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page updated: 7/26/00



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/10/00 - 5/9/00)


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6/10/00

After playing with the ID4: Special Edition, we've discovered a cool set of Easter Eggs on the set's second disc. Click on over to our review of the set, which has been updated to include information how how to unlock these nifty bonus features!

6/9/00

Well, after struggling overnight with the rather lame DVD-ROM features on Fox's new 2-disc Independence Day: Special Edition, I've posted our full-length review of what is otherwise a very solid DVD release. I think most of you will be very happy indeed. As I say in the review, this set doesn't push any boundaries, but these 2 discs definitely serve the film well. And to finally have ID4 in anamorphic widescreen on DVD makes the long wait worth it.

So there's ID4... no sooner do we get that done, Universal's Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition shows up on our doorstep. No rest for the weary! We'll get a review of that up as soon as we can, but I'm not gonna say, "By the end of the day..." or anything silly like that, because inevitably, I'll underestimate the time required to get it done. I'm working on that. My wife will often ask me when I'm gonna be done with something, and I'll say something like, "a few minutes." Hours later I wrap up, having no clue that it took much longer until I actually look at the clock and start scratching my head. That sound familiar to you women out there? Maybe it's a guy thing... ;-)

Anyway, in other news today, Columbia TriStar has announced the details of their Léon: The Professional (International Version), which streets on August 15th. It includes 24 minutes of footage edited back into the film, as well as the international ad campaign, the isolated score and talent files. It will be in anamorphic widescreen with 5.1 sound (SRP $29.99).

You may have missed this, but a few days ago, Titan: AE became the world's first digitally-delivered and presented film. It was screened at the Supercomm 2000 show in Atlanta, which received the film via Internet transmission from Burbank, CA. It apparently took some 4 hours to download the movie data. Don't look for digital delivery to start hitting your local theaters anytime soon, but this is definitely the future. You can read the press release here.

Finally today, all of us here at The Digital Bits would like to send out a heaping helping of congratulations to one of our own - young master Greg Suarez. Greg's graduating tomorrow with a BS in Marketing and a Psychology minor from Wright State University. Well done, Greg!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

6/8/00

Well... there's been no official announcement yet, but it looks very much like DreamWorks' American Beauty: Special Edition is set to street on October 24th. Several retailers are saying as much online and in their stores, including Suncoast.

That's the kind of information that would normally be in the Rumor Mill, but I'm putting it here this morning for good reason - it's easier and I've got a pretty full plate today. This morning my doorbell rang... and lo and behold, there was my sneak preview copy of Fox's new Independence Day: Special Edition DVD (which streets June 27th). Before this day is done, we will have a full-length review of this 2-disc set here at the Bits. But it may mean that this is the only post until later in the afternoon. It IS 2 discs after all, and if it's half as loaded as Fox's Fight Club, it will take a few hours to go through all the material! So I'm gonna get busy with that, and you guys all sit tight. Check you back here later... ;-)

Independence Day: Special Edition

(LATE UPDATE - 6/7/00 - 4 PM PDT)

All right! We've got another big Rumor Mill update for you this afternoon, with the street dates on LOT of upcoming DVDs through July and August. You'll definitely want to check it out (you Luc Besson fans will even find the street date for The Big Blue in there).

And we're also kicking off a really cool James Bond Trivia Contest today. I'm pretty hyped about this one - Sarah's made it really easy for everyone to enter (it's mix and match), and the prizes are really terrific if you're a Bond fan. One lucky winner will take home BOTH Volumes 1 & 2 of The James Bond DVD Collection AND The World is Not Enough: Special Edition - that's 13 special edition DVDs! But that's not all... the grand prize winner will also take home a set of 5 Bond girl autographed photos and a World is Not Enough duffle bag to hold it all! And to spread the wealth around, 4 runners-up will also win a set of the Bond girl autographed photos and the duffle bag. This one is about as easy as they get, so if you dig Bond, there ain't no excuse for giving it a shot. The contest will run until Midnight PDT on Thursday June 15th, so get those entries in!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/7/00 - 12:45 PM PDT)

In light of yesterday's announcement of Braveheart by Paramount, we thought we'd give you a look at the cover of that disc, as well as a couple of other good upcoming titles...

BraveheartLeon: The Professional (International Version)

Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 13Star Trek: The Original Series, Volume 14

That Star Trek: The Original Series DVD with Joan Collins on the cover includes the award-winning episode The City on the Edge of Forever. Look for both discs (Volumes 13 and 14) on July 11th. And of course, there's Léon: The Professional (International Version), which streets on August 15th (it's 24 minutes longer than the American version, but be aware that there are no extras on the disc - a decision made by director of Luc Besson himself). And as you all know by now, Braveheart arrives on August 29th. We've got more cover scans in our Upcoming DVD Artwork section today, including T2: SE, The Cider House Rules: Collector's Series, Spinal Tap: Special Edition and Buzz Lightyear of Star Command.

