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page updated: 7/26/00



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 5/8/00 - 4/7/00)


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5/8/00

So how many of you ran out this weekend to see Gladiator? If you haven't, you should. It's amazing. You've probably been reading rumors about the forthcoming DVD version of the film on the Net. Be aware that the DVD is definitely being planned. We'll have more on the subject when plans have moved beyond the realm of speculation - everything is very tentative at this point. But you can certainly expect deleted scenes and other behind-the-scenes features. DVD or no, don't miss the chance to see the film in the theaters - it definitely demands to be seen on the big screen.

Today's update comes late in the day, but we've got a nice bonus to help make up for it. In addition to our just posted reviews of USA Films' offbeat Being John Malkovich: Special Edition and Universal's Man on the Moon (which includes Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks on the same disc), Todd and I have teamed up to give you an early look at Warner's new DVD edition of The Green Mile, which just arrived this morning. It's such a great film, and it looks and sounds wonderful on disc. It's a bit light on extras however, so be warned. For those who are interested, the DVD streets on June 13th - get those orders in!

We've gotta get back to work on tomorrow's post, so we can get it up earlier. ;-) We'll have lots more new disc reviews for you, so stay tuned...

5/5/00

Good news today! The DVD format has officially passed another growth milestone, by zooming past 7 million players shipped to dealers in the States! According to CEA, sales for the last week in April (week ending 4/28) were 241,357 units (reflecting end of the month reporting). That makes the monthly total 409,192 units, and the year to date total 1,592,817 units. All charts have been updated accordingly.

In other site business today... we'd like to welcome our new sponsor, Replay TV! You might have noticed their logo at the top of this page. We're really looking forward to working with them, and you can definitely expect a feature story on just what Replay TV is and how it works in the coming weeks. Welcome aboard!

Boy, have we been remiss. I was working on my review of Being John Malkovich last night, when it occurred to me that there's a whole lot of new DVD artwork available. So I'm pushing the reviews back until Monday, and instead, I've put together a major Upcoming DVD Cover Art update! We've got high-quality scans of all kinds of great forthcoming titles, including Jaws, Men in Black (SE, DTS SE and Limited Edition versions), Alice in Wonderland, Magnolia (which streets July 25th), Ken Burns' Baseball, Bicentennial Man, Girl, Interrupted, Bringing Out the Dead, The Green Mile, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Interview with the Vampire: SE, Lethal Weapon 1-3 (SE versions), North By Northwest (!), Pocahontas, Princess Mononoke, Scream 3, Robin Hood, The Puppet Master Collection, Sex and the City: Season One, Shaft, Star Trek II, Twister: SE, The Whole Nine Yards and more... whew!

Yahoo and CNet have another story on the legal battle over the DeCSS hack. And Image Entertainment has once again updated their DVD News page to include the latest on more upcoming titles, including Scream 3, Citizen X, Hurricane: Special Edition, Bronco Billy, North By Northwest: SE and a bunch more.

Warner's issued a press release on their forthcoming The Green Mile DVD. It streets on June 13 (SRP of $24.98), and includes a special 10-minute documentary, a trailer, anamorphic widescreen and English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Paramount's also issued the specs for their late-June to mid-July DVDs:

The Talented Mr. Ripley - 16x9, DD 5.1, trailer, cast & crew interviews, 2 featurettes, 2 music videos, director's commentary (SRP $29.99 - street date 6/27)

Harold and Maude - 16x9, DD 5.1, 2 trailers (SRP $29.99 - street date 6/27)

Dead Again - 16x9, DD 5.1, trailer, commentaries with director, producer and screenwriter (SRP $29.99 - street date 6/27)

Clue - 16x9, DD 5.1, trailer, 3 alternate endings (SRP $29.99 - street date 6/27)

La Cucaracha - 16x9, DD 5.1, trailer, cast & crew bios, director's commentary (SRP $29.99 - street date 6/27)

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 16x9, DD 5.1, trailer (SRP $29.99 - street date 7/11)

Searching for Bobby Fischer - 16x9, DD 5.1 (SRP $29.99 - street date 7/11)

Star Trek: The Original Series, Volumes 11 & 12 - full frame, DD 5.1, trailers (SRP $29.99 each - street date 7/11)

Active Stealth - 16x9 (SRP $29.99 - street date 7/11)

Angela's Ashes - 16x9, DD 5.1, 2 trailers, cast & crew interviews, featurette, commentaries with director and writer (SRP $29.99 - street date 7/18)

Where's Marlowe? - 16x9, DD 5.1, trailer (SRP $29.99 - street date 7/18)

Finally, wanna meet the new Anakin Skywalker? According to a number of "unofficial sources close to the production", actor Hayden Christensen's agent this morning closed the deal for the young man to play the future Darth Vader in Episodes 2 and 3. Christensen has previously been seen in John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness. Visit our fellow Ign.com affiliate The Force.net for the latest. It will be interesting to see if this proves true...

