UPDATE (8/13/98 - 4:15 PM PST)
For those of you who haven't yet heard, Lucasfilm has announced the
release date for Star Wars: Episode I.
Look for it to hit theaters on May 21st, 1999. Note that it WILL NOT be
opened in a record number of theaters. Lucas is only allowing theaters
with the highest quality sound and projection equipment to show the
film. Can you say THX? Just imagine how may theaters will be scrambling
to get certified...
In other Star Wars news, be sure
to check out the official Star
Wars web site, for lots of cool behind-the-scenes information
on the making of the prequel. I've been particularly fascinated by
Lynne Hale's behind the
scenes diary on the making of the prequel. She works at Lucasfilm,
and has complete access to the materials and personnel over there. Her
first installment, which is available on the Internet via
Real Video, was an interview with
George Lucas himself, taped the very day he began writing Episode
I. Really interesting, and first rate stuff - don't miss it.
FYI - Lucasfilm has told me that there is no truth to the rumor that
the Star Wars Trilogy: Special Edition
will be rereleased on laserdisc and VHS prior to the release of Episode
I. No word yet on a DVD version...
Paramount today faxed me the disc specs for their upcoming DVD titles.
You'll find the details
Several people have asked me if Chitty
Chitty Bang Bang was originally filmed in a 1.66:1 aspect
ratio, thus justifying a pan & scan release. The original theatrical
aspect ration (according to the Internet
Movie Data Base) was 2.20:1. Also, Gone
With the Wind's original aspect ratio was 1.37:1, however a
number of 70mm prints were released in a 2.20:1 ratio.
Finally, some of those DVD reviews are ready. Check out Todd's 2 cents
on some offbeat titles: The
Whew... that's enough writing for today! More tomorrow...
EARLY UPDATE (8/13/98 - 11AM PST)
Well, Laserviews has made a
whole series of new DVD announcements from MGM, Columbia and Warner for
the next few months. Among the titles coming from MGM are:
Bridge Too Far - 10/20 - 16x9,
LBX, RSDL, DD 4.0
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - 10/20 -
P&S, THX, RSDL, DD 5.1
Gone With the Wind - 10/27 -
flipper, DD 5.1
Last Tango in Paris - 10/20 -
16x9, LBX, DD 1.0
Species 2 - 10/20 - 16x9, LBX,
RSDL, DD 5.1
West Side Story - 10/20 - 16x9,
LBX, RSDL, DD 5.1
Some great titles, but some major disappointments here. First of all,
Gone With the Wind does not
indicate 16x9 enhancement. The fact that it will be a flipper, however,
doesn't bother me. This is a film that was shown in theaters with a
natural intermission, so a side break is not inappropriate. Also, for a
film this long, breaking over two sides allows the highest possible bit
rate to be used for the video, thus maintaining quality. What is more
disturbing to me, is that Chitty Chitty Bang
Bang is listed as a THX pan & scan title! Note to MGM -
NO MORE PAN & SCAN ONLY TITLES! What are you thinking?
Columbia TriStar is weighing in this fall with:
The Big Hit: SE - 10/20 - 16x9,
LBX, P&S, DD 5.1
Midnight Express - 10/20 - 16x9,
LBX, P&S, DD 1.0
The Opposite of Sex: SE - 10/20 -
16x9, LBX, P&S, DD 4.0
Let's talk Warner Bros. Titles upcoming from them are:
A Perfect Murder: SE - 10/27 -
16x9, LBX, P&S, DD 5.1
Quest for Camelot: SE - 16x9, LBX,
I'm very happy to see Warner and Columbia continuing their commitment
to 16x9 enhancement of their titles. I continue to believe that 16x9
enhancement is critically important for widescreen movies on DVD. I get
a lot of people asking me why I'm so fervent in this position, despite
not having a 16x9 capable display. Here's the biggest reason - doing
16x9 on DVD ALWAYS requires a brand new transfer. And new transfers,
done specifically for DVD, are almost always better than existing ones.