Also today, PT Anderson.com has a mock-up of the artwork for the upcoming Boogie Nights: 2-disc Platinum Edition. The art is similar to that used on the Criterion laserdisc - sort of a 70s retro look that's very cool. Here's the laserdisc cover to give you an idea...

Boogie Nights: Criterion laserdisc

Some other great news today - Paramount will be delivering the complete Naked Gun Trilogy to DVD (as special edition discs) on August 15th, as well as Shane. Columbia TriStar has DVD versions of Brian's Song and Cat Ballou (both August 8th) in the works, with new commentaries. And A&E is bringing episodes of the classic TV series The Prisoner to DVD in October or November. And 20th Century Fox is finally releasing The Rocky Horror Picture Show on DVD in October as well, as nothing less than a 2-disc special edition. They also have a 2-disc special edition of Robert Wise's The Sound of Music coming on August 29th.

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to reflect the entire month of May - the running total of players shipped in the States is now up to 7,470,038.

We'll be back later this afternoon, with the start of our June James Bond Trivia Contest. Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/6/00 - 11 AM PDT)

A few months ago we noticed a website with following message:

Dear Paramount,

Where the fook is the Braveheart DVD?!

Kind regards,
Sir William Wallace


Good news, Will... Paramount this morning informed us that they'll be delivering Braveheart to DVD on August 29th. The disc will SRP for $29.99 and will include anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, a really outstanding (trust us on this) newly-recorded Mel Gibson commentary track, theatrical trailers and a half-hour behind-the-scenes documentary on the making of the film. So start polishing yer broadswords, folks!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/6/00 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... we're back! Sorry for being gone so long - I won't bore you with the details, except to say that we're working to resolve some of those problems you folks using IE 5 for Mac have been having. It's a real puzzler but we're working hard to figure it all out.

Anyway, today we're taking you back... Back to Navarone! We've got the most comprehensive coverage of Columbia TriStar's The Guns of Navarone: Special Edition anywhere. I spoke last week with the director of this classic film, J. Lee Thompson. And we've got a pair of exclusive interviews for you as well - Todd Doogan's chats with DVD producer David Fein (of Sharpline Arts) and one of the stars of the film, actor Jimmy Darren. We think you'll find each of these interviews a fascinating read, and well worth a look. And we'll be back with our usual update tomorrow, including some new disc reviews and other news.

So thanks for your patience, enjoy the interviews and stay tuned...!

6/2/00

This is just a quick note to let you all know that today's post will be up later this evening. Todd and I are working on another one of our special features and it's talking a little longer to get finished than expected. But I think you'll find that it's worth the wait. So check back later and have a great weekend!

6/1/00

We've got more reviews for you today - an interesting mix of new and old. There are 6 in all this afternoon, starting with Todd Doogan's take on the less-than-stellar sequel to The Guns of Navarone, MGM's Force 10 from Navarone. Let's just say that the movie would be better off never having been made, and the DVD isn't much better. Also on tap for today are Dan Kelly's look at Talking Heads: Stop Making Sense and New Line's Set It Off, as well as Greg Suarez's thoughts on Paramount's Tommy Boy and Columbia's Murphy's Romance. Rounding things out, Troma's Adam Jahnke gives Columbia's American Movie: Special Edition a spin, in a special guest review. Enjoy!

Universal's just launched a new website in honor of the upcoming Jaws Anniversary Collector's Edition - it just went live today, so do check it out.

All those of you who have been asking when Columbia TriStar was going to get around to releasing Fly Away Home with an anamorphic widescreen transfer (to replace the existing full frame version) can rest easy - one is currently in the works for release later this year (possibly even this summer).

Also today, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again with TONS of new Image-exclusive titles, including several AFI Top 100 titles, Beyond the Clouds, Black Sabbath (1963), Complete Superman Cartoons: Diamond Anniversary Edition, Fantasy Film Worlds of George Pal, Frankenstein's Daughter, Gruesome Twosome: Special Edition, Gulliver's Travels (1939), I, Claudius/ The Epic That Never Was, James Brown: Live at the House of Blues, Kronos, Music For Montserrat Live (Dolby Digital & DTS), Oliver Twist (1922), She Devils on Wheels: Special Edition, South: Special Edition, Space Thing: Special Edition, Topper Returns and Twilight Zone, Volumes 29 & 30.

Stay tuned...

5/31/00

We've got a few things for you today. First up, we've posted the full transcript of last night's live chat with MGM Home Video on the Home Theater Forum. Thanks to Ron and everyone at HTF for sending that over. There are some good tidbits dropped about a number of upcoming MGM DVD titles, including Terminator, the Rocky films, Princess Bride, Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again and lots more - you don't want to miss it.

Also this afternoon, we've got more upcoming DVD title information in The Rumor Mill. We've updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ as well.

