We've got something special for you today! Yesterday morning, I was
fortunate to attend a special press event held by Columbia TriStar
Home Video, in honor of their upcoming Stuart
Little DVD. On hand were other members of the press
(including some of my fellow DVD webmasters) as well as the
production staff who worked on the DVD itself, and even the film's
director, Rob Minkoff. The event included a special tour of the Sony
DVD Center, and I brought my trusty digital camera along to give you
all a look behind-the-scenes. So be sure to
here for our coverage of the day's fun - hope you enjoy it!
And we'll have our full-length review of the actual Stuart
Little DVD for you soon.
In other news,
Entertainment's DVD News page has again been updated, with a
look at a bunch more upcoming titles, including American
Movie: Special Edition, Dennis
Miller Live in Washington DC, The
Three Stooges: All the World's a Stooge, Eye
of the Beholder: Special Edition, Blonde:
VH1 Behind the Music, American
Gigolo, The Firm,
Romeo and Juliet, more Star
Trek TV series episodes and lots more.
From the Chicago
Sun Times comes word that sales of Star
Wars Episode I on VHS aren't going as expected. Says the
article: "The tape was released Tuesday, the shelves are
stocked and the crowds are thin." What was it Gomer Pyle used
to say? "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" ;-)
Some of you have been buzzing over
post on a French DVD website that purports to show the DVD cover
artwork and menu screens from a forthcoming DVD release of
Raiders of the Lost Ark - in
2001 according to the site. Sorry to burst your bubble, but it's a
fake. That comes officially from Paramount, who had this to say this
afternoon: "We are investigating." And I've done enough
Photoshop work to spot a cut and paste job when I see one. Notice
how the fine print on the cover art is nicely sharp and legible,
while the UPC symbol is blurry? Still, someone certainly went to a
lot of effort. Nice try.
And finally today, in addition to his work here at the Bits,
our own Brad Pilcher is a busy freelance reporter, who writes for
and other publications. Now that he's seen the other side of the DVD
website trade, Brad began wondering just exactly what kind of
influence sites like The Digital Bits,
DVD File and DVD
Review have on the studios who actually make DVDs. So he
did a little research, and
story on the subject has just been filed over at Wired.
We'll be back tomorrow with some reviews - stay tuned...
Gasp!! An early update of the Bits?
Say it isn't so!
Yep... we decided to sneak in a post in the wee early hours of the
morning for a change. How do you like them apples? And we've got
some good new reviews for you today too. Todd's taken a look at
Love of the Game, starring Kevin Costner. Greg Suarez has
also given an older title a spin - Miramax's
And we're very proud to introduce today the final new addition to
our review staff: Florian Kummert. Hailing all the way from Germany,
Florian is a student at Columbia University, and he's the first
international addition to the Bits.
He's been studying film for a long time, and after we read some of
his writing, his passion for the medium was clear. We knew he'd fit
right in around here. We've just posted his look at Criterion's
Illusion, the first of what we will hope will be many
reviews from Florian. So please join us in welcoming him aboard -
drop him an e-mail
to say hello! Welcome aboard, Florian!
Now then... some news. Our friends at Anchor Bay have e-mailed us
with a bunch of news. Here's just a taste of what you'll find over
at their official
- Limited Edition tin clarifications and price drop
- Supergirl 2: Limited Edition
- Commentary news on Repo Man
and the Ilsa films
- Let Sleeping Corpses Lie -
the official release name
- May 2000 releases - cover art and final details are up
- Army of Darkness: Director's Cut
to be released in July
- The Midnight Hour on DVD
- Times Square coming this
- Day the Earth Caught Fire,
Many Faces of Christopher Lee
and other titles just acquired
- Thou Shalt Not Kill... Except
finally coming to DVD
Be sure to zip on over there and check it all out!
For those of you anxiously awaiting a first look at New Line's
upcoming The Lord of the Rings
films, you're in for a treat in a couple of days. The
Lord of the Rings website is gearing up to give those
of us on the Internet an exclusive sneak peek at actual footage from
the production! Be sure to visit the site on Friday, April 7th for
all the excitement.
Speaking of cool films in the works,
check out this
website for a glimpse of the SCIFI Channel's 6 hour
made-for-TV version of Frank Herbert's Dune.
The miniseries will run on the cable network in the fall, featuring
William Hurt as Duke Leto Atreides and Giancarlo Giannini as Emperor
Shaddam IV. I hope this is as cool as it could be. Also in the SCIFI
vein, the network's acclaimed Farscape
series (see the
official site) has just arrived on
and DVD in the UK - no word yet on an American release.
On the Star Wars front, there
are a couple of new articles on Episode
I's DVD-less home video debut, and they're not exactly
raves. Randall King of the Winnipeg Sun
give readers his two cents in
Bores?. And Bruce Kirkland of the Toronto
Sun has actually reviewed the VHS edition in
dearth of Darth (and he's none too kind). $40 for a VHS
widescreen edition? Damn, George... what are you thinking?! FYI -
our look at the DVD bootlegs discs is almost complete. Look for it
And finally today, some news that we're a bit late in posting (but
heck - that's not stopping us!). You may remember the name Steve
Gustafson from our
with him about the Saving Private Ryan DVD. Steve did
a ton of great DVD work over at DreamWorks, and has now joined the
staff of the Complete Post DVD Center in Hollywood, as the
division's Vice President. There, he'll oversee the production of
DVDs from a number of major studios and content providers. Steve's
done a lot for the format, and he's become a good friend. Trust us
when we say that we can all expect a lot of great DVD work from the
folks at Complete Post now that he's on the job. Congrats, Steve!