More care is being taken today when doing transfers. And more
importantly, many of the transfers done for laserdisc are several years
old, and may very likely have an analog master. A new transfer is far
more likely to use all-digital elements, which will always produce a
better looking DVD. One need only view a Columbia TriStar DVD to see how
much we ALL benefit from new, digital 16x9 transfers. And then in 5 to
10 years, as we starting converting to Digital TV (with its 16x9 aspect
ratio), you'll very much appreciate the 16x9 enhanced DVDs in your
By the way, Laserviews also
confirms that HBO is recalling and remanufacturing it's defective No
The San Francisco Chronicle
has a new article on the Latest Video War
between DVD and Divx. You can read the article
In other news that may have significant ramifications for DVD and Divx,
the U.S. House of Representatives
has finally passed (on 8/4) their version of the
Millennium Copyright Act, which defines for the first time the
crime of "circumvention" or deliberate removal of copy
protection mechanisms from software, hardware and other digital media
The Senate approved its version of
the legislation in May (see
Now begins the long process of reconciling the two versions for
ratification. No doubt this move has a lot to do with the holdout
studios feeling a bit more comfortable with DVD. Movie industry champion
Jack Valenti (chief exec of the Motion
Picture Association of America) has long been active in the
political arena on this very issue (see
Finally... you'll find lots more exciting inside info on upcoming DVD
titles from the studios in today's Rumor
Mill. I'll be revealing more in the next day or two. And later
this afternoon, I'll be posting some of those new DVD reviews I
mentioned yesterday... stay tuned!
Today is a major review day here at the Bits.
I'm working on Wag the Dog, Dark
City and Oliver! among
other titles. Todd is working fervently on a series of some of the more
off-beat DVD titles available, including Toxic
Avenger, The Asphyx and
Ganja and Hess. Somewhere in the
next week, I'm also going to weigh in with Ran,
while Todd antes up with Seven Samurai
(we're both big Kurosawa fans).
In the meantime, you can read Paramount's press release at the
Viacom site, and I see
that you can preorder the Fox DVDs from them. I'm sure lots of retailers
are doing the same.
Finally, I'm sure you all read the news that Ultimate Electronics
(which also owns Soundtrack stores) will be carrying Divx when the fall
roll-out happens. The president of Ultimate Electronics is Dave Workman.
I'd encourage you all to POLITELY AND COURTEOUSLY direct your comments
and feelings about Divx (and Ultimate's carrying it) to Mr. Workman at
the following address:
Dave Workman C/O Soundtrack
321A West 84th Ave.
Thornton, CO. 80221
Remember... be POLITE AND COURTEOUS! Stay tuned...
Well, after all of yesterday's excitement, there's some new information
I've received on DreamWorks, Divx and possible Fox DVD titles. You can
find it in today's Rumor
Also, it looks as though another retailer (although a minor one) has
decided to carry Divx players when the nationwide rollout happens this
fall. You can read the announcement
Finally, I received Paramount's DVD press kit yesterday, just a couple
of hours after the press release went out over the wires. The kit is an
Amaray DVD keep case, containing the official press release and a 35mm
slide of Paramount's new DVD logo. The insert of the keep case also has
the logo all over it. It features Paramount's 'mountain' symbol, laid
over the reflective surface of a DVD. Rather cool. In fact, cool enough
that I though you'd all get a kick out of it, so here it is...
Finally, I know a lot of you have expressed concern over the high price
of Fox's initial DVDs, the lackluster mix of titles and the lack of
announced disc features. Remember that Universal's DVD plans were a mess
when they first introduced titles (lack of features, pan & scan only
releases, that silly jewel case)... now they're releasing tons of
titles, including some of the best DVDs available (hey - even Half
Baked was in anamorphic widescreen). And the features on
their Collector's Edition series are fantastic. So as far as Fox...
let's just wait and see what happens in the next few months. Stay
LATE UPDATE (8/10/98 - 3 PM - PST)
And then there was one...
Today's flurry of DVD announcements by Fox and Paramount have left
DreamWorks SKG (and wunderkind Steven Spielberg) as the sole remaining
studio holdout from the DVD format. It's been a rather exciting day for
DVD fans all in all.
I've decided to take a moment to chime in here with my comments on
today's news. First of all, let's talk Paramount. Finally (!)... they
got around to announcing their titles. The tension on the Internet the
last few weeks has certainly been at an all time high, awaiting this
press release. I'm very pleased to look back through the information my
contacts forwarded me about Paramount's DVD plans. Nearly all of it was
proven correct, from specific titles to disc features, pricing and even
release dates. Of all the titles mentioned, only Grease
was postponed - but that's to be expected in this business. The
announcement itself was delayed from a couple of weeks ago, when it was
originally expected, but that too is not uncommon. The important thing
to keep in mind is, that this announcement reveals that Paramount is
truly committed to DVD.