Looks like Criterion's gonna be rockin' and rollin' soon. They've announced that they're crossing over into at least occasional music video distribution on DVD. The company's first title is expected to feature the Beastie Boys. It will be a 2-disc set with 55 musical tracks, 18 separate music videos and more than 4 hours of video in all. Sounds cool, guys! How's about you ring Peter Gabriel up and do a DVD release with him? Just a suggestion...

And finally today, we've got an announcement for you. Synapse Films has let it be known that they're going to be releasing Leni Riefenstahl's classic piece of historical propaganda filmmaking, Triumph of the Will, as a special edition DVD. As it was originally funded by the Nazi party, students of world history and cinema alike will find this controversial film both fascinating and horrifying. The disc is expected to street on September 12th for an SRP of $34.98. Look for it to include a brand new "windowboxed" digital transfer from a 35mm fine grain print, mono German audio with optional newly-translated English subtitles, Riefenstahl's short film Day of Freedom and possibly audio commentary. A portion of the sales of the DVD release will be donated to The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C..

We'll be back tomorrow with a score of reviews, so stay tuned...

5/30/00

As promised, we've got another pair of Memorial Day-themed reviews for you today. I've taken a look at a pair really great World War II movies on disc, both equally good but for different reasons. The first is Columbia TriStar's new The Guns of Navarone: Special Edition. It's one of my favorite films and it's been given very good treatment on DVD. The other is a new film discovery, but one I'm very glad to have found - Image Entertainment's The Story of G.I. Joe. It's a real gem and shouldn't be missed. Let me know what you think.

About the only other news today, is that there's a new Canadian online store for DVD - ThunderDVD.com. You can read their press release here.

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

5/29/00

Hope you're all having a great long weekend (you Americans anyway - hope the rest of you HAD a great one)! We've got some cool info in The Rumor Mill today regarding a certain Best Picture-winning film about a brave Scotsman, as well as word about more of those Universal Classic Monster films coming to DVD. Don't miss it!

We've also announced the winner of our Replay TV Trivia Contest. Congratulations to Jim Morris of Keene, New Hampshire! Our next contest will start later this week, and the winner will take home plenty of James Bond on DVD - more on that soon.

Finally today, it's come to our attention that a lot of you who read this website on Macintosh systems, using Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0 for Mac, are having trouble viewing pages. Apparently, the IE5 for Mac browser is buggy (isn't ALL Microsoft software?), and it chokes on the odd bit of HTML. We're aware of the problem and are taking steps to correct it. This page, as well as the contest page and The Rumor Mill, should now all be viewable on IE5 for Mac. Let us know if you're still having problems. The rest of the site will be updated as time permits. Thanks for your patience. Curses, Bill Gates! ;-)

So for those of you who still have the day off, go enjoy it. Play outside. Go see a ball game or a great summer movie - there are plenty around (and I'm NOT talking about Battlefield Earth). Have a great day and we'll see you tomorrow!

5/26/00

In honor of Memorial Day here in the States, we're presenting you today with a trio of DVD reviews of World War II classics on our favorite format. Greg Suarez has given his due consideration to these discs, Fox releases all. So here are his reviews of the Patton: Special Edition, Tora! Tora! Tora! and the third and final film in director Terrence Malick's canon, The Thin Red Line. And we'll be back on Monday with three more great war films to start the new week.

You should know that Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again, with details on more upcoming new releases including Drowning Mona, Whatever It Takes, those W.C. Fields Criterion titles, MGM's re-release of Fargo and others titles, Misery, Six Degrees of Separation, Platoon and more.

From IGN.com's DVD channel comes word that Panasonic will be launching their line of DVD-Audio products in July (from Panasonic as well as the company's Techincs brand). It remains to be seen what kind of software will be available however. Stay tuned for more on this.

Lastly, just a quick note - our Replay TV Trivia Contest ends on Sunday, so be sure to get your entries in. Todd and I have been playing with our Replay TVs, and it's tough to go back to watching TV the old way, let me tell you. They're very cool.

Don't forget - lots of great summer movies are opening today. Should be at least one or two fun 'uns in the bunch. Have a great weekend, and we'll see you back here on Tuesday!

(LATE UPDATE - 5/25/00 - 7 PM PDT)

This is just a quick update to let you know that we've uploaded 4 new reviews today. Todd's given Paramount's new Sleepy Hollow DVD a spin, and darned if it isn't a quasi-special edition (even if they don't call it one). Brad Pilcher's taken a look at one of all of our favorites films from MGM, Diggstown. And Dan Kelly brings it all home with reviews of a pair of truly great films from director Terrence Malick (representing fully 2/3rds of his work), absolute classics both - Warner's Badlands and Paramount's Days of Heaven. All four of these films are worth a look, so don't miss 'em.