We'll be back tomorrow with more DVD fun, so stay tuned. And for
those of you who may be wondering, yes... that
IS our own Todd Doogan diving for Abyss DVDs! What can
we say? He's a Renaissance man... ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 4/4/00 - 4 PM PDT)
Our new Abyss Trivia Contest is now
on! All you have to do is correctly answer 5 questions related to
the film, and you'll be eligible for our drawing to win one of 10
DVD copies of
Abyss: Special Edition. The contest will run until 7 PM
PDT on Sunday, April 9th - the winners will be announced the
following morning. So what are you waiting for? Get them entries in
We also have a new
Mill update this afternoon, which includes some titles to
expect in Buena Vista's June DVD lineup, as well as delays for The
Straight Story and Princess
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/4/00 - 12:30 PM PDT)
That Abyss Trivia Contest
will be up this afternoon. In the meantime, for those of you who
love DVD (and are thus abstaining from rushing out to purchase a $40
VHS widescreen copy of Star Wars: Episode
I today), we've got a couple more reviews for you. First
up is Brad Pilcher's look at Universal's
of Days: Collector's Edition. And we've also got Doogan's
take on the only Best Picture-nominated film to arrive on DVD thus
far - Buena Vista's
Sixth Sense: Collector's Edition.
In an interesting twist in the DVD legislation case, First
Amendment lawyers have appealed the injunction against websites
posting the code, on the grounds that the posts are constitutionally
protected free speech and do not meet the test of trade secret
infringement. You can
the news blurb here.
We've gotten a lot of e-mails from people wondering about the
aspect ratios of the Galaxy Quest
DVD. In the theaters, the film opens at 1.33:1 (as we watch an old
TV clip) and then widens out to 1.85:1 for about the first 20
minutes or so. Then, when the story moves into outer space, the
ratio changes to a much wider 2.35:1. This was done to show the
difference in locations, and give the change in location more impact
visually. But the DVD goes from from 1.33:1 right to 2.35:1, and
some have complained about it. This was done on purpose, and is not
an error in the making of the DVD. Director Dean Parisot apparently
felt that this aspect ratio effect was lost on the small screen, and
so decided to forgo the 1.85:1 stage for the home video and DVD
deliberately. Hope that explains it. FYI - the disc streets on May
Back on the subject of Star Wars...
no, we WILL NOT be reviewing the VHS release. In our opinion, that's
just silly, and makes no sense whatsoever. We have never covered VHS
in these pages, and we never will. We will, however, be taking a
closer look at all of the bootleg Star
Wars DVDs that are available. Since there are no official
DVDs at the moment, lots of you have been buying these bootleg
discs, and we think you deserve to know what you're getting. So look
for that very soon.
We've got some cool hardware reviews for you today. I'm sure many
of you have heard of that new player that not only plays DVDs, CDs
and discs of MP3 files, but allows you to bypass Macrovision and
Region coding - the
AD-600A. Well our own Chris Maynard has given it a throughout
review is now online. Also today, our friend Digital Man (aka
Josh Lehman and Express.com's Doc. DVD) has taken
DigiTheatre DTS for a test spin. It's a complete Dolby
Digital/DTS surround sound system in a box, including speakers, and
it's worth a look.
We've also got some new DVD reviews up too: Brad Pilcher's look at
New Line's forthcoming
Hidden (which streets on 4/18) and Dan Kelly's review of
and Death on Long Island, starring John Hurt.
And in other news, Image
Entertainment's updated their
News page again, with the details on a number of new
Image-exclusive titles. Among those mentioned are: Asylum,
Dreamscape: Special Edition,
Fallen Angel, Project
Moonbase, Rocketship X-M,
Twilight Zone #26 & 27 and
It seems that even Newsweek
magazine is getting into "no Star
Wars DVD" mode - check out this link:
DVDisturbance in the Force...
Finally, a couple of tidbits according to this week's Video
Store magazine. Many of the cast members of Universal's
The Skulls were given video
cameras, and were asked to document their work on the film for an
eventual DVD release (too bad the film wasn't better). And it seems
that American Beauty director
Sam Mendes is "far too busy" doing press to work on a DVD
version of his film right now. Here's what we think might be the
real issue: DreamWorks would reportedly like to include multiple
endings of the film on the DVD (according to a recent address by
studio head of worldwide operations Sandy Friedman, at the recent
International Recording Media Forum meeting), but Mendes opposes
this idea. We know some kind of DVD has been done - Academy members
got the film on DVD as a screener for their Oscar voting...
We'll be back later this evening to start the new contest. We're
giving away 10 copies of
Abyss: Special Edition, so be sure to check back!
As expected, my e-mail is jammed today with April Tom Foolery...
reviews of mythical DVDs like Star Wars
and Raiders of the Lost Ark,
news stories of George Lucas apologizing for Jar Jar Binks and even
an Elvis sighting. We dig the hume, but have abstained ourselves -
the credibility of the Internet is strained enough without making
fools of ourselves on purpose. We did seriously consider a gag
involving Eyes Wide Shut, but
we'll leave it to you imaginations. ;-)
However (and this is no joke), we've announced the winner of our
Contest. Congratulations to Brian
W. Ralston of Tucson, Arizona! Brian was chosen at random
from the 1072 entries this month, and takes home the player and
movies. You can read
his answers to
our two questions here. The next contest will start on Monday
- thanks to our friends at Fox, we've got 10 spanking new copies of
The Abyss: Special Edition to
give away, so be sure to check back!
Now then - I'm off to watch Wisconsin in the NCAA Final Four. Have
a great weekend, and we'll see you Monday!
Okay... I've had a chance to give an early preview copy of
Quest DVD a spin, and my full-length review is now online.