We'll be back on Monday, with reviews of Man on the Moon, Being John Malkovich... yes, Pee Wee's Big Adventure... and lots more. We'll also be launching our May Trivia Contest - the winner will take home a copy of the James Bond DVD Boxed Set, Volume 2 and more. So stay tuned and have a great weekend!

5/4/00

Today we've got some... well, let's call it an interesting mix of titles reviewed on DVD. Todd weighs in heavy with looks at the offbeat Trader Hornee, which is one of Image's Something Weird collection. He's also got Image's Ms. 45 and a blood-spattered gore flick called Organ from Synapse (definitely not for the kiddies). And then he and Greg check in with looks at a couple of new MGM titles, Spaceballs and Showgirls. I do have to make one comment here. While both of these titles are adequate, I'm getting really tired of MGM dumping their non-Bond titles onto DVD without anamorphic transfers. They seem to be the last major studio to get really serious about 16x9, and I hope they make a turnaround quick. Too bad it won't be in time for Princess Bride.

In a non-DVD note, we have a word of warning to Microsoft Outlook users out there. There's a nasty virus going around that shows up in your e-mail. The subject line will say "I love you", and what it does it to worm its way through your address book and start sending copies of itself to everyone whose e-mail address you have on file. In that way, it bogs down networks and crashes systems big time. I got warnings about it earlier today and thought it was just another bogus scare, but I've actually talked with friends and family today who have been hit hard. If you do get an e-mail like this, delete it quick. For more, visit the report on the virus over at CNN.com.

We'll be back tomorrow with reviews of some more "mainstream" DVD titles. Stay tuned...

5/3/00

At last! We've just posted that special feature we've been talking about for a few days - an interview with filmmaker Roger Nygard, the director of the hilarious film Trekkies, and producer of the equally funny Six Days in Roswell. It took longer than I expected to get the article finished, but I think you'll find it was worth the wait. So enjoy, and let me know what you think!

One last thing today - our own Brad Pilcher's filed a story on Wired.com about the success of The Star Wars on DVD Campaign. Be sure to check it out.

We'll be back much earlier tomorrow with reviews, so stay tuned!

5/2/00

Our look at the films of director Mel Brooks continues today with a review of Fox's Young Frankenstein: Special Edition. Also reviewed today are New Line's Tumbleweeds, Artisan's Lonesome Dove (DVD-18) and MGM's Richard III (1995). More reviews are on the way for tomorrow.

In other news, the MPAA and Chinese authorities are bustin' a move on DVD pirates in a recent raid in that nation's Guangzhou province. Some 200,000 different DVD and CD titles were nabbed in the raid, including illegal copies of Toy Story 2, Sleepy Hollow and more. You can read the complete story at Yahoo.

Also today, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again with more details on upcoming titles, including TONS of Image-exclusive titles like Room With a View and more Twilight Zone and Laurel & Hardy discs. The list is huge and is well worth a scan, so do check it out.

And you Star Wars fans should drop on by the official site, which has a bit of information on the recent audition session for the actors in the running to be the next Anakin Skywalker. Kinda cool.

We'll be back later today with our special feature, so stay tuned...!

5/1/00

We've got more reviews for you today, including Columbia TriStar's new End of the Affair, Miramax's Music of the Heart: Collector's Series and New Line's Love Jones. We're also taking this week to highlight the films of Mel Brooks, starting with Image's new DVD version of The Twelve Chairs.

Also today, we've updated the CEA DVD player sales chart, as well as VideoScan's Top 10 Selling DVDs (see above). And we've also announced the winner of the April Fool's Trivia Contest, and posted the answers. Congratulations to our winner, Mike Trotter or Mazon, IL!

There is word from Warner about more upcoming "gift box" DVD editions, including one of Blade Runner. We think this is going to cause some confusion out there - this is NOT the new special edition DVD version of the film currently in the works (that comes out in 2001). It's being referred to in some places (Previews magazine included) as the Blade Runner: Special Edition, so don't be fooled. Included in this set will be the EXISTING DVD version, along with production notes, a reproduced one-sheet movie poster, reproduced lobby cards, a senitype image from the movie and a 35mm film clip, all packaged in a deluxe Collector's Case for an SRP of $79.98.

We'll be back tomorrow with another special feature, so stay tuned...!

4/28/00

We've got another review blow-out for you today, campers!

To kick things off, how about a look at MGM's newest Bond film, The World is Not Enough? We've gotten our hands on the entire new Bond DVD set, so look for our reviews of all the discs to be added to our James Bond on DVD page soon. Also today, we have staff reviews of MGM's The Night of the Hunter, Warner's The House on Haunted Hill (1999) and Artisan's L.A. Story. And I've taken a good look at a bunch of classic Flash Gordon serials from Image Entertainment and VCI - Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe and the Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe: Collector's Edition. Don't for get your raygun!

