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Site created 12/15/97.




page updated: 7/26/00



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/3/00 - 6/12/00)


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7/3/00

Today's update is going to be a little light, because we know that most of you (here in the States at least) have the day off in honor of the long Independence Day weekend (and we don't mean the movie about alien invasion). But we do have a few tidbits for you, so listen up.

In last week's issue of Video Store magazine, Warner Bros. began their pre-VSDA advertising blitz, with a small list of titles to expect from them on VHS and DVD in the coming months. The list includes Any Given Sunday, Battlefield Earth, Final Destination, Frequency, Love and Basketball and Ready to Rumble. I don't know why anyone would want the god-awful Battlefield Earth, but Frequency was actually a pretty cool little B-movie. In any case, we've got a look at the artwork for Ready to Rumble for you today...

Ready to Rumble

Speaking of VSDA, the annual Video Software Dealers Convention runs this weekend in Las Vegas. Several months ago, your faithful editor was asked to be a judge for the show's DVD Festival Awards and, as always, The Digital Bits will be there to cover the action. We'll run an update on the news developments following the show, and we'll have our usual picture pages as well. So stay tuned for that.

Some of the video industry trades are claiming that, in addition to the 2-disc and 3-disc versions which include the original Toy Story, Toy Story 2 will be available as a standard Gold Collection title on October 17th for an SRP of $26.99. Makes sense to me. Expect the studio to finally crow officially about this title at VSDA.

Artisan Entertainment is going to be debuting the first in a series of Little Rascals DVDs on August 15th (in conjunction with Hallmark and FHE). The first DVD will SRP for $14.98 (very cool!) and will include eight episodes (basically the complete contents of Volume 1 & 2 of their 10 volume VHS series). Look for more episodes to follow. I can't wait - I'm a big fan.

Paramount's Nashville DVD has been delayed until August 15th to allow more time for asset preparation. Just FYI.

We've been getting a lot of questions about Universal's upcoming DVD releases of Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 2 (street date October 10th). Specifically, people want to know if there will be DTS versions. The answer to that is YES. You'll be able to buy the standard collector's editions of each, the DTS-flavor collector's editions of each, the 2-disc set (of the non-DTS versions) and finally, the Deluxe Oversized Limited Collector's Edition (with the non-DTS DVDs, soundtracks CDs, a Senitype and a certificate of authenticity). Make sense?

As many of you know, Buena Vista is going to be releasing a Scream Trilogy DVD Boxed Set later this year. The 4 disc set will include all three of the films in the series, including the previously released Scream: Collector's Edition and Scream 3: Collector's Edition. But surprise - the set will also include a never-before-released Scream 2: Collector's Edition, which will be available exclusively in this set. And the set's 4th disc will include lots more extras not available elsewhere, such as outtakes from the original Scream, "The Cutting Room" which allows viewers to edit their own scenes together, screen test footage, Sunrise Studios trailers (of the Stab films, as seen in the Scream movies), a trivia game, screenplays and more. There's no word yet on a street date or an SRP, but look for such to be announced soon.

Finally today, we've updated our AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to include some new titles we've been told are finally in production for DVD.

There will be no post tomorrow, due to the holiday. But we'll be back Wednesday with some goodies, so stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/30/00 - 2:45 PM PDT)

Ahhhh... we couldn't resist. Here's a cool way to kick off the holiday weekend - we've just posted our sneak peek review of Paramount's upcoming Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan DVD! Have any of you out there been waiting for this disc as long as I have? Well, it isn't exactly loaded edition, but I think you'll still be pretty happy. FYI, the disc streets on July 11th. Shout it with me now: "KKHHAAANNNNN!!!"

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/30/00 - 9:15 AM PDT)

Well, old man Doogan survived his birthday, and even managed to squeeze in some time in his busy day to hang with our friend Lloyd Kaufman from Troma. By the way - if you Troma guys are reading this, we're dying to get a sneak peek at The Toxic Avenger 4: Citizen Toxie. I mean... we do have cameos in the flick, after all. Well... hopefully. That is, if we didn't get edited out or anything. Send us a VHS screener, would ya?!

We've got some cool news in today's edition of The Rumor Mill, including updates on The Godfather, Star Trek: The Motion Picture and Pitch Black. We've also got word on the DVD release of a new favorite of ours, Six Days in Roswell. Don't miss it!

Speaking of Star Trek, Paramount's informed us that they will be holding a special disc signing event with Ricardo Montalban himself - Kahn from Star Trek II! The event will take place at Sam Goody in the Universal City Walk (1000 Universal Center Drive, Universal City, CA) on Tuesday, July 11th from 7-9 PM. That's the day Star Trek II will arrive on DVD, so there will be plenty of copies on hand for purchase. This should be a fun event, so if you're in the area, you might want to drop on by.

Finally today, we figured you'd like a look at the DVD packaging for Buena Vista's upcoming Mission to Mars. And here's a look at the poster art for Six Days in Roswell as well (the DVD may vary from this, but you get the idea)...