And in a bit of news from Warner Bros., the studio has announced that they'll be releasing a 10-disc The Clint Eastwood Collection on DVD on August 1st. The set will contain Unforgiven, Absolute Power, The Bridges of Madison County, Dirty Harry, The Gauntlet, Pale Rider, The Outlaw Josey Wales, True Crime and two titles new to DVD, Bronco Billy and Kelly's Heroes. So what will you be asked to pay for the set? A surprising $99.92 (SRP). That's about a third less than what the studio sacked us for on the Kubrick Collection. Granted, most of these films aren't even in the same league... but I gotta say I'm looking forward to Bronco Billy. Also from Warner comes word that they'll street The Big Tease on DVD on July 18th ($24.98 SRP).

Finally this evening, you DVD fans in the L.A. area will have a chance to meet writer/director Frank Darabont (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption) on June 13th, thanks to our friends at Dave's Video, The Laser Place. He'll be signing DVDs purchased in store for his fans from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Dave's is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA. You can bet we'll be there.

Oh... in case you're wondering, that Abyss story is just a bit lower under the 1 PM update. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/25/00 - 1 PM PDT)

All right... this is pretty funny. You guys are gonna get a laugh out of this at my expense. I've been struggling with a mystery for weeks now, and have only just figured it all out this morning. Frankly, I thought I'd just been doing this DVD thing too long, and was starting to go crazy.

A couple of months ago, I got an early, check-disc copy of The Abyss: Special Edition for review from Fox. I spent an afternoon with it, going through all the extras on the 2-disc set and evaluating the overall quality. Then I wrote my review. Everything's hunky-dory so far, right? A few weeks later, I get a second copy of the set in final packaging in the mail, so I give my original check-disc copy to a staffer here at the Bits. No problems yet. But then, a few more weeks later, I sat down to watch the special edition version of the film again, so I could just relax and enjoy it. Lo and behold... I can't find the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack! I was certain I'd heard 5.1 when I reviewed the disc, and sure enough, my review said 5.1. But here was my copy in final packaging, with this text on the back: "Languages: English Dolby Surround, French Dolby Surround." I was really scratching my head over it - could I have been wrong originally? I mean... we watch so many discs here at the Bits - could I have just imagined I'd heard 5.1 sound? The prospect frightened the hell out of me, but I had the evidence right there in my hand. Naturally, I didn't think to check back on that original disc. Call it a brain fart - whatever.

So, completely embarrassed that I'd made such a huge mistake, I went back and revised my review of the disc to reflect the English and French Surround tracks. And I've been going around since (like an idiot, I might add) saying that The Abyss was cool, but it didn't have 5.1 sound, so how lame was that? Then I started getting the e-mails: "Ah... I think you're wrong, dude. My copy has 5.1 sound." I must have gotten 20 or 30 altogether. It was starting to piss me off. Then, just this morning, I got e-mail from a pair faithful Bits readers, both of whom very nicely insisted that their discs not only had the 5.1 sound, but that the packaging on the back even indicated Dolby Digital 5.1. Now I can be a bit slow on the uptake at times... but by this point, I was starting to figure that something was wrong. So I checked the back of my disc, and there was the Dolby Surround logo. Then I checked the cover art posted over at Express.com... and saw the Dolby Digital logo. Thinking I was out of my mind, I e-mailed a Fox Home Entertainment staffer (in charge of their DVD unit) for clarification. And here was the reply:

"You have a very very rare disc. We only manufactured those discs for French Canada (most of Canada did not even receive it). We did this because James Cameron wanted us to include his approved 5.1 track and his approved Dolby Surround track (instead of letting the player mix the 5.1 to a faux Dolby Surround, which we rarely do unless we're out of bit budget). Because of this, we opted to make a limited number of discs for French Canada with French but no 5.1. The majority of discs out there have English 5.1, Dolby Surround and no French. This was all done to give the highest bit rate to the picture and make French Canada happy."

Well how do you like that? So once again (and for the LAST time) I've updated my review of The Abyss: Special Edition. This time, I've got the CORRECT audio information listed (and I'm finally sure of that!), along with a special note on the variation. I've also added cover scans of the front and back (at the end of the review) to show you the different markings on the two versions - proof that I wasn't crazy. God - I sure am glad to have gotten that resolved! I swear... some of you guys out there must have thought I was nuts. Thanks to everyone who e-mailed me on this. And a special thanks to our friends at Fox for clearing things up. ;-)

By the way... if you do have that rare French version, you've probably got a nice little gem of a collectible. We'll be back with more later this afternoon, so stay tuned...

5/24/00

We've got some great news for you today in The Rumor Mill, including word on Fox's Planet of the Apes and The Omen series of films coming to DVD. There's also word on some new Columbia TriStar, Criterion and Warner titles, as well as an update on Buena Vista's August discs.

Also today, we've updated our CEA DVD Player Sales chart and some of the other DVD Format Stats above.

The real meat of today's update, however, is a complete review of Full Moon's new 8-disc Puppet Master DVD Collection (which streeted yesterday). Todd's given each disc a spin, and he'll bring you the skinny on what those evil puppets are up to. Among the films reviewed are the original Puppet Master, Puppet Master 2, Puppet Master 3, Puppet Master 4, Puppet Master 5: The Final Chapter (or not so final), Curse of the Puppet Master and Retro Puppet Master. Whew... that's a lot of puppets for one day.