Around the site today, we've updated our CEA DVD Player sales page again with sales information for the second week of April. And don't forget that Sunday is the last day you can enter our April Trivia Contest for a chance to win a new Pioneer DVD player and 3 movies of your choice. It's not too hard, so be sure to get your entries in!

Poor Pee Wee got bumped by Bond, but we'll have him for you on Monday. Also on Monday, we'll be posting another one of our special feature stories and even more DVD reviews - be sure to check back then.

Have yourselves a great weekend, and stay tuned!

4/27/00

For all you Askew types out there, we've gotten the skinny on Kevin Smith's plans for the Dogma: Special Edition, which is coming out later this year. We've also got some early information on plans to bring the rest of director Steven Spielberg's classic films to DVD. You'll find all that today in The Rumor Mill, so don't miss it.

Our friends over at Film Force have more information on MGM's forthcoming Spinal Tap DVD, featured in their recent chat with actor/comedian Harry Shearer. Drop on by and check it out.

And if you stop by Inside DVD later, you might be able to watch a recorded webcast of Leonard Nimoy's signing event at the Virgin Megastore here in L.A. last night - the webcast should be available soon, so be sure to keep checking.

We'll be back this evening and tomorrow with a bunch more DVD reviews, including Image's complete trio of Flash Gordon serials on DVD, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure and more. Stay tuned!

4/26/00

Thanks to everyone who's e-mailed me with comments on the Star Trek DVD story I posted last night. I've had tons of people ask me questions, and I'll try to get to them in a minute.

First of all, I've posted my review of Kevin Smith's Dogma, which arrives as a movie-only DVD from Columbia TriStar on May 2nd. Warning - there be cursives in the review (and I don't mean hand-writing). I dug the movie, but it does have it's flaws. Still, controversy aside (and if you read the review, you'll know exactly what I think of that), the disc is worth a watch. But one note - a special edition is on the way for the fall, and that's what I'm waiting for...

Also today, I've posted a full transcript of another chat our friends over at the Home Theater Forum did last night with Michael Stradford of Columbia TriStar Home Video. Michael is heavily involved in the studio's DVD work, and I think you'll find that his comments are definitely worth a read. There's lots of great information about many of your favorite Columbia films coming to DVD, so do check it out.

For those of you who want more on those upcoming Jaws: Special Editions (DTS and DD), you should check out Universal's unofficial DVD website for all the details.

Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page with more upcoming titles, including details on Next Friday and lots of other smaller titles.

And don't forget, Star Trek's Leonard Nimoy is going to be signing DVDs tonight at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood. He'll be there from 7:30 to 9:30 PM PDT (the address is 8000 Sunset Blvd.). If you're an L.A.-area Trekkie, don't miss it!

Finally today, some answers to your Star Trek DVD questions. A lot of people have asked me why there are no other extras on the Star Trek: The Original Series DVDs. I can't speak for Paramount, but I'm guessing that it has to do with disc space issues and the amount of work that would be required to assemble bonus material for 40 discs. But don't quote me on that. As far as the lack of special editions of the feature films (including deleted scenes and the like), I'm guessing that Paramount will revisit them as such on DVD in the future. It would just make sense. And for those who have asked if Paramount's going to release a boxed set of all the Trek films on DVD later this year... I'd bet money on it. But again, don't quote me. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/25/00 - 10 PM PDT)

We've got a little something special for you night owls this evening. Have you given Paramount's new Star Trek: The Original Series discs a spin, and wondered just how they managed to make those old episodes look and sound so good on DVD? Well, we did... and I recently had the opportunity to chat with Ron Smith, Paramount's digital mastering guru, who is responsible for getting the DVD job done. As you'll learn, Star Trek is in good hands with Ron - in addition to being very good at what he does, he's also a big fan of the show. So check out Remastering the Final Frontier and get your Trek fix in for the week. We'll even give you a sneak peek at the cover art for Star Trek II, and let you know what's ahead for the franchise on DVD. Enjoy!

Also, we posted a couple of reviews earlier this afternoon - Todd Doogan's look at Rainer Fassbinder's Whity from Fantoma Films (which we mentioned this morning), and a review from a new staffer - Erin Lindsey. She's a very talented writer and we think she's just the ticket for adding a little much-needed female perspective to our review work here at the Bits. You can check out her first offering now - a look at New Line's The Bachelor. Be sure to drop her an e-mail and welcome her aboard. Glad to have you with us, Erin!

Finally this evening, I wanted to clear up a mistake I made in my earlier post. I had originally said that Jurassic Park, and not Jaws, was on its way to DVD on 7/11. I quickly caught the error and made the correction - the incorrect information was only up for about 20 minutes - but lots of people caught the mistake and have e-mailed me about it. Sorry folks - as I said, I'm only MOSTLY recovered from the weekend. ;-)

For the record, Jurassic Park is definitely coming to DVD too, but later in the year.