When the disc is released on May 2nd, don't ask any questions. Just
buy it. You're gonna laugh hard at this flick - trust me on this.
Don't forget that today is the last day to enter our
Contest - get those entries in before 7 PM PST tonight for
your chance to win!
Yes... that April 31st date I mentioned yesterday for the end of
Wars on DVD Campaign petition WAS an error. As about 200
people e-mailed me to report, there IS no April 31st. So the
petition will end on April 30th, m'kay? ;-)
In other news, Image
Entertainment has officially launched their new
the press release here). And the
Entertainment Groups' issued a
release on all of the past & current Academy Award-winning
films that are available (or are coming soon) on DVD.
And finally, for those of you who may have wondered what the
difference really is between the censored American release of
Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut,
and the uncensored foreign release, we've got something for you to
look at (by way of Harry Knowles'
News). It's a
DVD website with screen shots taken from the Region 1 and Region 2
DVDs, showing exactly how the film was digitally altered. The
images aren't for the kiddies, but I think they'll open your eyes.
Enjoy your April Fools Day and have a great weekend!
Okay, we've got more reviews. Now... around here, we think Jim
Carrey deserved an Best Actor nomination for his performance in Man
on the Moon. Since Oscar snubbed him, we decided to give
him a little coverage here our way. So our own Greg Suarez has
completed a trio of reviews of some of his films on DVD - a Carrey
Fest as it were. You can now read Greg's look at
Liar: Collector's Edition,
and Dumber and
Mask. And as promised, I'll be back later this evening
with my review of DreamWorks' excellent upcoming Galaxy
Don't forget, this is the last full day for you to enter the
Trivia Contest. The contest closes tomorrow night at 7 PM
PST, so get those entries in fast - time's running out. And to give
you a sneak peek at what's next, next week we're launching a special
contest and giving away 10 copies of
Abyss: Special Edition thanks to our friends at Fox. Don't
And speaking of time running out, Pete and I have decided that
April 31th will be the last day of our joint
Wars on DVD Campaign's signature drive. We really want to
get as many people to sign it as possible in the next 30 days, so
on by the petition and sign - it just takes a moment. And be
sure to get your friends to do so as well. Thanks!
In the spirit of continuing to catch up on loose ends, we've today
updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's
DVD FAQ to the most recent version. We've also done a new
tally of the signature totals for our joint
Wars on DVD Campaign with
As of today, we have 28,238 signatures
in our petition to get the Star Wars
films on DVD! We're going to be sending the signatures to Lucasfilm
be sure to sign the petition ASAP.
Now then... you may remember that we mentioned Warner's new
Kubrick website a few days ago. The site as just been
officially launched, and there's news, press releases, trailer clips
and other content on it. But one of the biggest pieces of news, is
press release announcing that director Steven Spielberg is
officially going to be writing and directing Kubrick's A.I.
(which stands for Artificial Intelligence). A.I.
was a project that Kubrick had been developing for years, and he
apparently had several conversations about it with Spielberg. The
story will reportedly involve a young boy who turns out to be an
android (although don't quote me on that). In any case that's pretty
cool news in our book. Be sure to check the site out for more.
Entertainment's updated their
News page again with the latest announcements. Included this
time are an Our Town: Special Edition,
a Veteran's Day 3-pack (including Tora,
Tora, Tora, The Longest Day
and Patton) from Fox, boxed
sets of The Andy Griffith Show,
The Beverly Hillbillies and
The Lucy Show from Madacy,
Gypsy from Pioneer and a ton
of other smaller label titles.
And speaking of Image, they've just announced a foreign
distribution deal with Nippon Columbia (in Japan) and Warnervision
(Australia), so you folks in Japan, Australia and New Zealand will
soon have access to lots of great Image-exclusive titles. You can
the full press release here.
Finally today, Columbia TriStar has just announced the DVD release
of The Emperor and the Assassin
on June 13th. The film won the Grand Technical Award at the 52nd
annual Cannes Film Festival. The disc will carry an SRP of $29.95
and will include anamorphic widescreen, director's commentary with
Chen Kaige, talent files and production notes. If I read the press
release correctly audio will be available on the disc in Dolby
Digital 2.0 in the original Mandarin Chinese and Spanish, along with
subtitles in English, French and Spanish.
We'll be posting several more reviews soon, including our look at
DreamWorks' Galaxy Quest. Stay
We're finally catching up on some loose odds and ends around the
site that had fallen by the wayside during our recent move. We've
just updated the CEA DVD player sales
numbers (both the listing above and
full chart). And we're working on doing some archiving too, of
pages like The
Rumor Mill, which have grown a bit big in recent weeks. We
should have all the housekeeping done by tomorrow.
In the meantime, we've got more reviews for you. I've given
Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc a look for you. Todd's
checked in with Fox's
Don't Cry (the film for which Hilary Swank won her Best
Actress Oscar), and Brad's weighed in with Columbia TriStar's
Speaking of Columbia, the studio has just announced it's new Cliffhanger:
Collector's Series DVD, which will street on June 13th.
The disc will carry a $29.95 SRP, and will include the "making
of" featurette Stallone on the Edge,
as well as audio commentary with Stallone and director Renny Harlan,
a second commentary with the effects crew, three deleted scenes with
commentary, a special introduction by the director, 2 effects
featurettes, storyboard comparisons and a pair of photo galleries.
The video will be anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 and 2.0 audio.
Our friends over at the Home
Theater Forum have posted their
photo scrapbook of their recent trip to California. They took
lots of behind-the-scenes photos during special tours of a number of
studios and DVD production facilities, and I think you'll find it
worth a look.