To the folks at Paramount Home Video, I'd like to say... bravo! You're
jumping into the DVD market feet-first, and at full speed. I know that
you folks have had your work cut out for you, what with preparing to
release Titanic to video, not to
mention getting your DVD plans lined up. This announcement is, I think,
among the most exciting for the DVD format yet.
Just consider this... Paramount's first month of releases will contain
the latest Star Trek film (First
Contact - rightly called their most requested DVD title), one
of their bigger recent hits in Face/Off,
their latest Tom Clancy film (Clear and
Present Danger) and one of their all time biggest hits, Top
Gun. And there are six other titles coming in October alone,
and some fifteen others by the end of the year, including more Trek
films. That is a very impressive start!
I'm sure there are already people complaining about the premium price
(SRP $29.99) but at LEAST these DVDs will be full featured, which is
more than I can say for some other studios charging a similar price.
Almost all will have theatrical trailers. All will be in widescreen (and
I'm told most will be anamorphic to boot). Top
Gun will also have pan & scan (this flick should make a
fantastic DVD!). The Saint will
have a commentary track. All in all, I'd say Paramount's commitment to
DVD looks terrific. And the studio is a very welcome addition to the DVD
bandwagon (at least in my opinion). Note to Paramount: if you can get
Braveheart and Titanic
out by the holidays (RSDL and 16x9 enhanced of course), you will
definitely have won me over big...
Fox on the other hand, has me a bit worried. The announcement didn't
really come as anything other than a mildly pleasant surprise. Those who
have read the Bits for any length
of time, will know that I've felt they were close to announcing for a
few weeks now. I know that it It nearly happened at VSDA, and then when
those Region 2 discs were announced... well, they certainly couldn't
keep saying that they "weren't in the DVD business" anymore.
What really worries me is the initial line-up. It's lackluster at best.
Not that I won't be happy with The Abyss,
but compared to Paramount's announcement, Fox's line-up is rather
pathetic. I certainly hope it doesn't reflect upon the seriousness of
their commitment to the DVD format. Then there's the price. $29.98 SRP
is not too cool for titles like Porky's
and Jingle All the Way. I think
Fox made a bit of a mistake announcing the price now, while saying
nothing about features (except that they'll be announced later). Fox is
going to take quite a bit of heat for it I'm sure. When they finally are
announced, the features had better be impressive to say the least
(expect my irritation to be LOUD if there's no 16x9 enhancement on these
discs). Now, granted Home Alone 3
and Hope Floats look to be
released on DVD right around the same time as the VHS versions, but at
$34.98? Who in their right mind will pay that kind of cash for Home
So what does Fox have to do to win over DVD fans (me included)? Two
things: release VERY FULL-FEATURED discs (not the plain-jane Buena Vista
variety - I'm talking Universal's Collector's Edition caliber here), and
get 3 or 4 good hits out before Christmas. How about X-Files:
Fight the Future? Maybe the first of the Alien
or Die Hard pix?
Of course, DVD fans are already talking about that Star
Wars Trilogy: Special Edition DVD boxed set (at this rate, I
can see the $150 price tag already). Well, don't hold your breath. I'm
told that it will definitely not happen this year, and probably not
until summer next year at the earliest. But at least now it's possible,
so there's always hope.
But, mixed though these announcements are, they're still very good for
DVD fans in general. Now if we could just get Spielberg to allow that
new Close Encounters: Collector's Edition
to be released on DVD, I'd be a real happy camper...
LATE UPDATE (8/10/98 - 11:30 AM PST)
Another quick update - Paramount has finally announced their DVD titles
today as well. Check out their press release
have my comments on both of today's announcements later this afternoon,
so stay tuned...