Back tomorrow with some more reviews - stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/25/00 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay - I'm recovered (mostly) and back for business. This post is just to let you know that I'll be back this afternoon with our main post, which will include reviews and a very special feature story as well.

In the meantime, however, I figured you'd like to get this piece of information ASAP: Universal has its Jaws DVD slated for July 11th. This comes from Universal via Yahoo (read the full story here). The full announcement is expected later today. Included on the disc will be deleted scenes, outtakes, a trivia game, anamorphic widescreen (from a high-definition transfer) and 5.1 audio in both DTS and Dolby Digital flavors. The story also talks about Spielberg's other Universal hits (like E.T., Jurassic Park and Schindler's List) which are "expected to be introduced later... on a staggered basis." Other titles confirmed to be coming soon to DVD include Back to the Future and Casper. Cool no?

Those of you who are into the films of Rainer Fassbinder will be happy to know that Whity has arrived on DVD today. And if you pick up the disc, you might notice something familiar on the back cover. Fantoma Films, which has released the film on DVD, recently asked us if they could use our "Anamorphic Widescreen" logo on their packaging. How could we say no? Look for the logo on other anamorphic DVDs from Fantoma in the future, and possibly a couple other studios as well - we'll let you know. And Todd's review of Whity will be posted later today.

Whity DVD packaging

We'll be back later this afternoon with more, including that special feature story we mentioned. Here's a little hint on the topic:

Star Trek: The Original Series, Vol. 11Star Trek: The Original Series, Vol. 12Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Stay tuned...

4/24/00

Hey, everyone. I just wanted to pop in and let you know that there won't be an update today. Your faithful editor somehow managed to catch a bad case of food poisoning this weekend, and I came pretty close to an emergency room visit in the wee hours of the morning. But I'm slowly recovering, and will be laying in bed most of the day watching movies. So we'll be back with a big post tomorrow morning, that should include lots of reviews and more. Thanks for your patience. And a word of advice - NEVER eat movie theater hot dogs. ;-)

Stay tuned...

4/21/00

We've got some more reviews for you today. Our own Todd Doogan's taken a look at a new series of titles from Image and Something Weird - The Blood Trilogy. Any of you that are into slasher/exploitation flicks like Todd (and we know you're out there), will want to check these out, because just about every similar film today owes them a debt. Included in the trio are special edition DVDs of Blood Feast, Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red. If you're not faint of heart, don't miss 'em!

Also today, Frank Ortiz has given another new Image title a spin - U2: The Joshua Tree (one of their Classic Albums series). And we'll be back next week with lots more reviews, including Pee Wee's Big Adventure and more. We might even have a cool surprise or two for you... ;-)

For those of you who may have missed it, I highly recommend that you check out our transcript of the Home Theater Forum chat with staff members from Warner Home Video. There's LOTS of updates on a bunch of very cool upcoming titles, so do give it a read.

Also today, Sarah's launched our Trivia Contest for April, in the theme of April's Fools - not the jokes but the people who make us laugh. The contest will run until Sunday, April 30th and you can win a brand new DVD player a 3 DVDs of your choice. So what are you waiting for?

Now then... Frank and I are off to see U-571! I hope all of you have a great weekend, and Happy Easter for those of you who celebrate it! Stay tuned...

4/20/00

Well, it's official. Lucasfilm has gone on the record with word that the Star Wars DVDs are in production. After last week's whirlwind of news about the DVDs from Lucas himself, we contacted the company for some kind of official statement on the DVD issue. Lucasfilm representative Jeannie Cole had this to say on the subject:

"Yes, Lucasfilm has officially begun work on DVDs for the Star Wars films, but it is still far too soon to know which films will be released when and what the content will be. It is up to George to decide the content of the discs, and they will not be released in 2000, nor is there any firm date beyond this year."

Cole also stated that rumors of new scenes being digitally finished or existing scenes getting new special effects are false, although this seems to contradict directly what Lucas himself had to say on KROQ radio (namely that the DVDs would include new and deleted scenes). This was also confirmed by a friend of the Bits, who recently spoke directly with Lucas on the subject. Given the early stage that such DVD work is no doubt in, and the fact that Lucas' statements about the DVD on KROQ caught Lucasfilm representatives completely off guard, it's no wonder that there's some confusion.

All that aside, you can now rest easy that the DVDs ARE finally coming. And for those of you who participated in our joint Star Wars on DVD campaign with DVD File... there is no longer any doubt that you officially made the difference. When we asked Cole if the campaign had an influence on Lucas' decision to start the DVD process now, she had this to say:

"Absolutely! Just like the THX slogan 'The Audience Is Listening'. We're listening, and George is listening."

So there you have it! Lucasfilm has asked us to deliver the signatures upon the completion of the petition (on April 30th). If any of you would like to take the time to thank George for listening, click on over to the petition and let him know. We'll be cleaning up all the signatures, and highlighting 50 that best represent the spirit of our efforts. Thanks again to everyone who made the Star Wars on DVD Campaign a success!

