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Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 1/17/00



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 12/3/99 - 11/4/99)


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12/3/99

We've got some great stuff for you today. First of all, Todd's checked in with a review of Universal's awesome new DVD of the classic Dracula! You'll definitely want to check that out. And as if that's not cool enough, we've got TONS of new Upcoming DVD Cover Art - some 75 new scans in all. You'll get a first look at titles like Batman Beyond, Deep Blue Sea, Diggstown, The Boys from Brazil, Drop Dead Gorgeous, Everest (IMAX), Disney's Tarzan, Great Expectations, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Lake Placid, Stalag 17 and LOTS more.

The USA Today has a couple of stories related to DVD online today. First, they take a look at a number of good titles you might want if you're just starting your movie collection. Next, they've got a story on the hacker-induced delay of DVD-Audio. Yahoo also has a couple of stories on their newswire about the DVD-Audio delay (click here and here to read them).

Finally, we've updated the CEA DVD player sales charts (both the full chart and the listing above), so account for the complete data from November.

Have a good weekend!

12/2/99

Howdy-ho, buckaroos! We're back!

Some of you may have noticed that we were off the air yesterday. As we mentioned in yesterday's post (which probably few of you had the chance to read until this morning), our hosting company decided to move our server to a new location without telling us about it. The move IS for the better, because the new location boasts a much more stable network. And the move wasn't supposed to disrupt things too much - it took place very early Wednesday morning. The problem is, someone forgot to re-address our domain name's DNS entry, so it was still pointing to the server's old location all day long. And once that was fixed, the correction takes a few hours to propagate through the network. So that pretty much killed yesterday for us. Just goes to show you, that nothing is as easy as it seems in cyberspace.

Just in case you missed it, we posted a review of Sarah McLachlan: Mirrorball - the disc is definitely worth a look. More reviews are forthcoming.

We also has some news about Matsushita (Panasonic) postponing the launch of their DVD Audio capable players. The reasons for this have now been made clear: concerns about digital piracy in light of the recent DVD hack. CNN has a full story on the issue up today, and I think you'll definitely want to read it. I hope this serves as a wake-up call to those who support the group responsible for the DeCSS software. Here is a direct example of how a few individuals, however altruistic their intentions, can ruin things for all of us. DVD-Audio will now be delayed at least six months, making Summer 2000 the earliest target for the format's debut, while the members of the DVD Forum work on new encryption. Here's why that's bad for DVD:

"With products now planned to begin hitting the shelves in the summer of 2000, the format will have lost a year on Super Audio CD, a Sony-developed next-generation audio CD format. Sony began selling Super Audio CD products in Japan in May this year, and around 70 titles are already available for the format, which is mainly confined to use by audiophiles at present."

In other news, VideoScan is reporting record high weekly DVD software sales for the last week of November (see press release). And Beyond Music has announced that they'll be getting into the music DVD game on December 14th, with forthcoming DVD releases from the likes of Blondie, Motley Crue, Anthrax, Meat Loaf and Face to Face (read their press release here).

Image Entertainment has once again updated their DVD News page, to include lots of Image-exclusive titles, such as Beavers (IMAX), the original City Lights, Destination Moon, Plan 9 From Outer Space: Special Edition (yeah, baby!), and Twilight Zone #18 and 19. Note that we've also updated our AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to reflect the addition of City Lights.

Finally this morning, Columbia TriStar has informed us that Grey Owl will debut on DVD on February 15th, for an SRP of $24.95. The disc will be in anamorphic widescreen, and will include a behind-the-scenes featurette, a "making-of" featurette, director and cast interviews, dual audio commentary tracks (one with director Richard Attenborough and another with producer Jake Eberts), trivia, a production photo gallery, the screenplay (via DVD-Rom) and more. Check out the film's IMDB listing for more information about it. Should be a cool disc.

Stay tuned...

12/1/99

Urgh. This update was originally planned to be up at 9 AM this morning, but you can probably guess that things haven't gone as planned. It appears that our hosting service, Concentric, decided to move our server (along with hundreds of others) to a new and better co-location facility, a short distance from the old one. Of course, they neglected to inform us about this first. And while they claim that there shouldn't be any downtime, there has naturally been nothing but downtime. The problem now, is that our DNS has changed with the move, but thedigitalbits.com domain name still points to the old DNS. The situation is being worked, and should be resolved shortly. And I've been assured that the new facility will mean a lot more reliability in the network. Gee... thanks. As you can tell, all this has got the staff of The Digital Bits not just a little pissed. We ask for your patience, while we round up the usual suspects and assemble the firing squad...

In the meantime, I've given the DVD version of Sarah McLachlan: Mirrorball a spin. If you're a fan of Sarah's you'll definitely want to give this DVD a look. And if you like live performances on DVD in general, this is one of the better concert presentations I've yet seen on the format. Do check it out.

