharged... or at least, you know, fully caffinated and capable of coping with being back at work. ;)

As promised, I'm pleased to present a new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell, featuring reviews of 13 great new and recent classic titles on DVD and Blu-ray! The DVD reviews this time include Warner Archive's Escape and Cry 'Havoc', Warner's Louis L'Amour Western Collection (includes The Sacketts, Conagher and Catlow), VCI's British Film Noir (includes Twilight Women & The Slasher), Sony's Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics II and The Three Stooges Collection: Volume 8, Infinity Entertainment's Bing Crosby: The Television Specials - Volume One, Universal's The Barbara Stanwyck Collection, Timeless Media's The Virginian: The Complete First Season, Flicker Alley's The Italian Straw Hat and Alliance Canada's The Showdown. Barrie also looks at a pair of classic Blu-ray releases: Warner's A Star Is Born and Universal's Spartacus. Enjoy!

Also, our own Russell Hammond has once again updated the Release Dates & Artwork section with all the latest DVD and Blu-ray cover art and Amazon.com pre-order links. As always, a small portion of anything you order from Amazon after you click to them through our links goes to help support our work here at The Bits and we really appreciate it.

And we've also kicked off a new Giveaway here at The Bits, giving each of you the chance to take home copies of Warner's The Closer: The Complete Fifth Season and the Tom & Jerry: Deluxe Anniversary Edition on DVD, as well as the BBC's How the Earth Changed History on Blu-ray. Entries for that will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, 7/11. Click the links to see how to enter, and good luck!

Now then... in announcement news today, Warner Home Video has just announced The Extreme Hangover Edition for release on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 10/12 (SRP $39.92 and $49.99). All of the extras from the previous versions will be included, along with a new "never-before-seen 28-page wedding album featuring missing photos from the ill-fated Vegas wedding and more incriminating photos from the lost camera that you couldn't see in theaters". The Blu-ray will also add an exclusive picture-in-picture commentary with stars Bradley Cooper, Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Todd Phillips, and BD-Live content (in this case the Iron Mike Online Teaser featuring his rendition of In the Air Tonight and a Cursing Mash-Up).

Also today, here's something interesting: Bits reader Steven C. has uncovered the answer to the question "Whatever happened to the DVD release of Me & Orson Welles?" Well... as it turns out, it appears that Warner Home Video has made an deal with Target to make the DVD release a Target exclusive on 8/17. There's no word about a Blu-ray release yet, but here's a link to the order page for the DVD on the Target website. We expect the film will be more widely available on DVD later this year or early next, hopefully with a BD release too. Meanwhile, here's a look at the DVD cover art...

Me & Orson Welles (DVD - Target exclusive)The Office: Season Six (Blu-ray Disc)Stephen Fry in America (Blu-ray Disc)

As you can see, we've also included cover art for Universal's The Office: Season Six (due 9/7) and BFS Entertainment's Stephen Fry in America (7/27) on Blu-ray.

Finally this morning, you'll no doubt recall that, last week, I posted a screenshot from Fox's new Predator: Ultimate Hunter Edition to illustrate just how overboard the studio went in digitally scrubbing grain out of the image. Well... nothing tells the full story like the images themselves, so I thought you guys might like to see a direct comparison of the shot from the new disc with the same shot from Fox's original Predator Blu-ray. So here you go. Here's the original disc (top) compared to the new one (bottom). I've only resized them for posting here, and they're otherwise un-retouched (you can click on the images to see the pages were the original full-size shots are posted)...

Fox's original Predator Blu-ray.

The new Blu-ray image. This is STILL fucking appalling...

The original BD screenshot is by Dave Cowl of Blu-rayStats.com and, once again, the Ultimate Hunter BD screenshot is by Justin Sluss of HighDefDiscNews.com. (Good job, guys!) As you can see, there's a big difference between them. Look at all the very subtle details in Arnold's face that have been smoothed away in the new Blu-ray image - the faint textures of skin and especially his stubble. The original BD presentation, while somewhat grainy, looks natural. In the new one, Arnold's complexion looks waxy - as if he's been polished with Armor All. In addition, the complete lack of grain in the new version makes the image look highly unnatural - almost as if Predator were newly shot on HD video. It's certainly not film-like, which it should be given the fact that Predator IS, after all, a film - as shot on film - from 1987. When comparing them in your own viewing environment, the larger your monitor, the more you'll see (and likely be irritated by) the differences in the two discs.