Today we've got the full transcript of the Home Theater Forum's recent live chat with Paul Hemstreet and Jim Wuthrich of Warner Brothers Home Video. They talked about the many DVD projects they have in the works, and we even asked a few questions. If you want word on Blade Runner, Batman: SE, Superman and more, don't miss it!

Some other news today - ABC's Good Morning America had a story on DVD on their program the other day, and you can read a brief text version (featuring Joel Siegel) on their website. It even features a video clip you can watch.

For you Spinal Tap fans out there, IGN Film Force recent published an interview with comedian Harry Shearer, and he confirmed that the DVD is coming in August from MGM. He also mentioned that he and his fellow co-stars just finished recording a commentary track for the DVD. Sweet! FYI - the page of the interview we've linked to is the one containing the DVD comment.

Also today, fans of director P.T. Anderson's work should drop on by his website, which has a bit of news on the upcoming Magnolia and Boogie Nights DVDs. It looks as if Magnolia will include a new documentary, and the Boogie Nights 2-disc set will tentatively have additional deleted scenes, an additional commentary track, simpler menus and will be PTA's director's cut of the film. Do check it out.

Oh... for you Being John Malkovich fans, we've arranged a special translation of this site to make you feel right at home.

Back to Star Wars for a moment - as expected, we've heard from our friends in Hong Kong that the first DVD bootlegs made from the Episode I laserdisc have hit the streets. We all knew they were coming, but talk about fast! We'll have more on this soon...

And finally today, you LA-area Trekkers will be happy to know that Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy, will be signing copies of Star Trek III and Star Trek: The Original Series on DVD at the Virgin Megastore in Hollywood next week. He'll be there on Wednesday, April 26th from 7:30 to 9:30 PM PDT. The Virgin Megastore is located at 8000 Sunset Blvd..

Stay tuned...!

4/19/00

Yeeehhaaa! Gather 'round, buckaroos - we got review fer ye today! Okay... sorry. I got all Gabby Hayes there for a moment. Did you know the guy did damn near 200 films in his day? Sheesh!

Anyway, we have no less than 10 full-length DVD reviews for you today. We start with Todd's look at Shakes the Clown from Columbia TriStar. Brad adds a nice dose of white trash shenanegans with a look New Line's Poison Ivy Trilogy. Greg Suarez checks in with his thoughts on a pair of classic horror films remade by Columbia TriStar: Bram Stoker's Dracula and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Not to be outdone, Dan Kelly's given Universal's Psycho: Collector's Edition a spin (along with the Psycho (1998): CE just for kicks). He's also got a look at Warner's nifty Rebel Without a Cause. And Florian Kummert rounds it all out with his two cents on Fox's An Affair to Remember. How's THAT for an interesting mix of new and old, classic and crap? I'd say that's a pretty good day's work... ;-)

One follow-up on yesterday's post - I've officially confirmed with MGM that The Princess Bride will include only a trailer and a collector's booklet in the way of extras. The following isn't "official" but comes off-the-record from the studio: they had planned to do a special edition DVD of this film (as we were all led to believe), but they couldn't pull it together in time, so they decided to do a movie-only release now, and re-visit the title in the future as a more loaded edition. Sadly, the transfer is non-anamorphic (although you do get both letterboxed widescreen and full frame). As for Henry V, it also will include a trailer and a booklet. It will also be non-anamorphic widescreen, but I understand that it was filmed at a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, so the lack of anamorphic may not matter overmuch.

Stay tuned...

4/18/00

We've got some new information in on the Star Wars DVDs, as well as word of more upcoming Fox and MGM DVD releases for August and beyond. You'll find all that in today's update of The Rumor Mill. It's a big update, so don't miss it.

Also today, we've updated the CEA DVD player sales charts to reflect the 46,591 players shipped to retail in the first week of April (ending April 7th).

Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again to include details on a whole bunch of upcoming titles. Listed today are Vampyres: SE, Nekromantik: SE, Sweet and Lowdown, Brief Encounter (Criterion), Caracara, Desperately Seeking Susan: SE, F/X, F/X 2, Married to the Mob, Missing in Action, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, Clue, Dead Again: SE, Harold and Maude, La Cucaracha: SE, The Talented Mr. Ripley: SE (street date 6/27, with director's commentary, 2 trailers, a featurette and cast interviews), H.R. Pufnstuf, Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes, Jeff Buckley: Live in Chicago, The Green Mile (street date 6/13, with a featurette and trailer), Network, The Philadelphia Story and lots more. Whew!