Mission to MarsSix Days in Roswell

Have a great holiday weekend, and stay tuned...!

6/29/00

Yes... it's our own Todd Doogan's birthday today, and you just might see him spending it at DragonCon in Atlanta. Todd's damn near 30 now - gettin' to be an old man like me. So if you're at the show, just look for an old guy with a cane in one hand and a bootleg VHS copy of the "special director's cut" of Killer Klowns from Outer Space in the other. You can run up and say hello (you'll have to shout though, so he can hear you), or... you can send him a nice birthday e-mail: todddoogan@thedigitalbits.com

Now then... we're hearing that Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday should hit DVD day-and-date on September 5th from Warner. And according to this story on Stone by Variety's Army Archerd, the director has been hard at work on that DVD boxed set of all his films we mentioned a while back in the Rumor Mill. Word is that Warren Lieberfarb himself is responsible for the package, and that it will street on November 21st. You definitely want to check the article out - it lists some of the cool features that will be in the set.

Finally today, Image Entertainment's updated their DVD News page again with more new titles, including High Fidelity, Mission to Mars: SE, the Toy Story discs, Brian's Song, Titus: SE, Supernova: SE and more. Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/28/00 - 1:45 PM PDT)

Has Buena Vista become the Most Puzzling Studio doing DVD today? Todd's checked in with his research into this whole Princess Mononoke DVD controversy, and you will absolutely want to read what he has to say on the subject:

Well, this is a fine mess. Princess Mononoke is one of those wacky DVD titles that got moved around, cancelled, re-announced as a VHS rental title ONLY... and then only recently re-announced for DVD on August 29th. Now, that's good news for anime and general film fans. This Miramax/Buena Vista title is an eagerly awaited masterpiece that a great many of us just WANT in our collections. But anime fans are traditionally purists. We're never happy with dubbed films - we want the original Japanese soundtrack and subtitles first and dubbing last. Problem is, word on the street is there will be ONLY an English dubbed (and also a bonus French dubbed) soundtrack. Unbelievable! Traitorous! Off-with Disney's head! These are some of the exclamations that have crossed our desks today. I say... hold on, smokey! There's more to this story. So let's check this out. I called Buena Vista today and found out that, although they do show an August 29th release date for the title, there has been no official announcement on Mononoke. That could mean one of three things. We could get an official announcement and the title will come out, as what most of us will justifiably call a "half-assed" disc. Or, it could get cancelled again, as it has been three or four times prior to this furor. Or, Buena Vista could stand back and listen to the fans, and go ahead and release the original Japanese track (and all this will be moot). Let's take a look at why I think we're going to get a half-assed release.

First, Princess Mononoke is a licensed title from Studio Ghibli. The DVD has not been released yet in Japan, and so this will be the first release of the film onto the format anywhere. If it doesn't have a Japanese track, that will limit import buying into Japan. If it does, then the Japanese licensor (in this case, Buena Vista Japan) will loose a lot of money. So you've got that going against it.

Second, Disney never negotiated for DVD rights for the films licensed from Studio Ghibli. The deal for Mononoke was signed when DVD (at least to Disney) was either at worst a flash in the pan, or at best another laserdisc. It's only now that they are going back and re-negotiating for the DVD rights to the Studio Ghibli films. So it's not a guarantee that we'll see any more of these films on DVD from them. We may just have to be happy with whatever we get.

There is hope though - Disney may be interested in hearing from you. There's a message (off of the Nausicaa.net site that broke this story and caused all the hub-bub) which lists the steps you can take to tell Disney you don't want just the dubbed DVD, but you also want a subtitled with original Japanese audio version. Go here to this link and do what these guys say if you want to be heard. You can make a difference. But if it doesn't work, don't let that deter you from seeing Princess Mononoke in the first place. It's a remarkable film.

I'm sort of torn here. Home video entertainment is a sticky thing. You have to keep in mind that this film was theatrically released here in the States in a dubbed form, so this non-Japanese DVD will represent the true form of the film in Region 1. In the past, we would have been happy with that, and then later gone to Japan and imported their DVD version (that we know is forthcoming) so we can have the original Japanese audio. This idea that "we get what we want, when we want it" from movies on home video is a new one. Buena Vista IS doing a good thing by even just exposing us to some of these films. Sure, I absolutely want to enjoy the film in its original form, but I'm not going to cry "Boycott Disney!" because I didn't get my way. But as a purist, I can't help but be upset. It's a sticky issue.

But that ain't all of it. Hell... wait until you find out that the DVD is going to have hardly any extras on it (compared to the Japanese laserdisc). Unofficially announced are a trailer and an American "making-of" featurette. But in Japan, there was a 7-hour, behind-the-scenes trilogy of documentaries (The Making of Mononoke Hime) on the film, that was separately released on video. That's not including the 2 featurettes and a series of trailers and TV spots that were on the laserdisc. And you wanna know the best part? That 7-hour, behind-the-scenes thing? It was released by Buena Vista Japan. So when you send those comments to Buena Vista, while you're asking for the original soundtrack, be sure to ask 'em for The Making of Mononoke Hime too (order number: VWSZ-8016).