One last note - yesterday I mentioned that preview website, FirstLook.com, and I mistakenly said that they were previewing deleted footage from Man on the Moon that wasn't on the DVD. I was wrong - it IS on the DVD. So there you have it.

See ya tomorrow... same Bat time, same Bat channel!

5/23/00

This is just a quick update to let you know that we've got some information on Toy Story 2 up in The Rumor Mill today. We'll be back later this afternoon with reviews, including Full Moon's new Puppet Master boxed set.

Also this morning, I wanted to let you know about an interesting new website called FirstLook.com. Starting on May 25th, they're giving you a chance to view exclusive footage that was deleted from Man on the Moon, prior to its theatrical release (footage that wasn't on the DVD apparently). Just FYI - you might want to check it out.

Back soon...

5/22/00

Bet you were wondering where we've been! I was working on a couple of things on Friday, when my computer started giving me more trouble - another hard drive problem. So I decided to use the sledgehammer approach and basically rebuild my system from the ground up, only taking time out to watch the Lakers/Blazers game and the season finale of The X-Files (a man's gotta have his priorities). Ahhhh... I can't get over how much nicer computers are when they actually work for you! Given all the trouble I've had, I should have done this months ago.

Anyway, today we've got a special report for you that we had planned to run on Friday. It's called A Galaxy of Bootlegs, and it's a look at several of the many different versions of the Star Wars films that are available on DVD thanks to Hong Kong pirates. We've been hearing from a lot of people who are buying them on Ebay and elsewhere on the Net, sometimes for outrageous prices. And we've counted no less than ELEVEN different bootleg versions ourselves. We don't endorse these discs in any way. But this piracy issue is a fascinating aspect of the reality of the DVD format, and since so many people are looking for these discs, we figured you should all at least know what you're getting for your money. As is to be expected, in many cases, you're simply throwing it away.

Anyway, enjoy the report. And we'll be back tomorrow with lots more news and reviews. So stay tuned...!

5/18/00

Wow - we're getting TONS of e-mail from readers who read our tip on the original Little Shop of Horrors DVD and have managed to get themselves a copy. If you want one, you'd better act fast. But they are out there, and not just at Borders apparently.

Now then... we've also gotten a lot of e-mail from Fight Club fans. After we reviewed the disc and spoke with director David Fincher and the disc's producer, David Prior, a lot of people wanted to know about a few deleted scenes that DIDN'T make it on the DVD, including a rumored alternate ending to the film, and a different version of the plane crash sequence. There have also been questions about a possible Dust Brothers commentary track - all this stuff has been debated like crazy on the newsgroups. So we went back to David Prior to get the facts, and we've updated our original interview with the DVD producer accordingly. If you're a fan of this film, you'll definitely want to check out what he has to say.

Also today, we've got some good news for you X-Files fans in The Rumor Mill. And our own Todd Doogan has reviewed one of his very favorite films, which is about to be re-released by Universal as a spankin' new special edition - the Conan the Barbarian: Collector's Edition. The new edition streets on May 30th, and Todd says it's worth the wait. We all have that one film experience that just opened our eyes, and for Todd it was Conan. He's got a lot to say about not just the disc and the film, but also how it changed him too.

And that brings me to something that Todd and I have been wanting to say for a while. If there's one thing you should all know about the staff of The Digital Bits, it's that as much as we know and love and fight for the DVD format, our love of film comes first. So while we're picky on video and audio quality (and we know our P's and Q's technically), we're not gonna get wrapped up on whether a disc has "bass below 50Hz" or how a DVD compares to the eight other laserdisc versions that came before it. You'll never see a shopping list of the specific equipment in each of our personal home theater systems on this site, and we aren't going to be posting every press release that ever gets issued. That's missing the point. To us... it's all about the film. Is the film something you might want to spend two hours of your life on or not? Does the disc do the film justice or not? Is a disc worth your hard-earned cash or not? That's what we're all about here at the Bits. We know DVD - not just the technical stuff about these little 5" discs, but the movies on 'em too. Todd and I have been fighting for this format, in one way or another, since Day One - even before we started the Bits. When it comes to movies on DVD, we're your beer and pizza website. We'll cut through all the crap and call it like it is. And every day, we'll fight to make DVD better for everyone. That's what we've always tried to do. Believe it or not, we aren't about money or driving up traffic - we really just love this format and we love what it can do for movies. Think of it like this... we got yer back, DVD fans. ;-)

Stay tuned...