We're still waiting for confirmation from MGM, but I'm afraid it's looking like A Princess Bride will NOT be a special edition. And both Bride and Henry V may not even be in anamorphic widescreen. Every other major studio's gotten the message that anamorphic on DVD is the way to go... except MGM. So we may have to make sure they jump on the anamorphic bandwagon more wholeheartedly, with a little well-directed consumer pressure. Click on over to their websites' e-mail page and let 'em know you want anamorphic widescreen to be the standard - not the exception - on their DVDs.

And speaking of the effectiveness of well-directed consumer pressure, we'd like to point out this story from our affiliate network IGN.com, who spoke with Lucasfilm yesterday about the forthcoming Star Wars DVDs. As you all know, Lucas originally didn't even have the DVDs on his radar. But here's what Lucasfilm had to say to IGN.com:

"... apparently George Lucas has had a change of heart. According to the Lucasfilm spokesperson, the company has changed its course based on the massive amount of feedback it received from Star Wars fans and DVD aficionados. So now Lucas will try to get the DVD released as soon as his schedule permits."

We point this out not to toot our own horn, but to make an important point. When Peter Bracke (of DVD File) and I started the Star Wars on DVD Campaign back in January, we had a lot of people say it was a wasted effort that would fall on deaf ears. But we felt otherwise. And a lot of you out there agreed with us, and felt strongly enough about this issue to join us in our efforts. Pete and I are proud to lead the charge, but it's YOU who make the difference. And clearly, you HAVE made a difference. The point of all this is simple: as consumers, you have tremendous power to effect change in the world of DVD. The studios don't produce DVDs for themselves (although sometimes you'd think so) - they do it for you. You are the market. You have the money they're after. So speak up! Give them feedback! Tell them what YOU want. If something's bugging you about their DVD work, let 'em know. As we've seen... they are listening. And they will get the message. ;-)

We'll be back later this afternoon with reviews, so stay tuned...

4/17/00

Sorry for the late update today, folks. My cable company's been having troubles with their cable modem service, so I've had some Net congestion that's made uploading slow today. That being the case, I've decided to keep today's update limited to updating this column. But rest easy, 'cause we've got a big update coming for tomorrow, including LOTS of reviews and a Rumor Mill update as well. Might even be a touch more Star Wars DVD news too... ;-)

We do have some great upcoming title info for you today - MGM's complete July DVD release list. So here's what to expect (note that all titles street on July 18th):

The Best Years of Our Lives, Easy Money, Henry V (1989), The Princess Bride, Annie Hall, Bananas, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, Interiors, Love and Death, Manhattan, Sleeper, Stardust Memories and a Woody Allen Gift Set (with the 8 films listed here).

Henry V (1989)The Princess Bride

The SRP for all the films is $19.98 (the boxed set is $134.98). Most of the titles are expected to include booklets and trailers. All will be in their original aspect ratios and many include full frame as well. There's no word as to which of the DVDs include anamorphic. There's also no word on extras. We'll try to see what we can find out fer ya.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/14/00 - 12:30 PM PDT)

We've just posted some really cool Star Wars DVD news in The Rumor Mill. First up, George Lucas was on the radio this morning here in L.A. and he actually confirmed that work on the Episode I DVD is underway. What's more, a friend of the Bits actually had the opportunity to talk about the DVDs with Lucas while he's been in town this week! You definitely don't want to miss this!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/14/00 - 11 AM PDT)

I want to thank everyone for e-mailing me with more places to buy the import Episode I LD! In addition to the sites we listed last night, here are more links to websites that should have the disc available for sale: Digital Eyes, Sazuma Trading, The Movie Store, CD Japan and AnimeNation. I obtained mine from our regular contest sponsor, Access DVD (however I don't know if they're taking any more orders). And there is an officially licensed Video CD version of the film which is pretty cheap (and pretty low in quality) - you can get it at VideoCDs.com.

News today includes a piece from Variety (via Yahoo) on how Buena Vista is still the 500-pound gorilla in the home video industry, despite Warner's clear dominance over the DVD market. Also, word has come that the industry consortium which developed the DVD format is starting The DVD Format/Logo Licensing Corporation, which will be the official licensor for rights to use DVD formats and logos.

I've had a lot of people ask me how they can purchase Region 2 DVDs online. Try DVD Express' international store.

And finally this morning, Columbia TriStar has announced that they'll be releasing a pair of DVD "two packs" on June 27th. First up is a two pack that will include Bad Boys and Blue Streak (SRP $49.95). It WILL include the Bad Boys: Collector's Series DVD we mentioned yesterday. The other two pack includes Hanging Up and Sleepless in Seattle, with an SRP of $47.95. Sleepless in Seattle will also be the special edition version.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/13/00 - 9 PM PDT)

After posting our review of the import Star Wars: Episode I laserdisc, we've had a ton of people e-mailing us to ask how it can be ordered online. We've found three sites so far that are still taking orders: RPM Records, Laserdisc Division and The Laser Exchange. Ebay and Amazon also have copies up for auction. If anyone knows of more, please let us know. Keep in mind that quantities are limited and they're selling fast, so you should get your orders in as soon as possible if you want the disc.