It doesn't get to be much more of a mess than this...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/28/00 - Noon PDT)

As promised, we've got something very special for you today. If you're a fan of classic film, it's almost impossible not to admire the great Lon Chaney. From his roles as the title characters in Phantom of the Opera and The Hunchback on Notre Dame to his work in Outside the Law and Shadows (just released on DVD by Image), Chaney was simply a master at changing his appearance on film. A self-taught make-up expert as well as a truly great actor, his talents allowed him to disappear into his roles with ease. Our own Todd Doogan recently spoke with author and Chaney historian Michael F. Blake, himself a talented make-up expert. In their conversation, they talk about Chaney as an actor and make-up artist, and also touch upon the subjects of film preservation and race controversies in early Hollywood film. It's a great read. So with that, we give you The Man Behind the Man of 1,000 Faces: A Conversation with Lon Chaney historian Michael F. Blake.

In other news today, we've got more upcoming title street dates listed in The Rumor Mill. And The Digital Bits has learned that Buena Vista and Miramax's upcoming DVD release of Princess Mononoke, which streets on August 29th, is going to include only a 5.1 English-dubbed soundtrack (instead of also including the original Japanese track with optional English subtitles, as most anime fans would prefer). We're doing some digging on this, and we'll probably have more for you tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/27/00 - Noon PDT)

Todd and I have been working on a series of special feature stories and interviews over the last couple of weeks, and we're going to post the first one tomorrow morning. It's a conversation with Michael F. Blake, who happens to be the world's foremost scholar on screen great Lon Chaney. Michael has written no less than three books on the man, his make-up and his films. He's also a talented make-up artist in his own right, with films like Star Trek VI and ID4 to his credit. We think you'll find it very interesting, and well worth reading. So look for The Man Behind the Man of 1,000 Faces tomorrow.

And to get you primed for that, Todd's reviewed Image's new Outside the Law/Shadows double feature disc - a pair of classic, but often overlooked, performances by Lon Chaney.

Remember that tip we posted in The Rumor Mill regarding Fantasia 2000 coming to DVD this fall? Well, according to Variety, the film is expected to return for a limited engagement in IMAX theaters in August - our info is to look for the DVD shortly after that.

So what do you do if you're a scientist and you've just mapped the entire human genome? Well, you store it all on a DVD. At least you could, anyway, according to Dr. Francis Collins, head of the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute. There's so much information in the human genome that it would fill more than 300 telephone books, but you could squeeze all the data onto a single DVD disc. Someday, we might all find ourselves walking around with a disc containing our entire personal DNA map. You can read the whole story here. That human genome thing, by the way? That's huge. It's probably the biggest scientific achievement in the history of medicine. You should look into it, cause it's gonna have a major impact on health care in the next few years. See how I managed to squeeze DVD in there?

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/27/00 - 2 AM PDT)

Last night we kicked off our new Trivia Contest, with the theme of Movie Taglines. You've got to guess the name of the film, based on one of its taglines - not so hard, is it? One winner will take home 10 DVDs of their choice (up to $39.95 each) courtesy of Access DVD, and eleven more will win a runner-up prize as well thanks to our friends at ShowOff Displays! We'll run the contest until 7 PM PDT on Wednesday, July 5th. You don't even have to guess ALL the taglines to win - just 10 of 17. So what are you waiting for?

In other news this morning, we thought you might like to know that shooting on Star Wars: Episode II began yesterday in Australia. And despite all the film work, DVD apparently isn't far from director George Lucas' mind. Here's his quote on the first day of filming: "It's hard for me to remember if I'm still shooting Episode I, the Special Edition, the DVD, or Episode II." Hhhmmmm... so that means he HAS been working on the DVD. Not that we'll likely see it until 2001 at the earliest, but still.... Anyway, you can click on over to Star Wars.com for more on Day One of filming. Who's the cat that won't cop out when there's Sith Lords all about? Mace! You damn right. Now get yo ass in balance with the Force, punk!

Okay... bad Shaft reference. Couldn't resist. Back later...

6/26/00

We've got more Upcoming DVD Artwork for you to take a gander at today, and we had to add a 10th page to make room for it! Among the titles we'll show you are Any Given Sunday, Time Machine, Secret of Roan Inish, Reindeer Games, Gia, Room With a View, 7 Faces of Dr. Lao and more. We also figured you might enjoy a look at the slipcase art for Fox's upcoming Planet of the Apes: The Evolution and The Omen Collection...

Planet of the Apes: The EvolutionThe Omen Collection

In other site news, we've updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version (June 16th). But be patient - it's a BIG file (400k), so it will take time to download.

We've also posted an official transcript of an online chat with New Line Home Video, held recently over at the Home Theater Forum. There's some word on a few upcoming titles, so you should definitely give it a scan. Thanks to Ron Epstein for the text!

We'll be back with the start of our next Trivia Contest in a few hours. Stay tuned!