Around the Internet, there's news that Matsushita (Panasonic to you and me) is postponing the launch of their DVD Audio capable line of DVD players. There's no word on exactly why yet, but more information is expected in a press conference soon (see press release). And the Consumer Electronics Association (CMA - formerly CEMA) is trumpeting the fact that 4.9 million DVD players have sold since the format's launch (see press release).

One last note in the spirit of pointing out cool things on the Net - NASA's Mars Polar Lander is just two days from making a landing on the red planet's south pole. The landing is set to take place at 12:00:26 PM PST on December 3rd. You can follow the progress of the mission live at the official JPL Mars Polar Lander website, including (a few days after landing) lots of pictures and even audio recordings of the surface taken from a microphone on the lander. Ever wondered what it would be like to listen to the Martian winds? You'll hopefully know soon. NASA is expecting over a billion visits to the page, and more than a thousand journalists to descend on JPL's Pasadena campus, so there should be lots of coverage. Don't miss out!

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/30/99 - 10 PM PST)

Congratulations to Jeffrey Ballstadt of Andover, Minnesota! Jeffrey was chosen as the winner in our Week 4 Trivia Contest, and took home the RCA DVD player and the three DVDs. Thanks to all 587 people who entered. For December, we're getting back to the monthly contest format, and we'll be starting it in just a few days, so be sure to stay tuned. And you can find the answers to our Week 4 contest by clicking here.

We've also got a new DVD review for you tonight. I've taken a look at Paramount's brash new DVD version of South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut! It's skimpy on extras, but the disc definitely delivers on quality. And the movie itself is major smack-you-in-the-face funny. Don't miss it, m'kay?

See you in the morning...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/30/99 - 11 AM PST)

Here's a quick early update to get the day going. We've updated our CEMA DVD News page to reflect the 112,063 players sold into retail in the third week of November. We're now just 400,000 players shy of 5 million. We've also updated out AFI Top 100 Films on DVD page with the latest information we've been given, as well as the VideoScan Top 20 DVDs listing (see above).

We'll be back later today to announce the Trivia Contest winner (you still have until 5 PM PST to get entries in), and to post a couple of new DVD reviews, so stay tuned...

11/29/99

Well, we certainly hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday. Today is something of a regrouping day around here at the Bits. Sarah and I just returned from St. Louis, where we celebrated with family, so the 11/24 update was done via the trusty laptop. But, as this is the first day back, there are lots of things that need to get done to gear up for what we have planned for this week. Todd is going to be away for about a week in December, so we're working on some things to get up before then, particularly a couple of special feature stories we've been working on for a few weeks now. And this week will see a blizzard of new DVD reviews, starting tomorrow.

There's not a huge amount of new DVD news to report on this first day back to work after the holiday, other than that Pioneer has issued a press release, indicating that they plan to be the first manufacturer to market a recordable DVD player next year. Their DVD-R players start selling in December in Japan, and there's no target date yet for U.S. debut, but that should change by CES in January. According to the press release, blank DVD-R media will sell for about $30 a disc.

DTS has a list of upcoming DTS DVD titles up on their website, and I've had a lot of people point out what appears to be Disney titles on it. But notice that Alice in Wonderland, Hercules and The Hunchback of Notre Dame all say DVD Ltd. as the manufacturer? These aren't the Disney classics, but other animated versions of these stories. DTS does claim that they'll have some 100 new titles scheduled by the end of the year (see article at Widescreen Review), but don't look for the Disney animated classics any time soon...

Our final weekly Trivia Contest for November will end tomorrow, so be sure to get your entries in fast. We're giving away three more Disney animated DVDs, and an RCA 5223P DVD player. We'll announce the winner tomorrow night, after the contest closes at 5 PM PST.

Finally today, if you're looking for a couple of great movies to see, I'd like to recommend a pair that I really enjoyed over the weekend. First of all, you MUST see Toy Story 2. This is one of the best movie sequels that I've seen in a LONG time - I haven't laughed this hard in ages. All of your old favorite characters are back, voiced by all of the original film's voice talent, and there are lots of new characters along for the ride. We find out lots more about Woody's past, and get to watch as Buzz Lightyear goes head-to-head with the evil Emperor Zurg. There are a ton of in-jokes in this film, and even a few very funny spoofs of some of your favorite movies. This is a MUST see movie, period. The other film I'd like to recommend, is the new David Lynch movie, The Straight Story (see the film's official website). It's based on a true story, about an old man in Iowa who is struggling to make his peace with life. When he finds out that his brother in Wisconsin (with whom he hasn't spoken in ten years) has had a stroke, he sets out to pay him a visit the only way he can, hitting the road on a 1966 riding lawnmower. And during his weeks-long pilgrimage, he has a profound effect on the people he meets along the way. Straight Story is a beautiful film in its look and feel, and seems a strange one coming from director Lynch (Dune, Blue Velvet). But it's haunting, poignant, and definitely not to be missed.

Stay tuned...