EARLY UPDATE (8/10/98 - 10:30 AM PST)
Well, the day we've all waited for is here. Twentieth Century Fox this
morning officially announced DVD support. The releases will start in
November, and are not exactly top-of-the-line-titles, but at least it's
a commitment. You can read the official press release
here. Now let's
just hope that they 16x9 enhance their discs... more on all this very
Just to let you all know, the reason for my silence this weekend is
that I did in fact buy the Mitsubishi TV. I'm now working hard to get my
living room back to some semblance of normality! I have to say that it
looks great - I'm very happy with it. After a quick session with the
ever-indispensable Video Essentials
DVD, I'm really impressed with the color, contrast and resolution.
Component video is really impressive. I've done side-by-side comparisons
with S-Video, and I do see a slight difference. It's almost shocking the
depth of picture I see now in a well-mastered DVD, that was missing on
my old Sony (to be fair, it was like an 8 year old TV). The Toshiba came
really close to swaying me, but I got a good deal on the Mitsu, and when
I do buy a 16x9 capable TV, I want to buy one bigger than 40". And
one that's digital-ready. So thanks for all the advice and opinions
Also, thanks to everyone who is participating in this month's
Trivia Contest! We've already got more
entries this month than last month, and the contest has only been up for
a few days.
For those of you with cable or satellite, Sci-Fi Channel's C-Net has a
short feature on Divx this week. You can also check out a
article on the C-Net site
(it's been up for a few weeks, but it's cool if you missed it).
Now that I've got a decent-sized TV, can't wait for NFL football (for
those of you who are not football fans, please forgive me this
particular personality quirk). I'm originally from the Midwest (NFC
Central "black and blue" territory). Back there, there starts
to be a chill in the air when football season rolls around. Of course,
here in California, we don't get that same change in the weather. But
every year about this time, I start getting the urge to grab the old
football and beat the crap out of a bunch of my best friends in a muddy
field somewhere. Call it the caveman in me. Every year about this time,
I also start saying things I'd never say in my right mind. Like... "Hey,
Denver shook off the curse of those four lost Superbowls last year -
maybe THIS year it's the Vikings' turn!" Some of you can understand
this, some maybe not. It's like this - some fans choose their favorite
team, others are born into it. I fall decidedly in the latter category.
My blood runs purple, and I have no doubt I'll die a Vikings fan. Ah
Before this last comment, know that I mean it in the most noble spirit
of friendly competition, with the greatest mutual respect for all those
of you who are (like me) die-hard fans of an NFC Central team... Bears,
Lions, Bucs and Packers SUCK!!
LATE UPDATE (8/7/98 - 12:30 PM PST)
This just in... CEMA DVD player sales numbers for the week ending July
31st are in - a whopping 40,057 players sold to dealers in one week!
This makes July the single biggest month for DVD player sales ever, with
a total of 84,709 sold to retail (beating June's 63,000). This is very
unusual, since the summer months are usually very soft for consumer
It also means that the number of players sold to retail in the U.S.
since the format's launch is now 710,033. Not bad at all, me thinks...
EARLY UPDATE (8/7/98 - 10 AM PST)
Thanks for everyone's recommendations and comments on the new TV. I've
gotten dozens of e-mails with advice, and it's much appreciated. I'll
let you all know what I've decided in a few days.
As promised, the Trivia Contest for
August is now on, giving five lucky readers the chance to win a DVD copy
of MGM's upcoming 2001: A Space Odyssey!
And as always, one of the five will win the Grand Prize and take home a
CDPlayRight Trio for DVD
care kit in addition to the DVD (you can read my
here). Not to shabby, eh?
Todd has weighed in with a trio of his own... a trio of reviews that
is. Be sure to read his take on MGM's
and comparative reviews of the
editions of Silence of the Lambs.
Finally, I've had a lot of people ask me about Preview
magazine. You may recall that I mentioned a few days ago, that The
Digital Bits got a nice mention in this month's issue. Preview
is just what it sounds like - a magazine published by Image
Entertainment, which previews the DVD and laserdisc releases that will
be available from Image in the coming months. You can usually get it for
free at your local DVD and laserdisc specialty store. In each issue,
Image's Director of Marketing Garrett Lee writes a regular column. This
month, he discusses DVD and the Internet. You can read his column
Also, be sure to visit the main Image
web site, where
you'll find most of the information contained in the magazine.
Well, that's about all for now. Enjoy the contest and reviews, and have
a great weekend everyone!