So what did everyone think of the Academy Awards last night? I
actually thought the show was better produced than it's been in
years, but since most of the nominations were pretty predictable, it
still ended up being rather boring to watch. There were just no real
surprises, and no great "Oscar moments". In any case,
here for a full list of the winners.
Now then, we've got a whole bunch of great reviews coming for
tomorrow and the rest of the week. But today, we've got something
special for you - a
peek at the menus for Paramount's upcoming Sleepy Hollow
DVD! And we've got some DVD news for you today as well. Let's
start with this from Doogan:
Manga Entertainment just let us know that some pretty cool anime is
coming up on April 25th. First up is The
Castle of Cagliostro, the first film written and directed
by anime pioneer and visionary Hayao Miyazaki -- the genius behind
Princess Mononoke, Kiki's
Delivery Service and My
Neighbor Totoro. Cagliostro
will be digitally restored both in video and sound, and will be
presented in letterbox format (no word if it'll be anamorphic) with
English and Japanese DD 2.0 tracks. Next up from Manga is Go
Nagai's Devilman! Both episodes (The
Birth and Demon Bird)
will be available on one DVD, presented full frame with a remastered
English DD 5.1 track. Last but not least is Perfect
Blue, an edgy noir anime that really has to be seen to
believed. It'll be pretty loaded with DD 5.1 tracks in Japanese and
English, and it will feature the uncut director's cut version
presented letterbox (again no word on if it will be anamorphic). All
three discs will have some special edition material and will retail
for $29.95. Keep your eyes open for a bargain online.
Thanks, Todd. Now then... Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD
release of Girl, Interrupted
on June 6th. The disc will SRP for $27.95 and will include audio
commentary by director James Mangold, deleted scenes (also with
commentary), an HBO: First Look
documentary on the film, the isolated score, and talent files. It
will, of course, be in anamorphic widescreen.
Last but not least, Image Entertainment has a great batch of titles
coming up in May and beyond. Nancy Sinatra's Emmy Award-winning
television special Movin' with Nancy
will include a 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack, as will Peter
Frampton: Live in Detroit (which will also feature a 5.1
DTS soundtrack). The exciting IMAX documentaries The
Discoverers and Stormchasers
will each be available with both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1
soundtracks. Cinema Europe: The Other
Hollywood, a six-hour documentary hosted by Kenneth
Branagh about the history of European filmmaking, is coming on one
DVD-18 disc. And later in the summer, the "best-of"
special AFI 100 Years, 100 Movies
will be presented in its full-length 10-hour version in one package.
The new special AFI 100 Years, 100 Stars
will debut as well.
Speaking of classic films, the influential and little-seen World
War II film The Story of G.I. Joe,
starring Burgess Meredith and Robert Mitchum, will make its DVD
debut in May, along with special editions of the Charles Chaplin
classics The Gold Rush, Monsieur
Verdoux and a double-feature of A
King in New York and A Woman
of Paris. Bruce Brown's surfing classic The
Endless Summer will be coming the same month, along with
a selection of his other titles.
In June, the 1984 Dennis Quaid science-fiction film Dreamscape
will be released with both a Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtrack,
new anamorphic video transfer, and extensive supplements. The
classic Merchant-Ivory film A Room with a
View, starring Helena Bonham-Carter and Dame Maggie
Smith, will also be coming, along with the Steve Guttenberg comedy
Short Circuit. Quiet
Days in Hollywood, a 1999 indie production starring Oscar
winner Hilary Swank, will debut in July, while August will see the
availability of Stephen Sondheim's musical A
Little Night Music, starring Elizabeth Taylor. Along
other musical lines, Image continues its predominance in the field
with new concerts, including Steely Dan:
Two Against Nature, The
Cranberries: Beneath the Skin - Live in Paris, Tony
Bennett's New York, New York
and Brian Wilson's classic Imagination,
all featuring both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtracks. Image will
also release BET music productions by Jeffrey Osborne, Chaka Khan,
Lou Rawls and Bobby Womack, all with dual DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1
soundtracks. Finally, the epic I Claudius
will come to DVD in late summer with ancillary materials.
We'll be back tomorrow. In the meantime, be sure to get your
Contest entries in. Remember - everyone can enter! Stay
It's Oscar time again folks! So of course, we had to have a little
fun with it all. Our Oscar-themed Trivia
Contest is now on, and it will run for one week (until
Friday, March 31st). Everyone can enter this time - there's no
right or wrong answers. So be sure to get your entries in fast!
Now then... in the spirit of the day (and just for fun), Todd and I
(site editor Bill Hunt - FYI) have decided to give you our picks for
tonight's top awards. We'll tell you who we think will win, and who
deserves it most. So here we go...
Todd says American Beauty
will win, and deservedly so. I say The
Cider House Rules deserves to win, but American
Beauty will take. And where's Being
Todd says Sam Mendes for American
Beauty will walk away with it, but Lasse Hallstrom
for Cider House Rules is the
more deserving. I think Spike Jonze for Being
John Malkovich ought to get the nod - but since his film
didn't make the cut, look for Sam Mendes to win here. And
why isn't Three Kings director
David O. Russell on this list?
This is a tough one, 'cause we like all these guys a lot - all
amazing performances. Todd says Kevin Spacey (American
Beauty) will win, but Denzel Washington (The
Hurricane) deserves it. I'd have to agree that this is
Kevin Spacey's year, but I'd give it to Russell Crowe
(The Insider). And I can't
help hoping that Richard Farnsworth (The
Straight Story) sneaks away with it, 'cause that would
just be a great moment to see.