11/24/99

Todd's checked in with a couple of new reviews for all of you today. We've posted his thoughts on Criterion's new DVD edition of The Third Man, and Disney's animated Pinocchio. Both are definitely worth a look.

Frank's pointed out an interesting article on DVD-Audio that you might want to check out. It seems that the studios and record companies are working to ensure that new DVD-Audio discs are at least somewhat compatible with current DVD players, by including 96/24 stereo tracks on them as part of the DVD-Audio spec. All current players can read such tracks (even though they may not be able to pass through a true 96/24 signal). Having heard 96/24 music on DVD, I can tell you that it's a great sound experience - not as good as true 5.1 DVD-Audio, but still much improved over existing CDs. Personally, I think this is a great idea, and makes perfect sense. For DVD-Audio to take off, it must have some appeal to existing DVD consumers, and not just those who purchase new high-end players. Let's hope this does become part of the spec....

Around the Net, there's also a press release from Musicland (who predicts substantial gains in DVD sales this holiday season).

Just to let all of you know, there will be no updates tomorrow and Friday, due to the Thanksgiving holiday. We may come back with an update on Saturday, just to tide you all over until next week. But I'm sure most of you are going to be busy anyway, spending the next few days with family and friends, eating lots of turkey, watching football, going to the movies and the like. So Frank, Todd, Sarah and I want to wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving, and a safe journey to those of you who may be travelling this weekend. As for me, I'm on my way to see Toy Story 2!

Best wishes, and see you back here soon!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/23/99 - 10 AM PST)

All right - the Trivia Contest for Week 4 is now on! To round out the month of November, we're giving everyone a chance to win a set of 3 Disney DVDs (Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and The Lion King II: Simba's Pride) and an brand new RCA 5223P DVD Player! The contest will run until 5 PM on Tuesday, November 30th, so get those entries in!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/23/99 - 4:30 AM PST)

The winner of our week 3 Trivia Contest has been announced! Congratulations to Bill Chambers of Oshawa, Ontario, Canada, who was chosen in our drawing last night. And thanks to all 671 of you who entered. You can find out the answers to the contest by clicking here. And be sure to check back later today, when the fourth and final contest for November will begin. We're giving away more discs, and a DVD player, so stay tuned!

Around the Net today, Sony Music's got a press release up about their upcoming music DVD lineup. And Sony Wonder has followed suit with a press release about their holiday DVD titles. For those of you who weren't aware of this yet, Disney.com has a page up for their forthcoming Fantasia 2000 soundtrack CD, and the bottom of the page claims that a DVD Audio version is coming in July 2000. Interesting. The New York Times also has new articles on Digital TV and DVD that are worth a look. And Stereophile magazine has a good article up on DVD-Audio.

Have you seen the new portable DVD player from Pioneer? I've only had the opportunity to play with it a little bit, but the screen sure is bigger than my Panasonic DVD-L50. It's about the same size and shape as a DVD keep case, so it can fit on your bookshelf. If anyone out there has picked one of these up, I'd love to hear what you think about it.

Stay tuned...

11/22/99

We're very pleased to have a special guest reviewer here at the Bits today. You may know Donald V. Day's review work - he's a frequent contributor to Fangoria and Video Watchdog magazines, and we're very glad to have him involved with us. It seems Donald recently saw a disc that drove him crazy, and he wants to warn you all not to get Eaten Alive (pun intended). Anyway, we're glad to have you aboard Donald!

I hope you've all checked out our coverage of Studio Day 1999. There's some good information in there. I'm most happy that Buena Vista is getting a lot more DVD friendly, even possibly on their disc pricing. And I'm very glad to have confirmed that titles like Lawrence of Arabia and Braveheart are in the works for next year.

In other news around the Net, Warner has issued a press release toting their late November and December DVDs. And Warner Reprise is working on Filter's Title of DVD (released on VHS as Phenomenology), which street on December 7th (see press release). Digital Leasure has just released their DVD version of Dragon's Lair II: Time Warp (see press release). The Star Wars website has revealed that Fox will be releasing Episode I again for one week over the holidays to benefit charities. And finally, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again with lots more good titles, such as Stir of Echoes, Color of Money and the Pretty Woman: 10th Anniversary Special Edition.

Anybody see The X-Files last night? It was one of the most interesting episodes I've seen in a while, written from the point-of-view of a monster that Mulder and Scully are tracking. The poor kid works at a burger joint, and has a thirst for human brains (because, naturally, he a genetic mutant). But he works hard to keep from killing, because he wants to be a good person, and when he does give in to the inevitable, he feels guilty about it. It was a really ingenious episode. And part of it took place right here in Irvine, CA, which was funny.

FYI - our Trivia Contest for this week ends at 5 PM PST, and we'll be back tonight to announce the winner, and start the new contest running.

Anyway, that's about all for today. Hope you had a good weekend. And one last thing - want a good laugh? Click this link over at Ebay, and I think you'll get a smile of two... ;-)

Back tomorrow!