After a few hours of intense TV research yesterday, I believe I've
settled upon the choice for me: Mitsubishi's new VS-50603 50" rear
projection TV. For the price (under $2000) you get user adjustable
convergence and (better still) component video inputs. Anyone out there
have reviews or interesting information on this unit? On the other hand,
I hear tell that the Toshiba TW40F80 16x9 TV is also quite cool. Any
I've had a few people asking me for details on which receiver and
decoders I'm using in my sound system. For the record, I'm using the new
Technics SA-AX920 DD ready receiver, the Technics SH-AC300 Dolby Digital
decoder, and the Millennium 2.4.6 DTS decoder. Monster Cable is the
interconnect of choice here at the Bits.
All driven by my trusty Toshiba SD-3006 DVD player.
Speaking of DVD players, anyone else looking forward to Sony's new
7700? It's expected to replace the 7000 as their 1999 reference player.
It will feature the new DTS-output (now if DTS would just ante up with
the software...). I'm thinking it may be the new Official DVD Player of
The Digital Bits.
Speaking of Sony, I'd like to say a big hello to all the guys and gals
over there, who I'm told are big Bits
readers. Your support (and hard work) is much appreciated. Drop me a
line and say hello when you get a chance!
There are some interesting DVD goings-on around the Net today. First of
all, Laserviews is finally back
from their hiatus, having relocated to the West coast (You're gonna dig
it here folks - just try to ignore the fact that your vote doesn't count
at election time). From ZDnet comes
word that DES encryption has been cracked in a mere 56 hours - can't
tell me that plenty of folks out there aren't working on Triple DES (so
watch out Divx)... check the article out
Hollywood Online has a
up today on DVD software market share. No sooner do I say that Troma is
making the first DVD-ready movie, I learn of an
from the The Salt Lake Tribune
about Planet Theory's I'm Your Man,
an interactive movie-game for DVD. I've also just found Jeff Phillips'
DVD Release List
- it's well organized and maintained, listing all the movies available
and coming to DVD. It's a bit slow loading, but it's definitely worth
the wait. Finally, I hear that a number of on-line retailers are already
taking preorders on those as-yet-unannounced Paramount DVD titles...
For those who prefer print magazines, check the September 1998 issue of
Stereo Review for another close-up
look at the Zenith Divx player. If you're a masochistic industry-type
and want to read more of my writing, you'll find my capsule reviews of
new DVD titles (and other occasional reports) starting in this week's
issue of Video Store magazine. I'm
also going to be a new regular columnist in another publication starting
in September. This one is available on newsstands everywhere, so I'll be
sure to tell you more when the time is right.
Unfortunately, Video Business has
asked me to remove the transcript of their Star
Trek to hit DVD article for copyright reasons. I have a lot
of respect for the folks over there, so I'm happy to comply. But hey -
if you folks would just get yourselves on-line, or at least update your
site at New Line
once in a while, there wouldn't be the need to transcribe things would
there? Just a thought...
Finally, the Trivia Contest for August
will be up tomorrow. Three new DVD reviews from Todd Doogan will be up
for Friday as well, including MGM's Thief
and both the Image and Criterion editions of Silence
of the Lambs. Stay tuned...!
Argh! No sooner do I get my new receiver hooked into my system, my TV
fails on me. Go figure. So unfortunately, today's update will be rather
minimal, as I must spend the afternoon searching for just the right
replacement. Technology (as much as I love it) can really be a pain...
I'm pleased to note that The Digital Bits
got a nice mention in Garrett Lee's monthly column in Image's new issue
of Preview magazine. Many thanks
for the kind words, Garrett.
Finally, Todd brought to my attention something you should all check
out. Troma Entertainment, creator of
fine "B" entertainment of the shock and horror variety, is
producing the first film shot with DVD in mind:
"In addition to pioneering on the Internet, Troma will also be
pioneering the world of DVD. By filming Terror
Firmer using multiple camera angles and tangential story
lines, the completed film will be the first ever theatrical feature to
take full advantage of the interactive potential of DVD. You will be
able to follow your favorite characters, and watch them be mutilated in
the way YOU CHOOSE."
Cool. Stay tuned...