Todd says Hillary Swank (Boys
Don't Cry) will win and deserves to. I'd have to agree
that Swank deserves it the most, but giving the Academy's
leanings, I think Annette Bening (American
Beauty) will walk away with the statue.
Best Supporting Actor
Todd says Michael Caine (The
Cider House Rules) will take, and that he deserves to do
so. I think also think Caine will and should win, but I'd
love to see the statue go to Michael Clarke Duncan (The
Green Mile). I'm a sucker for great Oscar moments, and
Duncan's run up to the podium would be as fun as Roberto Benigni's.
Best Supporting Actress
Both Todd and I think Angelina Jolie (Girl,
Interrupted) will walk away with it, but both of us would
give our votes to Toni Collette (The
Best Original Screenplay
Once again, Todd and I are in agreement. American
Beauty will win this award, but if there was a better
original screenplay this year than Being
John Malkovich, we haven't seen it.
Best Adapted Screenplay
Just give it to Election.
Why? Have you seen Election?
We liked Cider House Rules,
but Todd and I both think Election
will and deserves to win.
Well there you have it! Don't forget to tune in tonight to see what
happens (5:30 PST - ABC TV). And remember - you can visit the
too. Have a great night, and we'll see you back here tomorrow
Well... it's Friday at last, and we've got some more great reviews
for you to enjoy. First up, I've given Fox's new
with Dinosaurs a look, and it's one of the coolest and
most surprising DVDs I've had to pleasure to watch in some time
(street date 4/18). Todd Doogan's got his two cents for you on
Limey, and it's another disc you won't want to miss.
Rounding things out today, Brad Pilcher's got his reviews of MGM's
Graduate: Special Edition and Columbia TriStar's
We've got more great reviews coming next week, including The
Messenger and more, so do check back.
In the meantime, we're going to be launching our March Trivia
Contest this weekend, and it's one EVERYONE can enter.
All you'll have to do is watch the Oscars on Sunday night (on ABC),
and then answer two simple questions for us about the winners and
losers. There are no right or wrong answers here - everyone who
participates will be entered in the drawing for a brand new DVD
player and 3 movies of your choice. We'll start the contest on
Sunday, so check back then, and be sure to watch the Oscars so you
In other news, our partners over at IGN.com
have announced the results of the Anti-Awards
voting, so be sure to stop on by and check it out.
Now then, from all of us at The Digital
Bits, have a great weekend. And Todd, Frank, Sarah and I
want to send out our thanks and congratulations to our entire staff
of new reviewers (Brad, Greg, Dan and Chris) on their first full
week of spinning discs for us. Welcome aboard everyone!
We've got 4 new disc reviews for you today, and there's new and old
titles in the mix. First up is Todd Doogan's look at Troma's new
The Musical. Brad Pilcher checks in with his look at a
recent classic, Miramax's
is Beautiful. Also up is Greg Suarez with his thoughts on
Show. And rounding out the offerings for today is Dan
Kelly's review of Trimark's
Bayou. We'll be back tomorrow with more reviews - I'll
even chime in on one.
In other news, Image
Entertainment has once again updated their
News page to include new announcements of Sleepy
Hollow: Special Edition, Galaxy
Quest (in DTS), Man on the
Moon, Marnie, Snow
Falling on Cedars: Special Edition, The
Fighting Seebees, Flying
Tigers, End of the Affair,
Guns of Navarone and lots
Store Magazine is reporting that Blockbuster is moving
into the used DVD game, similar to the way they sell "previously
viewed" VHS tapes in many of their stores. Discs are offered at
prices that are in the $14.99 to $19.99 range.
Also, one of our readers discovered a DVD-related article in a
recent issue of the USA Today.
Here's his report (thanks, Billy!):
"Just thought you might want to know
that USA Today had a snippet in their March 16, 2000 issue. The
headline is "DVD TO DEEP-SIX VHS". The article says that "Sales
of digital video discs will surpass VHS sales by 2003, according to
a study by Baskerville Communications. Analysts estimate that
worldwide sales of DVDs will top $9.1 billion this year, compared
with $31.8 billion for VHS. The balance will begin shifting when
recordable DVD players are released next year." Just thought
that this was pretty interesting DVD reading."
Don't forget to check in on that
Live Event tonight at 9 PM EST (6 PM PST).
(LATE UPDATE - 3/22/00 - 2:30 PM PST)
Review time! Brad Pilcher's checked in with a look at Columbia
the Liar DVD. We're also very pleased to introduce another
new disc reviewer today: Dan Kelly. Dan's a fellow Minnesotan, and
works on staff with the Minnesota AIDS Project, where he edits their
out-going publications. He's a great writer, as we think you'll see,
and Todd and I are very glad to have him on The
Digital Bits team. His first review for us is up today -
a look at Fox's
Laid Plans: Special Edition. So give his stuff a read, and
be sure to drop him an e-mail to say hello:
Also, just a reminder - on Thursday, March 23rd, Warner will be
holding their second online event related to their Matrix
DVD. Everyone who signs on will get the chance to experience a live
chat with film editor Zach Staenberg, visual effects supervisor John
Gaeta and sound designer/supervising sound editor Dane Davis. The
event will start at 9 PM EST (6 PM PST), and you can register for it
via the "Online Events" section of your DVD (using a PC
DVD-ROM drive), or by going straight to
Matrix Virtual Theater online. It should be a fun event,
so you might want to check it out.
Finally, we've updated yesterday's
Mill post on Braveheart
- the disc had been planned to street on June 6th, but has been
pushed back a bit (it will now likely street in August). Before you
fret over the delay, take my word for the fact that it's for a very
good reason - the result will be noticeably higher quality when you
finally have the disc in your hands.
Hope you enjoy the reviews! See ya tomorrow...