11/20/99

Having a good weekend? Well we've got some stuff tonight that might make it a little better - a full report on Studio Day 1999! We've got word on a bunch of upcoming titles, straight from the studio representatives themselves. There's also great news about Buena Vista's DVD plans, and lots of other interesting DVD information as well. Be sure to check it out, and we'll see you back here on Monday.

(LATE UPDATE - 11/19/99 - 2:30 PM PST)

We've got a late update on CEMA's DVD Player sales numbers for early November. The month's first week (ending 11/5) saw 68,135 players shipped by manufacturers into retail, and the second week (ending 11/12) saw another 97,349 shipped. The two week total for the month so far, is 165,484, bringing our format-to-date numbers up to 4,493,739 - just 500,000 units shy of 5 million players in the States! Optimistic projections by the industry earlier in the year were that the market would reach 4 million this year, so the format is definitely exceeding expectations. We've updated our main chart and the listing above with all the details.

We've got a last pre-Studio Day update of upcoming (early 2000) DVD titles in today's Rumor Mill. One particular title of note that we'll mention deals with our favorite sword-swingin' Scottsman... do check it out!

Finally today, comes word (via CNet) that the MPAA is coming out guns blazing for that DVD-encryption cracking software (read the article here). The MPAA is working hard to eliminate the DeCSS software from all Internet sites, in the first major test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which now makes it a crime to create, sell or distribute any technology that could be used to break copyright-protection devices. The MPAA has sent cease and desist orders to every web site that they can find which offers the software for download - including CNet's own Download.com, which stupidly (in my opinion - no offense) offered the program to its readers. The MPAA isn't going after the hackers who created the program... yet. The reason is that the portion of the law that would give them the power to do so hasn't gone into effect as yet. But that day is coming soon, and you can bet the hackers will be its first target. Stay tuned on this issue.

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/19/99 - Noon PST)

Okay, we've got just a quick update for you this morning, to let all of you L.A. area DVD fans know about an important event tomorrow. Dave's Video - The Laser Place, located in Studio City, CA, is holding their annual Studio Day event. You may remember our report on last year's Studio Day, or the interview we did with Dave and Linda Lukas (the store's owners) following last year's event.

Studio Day is a chance for DVD fans to interact one-on-one with representatives of all of the major studios (and even some manufacturers), to learn about what's in the works, and to give them feedback about their DVD product. It's really enlightening, and a complete blast as well. This year, Entertainment Tonight's Leonard Maltin will be on-hand as a special guest. Also invited (many of which have confirmed that they'll attend) are representatives from hardware companies like Yamaha, Pioneer Electronics, Atlantic Technologies, Jamo speakers, NAD, PSB speakers, Tara Labs, and software companies such as Artisan Entertainment, Buena Vista, Columbia TriStar, Dreamworks, Image, Lucasfilm THX, MGM Home Entertainment, New Line, Paramount, Pioneer, Sony DVD Center, Sony Pictures, Trimark, Turner Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Universal, Warner, and possibly more. I will definitely be there, and I'll be reporting on the event for all of you, as will several other DVD webmasters I'm sure.

The event will run from 10 AM to 1 PM at Dave's Video, which is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA. Hope to see you there!

11/18/99

Todd's spun up a few more discs over the last couple of days, and he's got reviews for you. This time around, he's looked at Columbia TriStar's awesome new Heavy Metal: Collector's Series, Artisan's The Stand: Special Edition (which is the first major studio DVD-18 release), and a new Image Redemption horror title, The Living Dead Girl. You'll definitely want to check them out.

We also have a Toy Story DVD update in Rumor Mill today. The disc is still coming, but it looks like the release date is being pushed back.

Columbia TriStar has sent us word that they'll be releasing a trio of discs in early 2000. The first is Elmo in Grouchland, which will street on December 21st, for $24.95 (SRP). The disc will include a "making-of" featurette, a brief introduction by Elmo and Bug, and several trailers. Also coming is Blue Streak on February 8th, for $24.95 (SRP). It will feature an HBO: First Look documentary, a featurette, 3 music videos and talent files. And on the same day, look for Absense of Good (also $24.95 SRP) with a couple of trailers.

Around the Net, there's an interesting article with speculation on just how much of a threat DVD piracy really is (or isn't) over at the San Francisco Gate. And MSNBC has an article on MGM's awesome James Bond DVD set.

By the way... that meteor shower last night? Well, if you live western Europe, you were able to see some 1,600 meteors per hour last night. By the time the Earth had turned, so that we in California could see the shower, the storm had subsided, and it was down to just 30 meteors an hour. And when Frank and I went out to check out the action at about 1 AM Pacific...? Well, we saw 4. Figures.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/17/99 - 3 PM PST)

Not a lot going on news-wise today. Seems like all the news at COMDEX this week is about information connectivity products (Palm Pilots and the like), and there's very little in the way of DVD news at the show.