Sorry today's update is so late. I had to get up at 4:30 AM this
morning to drop my good buddy Dave (the TV weatherman - oh excuse me
'meteorologist') off at the airport. Hey... wanna know how to piss off a
meteorologist? Let him drone on about marine layers, temperature
inversions and jet streams for about 10 minutes, then say: "Meteorologist
my @#& - you don't know jack about meteors!" Just trust me on
Well, it looks like another industry publication is confirming
Paramount's intention to announce their DVD titles soon. Video
Business has published a
this week's issue on the subject.
One of the things I'd been hearing in the last day or two, and it seems
to be confirmed by the Video Business
article, is that Paramount has bumped Grease
for another title (temporarily only). Read today's Rumor
Mill for the details.
Todd Doogan has weighed in with his opinion of Columbia/TriStar's
and the Argonauts DVD, so be sure to read his review.
Finally, I'm going to be spending my evening installing my new Technics
SA-AX920 Dolby Digital-ready receiver, so by the time you read this,
I'll likely be neck deep in Monster Cable. Gotta keep my neighbors on
their toes, and what better way to do it than with thunderous 6-channel
Dolby Digital and DTS sound? More tomorrow! ;-)
LATE UPDATE (8/3/98 - 2:45 PM PST)
I just found an article in this week's issue of Video
Store magazine that appears to conform Paramount's impending
DVD title announcement, and much of the title information. Check it out
PREVIOUS UPDATE (8/3/98 - 9 AM PST)
All right, now that most of the information (what I hadn't already
posted here) has been leaked by other sources, I've decided to reveal
the rest of the information I have on the Paramount DVD title
announcement. Check today's Rumor
Mill for the information.
FYI, I just posted my review of
Marshals this morning, and both Todd and I are working on more
The Centropolis web site
(Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich's company) has some information on what
the upcoming Godzilla DVD will
contain. Be sure to check that out (look in the News/Press section).
Andy Patrizio (over at CMPNet's
TechWeb) has written another fine
on the DVD vs. Divx controversy. Makes for interesting reading.
I'd like to point folks to Ryan Mannion's excellent
Ban Divx web
site. Ryan is the original creator of many of those excellent
anti-Divx banners you've been seeing around the Net (as a confessed X-Files
fan, the one below is a big favorite - very clever). Unfortunately,
there's been a rash of people recently stealing these banners without
permission and attempting to say they made them. I even had someone on
Friday night e-mail me the banner you see below, and say: "Also, I
made this animation GIF file about DIVX." Shame on anyone who has
attempted to take credit for Ryan's hard work. I know firsthand that
making animated banners as good as these takes a lot of effort.
It seems that anytime you try to stand up and make yourself heard
publicly on the Net (by creating a web site or posting your opinion to a
newsgroup), there always seems to be a small minority of loud, obnoxious
folks out there who will stop at nothing to either take credit for your
work, or sling mud and attempt to devalue your efforts. Some days it
makes you wonder if the Internet really doesn't deserve the bad
reputation is has in the eyes of most professionals. In any case, what
goes around usually comes around. But this last comment is for Ryan, and
anyone else on the Net with the guts to take a stand and be heard: don't
let it get you down, because for every loud idiot there is out there
that causes trouble for you, there are a vastly greater number of folks
(myself included) that really appreciate both what you do and how much
work you put into it. Enough said.
Finally, as requested yesterday, this came from the July 30th issue of
The Hollywood Reporter (thanks
'GWTW' on sale
Gone With The Wind will be
released for the first time at a sell-through price and on DVD this fall
by MGM Home Entertainment through distributor Warner Home Video. The 233
minute digitally restored movie will be presented on two VHS
videocassettes and a single DVD at a suggested retail price of $26.95
beginning October 27. The movie had never been priced below $89.98 but
is still among the top-selling titles.
Thanks to a number of readers who provided translation of that Japanese
video magazine from yesterday. It's pretty interesting I think - reveals
a little more of Fox's Region 2 DVD plans. You can find it
You'll also find my speculation on this in today's Rumor
There's a lot of house keeping things going on here today. I'm
tightening up my HTML code, and I've updated some of the studio graphics
in the Studio &
DVD News section. Should have at least the first of those reviews
up by tomorrow.