5/17/00

Today's comments will be brief, so that we can get busy on tomorrow's update. Our work, it seems, is never done here at the Bits! But what we do have for you this afternoon, is another batch of DVD reviews. It's a pretty good mix of new and old, from a disc that's yet to street, to a few titles that were among the first released on the format. To start with, I've given Warner's new Twister: Special Edition a spin and compared it side-by-side with the original 1997 DVD release. We've also got reviews of MGM's Stargate SG-1, Columbia TriStar's A League of Their Own and Boyz N the Hood, as well as Paramount's new Bringing Out the Dead. For the record, it's definitely worth replacing your old copy of Twister with the new special edition, which features dual Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 sound, some good extras and a much improved anamorphic widescreen picture. It streets on June 6th.

In other news today, remember Sony's Super Audio CD (SACD) system? Well they finally plan to bring it to market next month. You can read the details via this link over at Yahoo. Don't worry about an audio format war - Sony's solidly behind DVD-Audio too, which should arrive later this summer. In any case, it will be interesting to see just how well SACD does with consumers.

Finally, for those who missed it, we kicked off our new Trivia Contest last night. We're giving away a brand new Replay TV 3020 this time, for a nice change of pace. All you have to do is correctly answer 12 TV-related trivia questions to qualify for the prize drawing, and you've got until Sunday, May 28th to enter. So what are you waiting for?

Stay tuned...

5/16/00

Some great new DVD announcements have been made in the last 24 hours! First of all, Universal has revealed more of their July line-up. As you all know, July 11th will see dual DTS and Dolby Digital collector's editions of Jaws. That same day, The Hurricane finds its way to DVD with anamorphic widescreen, a documentary, director's commentary, deleted scenes and more. On July 18th, director Ang Lee's Ride With the Devil arrives on disc, also in anamorphic. Isn't She Great streets that same day, and finally, Beethoven's 3rd arrives on July 25th.

Even bigger news, is that Artisan is set to debut their THX-certified Terminator 2: Judgement Day - Special Edition on August 29th. This spiffy DVD-18 release will contain no less than 3 separate versions of the film - the original theatrical cut, the 15-minute longer director's edition and a new "hidden" third cut (with 5 minutes of never before seen footage). You'll access the three via seamless branching technology, and all three versions will be in full anamorphic widescreen. Better still, the disc will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (THX EX 6.1 compatible) AND DTS 5.1 audio as well (compatible with their new DTS ES 6.1 scheme). And that's just for starters - the release will also include a special metal slipcase, a 32-page booklet, audio commentary with 26 cast & crew members, The Making of T2 documentary, T2: More than Meets the Eye, T2 3D: Breaking the Screen Barrier, the complete screenplay, the complete set of storyboards from the film (over 700 in all), and more than an hour of supplemental "behind-the-scene" video material. Whew! This information was just released to the press - look for official public announcement soon. In the meantime, we figured you might get a kick out of seeing the ad Artisan posted for the title in Video Business magazine.

T2: Special Edition - coming 8/29

It looks like that Little Shop of Horrors tip we posted the other day is the real deal. We've had several readers tell us that they've been able to order (or even find it on the shelf) the original version of the disc (WITH the alternate ending) from their local Borders Books & Music store. If you want it, this is probably your last chance to pay retail price. It's going for as much as $150 on Ebay at the moment. But be sure to check the back to make sure you're getting the original and not the new version.

Finally, this morning's edition of The Rumor Mill has some information about a pair of cool Fox releases coming to DVD, including episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And Princess Bride may be anamorphic after all. We'll be back later with our new Trivia Contest and more reviews.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 5/15/00 - 3:30 PM PDT)

We've got reviews for ya! Today's batch includes an interesting mix of new and old releases on DVD, and some classics as well. Available now are Manga's Perfect Blue, Paramount's Jennifer 8, Artisan's The Minus Man, Criterion's Charade, Universal's Field of Dreams: Collector's Edition, Buena Vista's Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion and Warner's Body Snatchers. Tomorrow we'll have a look at some of those new Warner DTS titles.

In other news today, Matsushita (Panasonic) has revealed plans to launch DVD-RAM recordable decks in Japan as early as June. Pioneer launched the first recordable machine in Japan earlier this year, using the different DVD-RW format. The news story (via Yahoo) features this quote: "Industry specialists see Matsushita's entry as the start of a "format war'' in DVD recording systems that are seen as successors to the ubiquitous video cassette recorder." Don't bet on it. Have you seen the players? The DVD-RAM format uses cartridge-based discs, which would be incompatible with current DVD-Video players. Pioneer has told The Digital Bits, on the other hand, that when it launches recordable in the States, the DVD-RW discs its players record will work on almost all current DVD players. End of format war. I mean - come on! Which format would you be more likely to buy? You can find pictures of both formats (including discs and hardware from both Panasonic and Pioneer) in our special report on CES 2000.

Also today, Image Entertainment's DVD News page is newly-updated, with the details on Anchor Bay's Duel in the Sun &Kentucky Fried Movie, Artisan's Breaking the Waves, Buena Vista's Diamonds, Columbia TriStar's Men in Black (all editions), Paramount's Star Trek II, Universal's Jaws (both editions), Warner's My Dog Skip and lots more.