6/24/00

Ahh... a rare Saturday update of the Bits! I just wanted to sneak in here early in the AM to let you all know that Buena Vista has made their September titles (or at least some of them) known. Look for Alien Visitors, East is East, The Little Mermaid II, High Fidelity, Mission to Mars and Stiff Upper Lips (with more titles TBA).

Enjoy the weekend...!

6/23/00

DVD may have just gotten an inadvertent shot in the arm. Fox CEO Bill Mechanic yesterday resigned from his position at the studio to start his own production company. Mechanic hasn't exactly been a friend to our favorite format, resisting the release of Fox titles on DVD from Day One and often publicly saying that Digital VHS was "the future" of home entertainment (as opposed to DVD). Some of you may remember early on that Mechanic was often the guy on the other side of the DVD debate with Warner's Warren Lieberfarb. And when Fox made an early move to support Divx instead of DVD... that was Mechanic's doing. The staff of The Digital Bits hopes the executive has a bright and prosperous future in his new endeavors... and has absolutely NOTHING to do with DVD again. And here's to hoping that the terrific DVD work being done over at Fox now continues for a long time to come. You can read the press release here.

Moving on (no pun intended), we get a lot of e-mails from readers who are requesting the release of more television series on the DVD format. Certainly, here in the States, consumers are getting a bit short-changed in terms of TV on DVD. There's Star Trek and The X-Files to be sure, as well as episodes of The Twilight Zone. The Simpsons is on the way, as is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And there's one disc of Stargate: SG1 episodes from MGM. But there's not much else. Well, it may surprise you to learn that in other regions (DVD regions that is), you can get quite a lot of TV on DVD.

So what do I mean by quite a lot? Well, I personally have ordered almost the first entire season of SciFi's Farscape on DVD. Yes... I have an all region player, which will convert PAL format for NTSC viewing. You can easily and affordably buy them on the Net - both the discs and the players. I'm not going to start reviewing non-Region 1 titles, but I'm sure glad I have access to them. I mean, these Farscape discs are extremely cool! Also available elsewhere in the world on DVD are seasons 1-5 of Friends, more episodes of Stargate: SG1 and other good (and much wanted) series.

The reason I mention this, is not so much because I'd like to see U.S. consumers buying these discs, and all region players, en masse. On the contrary, I'd like to see the American studios get off their butts and release more TV on DVD here in the States. I don't know how many times I've heard studio execs say, "Well... we just don't think TV stuff is gonna sell on DVD right now." You won't know until you try, folks. I mean, I don't expect people are gonna rush out to buy The Six Million Dollar Man on DVD or anything, but what about Friends, Farscape, Babylon 5, Stargate: SG1 and Futurama? There are LOTS of shows that would sell well on disc if you released them affordably and promoted them. Sure, if you charged $30 a disc for 2 episodes, nothing but Trek is gonna sell. But I gladly paid about $30 a piece for 2-disc sets of Farscape (with 4-5 episodes a set, and some extras). Screw these exclusive syndication deals with cable companies (which is what I expect prevents more TV from appearing on disc). The DVD audience is getting bigger and much more diverse in their tastes. It's time to start expanding the kinds of titles that are available to accommodate that fact.

Okay, that's my rant for today. But you studio types out there should take heed (and I know you read these pages regularly) - there's an opportunity here to make some money on some of these shows. And there's nothing like selling stuff that's just sitting in the vaults... right?

So did you hear they may have discovered water on Mars? Now THAT'S cool. Just had to get that in there. ;-)

Have a great weekend - see you Monday!

6/22/00

We've got a couple of new disc reviews for you today. Brad Pilcher's given Warner's Liberty Heights a spin, and Greg Suarez checks in with a look at another recent Warner title, Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

In other news today, there's a good wire story up on the Toy Story films coming to DVD, by Scott Hettrick of Variety. It's got a little more in the way of details on the contents of the 2 and 3-disc sets. I really can't tell you how excited I am about this - I'm a big fan of these movies. You should see the 12" talking Buzz Lightyear action figure I've got sitting here on my desk. "Buzz Lightyear to Star Command... why don't they answer!" How cool is it gonna be to get BOTH films on disc at the same time? Very. This DVD release should be a lot of fun. There's also a wire story on Men In Black's forthcoming release - check it out.

Stay tuned...

6/21/00

We've got more information in The Rumor Mill today on upcoming titles, including Transformers: The Movie, The Muppet Movie and Fantasia 2000, so do check it out.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player sales chart to include the first two weeks of June - 218,920 players sold into retail in just 2 weeks! All charts have been updated accordingly.

We've been getting a lot of e-mail complaints about the packaging for Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Lots of people, it seems, would rather have the films' original poster artwork on the DVD covers. I have to say that while I agree to a certain extent (I always think poster art is best), I also think these new covers will look pretty snazzy. What you can't tell by the pictures you've seen is that each will have a metallic foil appearance (a la Jaws), Jurassic Park in gold and The Lost World in silver. In case, don't expect 'em to change.

Remember the good old days of Divx? Well, Circuit City has finally revealed the total financial hit they took for the failed format - $130 million! Damn! And just think - if they'd listened to us, they could have saved a LOT of bread.