A request - I've been told that Friday's Hollywood
Reporter (yes, I know) had a brief mention on the upcoming
Gone With the Wind DVD. The
information was to the effect that it would appear day-and date with
VHS, and that it would sell for $24.95 (lowest SRP for this title in any
format so far). The mention was only a brief blurb, but if you have the
issue... please send me the text of the article for posting here.
LATE UPDATE (7/31/98 - 11:59 PM PST)
The winners in this month's Trivia Contest
have been announced (click here to see who won).
We had 107 entries this month - not as many as in June, but then these
questions were a lot harder. We promise the August contest will be a bit
less of a... workout. We're also going to be giving away copies of a
very cool, yet-to-be-released DVD title too. The August contest will be
up in just a few days, so stay tuned...!
PREVIOUS UPDATE (7/31/98 - 11 AM PST)
It's another big week for DVD player sales. CEMA just faxed me their
weekly report, indicating that 29,038 players were sold to dealers for
the week ending July 24th. That takes our running total since the
format's launch to 669,976.
I'm working on lots more DVD reviews, including U.S.
Marshals, Dark City and
The Replacement Killers. But in
the meantime, Todd gives you his take on the new Warner Bros release
the Dragon: Special Edition. Sounds like a great disc.
We'll be announcing the winners of the July Trivia
Contest later today, and we're gonna get the August contest up
right away. It was a tough one this month, but trust me - the new one's
gonna be a lot more accessible (and more fun). And we're giving away
copies of a brand new disc too! Stay tuned...
A couple of days ago in the Rumor
Mill, I posted a report that the Godzilla
DVD was mentioned in the Hollywood Reporter
as being released on November 3rd, day-and-date with VHS. That was in
error - I had seen the report in the Reporter
(which does not mention DVD), but then read the L.A.
Times (which did mention the DVD). Then I found the link to
the story on-line - Hollywood
On-Line to be specific! So I got all my sources mixed up.
Sorry about that (and thanks to all those readers who noticed it). Click
for the story I meant to reference.
Here's another interesting link -
on Yahoo about a new Polk Verity study which found that consumers
are unhappy about the DVD vs. Divx competing formats, and that the
confusion caused by this would prevent them from buying either. Anyone
else wish that Divx would just go away?
Finally, a reader sent me
scans of a
Japanese DVD magazine, that references those new Region 2 Fox DVD
releases. Anyone out there read Japanese? Translation please.
A word of advice to DVD buyers out there - steer clear of the recent
HBO title No Escape. As has been
reported on the newsgroups, there is a serious audio problem on the
discs. When the disc reaches chapter 34 (at about 1:50:24 on your
counter) the audio drops out completely and remains silent through the
end of the movie. Clearly a major quality control problem... stay tuned
for more on this.
A European reader has forwarded me the Region 2 DVD release list that
included those Fox titles (distributed by Pony Canyon). You'll find that
in today's Rumor
Finally, Buena Vista has sent over their official press release for
their October DVDs, indicating all the disc features. If you'll
remember, the October releases include Beauty
and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. You'll find that on
the Buena Vista
page in the Studio
& DVD News section.
More as it comes in... stay tuned.
Mill update includes an interesting piece of information I was
sent yesterday, regarding a possible quality issue with the video on
Divx discs. Remember that 'rain-splattering' effect I noticed back in
March? Looks like it may still be a problem...
There's an interesting new
press release from HBO
on their upcoming DVD titles. It provides some new details on their
November release of the collector's edition boxed-set of From
the Earth to the Moon. Should be very cool.
Finally, I'd like to welcome Todd Doogan to the Digital
Bits family. Todd is a film historian, videophile and
all-purpose writer based in Atlanta, GA. He's the featured DVD reviewer
over at TNT Rough Cut.com, and
when he grows up, "he wants to be a cowboy". Todd's a great
guy and will be doing lots of new DVD reviews here at the Bits,
starting with today's look at Sphere.
His reviews here (which are unique to the Bits)
will really give him a chance to expand his DVD analysis, beyond his
previous work (which is excellent in its own right). I think you'll
really dig his style. My goal here at the Bits
has always been quality over quantity, and Todd fits right in. Feel free
to drop him a line at: email@example.com.
Welcome aboard Todd - we're glad to have you!