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/22/00 - 12:30 PM PST)
We've got some Universal DVD news for you today. The studio has
announced that they'll be releasing Conan
the Barbarian, Man on the Moon,
Alfred Hitchcock's Marine and
Snow Falling on Cedars on May
30th. All of the titles feature anamorphic widescreen. Conan
will be a Collector's Series disc, which should include audio
commentary with director John Milius and star Arnold Schwarzenegger,
a documentary, trailers, a photo gallery and production notes. Man
on the Moon will feature dual DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1
audio tracks, a documentary on Andy Kaufman, a behind-the-scenes
featurette, trailers and production notes. Marnie
will also be a Collector's Series DVD, with a documentary,
production notes and photos and a trailer. And Snow
Falling on Cedars will feature audio commentary with
director Scott Hicks, a featurette on the Menzanar internment camp,
a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted scenes, production notes and
a trailer. Snow and Man
on the Moon will carry a $24.98 SRP, while the
Collector's titles will SRP for $29.98.
And Criterion's PR film has announced a slate of titles that
they've got in the works for the remainder of the year (many of
which you may recall from our
with Criterion's Peter Becker). First up in June is a W.C.
Fields Collection (containing six of his films), along
with his Bank Dick and the
classic And God Created Woman.
July should see Olympia, along
with The Lady Eve, Element
of Crime, Knife in the Water,
Children of Paradise and The
Harder They Come. The late Akira Kurosawa's famed The
Hidden Fortress is on tap for August, along with Spike
Lee's Do the Right Thing, and
new versions of Eisenstein's Ivan the
Terrible I & II and Alexander
Nevsky. Sisters and
the original The Blob are set
to follow in September, with Black
Narcissus and The Ruling Class
slated in October, and The Rolling Stones' Gimme
Shelter, Josef von Steernberg's The
Scarlet Empress and Cries &
Whispers planned for November. Other titles in the works
at Criterion include Kubrick's Spartacus,
Douglas Sirk's All that Heaven Allows
and Written on the Wind, October,
Tales of Hoffman and Le
In other news, we've discovered
pretty interesting article on the legal wrangling over the CSS
encryption hack over at the
News Network. Discussed in the article are the various
positions and legal implications of the issue, and whether the
various parties have unrealistic expectations as pertains to the law
in this case. Don't miss it.
We'll be back in an hour or two with more DVD reviews, so stay
We've got some cool information in today's
Mill for you - an update on the status of Braveheart,
Star Trek: The Next Generation,
Planet of the Apes and Desperately
We also have 3 more new DVD reviews - Brad Pilcher's take on
Big Brass Ring and (no we're not kidding) Warner's
The First Movie. Doogan's also given Warner's
a spin, so do check them all out.
In DVD news, Columbia TriStar's officially announced The
Guns of Navarone for May 23rd. It should be awesome,
featuring new audio commentary by director J. Lee Thompson, a
retrospective documentary and no less than 4 featurettes, a message
from screenwriter Carl Foreman, production notes and talent files.
Naturally, the DVD will be in anamorphic widescreen with
newly-remixed 5.1 audio and the original 2.0 track as well. Pick it
up for the $24.95 SRP, and be happy, happy, happy. And coming on
June 6th from the studio, are The Eyes of
Laura Mars, The Golden Voyage
of Sinbad and Foxfire.
Sinbad includes several
featurettes and vintage advertising, and will be in the original
full frame aspect ratio with mono sound. Laura
Mars will include new commentary with director Irvin
Kershner (also known for directing The
Empire Strikes Back), a featurette, original production
photos and more. All three will SRP for $24.95.
Finally today, Warner and a company called Xenon have announced a
new partnership to use Xenon's new low-temperature DVD bonding
process at Warner's WAMO DVD replication facility (read
the press release here). The process is reportedly more
efficient, and should result in less defective discs and higher
overall production capacity. We're wondering if Warner didn't test
this process on their upcoming
Kings DVD, which is RSDL dual-layered, but isn't
the familiar gold color usually associated with dual-layered discs.
We'll let you know when we find out.
(LATE UPDATE - 3/20/00 - 3:15 PM PST)
Wow - two updates in one day! After 5 days of being M.I.A., that's
probably hard to believe! ;-)
In any case, we've got those reviews we promised you earlier. First
up is Todd Doogan's in-depth take on Warner's ultra-cool new DVD
special edition of
Kings (which streets on April 11th). This is a great film,
and it's a damn fine DVD too - arguably one of Warner's best yet. Up
next is a new review from Chris Maynard - his take on Columbia
TriStar's new Random
And finally, we'd like to welcome another new reviewer to the crack
staff of Digital Bits disc
spinners... Greg Suarez. Greg knows his film, as you'll see when you
read his review of
Exorcist: 25th Anniversary Special Edition. We're posting
this review in honor of the just-released-to-theaters (in a few
cities) "writer's version/ultimate director's cut" of The
Exorcist, which includes newly restored scenes. You can
expect it to appear on DVD later this fall. In any case, Greg's a
great addition to our staff, and we're glad to have him aboard. You
can e-mail him starting this evening at:
So be sure to drop him an e-mail and give him a nice welcome!
Once again, on behalf of all of us at the Bits,
thanks for your patience over the last few days of downtime. We'll
be back tomorrow, so stay tuned...!
(EARLY UPDATE - 3/20/00 - 11 AM PST)
We're back! Thanks for your patience in waiting out our computer
problems and the move. I've finally gotten them resolved, and
luckily, it looks as though no data was lost after all. Whew! Also,
The Digital Bits (West) is now
settled in our spiffy new digs, and we're almost completely back up
to speed. So no more interruptions (sound of applause)!