We'll be back with more reviews and our next Trivia Contest tomorrow, so stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/15/00 - 8:30 AM PDT)

We've gotten MGM's official August DVD release list, and it contains an interesting mix of Halloween classics and old favorites MGM acquired from Polygram and others. All the titles you see below will carry an SRP of $19.98. Thank God - there isn't much on any of 'em. All will include booklets. Anamorphic is noted below where available. Here's what's on the way:

Street Date August 1st:

Misery - widescreen, English 2.0, trailer, teaser

Phantasm: Special Edition (repriced) - widescreen, English 5.1 & 2.0 mono, director's commentary, deleted scenes and more

Phantsam IV: Oblivion - anamorphic widescreen, English 5.1, trailer

Pumpkinhead - full frame, English 2.0, trailer

Swamp Thing - widescreen & full frame, English 2.0 mono, trailer

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 - widescreen & full frame, English 2.0, trailer

Street Date August 15th:

Fargo - anamorphic widescreen, English 2.0, trailer

Kalifornia - widescreen & full frame, dual R & Unrated versions, English 2.0, trailer, featurette

Platoon - anamorphic widescreen & full frame, English 5.1, trailer

Six Degrees of Separation - widescreen & full frame, English 5.1, trailer

Also, a number of horror-related DVDs already released from MGM are being repriced to $19.98 (from $24.98). They are Carrie, Child's Play, The Dark Half, Disturbing Behavior, Leviathan, Monkey Shines, The Rage: Carrie 2, Species and Species 2.

I gotta tell ya... some exec responsible for DVD over at MGM is making decisions that are really pissing us off here at the Bits. Look at this - lots of non-anamorphic titles, and not a special edition among them except one that was already released. And even the repackaged titles aren't much changed from the original DVD releases. At least Platoon is getting anamorphic treatment. But no special edition? Come on! This is made all the more frustrating by the very existence of the Bond SEs. I mean, we know the studio can do great DVDs when they put their minds to it.

Hey MGM - you guys badly need to get with it. Would it kill you to do a non-Bond SE and more anamorphic transfers? Practically EVERY other major studio is leaving you guys in the dust, in terms of quality and content on DVD. You need to get with the program and fast. You're definitely on a fast track to be named Most Disappointing Studio of 2000 in our next Bitsy Awards.

All of you out there who feel as disappointed as we do about MGM's lackluster DVD releases should contact the studio using the information below.

MGM / UA Home Video
2500 Broadway
Santa Monica, CA 90404-3061
(310) 449-3000

Web site: http://www.mgmua.com/
DVD Web site: http://www.mgm.com/dvd/
E-mail (Form on site): http://www.mgm.com/cgi-bin/cgi/email.html

All right... that's my MGM rant for the day. Somehow, I'm guessing it won't be my last. In other news, Universal has released the details on their dual Jaws DVDs, which are coming on July 11th (both SRP for $26.98). Here's the deal:

Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition - anamorphic widescreen, English DD 5.1, French & English captions, making of featurette, Shark World documentary, trailer, photo gallery, storyboards, production drawings, trivia game, PC screen saver, weblinks

Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition (DTS) - anamorphic widescreen, English DTS 5.1, French & English captions, making of featurette, Shark World documentary, trailer, photo gallery, storyboards, production drawings, trivia game, PC screen saver, weblinks

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

5/14/00

Hey Little Shop of Horrors fans - wanna get your hands on a copy of the ORIGINAL Warner Bros. release of this DVD? You know - the one with the B&W alternate ending footage? We've just gotten a hot tip from a source that works for Borders Books & Music. It seems that the chain's warehouse has gotten their hands on a batch of the original version of the disc and shipped them out to stores. So if you check your local branch over the next few days, you might make a nice little find. Keep in mind that the cover art looks the same, so you'll need to check the back. Look for the words "alternate ending" in the special features listing (or words to that effect). Also, the original disc has a package design copyright date of 1998 (the new one says 2000 in small print). And check the UPC number - if it's 0-85391-83252-2, that's the NEW version. Look for a different number than that. Good luck, and thanks to John for the info...!

Oh... and while you're there, be sure to score some points with Mom. Grab her a nice copy of Pretty Woman or Notting Hill or some other Julia Roberts flick on disc. Anything with Harrison Ford is probably good too... ;-)

5/13/00

Those reviews are coming. I've got several to post - just need formatting - but I've been delayed by the arrival of my in-laws. Gotta have my priorities, right? But they will be up this weekend sometime. In the meantime, Bits editor Bill Hunt (that's me) is going to be on the radio a couple of times this weekend. For you L.A.-area readers, I'll be on the Wayne Resnick Show this evening to talk about DVD addiction. Wayne's show is on KFI 640 AM, and I should be on between 10 and 11 PM PDT (probably around 10:30 PM). You can listen on the Internet using Real Audio at: http://www.kfi640.com. And for you Canadian readers, and folks in parts of the upper-Midwest (the Dakotas, Montana, etc...), I'll be on Saskatchewan Weekend with Dan Reynish. That's broadcast on Sunday morning by CJME 1300 AM in Regina. You can also listen to that program via Real Audio (click here, and go to the very bottom left part of the page). The program is on on Sunday morning from 8 AM to Noon MDT, and sometime during the show, I'll be talking with Dan for about 5 minutes about Walking with Dinosaurs on DVD. Catch it if you can!