MPI Media has a set of 4 classic Beatles films coming to DVD as a special collector's set: Help!, Magical Mystery Tour, You Can't Do That (The Making of A Hard Day's Night) and The First U.S. Visit. Look for them on August 8th, with fully-restored prints and an SRP of $79.98.

And here's a bit of ironic news for you - there's a new piece of authorized, legal software from InterVideo that will allow users of the Linux operating system to play DVD movies on their computers. As you may remember, the lack of a Linux player is what resulted in the creation of the DeCSS - the so-called DVD hack - and started the whole piracy controversy, along with a myriad of legal battles. How's that for shutting the barn door after the cow's strolled out? You can read the details here.

Finally today, we've got a little sneak peek at the menu screens for Synapse's upcoming The Brain that Wouldn't Die: Special Edition, which is expected on July 25th. We've also got cover artwork for it too (below).

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

The Brain that Wouldn't Die

The Brain that Woudn't DIe

Stay tuned...!

6/20/00

Have we got some cool stuff for you today! First of all, we've got another pair of DVD reviews - Columbia TriStar's Girl, Interrupted and Image's terrific release of Krzystof Kieslowski's The Decalogue (now if we could just get his Three Colors Trilogy: Blue, White and Red from Buena Vista...).

But that ain't all, folks! We've also got a massive new Rumor Mill update, with TONS of street dates on upcoming titles (some you may know... and several you don't). Among the dates our sources have managed to sniff out are Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Time Machine, Repo Man, American Psycho, Tom Thumb, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, The Seven Faces of Dr. Lao and more. And we've officially confirmed the street dates for those 2-disc and 3-disc versions of Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Just to make sure you understand, BOTH films will be available in each set, with the more expensive set including a 3rd disc of extras. Anyway, don't miss the update!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/19/00 - 10 PM PDT)

Congrats to all you Lakers fans out there - your team managed to squeak out a Game 6 win to take the NBA Championship. I took some time out to watch the game, and then it's back to work. I've just posted Todd Doogan's reviews of the official bad-ass trilogy: Shaft, Shaft's Big Score! and Shaft in Africa. Can you dig it? And there's more to come in a few hours, so stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/19/00 - Noon PDT)

Well, by now I hope you've all heard the great news about Toy Story AND Toy Story 2 coming to DVD in October. There's been no official word, but if the information pans out, they should be very cool releases. I must say though, I'm getting more and more disappointed with Disney DVD. I recently looked at their Pocahontas disc, which definitely could have looked and sounded better. And the 1.66:1 widescreen film isn't anamorphic either. Judging by the level of noise in the picture, I'd have to say that it's probably a recycled laserdisc transfer. Plus there's the usual series of irritating commercials leading in to the film. I'm surprised Disney isn't labeling those as a feature on the back of the packaging: "Special Bonus Feature: Commercials!" You know, it almost makes me wonder if Disney isn't putting their best effort into their DVDs on purpose - especially given CEO Michael Eisner's recent comments to Congress, in which he says the studio may not release Snow White on DVD in 2001 as planned due to the threat of digital piracy. You'd like to think a studio would show a little more effort - it's quality, not quantity, that counts. But even the studio's contacts with the media have fallen by the wayside recently, as if they just have no interest in promoting their product. Whatever the case is, the folks at Disney DVD need to get their act together and fast.

Speaking of Disney's "quantity", Image Entertainment has also posted another large update to their DVD News Page with upcoming title announcements, including The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, The Black Cauldron, James and the Giant Peach, Little Mermaid 2: Return to the Sea, Reindeer Games: Special Edition, The Tigger Movie, The Naked Gun 1-3, The Next Best Thing, Shane: Special Edition, Jurassic Park and The Lost World and more.

Finally this morning, we've been hearing from several people for whom the memory increase to Mac Internet Explorer 5 didn't work, although for some it did. We've confirmed that it's definitely a problem with the browser, which just doesn't seem to like large gif files. In any case, we're still working on it, rest assured.

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

6/17/00

Let's get the most interesting bit of information out of the way first. We thought you might like to know that Express.com has preorder pages setup for the following upcoming DVD title entries:

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 (2-disc set) - SRP $39.99 - anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) & full frame, Dolby Digital 5.1, 2 dual-layered discs, outtakes, scene access, interactive games, 173 minutes, street date: October 17th

Toy Story/Toy Story 2: The Ultimate Toy Box (3-disc Collector's Set) - SRP $69.99 - anamorphic widescreen (1.77:1) & full frame, Dolby Digital 5.1, 3 dual-layered discs, interviews, outtakes, scene access, isolated film scores, deleted scenes, documentaries, audio commentary, 173 minutes, street date: October 17th

How's that for cool? Also today, I think we MAY have found a temporary solution for those of you who are having problems with Internet Explorer 5 for Mac. As we reported yesterday, it appears that the browser has trouble loading large gif files. But not everyone is having the problem. This may be why - the default memory amount allocated to IE 5 upon installation is 4096k. This is not enough for all applications, and will occasionally cause browser crashes when loading large image files. What you need to do, is to go into your browser's settings and change the memory allocation to at least 8192k. This solution has been tested by a number of readers, who have found it to work fairly well. It may not be the final solution - there still seems to be a bug in the IE5 for Mac software. But, this may work in the meantime.