We do have a great scoop for you in today's Rumor Mill, however. Let's just say that if you're a big fan of Buzz and Woody, you'll be a happy camper after reading it - check it out!

Image Entertainment's DVD News page has again been updated, with details on tons of those early 2000 DVDs that we've reported in the Rumor Mill in recent weeks. There are titles like The 13th Warrior, Jumanji: SE, The Man from Laramie, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, Ally McBeal (TV episodes), Great Expectations, French Kiss and more.

In non-DVD related news, tonight and tomorrow night is supposed to mark the return of the Leonid meteor shower, which is expected to be spectacular this year (according to many predictions). If you go out after sunset and look towards the constellation Leo in the East-Southeast, they say you may be able to see between 300-2000 meteors an hour. No one knows for sure, but check out the LeonidsLive website, which will help show you where and when to look, and tell you what the action's like hour-by-hour. Enjoy!

We should have some more reviews for you tomorrow, so stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/17/99 - 1 AM PST)

Just in case you missed it, we started out Trivia Contest for Week 3 last night. This time, we're giving one lucky winner a set of 7 DVDs that should definitely help to get them in the holiday spirit! Included are It's a Wonderful Life, Holiday Inn/Going My Way, A Christmas Story, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Santa Clause, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Christmas Vacation. The contest will run until Monday, November 22nd, and we'll pick the winner that evening. Get your entries in quick!

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

(LATE UPDATE - 11/16/99 - 4 PM PST)

The new Trivia Contest is almost ready to start, so look for it soon. In the meantime, here's a full length review of New Line's awesome Platinum Series DVD of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. Don't miss it.

Also, Columbia TriStar has informed us that they're releasing the Jumanji: Collector's Series DVD on January 25, 2000. The disc will street for $27.95 (SRP) and will include a "making of" documentary, SFX crew commentary, a production design featurette, conceptual art and still galleries, three storyboard sequences, the isolated score and more.

Finally, director George Lucas spoke at the COMDEX show in Las Vegas this week, and revealed that Sony and Panavision are about to deliver the first prototype 24-frame progressive high definition camera system to Lucasfilm, for use on Star Wars: Episode II. Click here for the full story at starwars.com.

Back soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/16/99 - 11 AM PST)

Today's post is going to be a series of updates throughout the day, so I figured let's get 'em started. We've updated the Rumor Mill today with some information that's come our way about Episode I. No doubt there will likely be a TON of such rumors in the coming months, so we're going to try to double and triple check everything about what we hear before posting anything in the Rumor Mill. Such was the case here, but we still definitely recommend that you treat it with kid gloves - we're probably months away even from official announcements of anything. But we'll try to give you the best information our sources are telling us.

Here's a quick note from Doogan:

Okay, okay... I get the point. I received a whole stack of e-mails amending the two lists of films we want on DVD. It would seem that everyone out there could add 20 more titles to our already bulky lists.

Just remember that we're not trying to make a complete list of all the films ever made. This is a list of films people think need to be on DVD -- by the end of 2000. The last list was what everyone sent to me after I put mine and Bill's list up. I had no input on that list -- this was your list and only your list. You can see my list by clicking here.

Bill and I will be back with 30 titles (updated from the original 25) that we think should come out in 2000. It's going to be taken from the two lists, and possibly from some of the "better late then never" entries that are coming my way as you read this. Along with that, we will be giving info on how to contact the studios and request these titles get made. I'd like to focus our attention on the 30 -- and I know that a great many of you have their personal favorites, but the industry can only do what it can do.

Bill and I have also discussed making a list of obvious choices (like Star Wars) that we think should be out next year, and probably could come out next year -- but most likely won't. Whether that is included in the 30, or precedes it, will be known when the list comes out.

So, keep 'em coming. We'll get the last list out very soon. Until then, keep spinnin' those discs...

Doogan

Back to you Billy.

Yeah, what he said. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/15/99 - 10 PM PST)

We've announced the winners for the second Weekly Trivia Contest! Congratulations to D.G. Hollums of Wilmore, KY and Susan Peterson of Tucson, AZ! D.G. and Susan got all of the answers correct, and were drawn at random as the winners this week, from 534 total entries. You can read the answers to the second contest here. And be sure to check back tomorrow, when we'll kick of the contest for week 3!

I'll also be back in a few hours with the first part of tomorrow's update, so stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/15/99 - 2:30 PM PST)

Just a quick update for now. First of all, Todd's reviewed a couple of new discs for you: Fox's recent Never Been Kissed, and A-Pix's Dario Argento's Phantom of the Opera. And we'll have at least one more review for you later this evening, when we announce the winner of the Trivia Contest, so stay tuned (there's still a couple hours left to enter!).

A couple of quick notes: first of all, there's a new anime store online, which sells DVD and VHS anime (and presumably has a good selection). I though some of you might want to check it out - it's called Anime Depot. Also, DVDJam and DVDTalk are cosponsoring a live online chat with Deep Blue Sea director Renny Harlin tomorrow night (see press release). Click here for the details.