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/13/00 - 4 PM PDT)

Okay... we've got some more great stuff for you today. And first up is a juicy one - what we think may be the first review of the Japanese import laserdisc version of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace, in print or on the Net! Is it worth $100+ and all the hair-pulling you're gonna have to go through to find it? Check out the review and find out. One note - the audio on this laserdisc will blow you away.

And that's not all. Brad Pilcher's checked in with a look at Buena Vista's new Adventures in Babysitting. And Todd's spun a few disc for you too, including Criterion's awesome new Carnival of Souls (street date 5/16), Columbia TriStar's Gen-X Cops (street date 4/18) and Warner's new Caddyshack: 20th Anniversary Special Edition.

Speaking of Warner, they've just announced the DVD version of Pee Wee's Big Adventure, which is expected to street on May 2nd (read the press release here). The disc will include deleted scenes, full-length commentary with director Tim Burton and Paul Reubens, an isolated music track and lots more (SRP $24.95). Should be awesome.

Columbia TriStar has also sent new word on a pair of upcoming titles - Hanging Up and the Bad Boys: Collector's Series. Both are expected to street on June 27th, at an SRP of $24.95. Hanging Up will include deleted scenes, outtakes, an isolated score and a featurette. Bad Boys will have a Michael Bay audio commentary, a special effects featurette (with multi-angle footage), a documentary, music videos, the isolated score and more. Both DVDs will feature anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Bad Boys will also include a trailer for Men in Black.

Also today comes word that The Sixth Sense has become Blockbuster Video's most rented title ever, thanks in part to strong DVD rental demand (see press release).

And the DVD Entertainment Group has issued a press release touting the fact that 1st QTR 2000 DVD software sales have increased dramatically over last year, with some 1.8 million units shipped. Cool.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE 4/12/00 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We've added a couple more DVD reviews to the library from Brad - a look at Paramount's new Addams Family Values, and a retro review of Universal's Out of Sight: Collector's Edition.

Also, Warner's sent word that they've got The Green Mile officially on tap for June (street date June 13th to be exact), along with Liberty Heights (on June 20th).

Columbia TriStar has also announced that they're releasing the recent TV movie The Audrey Hepburn Story (starring Jennifer Love Hewitt) on DVD on July 11th (SRP $24.95). The disc will include full frame video, Dolby Digital stereo audio, talent files and three trailers.

Finally today, I know we mentioned that report from Baskerville Communications (on how DVD software sales are expected to overtake VHS by 2003) a couple of weeks ago, but I thought you might like to see the actual press release, which I just found over at Yahoo.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE 4/12/00 - 1 AM PDT)

Calling all X-Philes... have we ever got a tasty treat for you today! How's about a special sneak peek at Fox's awesome The X-Files Season One Gift Pack on DVD? Anyone who's read the Bits for any length of time may know that I'm a huge fan of The X-Files, so I've been salivating like one of Pavlov's dogs at the prospect of getting my hands on this set. And after you read my in-depth look at the multitude of goodies these seven discs contain... I'm guessing you're all gonna start saving your pennies up for May 9th, when the set arrives at your local video store!

Stay tuned for more later...

4/11/00

Today we're very proud to announce that The Digital Bits is now home to more than 400 DVD reviews! And to commemorate the occasion, we've got 6 new reviews today alone, from almost our entire review staff. You'll find my review of Paramount's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock online, along with Todd's look at Warner's Three to Tango, Greg's take on Buena Vista's The Insider (the second Best Picture-nominated film to arrive on DVD), Dan's thoughts on Columbia TriStar's Welcome to the Dollhouse and Brad's two cents on Paramount's The Addams Family. And finally, since many of you have asked us where Frank Ortiz has been over the last few weeks, we've got Frank's review of MVD's Rockers. Whew!

In other news, it looks like the MPAA is at it again. They've requested a second injunction, this time against websites that simply LINK to other sites that may have the DeCSS software posted!! That includes sites that may have no idea that the site they're linking to offers the illegal software utility. In my opinion, this is as irrational and unworkable an action as any that has ever been launched against the Net. And while I completely understand the MPAA's desire to stop piracy... they can stick this particular injunction where the sun don't shine. And you can tell Jack Valenti I said so.

Moving on, a company called Siros Technology has demonstrated the ability to read and write data "in multiple thin layers within the depth of a single optical phase change disk" resulting in a 7 fold increase in the storage capacity over DVD-ROM discs. Cool.

The Jedi Master himself, George Lucas, has officially announced that he's going digital for the filming of Episode II. Working with special cameras developed by Panasonic and Sony, the Lucas team has been testing digital filmmaking for the past 4 months... apparently to George's satisfaction. The new cameras shoot high-definition digital video at a rate of 24 frames per second, matching the frame rate of traditional film cameras (video is normally originated at a rate of 30 frames per second). Going digital will give the director greater flexibility on location - imagine not having to wait for the film to be processed to see what your project looks like? It's also cheaper - as cutting-edge as the new cameras are, they cost only $100,000 each, which is less than 35mm film equipment. Again, cool... but we still want those darned DVDs.