Please try this solution, and let me know if it works. Thanks! And have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/16/00 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Okay... first of all, let's announce the winners of our James Bond Trivia Contest. This has been, by FAR, the most successful contest we've run to date here at the Bits. We had some 3,678 entries in all! Guess you people like your Bond. Thanks to MGM and everyone who played. And congratulations to the following winners:

Grand Prize Winner:
Marc Hertzler - Tiverton, RI

Runner-ups:
Jim Gutierrez - Queens Village, NY
Robert Ruitenberg - Beuningen, The Netherlands
Kim Reiter - Goldsboro, NC
Antti Lehtinen - Espoo, Finland


You can click on over to the contest page to see the answers.

Now then... we seem to have located the Mac IE 5 problem, and it's ENTIRELY a problem with the browser itself. It seems that it doesn't like large .gif files. We've had a lot of people test the links below, and only the test pages with the Button Bar image are causing problems. In particular, BOTH of the first two test pages (the bar alone with no other maps or code) crash - all the Javascript and other code loads just fine. I can only surmise that the bigger the graphic is in size, the more likely it is to piss of the browser. That would explain why The Digital Bits has been having this problem while other sites are less prone to it (although we have found a few other sites with the problem too) - our entire button bar is one large transparent .gif. One interesting thing that we've discovered, is that people report having the problem with the crash on the Button Bar graphic, EVEN when they go into their browser's preferences and turn the graphics off. I've created a last series of test pages, with the Button Bar as a normal gif and one with it as a transparent gif (in both progressive and non-progressive scanning types) - let's see if we can see what aspect of the gif file causes the problem. Try loading these pages and let me know what happens...

Button Bar standard gif only
Button Bar standard gif only (progressively scanned)
Button Bar transparent gif only
Button Bar transparent gif only (progressively scanned)

As for the rest of you, thanks for your patience!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/16/00 - 1:30 AM PDT)

Okay... we could use your help here today. As many of you know, SOME readers who view this page using Microsoft Internet Explorer 5 for Mac have been having problems with the site crashing their browser. Other readers using the same browser say they're having no problems at all. So for those of you who HAVE been experiencing problems, we need your help getting to the bottom of things. We've been working for weeks to uncover the cause of the trouble, which has definitely been determined to be an issue with the browser. Apparently, it chokes on certain pieces of HTML or Javascript, for whatever reason. What we need to do, is to determine which bit of code in use here at the Bits the browser doesn't like. We've set up some test pages, each with an isolated "chunk" of code from this site. We'd appreciate it if those of you who have been experiencing problems could try loading each page, and then let us know which one crashes your browser. Please e-mail me at this address with the information: billhunt@thedigitalbits.com. We're gonna get to the bottom of this if it kills us. Thanks for the help. Here are the links:

Button Bar transparent gif only
Button Bar transparent gif only (progressively scanned)
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We'll have our usual update posted later this morning, including the announcement of the contest winner. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/15/00 - 6 PM PDT)

We've got something fun for you today - lots of upcoming DVD cover art. And I mean LOTS of it - we're talking close to 100 new scans. We've got both Jurassic Park films, The Big Blue, Fail Safe, we've got all the upcoming Universal Monster DVDs, we got Platoon, we got Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.... Hell, we've got damn near everything we could think of or find that's available, and even stuff that isn't! There's so much new stuff that we had to add two new pages just to hold it all. Trust us... you don't want to miss it.

In other news, it looks like Paramount is gonna make all you Peanuts fans go... well, nuts... this fall. They're releasing a trio of classic adventures, starring Charlie Brown and company, on DVD on September 12th. The titles include It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and A Charlie Brown Christmas. It doesn't get any better than that. Each disc will SRP for $19.99. Each disc will also include a short feature. The Great Pumpkin will include You're Not Elected Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown Thanksgiving will include The Mayflower Voyagers, and Charlie Brown Christmas will have It's Christmastime Again, Charlie Brown. All three will be in their original full frame aspect ratio with mono audio, and will be closed captioned. All three titles will also be available in a three-pack collection (SRP $57.97). But that's not all - on the same day, Paramount will also release the latest Peanuts feature, It's the Pied Piper, Charlie Brown. The disc will also SRP for $19.99 and will include 5.1 and mono audio, Spanish subs and will be closed captioned. Now see... that just makes me happy.

All right... we're gonna shift right from 5th gear into Reverse now - kiss your transmission goodbye. Todd's got a good rant going today, and I think it's well worth a read. For the record, I agree with him entirely. Here goes...

If anyone checks out the June 12, 2000 issue of Video Business magazine, you'll find a blurb "promoting" Synapse's upcoming release of Triumph of the Will in the "Spotlight" section.