We've got some news to run down for you. First of all, Paramount
has officially announced a few of their May DVD titles (all of which
street on May 23rd), which include some major heavy hitters. First
of all, comes what could almost be called a quasi-Paramount Special
Edition title - Tim Burton's Sleepy
Hollow. The disc will SRP for $29.99 and will include the
following extras: new director's audio commentary, a
behind-the-scenes featurette with exclusive cast and crew
interviews, a photo gallery, cast & crew bios and 2 trailers.
Also coming on that day are The Firm,
American Gigolo and Franco
Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet
(all will SRP for $29.99). The Firm
features 2 theatrical trailers and 5.1 audio. American
Gigolo includes 1 trailer and 5.1 audio. Romeo
and Juliet includes a trailer and "Dolby Digital
audio in English". All of the above are Closed Captioned, and
all will be enhanced for 16x9 displays.
Paramount has also announced that April will see their first DVD
titles released in Europe and Japan (Region 2). Among the titles
expected in the first three months are The
Truman Show, The Rugrats Movie,
Top Gun, Star
Trek Insurrection, Days of
Thunder and 48 Hours.
Columbia TriStar also has a few titles on the way for May 23rd.
First up is American Movie
(SRP $27.95), which includes an audio commentary with the director
and cast members, the short film Coven
and 22 deleted scenes. It will include 5.1 audio and be 16x9. Also
coming on 5/23 are the second installment in Jim Henson's The
Bear in the Big Blue House (SRP $24.95) and The
Three Stooges: All the World's a Stooge, which includes 7
classic episodes for (also for $24.95 SRP): Grips,
Grunts and Groans, All the
World's a Stooge, 3 Dumb
Clucks, Three Little Pirates,
Uncivil War Birds, Back
to the Woods and Violent is
the Word for Curly.
Entertainment updated their
News page while we were down with details on 4 new volumes of
Monty Python's Flying Circus
(due in April - the remaining episodes of the series are expected to
be released on DVD in the fall), Entrapment:
Special Edition, Sex and the
City, Tumbleweeds: Special
Edition, Bringing Out the Dead
Now then... despite the disruption over the weekend, our crack
review staff has been busier than ever, and they've got lots of new
reviews done. So I'll be back in a couple of hours with a few of
them, including a look at Warner's Three
Stay tuned (and thanks again for your patience)...!
Well folks... I've got good news and bad news for you today. Before
I get to that, let me just quickly let you know that we've got two
new DVD reviews available this morning from Todd and Brad -
Universal's new The
Bone Collector and New Line's Embrace
of the Vampire. Hope you enjoy them, 'cause here's where I
get back to the aforementioned news.
Let's have the good news first. The
Digital Bits is moving to spiffy new digs here in Irvine,
CA. We've got a brand new office picked out, and the move will
officially take place over the rest of this week. We should have a
lot more room, making it easier to bring you lots of great DVD news
and information. For all those of you out there who we deal with at
the studios (and particularly anyone who might have occasion to send
us review discs and press releases), we'll be contacting you over
the next few days with our new address and phone number. If you
don't hear from us for some reason, please be sure to give us a call
(at the current number) so we can make sure to get everything
updated. We're working to make the move as smooth as possible, so
please bear with us.
Now for the bad news. I had hoped that the move wouldn't cause any
unnecessary disruptions to our daily posts... and the MOVE itself
won't. But this morning, as I was preparing this update, my
computer's hard drive crashed and crashed hard. I heard this truly
unholy noise (that computers should never make... EVER) and the
drive was toast, just like that. Luckily, I had already posted the
two reviews, and we have backups of all our important data, so I'm
writing this on my laptop. But having happened as it has on top of
the move to our new office... it's probably going to be a few days
before I can get my PC working again. And since the computer support
staff of the Bits is limited
to one person (me), that means that posts may be a bit thin over the
next few days. Don't you just hate it when your finely-tuned
technology rears up and bites you in the ass? Man, and I had just
updated all of my software too... :-(
Anyway, I'll try to keep you all up to date on the situation, using
the laptop to post when (and if) I'm able. Rest assured, we're
working hard to get back up to full speed as soon as possible. In
the meantime, we really appreciate your patience. Thanks guys...
you're the best!
Let me tell you, Todd and I haven't written truly long DVD reviews
in quite a while. But we've finally finished and posted the two
reviews we mentioned yesterday... and they're pretty hefty. You'll
find my thoughts on Fox's impressive
Abyss: Special Edition - it took a lot of words to
describe the 2-disc set's laundry list of extras. And Todd's got
plenty to say about Elite's new 2-disc set, The
Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema, which contains
Der Golem, Nosferatu
and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.
In other news,
a press release up at Yahoo on
new "All You Can Watch" DVD rental program. You pay $20 a
month, and you can rent as many DVDs as you want, for as long as you
want, with no late fees. Also, the nifty
Unleashed has a couple of interesting interviews up with
our friend Don May, Jr. from Synapse and Elite's Vini Bancalari.
They're worth a look. And here's an interesting note - Warner is
working on an official
Stanley Kubrick website. It should be interesting to see what
appears there in the months ahead...
Finally today, you may remember that a few days ago, I mentioned an
article I did recently on anamorphic widescreen for the industry
trade Video Store magazine.
The article is called Anamorphic DVD:
What It Means and Why You Should Care, and it's now
available in this week's issue of the publication. The two page
feature (found on pages 16 and 17) features a visual demonstration
of the difference anamorphic enhancement on DVD makes on a
widescreen TV, and a listing of how the various studios mark the
feature on their disc packaging. And it explains everything you need
to know on the subject in fairly straightforward terms. My intent
was for the feature to make a nice educational piece video retailers
can use for their employees and customers - just tear it out and
post it for all to see. And if you don't have access to the
magazine, but still want to read the article,
can find it via this link at the Video Store website.