Finally, a few Bits readers have informed me that the subtitles on that Episode I DVD we looked at recently, are Malay and Mandarin Chinese, and that the print appears to be an exhibition print from Malaysia. Just FYI.

See you back here tonight!

11/14/99

So are you all having a good weekend? Mine's been okay - the Vikings eeked out a win, picked up the new Tonic and Foo Fighters CDs which were cool, watched a couple of good DVDs - can't complain, you know?

I also caught Dogma, and... well... I have mixed emotions. It was a really cool idea anyway. I don't want to say too much until those of you who are going to see it do so, but while I really thought the concept was clever (frankly downright brilliant - Smith definitely did his homework on Catholic "mythology"), the execution left something to be desired. I can see why some were offended, but I though it was great - I have no problem poking a little fun at the Catholic church. I went to Catholic grade school (I still have nightmares about ruler-swinging nuns), and believe me, no one is in greater need for a laugh than the average Catholic. And I intend no offense by that - you know what I mean. But the pacing was ponderous, and while some of the acting was really good, some of it was REALLY bad too. I'm sure many of you will agree with me, while others will think it's the best film since Chasing Amy. But if I have to see Jason Lee bluster and overact his way through another film... ouch. Still, there are a LOT of good laughs, and I think it's well worth a watch. I also dig who Kevin got to play God - very clever. FYI - those of you wanting a DVD version of Dogma will be happy to know that it's in good hands - Columbia TriStar's to be exact. Check out News Askew for the details.

Anyway, I've got a review up for you to enjoy this evening: my take on Warner's new DVD version of The Iron Giant, which streets on November 23rd. Not exactly a special edition (sadly), but worth picking up anyway - it's a damn great film. Both Todd and I will be back tomorrow with more reviews, so stay tuned.

Keep in mind that the Trivia Contest runs until 5 PM tomorrow, so get those last entries in. For those of you who may be scratching your heads over the Monday finish for the contest, I had said previously that the contest would end on Sunday, November 15th. Which is actually a Monday. So you now have until tomorrow to enter. Hey - we're good here at the Bits, but perfect we ain't! ;-)

Those of you who missed the digital projections of Episode I will be happy to know that DLP is at it again with Toy Story 2. Check their press release for the show times and locations.

Panasonic is going to have an online press conference to explain the wonders of DVD-Audio to the masses. The conference will be on November 16th, from 8 until 9 PM EST. You can check it out live at this link.

And finally, CNN has a couple of stories about the DVD-hack: one which deals with the original story, and another wherein an activist defends the hackers' actions. I'm all for Linux users being able to play DVDs, and for fair use copying, but come on - all freedoms are abused on the Internet. And what about the intellectual property rights of the artists here? All I can tell you, is that if I made a movie, and it appeared on DVD, and anyone who wanted to could make tons of perfect digital copies of it, I'd be a bit freaked out by that. Which is not to say that music artists haven't been dealing with the same thing for a long time. I mean, I've had friends copy CDs onto tape for me lots of times. But if I liked the music, I usually went out an picked up the actual CD. But where's the incentive to pick up an authorized CD (so the artist gets paid), when you can burn your own copy on CD-ROM? And that doesn't mean I'm totally against that ability either. It's just a MUCH trickier issue in the digital realm. I can understand why lots of people lose sleep over it all.

Okay, here's a last couple of quick notes for you space nuts out there. NASA's Mars Polar Lander is fast approaching the Red Planet, and if all goes will, it will set down safely on the planet's south pole in just 18 days (Dec. 3 to be exact). The science (and of course, the pictures) should be cool. You can follow the whole thing live at this link at JPL. And just as cool, scientists this weekend announced the first visual evidence of planets beyond our solar system. Seems they were watching a star via telescope (around which they had indirectly detected a Jupiter-sized planet), and darned if the planet didn't pass right across the disc of the star, making the light dim for a short time. Just goes to show you folks - it's a BIG universe out there. And it's not only stranger than we imagine, it's probably stranger than we're CAPABLE of imagining.

See you back here tomorrow!

11/12/99

Thank God it's Friday. What a LONG week this has been... whew! And frankly, the weekend can't come fast enough, because I'm dying to catch Dogma, The Insider and The Messenger this weekend, as well as the second part of The X-Files season opener (on Sunday night). I'm a slave to good entertainment, what can I say? There are just WAY too many must-see films coming out in November - it's gonna be a box-office slaughterhouse. Later this month, we've got The World is Not Enough, Toy Story 2 and Sleepy Hollow - whew!

Speaking of good entertainment, I saw a movie earlier this week that you all should catch as soon as you can - Being John Malkovich. I don't want to say too much, but it's one of the most original and funny films I've seen in a long time, and it's got a really interesting cast as well. Just go see it, and you won't regret it.