Although the article is light-hearted in tone, it does a great disservice to Synapse by making the release look like exploitation cinema. The article begins horribly enough: "Synapse Releases Nazi Film" which is first of all insensitive and then very unnecessary. Don and the guys over at Synapse have been very sensitive about the release of this film, going as far as donating a portion of the proceeds to National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. - that's not exploitation.

The history of Triumph of the Will is a tortuous and horrifying one, but the film remains one of the most important films in which a moment in history was captured. If Synapse was releasing this film for any reason other than preservation, I'd be the first person calling them on the carpet. But that's what this disc is all about - film preservation and historical documentation. Leading film preservationist Robert Harris (restorer of Rear Window, Vertigo and Lawrence of Arabia) has donated his personally-restored print of the film to Synapse, to enable the best version of this film for DVD mastering. They are inviting a film historian to provide the commentary for the release, to shed light on the motivations of the time. And they are going out of their way to guarantee we get the best video and audio quality on DVD by making this their first dual-layered release. This is going to be a film about heritage and history, and the farthest thing this disc is about is exploitation. I for one applaud Don, Jerry, Bob and company for having the courage to try and preserve this film on DVD. We all knew they'd come under fire because of misinformation, and that's why I'm taking the time to speak up for them.

I really hope that Video Business updates their article with more information, because the Triumph disc is more than just a "Nazi Film." It's a heavy club to the head of every person who's ever had hate in their hearts - people who are in no short supply to this day. It's a flashlight into a world where people think things could be better if someone else just wasn't around anymore. Look to this film, and you'll see how beauty and dreams of utopia can mask a monster waiting to strike. No one wants these things to happen again, and so we must look to our history to learn from our past mistakes. If anything, that's what this DVD is about - don't be short-sighted about the facts. Film is powerful enough without misinformation being bandied around. And it's a shame when such important issues get boiled down into misleading headline blurbs.

Thanks, Todd. Well said. I haven't seen Triumph of the Will since college, and I'm looking forward to this disc. It's a shocking and powerful experience - I mean, this stuff was real. I think it should be required viewing. There's some lessons to be learned here.

Okay - back to 5th again. In other news, Image Entertainment's updated their DVD News page again, to mention lots more upcoming titles, including The Omen Trilogy, the original Doctor Dolittle, The Fly and Return of the Fly as well as the 1980s remakes The Fly and The Fly II, The X-Files Season Two, Erin Brockovich, 42nd Street, The Unsinkable Molly Brown and lots more.

All right... reviews are on the way for tomorrow, including Warner's Shaft. Can you dig it? And a last reminder - you have until Midnight tonight to get your entries for the Trivia Contest in. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/15/00 - 12:30 AM PDT)

We'll have more to post later today, but before we do anything else, we figured you'd appreciate this - your first look at the DVD cover art for Universal's upcoming Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park collector's editions.

Jurassic Park: Collector's EditionThe Lost World: Jurassic Park - Collector's Edition

Not a bad way to start the day, huh?

(LATE UPDATE - 6/14/00 - 11 PM PDT)

Da-dum... da-dum... wanna get an early look at your favorite shark flick? Check out Todd Doogan's review of Universal's forthcoming Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition! The disc streets on July 11th, and we think you'll definitely want to add it to your movie shelf. Isn't it great to have Spieberg on the DVD bandwagon? Jaws coming out next month, Jurassic Park on the way... all we need is Raiders, Close Encounters and E.T. and we'll really be set. Now if we could just get the guy to do a commentary track...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/14/00 - 3:30 PM PDT)

Boy... am I tired! I drove up to Dave's Video yesterday afternoon for the Frank Darabont signing, thinking I would drop in and be home by 10 PM. Frank started signing at about 6:30 PM and he didn't finish until well after Midnight... some 6 hours later! I have to tell you, though, Frank was really terrific. He took the time to chat for a few minutes with each person in line before he signed their DVDs and posters, giving everyone there personal attention. And he refused to leave until everyone in line had gotten an autograph.

Frank Darabont signs a DVD for a fanFrank Darabont meets another fan

12:35 AM... shutting the place down

When I had the chance to speak with him for a few minutes, I asked him how he had met Steven King, and become involved in adapting his stories for the screen. It turns out that, when he was 20, Darabont sent King a letter asking for permission to adapt one of his short stories, The Woman in the Room, as a film. King agreed and liked the result so much that when Darabont asked to do Shawshank Redemption, it took little convincing. King later came to Darabont when it came time to do The Green Mile, and is currently holding The Mist for the director to do at some point in the future.

Peter Bracke from DVD File was there and we hung out, talked with readers, chatted with Warner & Dave's Video staffers at the event and basically closed the joint down. That last group shot there was taken at 12:35 AM, after the last disc had been signed. Do we look tired? Thanks to Frank, Linda Lukas, Ronnie Sass and Carl Samrock and everyone at Dave's Video for putting on a wonderful event. And on behalf of all of them, thanks also to the many hundreds of fans who came out and waited patiently for a chance to meet one of their favorite directors. It was truly a successful event.