Finally today, I wanted to let you all know about a terrific new film I recently saw at the recent Newport Beach Film Festival. It was produced and directed by the same team who brought you the hilarious Trekkies, and I must say, it's even funnier. It's called Six Days in Roswell, and it follows the misadventures of one Richard Kronfeld (remember the geek who built the Capt. Pike wheelchair in Trekkies?) as he journeys from Minnesota to Roswell, New Mexico to attend the 50th anniversary UFO Crash Celebration. I saw this film with my wife and some friends of ours, and I have to tell you, we were completely in stitches the entire time. I haven't laughed that hard in a long while. We'll be talking more about this film in the coming weeks - if things pan out, we may even be able to announce its release on DVD soon. In the meantime, if you get a chance to see this film... don't miss it. It isn't yet in wide release, but the next showing will be at the Minneapolis/St. Paul Film Festival on April 29th (call 612-627-4431 for more information). And you can visit the film's official website now online. Tell 'em Bill from The Bits sent you!

Stay tuned...

4/10/00

The winner of The Abyss Trivia Contest have been chosen! There are 10 in all - you can click here to find them all listed (along with the answers to our questions). We had some 935 entries this time, so thanks to everyone who played. And congratulations to all the winners!

Now then - good news for you Jim Carrey fans. Universal Studios has just announced that Man on the Moon will street on May 30th. The DVD will SRP for $24.98, and is expected to include a documentary on comedian Andy Kaufman, deleted scenes and music videos for REM's Man on the Moon and The Great Beyond. Also arriving on DVD that day from Universal is Snow Falling on Cedars, which will include deleted scenes, a featurette on the Manzanar internment camp referenced in the film, a Spotlight on Location featurette, DVD-ROM extras and more. SRP is also $24.98.

I know that many of you are excited for Fox's upcoming The X-Files: Season One gift set (street date May 9th), so we've got a look at the final packaging and the discs themselves...

The X-Files Season One Gift SetThe X-Files Season One Gift Set

But that ain't all - we've just gotten our hands on Paramount's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and inside is a small promo flyer for the studio's complete line of Trek DVDs. Among the titles it lists as coming soon are Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn. Better yet, it lists Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes as coming soon as well... and includes cover artwork!

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player sales chart to include the sales for the last 2 weeks in March. The new shipments have pushed the Region 1 player total to a whopping 6,607,411 players!

There's an article over at MSNBC on DVD, which features an interview with Columbia TriStar's Michael Stradford and talks about why some titles aren't yet on DVD (and how the studios make the decision as to which titles should be released on the format). It's a good read, so check it out.

Also today, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again with a TON of new upcoming titles from a host of studios. Among the titles included are Bicentennial Man, Eyes of Laura Mars, Girl, Interrupted, Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Kiss the Sky, Miss Julie and lots more.

Just to remind everyone, Warner's Three Kings: Special Edition streets tomorrow, so you may want to look over the review of the disc that we posted a few weeks ago. And we'll be back later this afternoon, with new reviews of Buena Vista's The Insider and Paramount's Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.

And on a personal note, today is my father's birthday. He's an architect back in North Dakota, and I know he reads the site every day from work. So happy birthday, Dad! I'll call you later today... ;-)

Stay tuned!

4/7/00

Some of our sources checked in overnight with an update on a few big June and July DVDs currently in production at Paramount and other studios. You'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill, including word on The Beach, The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Green Mile, The Hurricane and more.

And we've got reviews for you today. Our own Dan Kelly's taken a look at a pair of DVDs: Universal's new The Birds: Collector's Edition and Warner's Dead Calm.

We're also pleased to have a special guest reviewer join us today: Adam Jahnke. Adam is a director of operations at Troma's LA office. When he's not figuring out new ways to Tromatize the world, he's neck deep in DVD. We've asked him to take a look at Roger Corman's Piranha DVD... just because. He actually found a lot to say about it. So take a moment and read what Adam thinks. All he asks is that you visit Tromavilla.com when you're done.

Okay... so maybe Episode I is doing fine sales on VHS after all. Or so says Variety (via Yahoo). Yeah, whatever... I ain't buying the damn thing.

Run, don't walk, over to the official Lord of the Rings website for a sneak peek trailer of the production. I saw it last night at about 3 AM, and it's well worth it... even if it is brief. Just be ready for a wait - traffic is heavy on the site. Can't wait for the first film - X-mas 2001 seems a LONG way off!

Don't forget that our Abyss Trivia Contest ends Sunday - get yer entries in fast, folks.

Okay... that's it. We're done now. You can go. Have a great weekend, everyone! ;-)


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