Anyway, we wish the studio had split the difference somehow in their digital remastering. There's a happy medium to be found here that would have made all the difference. Can't we dial the grain back without removing it completely? Leaving a hint of it would have left the image looking appropriately film-like, while at the same time answering select complaints (from the first release) about the film being a "grain storm". Again, I'm not against the use of DNR when mastering classic films for Blu-ray, I just think it really needs to be applied with a more careful hand. My own feeling is that, when you blow up a catalog film BD image to the size of a typical front projection screen size (say 90-120" inches), the image should exhibit at least a hint of visible grain to retain it's film-like appearance. That means, when the digital clean-up work is done, the master should be previewed for approval on a screen of that size to check whether a little grain remains visible. In any case, there you go - the difference between the two Blu-rays doesn't get more obvious than that. You judge for yourself. We certainly recommend you not part with your original Blu-ray if you care about such things.

And with that, enough said on this subject for a while. I hope we've made the point, and that you all understand both WHY we think it's important to make... and the spirit in which it's intended.

Stay tuned!

7/5/10

Well... I went and forgot that today is a Federal and business holiday, so lots of you ain't sittin' at yer desks this morning. Hope you're all having a good time, no matter where you are!

We do have a couple bits of release news for you today...

First, Sony has set The 3 Worlds of Gulliver for DVD release on 9/14, along with Who is Clark Rockefeller? and Rules of Engagement: The Complete Third Season. The studio has also set The Square for DVD and Blu-ray release on 8/24.

And Disney has confirmed a trio of documentary titles for DVD only release in November. Included will be The Boys: The Sherman Brothers Story, Waking Sleeping Beauty and Walt & El Grupo, all due on 11/30 (SRP $29.99 each). The Boys examines the musical legacy of Richard and Robert Sherman, the song-writing duo behind such Disney classics as Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats (and also Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Snoopy, Come Home, Charlotte's Web and many more). Waking Sleeping Beauty is an inside look at the period that many call Disney's second Golden Age of animation - the decade that resulted in The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. And Walt & El Grupo is a look at a goodwill tour undertaken by Walt Disney and his artists to South America, which resulted in the films Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros. They all sound pretty cool - I'm certainly looking forward to checking them out.

We've also got a look at some more new cover art for you - all three of the Disney DVD titles we just mentioned, along with Warner's Alien Autopsy DVD (due 9/21) and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Blu-ray (10/5), as well as Universal's Unleashed: Unrated (9/14) on Blu-ray...

Waking Sleeping Beauty (DVD)The Boys: The Sherman Brothers' Story (DVD)Walt & El Grupo (DVD)

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving (Blu-ray Disc)Unleashed: Unrated (Blu-ray Disc)Alien Autopsy (DVD)

Speaking of artwork, this has been floating around the Net for a few weeks now (it originated on the polish DVD website dahf.dk). We've resisted posting it until more official information was available from Fox, but such has not been forthcoming. So here's a look at the possible packaging for the yet-to-be announced Alien Anthology Blu-ray box set we all know is on the way for the holidays. There's two versions of the standard packaging on the left (or it might be alternate sides of the same box), and on the right is a deluxe packaging version in which the box on the left comes contained in a plastic egg replica. Word is the set is due in Europe in October, so expect a similarly-timed release here in the States...

Alien Anthology (Temp Art - Blu-ray Disc)Alien Anthology (Temp Art - Blu-ray Disc)Alien Anthology (Deluxe Blu-ray Packaging)

Pretty cool! Hopefully Fox will offer some more insights soon.

Back with more tomorrow, including a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie. Stay tuned...!


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