Don't forget that we're down to one last day before the end of the Bond Trivia Contest - get your entries in quick! And while I was at Dave's last night, I had Frank sign an extra DVD copy of The Green Mile which we'll be giving away as a prize in an upcoming contest.

Our Jaws review is coming later this evening from Todd, and we've got lots more reviews done - just need to be formatted and posted. Look for them over the next few days.

But today, we've got more menu screen shots from upcoming Paramount discs, including Dead Again, Shane, Harold and Maude, Clue and Where's Marlowe. We've also got word that Fox may be getting into the DTS audio game soon - that's in The Rumor Mill.

Stay tuned...!

6/13/00

We've got a very special update for you today, folks! First of all, we're very pleased to say that The Digital Bits is now home to some 501 disc reviews. That's pretty amazing, given how much other DVD coverage we do here at the site. We crossed that number this morning, by posting reviews of all 12 volumes of Star Trek: The Original Series. And we've got more great reviews in store for you tomorrow (including our look at Jaws).

We were planning to have Jaws up today... but something cool came up that bumped it a day. So instead of a shark, how about an exclusive first look at the menu screens from a whole mess of upcoming Paramount DVDs? We've got Star Trek II, The Talented Mr. Ripley, Searching for Bobby Fischer, The Naked Gun 1-3 and Angela's Ashes! And we'll have even more for you tomorrow!

The big DVD news for today is that Universal studios is finally releasing Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World on DVD on October 10th. The discs will be available in Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 audio versions, and will SRP for $26.98 each. The discs will also include access to a special live FX webcast (on location at ILM), sneak previews of Jurassic Park III, and a live webcast of JP III's premiere. Jurassic Park will also include The Making of Jurassic Park documentary, video of pre-production meetings, Phil Tippett animatics, storyboards and other photos, a dino encyclopedia and more. Jurassic Park 2 will include the brand new Making of the Lost World documentary, deleted scenes, production art and more. There will also be 2 boxed sets of both DVDs, The Jurassic Park/Lost World Deluxe Box Set (SRP $119.98 including the CD soundtracks, a senitype and certificate of authenticity) and the Jurassic Park/Lost World Collection (SRP $53.98, with both DVDs in a slipcase). Can't wait to hear that T-Rex screaming in DTS sound in my home theater - very cool!

It looks as if Reel.com's order fulfillment duties are going to be taken over by Buy.com. In fact, visitors to the Reel.com website will be greeted by this pop-up message:

"Important message to Reel.com shoppers:

As of this week, Reel has entered into a strategic relationship with Buy.com for the fulfillment of DVDs and videocassettes. Please feel free to use the site as usual. You may notice reduced title availability for the next few days, while we complete the transition. Reel will be shipping all orders for movies that are available on June 12th, including this week's pre-order titles. If you have ordered other movies from Reel, you will be sent an e-mail further detailing your fulfillment options which will be accomplished through our relationship with Buy.com.

Thank you for your patience and patronage! - The Reel.com Team"


Finally, we've got more upcoming DVD street dates listed in today's Rumor Mill update, including Erin Brockovich, Faraway, So Close and the Stand By Me: Special Edition. We've also got early word on Buckaroo Banzai and Wings of Desire.

Our James Bond Trivia Contest only has two days left - get those entries in quick. We'll see some of you at Dave's Laser tonight for the Frank Darabont signing. As for the rest of you... we'll catch you tomorrow.

You know... it's days like this that DVD-hounds like the staff here at the Bits live for. ;-)

6/12/00

Well... it looks like Reel.com is shutting down its online store. According to this newswire story over at Yahoo (via Reuters), the Reel.com website will be maintained only as a content destination - you'll no longer be able to buy movies from them. On the same day, a different note - Best Buy has announced that they're getting into the e-commerce biz big time. According to another Yahoo (Reuters) report, you can now buy lots of cool items on their site, Best Buy.com, including DVDs, music CDs, digital cameras, TVs, DVD players and other big ticket electronic devices. Ah, the ups and downs of the Internet....

And now for a reminder - director Frank Darabont will be signing copies of The Green Mile on DVD at Dave's Video, The Laser Place in Studio City, CA tomorrow night. He'll be there between 6:30 and 8:30 PM (PDT), and if you buy a copy of the disc in-store, he'll sign it for you. A portion of the sales from the event will go to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation. Dave's is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd, in Studio City (just west of Laurel Canyon). Some of the staff of The Digital Bits will be on hand for the event, so we hope to see you there!

Finally, today happens to be Sarah's birthday. Sarah's our in-house Trivia Contest guru and she's the business end of the Bits too (somebody's gotta mind the store while the rest of us get to review movies and talk with directors and such!). In fact, if you dig her contest work, drop her an e-mail and let her know - she thrives on feedback. She also happens to be married to the editor, and she's made me promise to take most of the day off to celebrate with her. What... am I gonna say no? So from the rest of the staff of the Bits, Happy Birthday, Sarah!

We'll be back tomorrow with some great reviews, including Jaws! Stay tuned...

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