Today, Todd's checked in with a couple of reviews, for Columbia's Big Daddy, and Universal's Notting Hill: Collector's Edition. And I'll be back sometime soon (tonight or tomorrow morning) with The Iron Giant and Lost Horizon, so stay tuned...

Not much going on around the Net today, but Yahoo does have a couple of new press releases: one for Disney's upcoming Bug's Life: Collector's Edition ("priced to own at $49.99" - I don't care how cool it is, $50 is too damn much to charge Disney!) and a live broadcast of the Austin Powers 2 DVD premiere party (look for our review of the disc itself soon). And once again, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page, with the details on a bunch of upcoming titles, including Tarzan from Disney, Runaway Bride from Paramount and more.

Finally, our Disney weekly Trivia Contest ends on Monday, so get your entries in fast!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

11/11/99

We're squeaking an update in right under the wire tonight. First of all, we've got another update to The Rumor Mill, with lots more upcoming DVD titles - this time from February 2000. It should give you an idea what's on the way for early next year.

And, as promised, we've got reviews for you tonight - 3 in all. Frank Ortiz takes a look at Columbia's Arlington Road, and Polygram's Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. And I've given Columbia's Muppets From Space a spin for you - definitely worth a look. And we'll have more reviews for you tomorrow morning, so stay tuned...

Around the Net, PCWorld is finally talking about the fact that DVD encryption has been broken (read their little blurb here). Sonic Solutions has launched an e-commerce store to help push their budget-priced DVDit! authoring software (read press release). Yahoo has another story on Disney's commitment to DVD. And those of you who missed the live webcast of the interview with the folks from DreamWorks' DVD department, will find the program archived on the Inside DVD website soon, so be sure to watch for it.

See you tomorrow morning!

11/10/99

Okay, we've got some interesting stuff for you today. First of all, our own Todd Doogan has been collecting all of your suggestions as to films you'd like to see on DVD. He's taken his original list of films, added your new suggestions, and we've got the result for you today in his Doogan's Views column: Doogan's list of films that damn well ought to be on DVD, Round Two! You'll definitely want to check it out... especially you studio types out there. ;-)

There's been a lot of interest from our readers in those Star Wars: Episode I bootleg DVDs. A reader sent a copy of one of them our way, and I'll give you a detailed look at it today in: Fudging the Force: A Look at a Pirate Episode I DVD. There are screen shots, close up looks at the disc and packaging, and plenty of details. And you can definitely count on me to do a little editorializing at the end. Bottom line - it's time Fox and Lucasfilm get busy with authorized DVDs of the Star Wars films, or these bootleg discs will spread everywhere in a hurry.

We've also updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ today, to the latest version (November 8th to be exact). And we've fixed all those internal links, so they reference the correct spot in the FAQ text here at the Bits.

Around the Net, Image Entertainment's updated their DVD News page to include a bunch of new DVD titles from Warner Bros and other studios. And our friends over at DreamWorks will be featured in a live, online chat at the Inside DVD website, on Thursday, November 11th (Veteran's Day) at 10:00 PM EST. The Saving Private Ryan DVD production team will be on hand to answer questions, and talk about the project.

Here's some great news: Disney has officially unveiled their strategy for releasing their classic animated films on DVD (see press release). Over the next two years, Disney will release some 26 classic library feature animation titles to VHS and DVD, on an unrestricted, always-available basis. The studio will also create a Disney Platinum Collection, which will include "another 10 classic library feature animation titles that Disney will hold in moratorium for a specific time period before reintroducing them into the market." Disney will also release all future titles on DVD and VHS simultaneously. We say - VERY COOL!

The buzzword for tomorrow's edition of the Bits will be REVIEWS. We've got several in the works, so do check back. We'll also have another look at upcoming DVDs for 2000 in The Rumor Mill, with a number of new titles revealed. So until tomorrow, stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/9/99 - 8:30 PM PST)

We're doing some housekeeping things around here tonight, and we're going to be working until the wee hours of the morning getting things posted. But we do have something for you to look at right now. A LOT of you have asked about our opinion of the DTS version of Saving Private Ryan, and you'll be happy to note that our full length review of the title has just been updated to include a full disc-to-disc comparison between the two versions. Enjoy and stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/9/99 - 11 AM PST)

Hi everyone! Today's post is going to be a late one. After being gone most of yesterday at that director's commentary recording session, and exhausting myself watching Monday Night Football last night (with the desperation of a Viking fan suffering through a damn strange season), I've got a lot of catching up to do. The post will be made sometime early this evening, and should include a bunch of updates and new information.

I'm working on a full report of the commentary session itself, which I hope to have ready soon. I'm not going to be specific as to when it will be posted, because I've gotten myself into trouble doing that too many times before. I have a bad habit of saying we're gonna get certain things posted, and then something comes up - breaking news, or an opportunity to go behind-the-scenes, or an interview or something - and then Todd and I have to scramble to keep up. Suffice it to say that we're working VERY hard on a lot of interesting articles, fun interviews, disc reviews and news stories, and we will get them posted as soon as we are able.