And of course, our own
Guide to Anamorphic is always available here at the Bits.
Never let it be said that we aren't doing our part to promote the
use and understanding of DVD's most important video quality
We'll be back with more reviews and news tomorrow. See you then -
same Bat time, same Bat channel!
Welcome back to work, everyone! You're probably drinking that first
cup of coffee to get you through Monday, right? Well, I hope you all
had a great weekend at least. ;-)
Frank and I made the mistake of seeing Mission
to Mars this weekend - what a piece of crap. And I
usually dig these kinds of sci-fi flicks. But this one tries to be
2001 meets Close
Encounters and fails miserably. Even the payoff at the
end is done in by some very silly looking CGI creature effects. This
is a major weak effort from director Brian De Palma. It's so lame
that not even top-flight acting talent can save it.
We did happen to recently see a fairly good sci-fi flick though.
It's been getting panned by some critics, but I have to tell you
that we enjoyed Pitch Black a
lot more than we expected. We went in with zero expectations,
anticipating a cheesy B-movie. What we got was a surprisingly
stylish and creepy little B-movie. Sure... there are tons of plot
holes and the script isn't exactly high-concept. But if you go in
knowing that this is your basic "space-bugs-gonna-get-you"
flick, I think you'll enjoy it. The look of the film is very cool,
with one of the most intense spaceship crash sequences I've ever
seen at the start. And the aliens are pretty effective. Let's just
say that while it isn't perfect, it's definitely got its heart in
the right place.
Anyway, back to DVD. We've got just the thing to get your blood
pumpin' on a Monday morning - TONS of new
DVD Cover Art! We've got more than 100 new cover scans
from some big upcoming titles, like The
Insider, Chasing Amy,
all the Bond films, Pee Wee's Big
The Fox and the Hound, The
Aristocats, Star Trek III: The
Search for Spock, Star Trek:
The Original Series, Volumes 9 & 10, Spaceballs,
Messenger, Three Kings,
Galaxy Quest, For
Love of the Game, Boys Don't
Cry, The Living Sea,
Blue Velvet, Il
Postino, The Omega Code...
you get the idea. I could go on and on. There's definitely something
for everyone in there, so don't miss it.
We'll be back later today with new DVD reviews of The
Masterworks of the German Horror Cinema and The
Abyss: SE, so stay tuned...
This is just a quick note to let you all know that we've announced
the winner of our Noses in the News Trivia
Contest. Keep your eyes peeled for the next contest, which
will start soon...
We're very pleased today to announce the first of our new
reviewers, Chris Maynard. Many of you may know Chris from
Home Theater Forum, where he co-moderates the Advanced HT
Discussion Forum. Frank and I met Chris last week, when a whole
group of their readers were here in L.A., and he's a great guy.
We're very happy to have him as a regular contributor to The
Digital Bits. His first review, Paramount's
Jeopardy, is now available. His
should be active within the hour, so please join Todd, Frank, Sarah,
Brad and I in welcoming him to our merry band of DVD fools. Welcome
Also today, Brad's given a couple more discs a spin and we've got
his comments on them posted. Be sure to read his reviews of USA's
Last Days and MGM's
Vista's press release for their April VHS and DVD titles is
now available via Yahoo. Also
got a story up about how the studio's Tarzan
DVD makes you sit through a bunch of commercials first (it includes
a brief quote from yours truly). Also from CNet,
it seems that despite the blistering 3 day Japanese sales totals of
Sony's PlayStation 2 (some 900,000 units),
still short of what they were expecting. And there's worse
of the systems' memory cards may be defective, forcing a
recall. Ouch. Hopefully they'll have worked the bugs out in time for
the system's fall U.S. debut (the actual date and price is expected
to be announced at the upcoming E3 Convention).
In other news, Image
Entertainment's updated their
News page again today, with lots more upcoming titles listed.
Among those mentioned are Columbia TriStar's Dogma
and The End of the Affair,
MGM's James Bond Collection - Wave 2,
and TONS more titles from the independents.
We'll be back tonight to announce the winner of the
the News Trivia Contest (remember - you've got until 5 PM
PST tonight). And we'll be back on Monday with a whole bunch of new
reviews from Todd, Frank and I... yes, including The
Stay tuned and have a great weekend!
Well, that Abyss DVD turns
out to have a LOT more on it than I expected. I really want to give
this disc the review attention it deserves, so please be patient
while I go through it all. In the meantime, we've got some very cool
(and tentative) DVD news today in
Rumor Mill, regarding awesome upcoming titles from Fox,
Warner and HBO. You definitely will not want to miss it.
Speaking of Warner, here are the details of their upcoming Three
Kings: Special Edition, which streets on April 11th (SRP
Behind-the-scenes documentary Under the
Bunker: On the Set of Three Kings, 2 feature-length audio
commentaries with the director and producers, tour of the Iraqi
village set, interview with the D.P., David O. Russell's Video
Journal, deleted scenes with director's commentary,
special photography from Spike Jones, a look at the acting process
with Ice Cube, "bunkers" (three hidden features),
theatrical trailer, DVD-Rom features (links to CNN's Gulf War
archives, web events, film's original web site and more).
Finally, thanks to the efforts of Bits
reader Colin Law, our Ultimate Guide to
Anamorphic Widescreen DVD is now available as a
downloadable (and printable) Adobe .pdf file. You'll find that
clicking to the first page of guide. Thanks Colin!