Anyway, have a great weekend. And Happy Mothers Day, Mom!

5/12/00

Well... we're winding down the week here at the Bits, by getting some housekeeping stuff done around the site. We've updated our mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the latest version (May 9th to be exact). Boy - that bugger's getting big! It's well over 400k and still growing. We've also updated the CEA DVD player sales chart to reflect the 38,933 DVD players shipped to retail in the first week of May (week ending May 5th). And we've updated the Top 10 Selling Discs and the Total DVD Titles listings (see above) as well.

No doubt you've all heard the good news from E3 by now - Sony's DVD-based PlayStation 2 game console will debut here in the U.S. on October 26th, for a decent price of $299 - just like the original PlayStation. You can find the complete launch details here, the system's revised specs here, details about the DVD driver inside PS2 here, and word on the initial U.S. line-up of games for the system here. All of this E3 coverage comes via our friends over at IGN.com - they've got a huge team of busy little beavers roaming the show floor, and they're doing a great job. If you want to know everything and anything about the goings-on at E3, just click on over there pronto!

Also today, we just received our early review copies of Warner's June DVD line-up, and man - is this ever a cool batch of titles! I've only had a few minutes to play with the new DTS/DD 5.1-encoded special editions of Twister, Interview with the Vampire and Lethal Weapon 1-3, but... WOW! You're really gonna dig this batch. The DTS sound is terrific - I'm really glad to see Warner jumping in to support the audio format. And for the record, Twister looks MUCH better that the original DVD release. We'll try to get reviews of them done as quickly as possible, so check back on Monday for that.

In the meantime, we've got a bunch of reviews coming for later this afternoon and early this evening, so be sure to check back. And thanks to everyone that's e-mailed Todd and I about our coverage of Fight Club on DVD, and particularly our interviews with David Fincher and David Prior. We've gotten lots of nice comments - glad you enjoyed them!

Stay tuned... and have a great weekend!

5/11/00

The Digital Bits is very pleased to present you with more of our special coverage of Fight Club on DVD. We've reviewed the DVD... and now we've got an interview with the film's director, David Fincher. We've also interviewed the producer of the two-disc DVD special edition, David Britten Prior. I think you'll definitely find them worth a read. So how's that for cool?

Last, but not least, we've got another disc review for you today, this time of Image's upcoming double feature DVD edition of Lisa and the Devil and The House of Exorcism (street date 5/16). Nothing like a two-shot of Bava to get you going in the morning.

I'd say that's pretty good for one day, wouldn't you? ;-)

5/10/00

Some news for you today. Warner Bros. has announced their DVD version of Liberty Heights. It's expected to street on June 20th, for an SRP of $24.98. Look for it to include a special introduction by director Barry Levinson, "on the set" behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with cast & crew, a music-only track, trailers and more.

Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Drowning Mona on July 25th (SRP $24.95). Look for that disc to include a director's commentary track, deleted scenes with optional commentary and talent files. The studio has also announced that the DVD version of The Eyes of Laura Mars and the second installment in The Bear in the Big Blue House series have been delayed. New street dates are TBD. Saving the best Columbia news for last, the studio has announced that it plans to release a Ray Harryhausen/Sinbad DVD boxed set on July 11th (SRP $77.95). Included in the set will be The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger.

And you Synapse Films fans should check out the company's official website for a newly-updated DVD release list and a new message from big bad Jim Van Beeber. How can you beat that? Thanks to our good buddy, Don May, Jr. for the update.

Finally today, there's word out of Japan that electronics manufacturers are ramping up DVD player production to meet the ever-increasing worldwide demand. You'll find the full story over at Yahoo.

We'll be back this afternoon with reviews. Until then... we got ya covered!

5/9/00

Man... have we got a treat for you today! We've just received Fox's new 2-disc Fight Club: Special Edition, and it's just very, very cool. We were critical about Fox's DVD work early on, but not only have they made a 180-degree turn-around, they're now setting the standard with this one. Our hats off to our friend David Prior (you may remember the interview we did with him about his work on Ravenous). David produced this DVD for Fox and director David Fincher, and it's a grand slam home run. In fact, it's been so much work to go through it all, that me and Todd are taking a break now. We're wiped. But you can read our full tag-team review of the set now. The disc streets on June 6th, and you're gonna want it bad. Trust us on this one.

One last note - there have been a lot of rumors going around about the Gladiator DVD. I've been made aware that they're about 90% false - just FYI. We'll have a lot more on this soon.

Stay tuned...!


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