For the record, the commentary session itself was really a treat. I had an opportunity to meet my favorite feature film director, and even chat with him briefly about his work and his thoughts on DVD. I can't wait to share the experience with you.

One last note: we've had a number of people point out a small error in last weeks' Bond Trivia Contest. The first question (What was the first Ian Flemming Bond novel to be adapted for the screen?) was worded in such a way as to leave room for a couple of answers. I think most people knew that what I mean by screen, was the Silver screen - meaning theatrical film. But some thought it was a trick question, and that I meant TV screen. That's my bad - I should have been more clear. The first Bond novel adapted for theatrical release was Dr. No, but Casino Royale was adapted earlier for television (live television, in fact, on CBS in 1953). There were only some 15 people who were confused by this, but I should still have been more clear. My apologies for the confusion!

We'll be back later, so stay tuned...

11/8/99

How cool is this? We received CEMA's DVD player sales data for October over the weekend, and with the 603,048 player that shipped last month (another record month for the format) we now have well over 4 million players shipped in the U.S. market - 4,328,255 to be exact! And with 2 full months left to go, we're almost halfway to 5 million. Not bad for a format that's less than 3 years old. Check the updated the main chart, and the listing above, for all the details.

We're very pleased to announce the winner of our first November weekly Trivia Contest - Greg Coleman of Austin, Texas! We've also started the second weekly Trivia Contest already, and two winners will walk away with four of Disney's upcoming animated DVDs each: Pinocchio, Mulan, Hercules and 101 Dalmatians. The winners will be drawn on November 15th, so get your entries in!

Doogan's new editorial will be ready tomorrow (when you see it, you'll understand why it's taking so long to get it ready!). And our look at the Episode I bootleg is going to be delayed a couple of days. There are two reasons for this. First of all, I've been invited to be on hand during the recording of the director's commentary track for an upcoming (and very cool) Universal Collector's Edition DVD later this morning. I'll be giving you an inside look at the recording session in the coming days - needless to say, preparing has kept me busy this weekend. I'm also going to the MPAA early this week, with the actual Episode I disc in hand, to talk about DVD piracy and studio reaction to the recent CSS encryption hack. And finally, I found out over the weekend that my Inside DVD article for the next issue of Widescreen Review magazine is due today, so I've been hard at work on that. I tell ya, there's not enough time in the day around here...

We'll be back tomorrow in full force, so stay tuned!

11/5/99

This is another quick update here, but we've got lots of content for you. First of all, we've posted three new DVD reviews today: Todd Doogan's take on MGM's The Dark Half, and Image's loaded Godmoney: Special Edition, and Frank Ortiz's 2 cents on Columbia's recent Immortal Beloved: Special Edition.

We've also added 5 more Upcoming DVD Cover Scans, for some of the forthcoming Disney/Buena Vista titles (Inspector Gadget and the like - I'll be doing a lot of housekeeping in this section very soon), and we've updated the Rumor Mill again with word on a New Line Platinum Series DVD version of Seven, a second batch of Universal Classic Monster DVDs, and some early 2000 Paramount titles. I'll also be back this weekend with that new Doogan's Views, and the look at the Episode I DVD.

Around the Net, Dana J. Parker (of the excellent EMedia Professional) has written an excellent commentary on the CSS encryption crack, so don't miss that. And ZDNet Australia has another article on the subject with some initial studio reaction to the news. The attitude in Hollywood seems to be... watch and wait.

We'll be back this weekend, so stay tuned!

11/4/99

We're working on a number of reviews for tomorrow, so today's update will be fairly brief. But we do have one killer bonus for you today - a MAJOR update of The Rumor Mill, which includes January 2000 DVD releases for Columbia TriStar, Fox, MGM and more. We've also got word on a bunch of VERY cool titles in the works at several of the studios for later in 2000 - stuff like The Princess Bride, ID4, X-Files and Ally McBeal TV episodes, Diggstown, Spaceballs and TONS of other titles. It's definitely not to be missed.

Variety.com has an article on the DVD encryption being cracked, and MPAA and Hollywood reaction. You'll also find the article on Yahoo. Yes, as the article mentions, "the MPAA tapped Bill Hunt to the newly created post of chief technology officer, charged with coordinating the group's Internet and optical media antipiracy efforts". And no, that Bill Hunt ISN'T me. Just a funny coincidence, don't you think? FYI, the Washington Post also has an article about the crack up today.

Speaking of piracy, I yesterday received a copy of the Episode I bootleg DVD. After a quick scan, I have to say that it's pretty poor quality - rather like a second generation VHS copy. But it begs the question - with SO many versions of the film now appearing illegally on bootleg DVDs, how long can Lucasfilm wait before issuing their official DVD version of the film? I'll post more about the disc tomorrow, along with more upcoming DVD artwork, a couple of reviews, and an article from Todd. Stay tuned...!


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