I've been able to confirm a few last details about Paramount's upcoming
DVD titles. There should be two release waves in October (with 4 or 5
titles each), then 1 wave per month after that. Packaging is Amaray keep
case. Titles should be in line with what I've reported previously. Hang
tight for the official announcement - if not made by 12 noon PST, it may
have been delayed a day or two at the last minute. If it has been
delayed a day or two, keep in mind - this stuff happens.
However, to avoid speculation as is sure to come (ie: the "he's
staking his reputation" nonsense) I will not report further on this
story until the official announcement is made. Remember folks, it's just
DVD - it's not a religion. I love the format too, but I don't report
this stuff to stir the more 'excitable' folks on-line into a frenzy. I
do it just to give you a head's up as to what's going on
behind-the-scenes. So take a deep breath and let's not sit on pins and
needles out there, OK? The announcement is coming. Let's just wait for
In other news, I've found an interesting web site for the
DVD Forum (also known as the DVD
Consortium). Their official page refers to the forum as "an ad-hoc
association of hardware manufacturers, software firms and other users of
Digital Versatile Discs (the "DVD Format"), created for the
purpose of exchanging and disseminating ideas and information about the
DVD Format and its technical capabilities, improvements and innovations."
Another interesting site is the DVD-Rom
Initiative. Check them out.
LATE UPDATE (7/27/98 - 5 PM PST)
OK, folks... I've been told by several sources that the Paramount DVD
title announcement is definitely on for tomorrow. Stay tuned for the
PREVIOUS UPDATE (7/27/98 - 11 AM PST)
Doing some more housekeeping things around the site today. Added a new
link for the Say
No to Divx and Circuit City web site. Frankly, I couldn't have
said it better myself. And I'll be darned if there isn't an
Open DVD web ring
(keep up the good work folks)!
The San Francisco
Chronicle featured some interesting
articles yesterday, so be sure to check 'em out. There's also a
new article on the
fight between DVD and Divx over on the
MSNBC web site. The
article even includes an interactive poll, which allows you to voice
your opinions on Divx. Just in case you didn't know... the FREE DVD /
FIGHT DIVX campaign? That was created by me. Anyone who wants to show
open DVD support is free to steal the logo and use it on their sites.
I've always been willing to give Divx a fair forum for their 2 cents - I
first look at an actual Divx player found anywhere in the media.
But those of you who read the Bits
regularly, know just what I think of the format. ZZZZzzzzzz..... Boring.
OK, I haven't heard anything new about Paramount's announcement other
that what's already been covered in the Rumor
Mill the past few days. Let's just sit tight. Word has come
that Fox's Region 2 DVDs are being distributed by a company called
More on this as I'm able to uncover it (thanks to Steve Tannehill of the
DVD Resource Page for that
info.)... stay tuned...
I was reading the paper this morning, and discovered that Target is
finally advertising their DVD product in their Sunday circular. The ad
lists some 11 titles, and the Panasonic DVD-A105 player for $399. Note
that among the titles shown, are U.S.
Marshals and Sphere,
both of which are listed at $14.99. Also, the ad claims that when you
buy the player, an in-store coupon lets you get 2 movies free (up to $50
combined value). Rush right out folks...
I'm expecting some details tomorrow on Tuesday's reported Paramount
announcement, so I'll try to get them up as quickly as I can. I first
broke this story in yesterday's Rumor
Mill update. In the meantime, in case you missed it,
yesterday's update also has info on upcoming DVD releases of Bull
Durham, Good Will Hunting
and When Harry Met Sally.
I want to thank everyone out there who reads and supports The
Digital Bits. Thanks to your loyalty, this site is on its way
to a record month - some 700,000 page impressions in July alone! That's
not hits mind you, but the number of individual pages read by browsers.
Thanks also to those of you who sent in positive comments on our
coverage. Although our reports were a bit delayed, the response
has been absolutely terrific. We appreciate your support and will
continue working hard to ensure that the Bits
remains the best source for inside industry information on DVD.
Finally, I updated the
Surf the Links
section today. Look for a new street address for
DTS, and a new link to
Quantel, as well as links to some
other good DVD sites on the Net, including:
The DVD Post,
The Big Picture,
DVD File. Also, I've
found the single best collection of anti-Divx animated banners I've seen
on-line. Some of these banners are really funny. The site also includes
lots of anti-Divx facts and information. Be sure to check it out
(the banners are at the bottom). Stay tuned...