We've got more reviews for you this morning. Florian and I have teamed
up for a tag-team review of Columbia TriStar's
Patriot: Special Edition. Our own Brad Pilcher's been busy
spinning discs too - he's got a look at Paramount's
of Engagement, Buena Vista's Keeping
the Faith and Palm Picture's
And speaking of Columbia, we've just gotten our first look at their
2-disc special edition release of Bridge on
the River Kwai. David Lean fans are going to love this. It
comes in a very cool "library" case similar to what the Men
in Black: Limited Edition is packaged in, and it includes a
very cool little booklet which reprints the exact text from the film's
original 1957 souvenir book. My mouth is really watering now for their
Lawrence of Arabia release early
next year. We'll try to get a review done ASAP on this cool release, so
Whew! Are we wiped out! Yesterday was a lot of fun for all of us here
at the Bits, so thanks to everyone
who has sent in kind e-mails about SpookFest
2000. It was a lot of work, but we really enjoyed it.
Halloween's one of our favorite times of the year here at the Bits.
So maybe this'll be a regular thing. To be honest, we just really dig
the "jack-o-lantern" logo. Anyway, thanks for all the kind
We've also selected the winner in our October Trivia
Contest. So congratulations to Ben
Susser of Livingston, NJ. Ben takes home the Panasonic SC-HT80
DynaMovie Home Theater System courtesy of our contest sponsor Etronixs.com.
Thanks also to all 1,285 people who entered this time. The next contest
will start soon, and may have a slightly Jurassic slant (hint, hint!).
In the meantime, you can find the answers to this month's puzzle by
Thanks for playing!
Also today, an X-Files DVD
update. There's been some confusion online as to what the exact street
date is for The X-Files: The Complete Second
Season DVD boxed set. We've spoken with the studio, and
they've told us that November 28th is the big day. Be aware too that the
revised DVD version of The X-Files: Fight the
Future is expected on December 26th (tentative date), which
will include anamorphic widescreen video and dual Dolby Digital and DTS
soundtracks. Very cool.
(LATE, LATE UPDATE - 10/31/00 - 11:59 PM PST)
Well... SpookFest 2000 is now
complete. In the wee late hours of last night, we posted the remainder
of our reviews, including
Texas Chainsaw Massacre,
Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2,
Know What You Did Last Summer,
Still Know What You Did Last Summer, Urban
III: Season of the Witch,
4: The Return of Michael Myers,
5: The Revenge of Michael Myers,
The Curse of Michael Myers and
H20. Over the course of the day, we posted a whopping 32
reviews in all. Whew!
I'd like to say a word of thanks to our talented staff here at the Bits,
starting with review editor Todd Doogan, who mans the helm at our East
Coast office. Thanks also to reviewers Greg Suarez and Brad Pilcher. And
a special thanks has to go to Bits
reviewer Dan Kelly, who turned (by far) the lion's share of these
reviews. And, of course, thanks also to our contest guru, Sarah Hunt,
who is (even as we speak) at work on the November Trivia
Contest. Thanks everyone!
We hope you enjoyed SpookFest 2000
as much as we enjoyed bringing it to you. And now... I'm gonna sleep for
like 12 hours. But we'll be back tomorrow to announce the contest
winner. And look for some cool stuff in the next few days, including
reviews of Mission: Impossible 2
and more. Stay tuned!
(LATER UPDATE - 10/31/00 - 2:30 PM PST)
We're about halfway through our SpookFest
2000, and already we've posted reviews of some 14 DVDs!
That's taken our site total to over 600 discs reviewed here at the Bits.
Here's a list of the titles posted so far today:
of the Living Dead (6 different versions),
of the Living Dead (1990),
the 13, Part 2,
the 13th, Part 3 and
the 13th: The Final Chapter.
And on the way for the rest of the day are Texas
Chainsaw Massacre 1 & 2, Urban
Legend, The Changeling,
I Know What You Did Last Summer,
I Still Know What You Did Last Summer
and the ENTIRE Halloween series!
So stick around... 'cause there's lots more spooky fun to come!
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/31/00 - Midnight PST)
SpookFest 2000 is on! Let the
haunting begin! We've got DVD reviews of a whole slew of great "things
that go bump in the night" movies for you today, and we're going to
post them 3 or 4 at a time, starting with a set of Paramount slasher
the 13, Part 2,
the 13th, Part 3 and
the 13th: The Final Chapter. We've got almost 30 reviews on
the way throughout the day, and we'll wrap up with a look at the
complete Halloween series. So keep
checking the What's New section at
the top of this page, or the
page for the latest additions. And we'll wrap up the whole list of
titles in this column at the end of the day.
Also, don't forget that today is the last day to get your entries in
for the Trivia
Contest - we'll announce the winner tomorrow morning.
And finally this morning, you may have been hearing rumors about Star
Trek: The Next Generation episodes coming on DVD in May of
2001 from Paramount. That information is false, and we've got the
official word from the studio on the issue in the
Mill today, so be sure to check it out.
Now then... enjoy SpookFest 2000
and have a happy and safe Halloween! Don't eat too much candy... ;-)
You know how the song says it never rains in California? What they
meant was that it never rains in California... except when it's raining.
Which it's been doing all weekend. It's funny - you can live here for
months and never see so much as a drizzle, and then you get dumped on
all of a sudden. And since L.A. is basically a desert, the soil is
mostly sand and can't hold a lot of water. That means that people's
houses start to slide down hillsides and stuff. Anyway, it's a strange
time of year here.
So did all you Americans remember to set your clocks back this weekend
or were you an hour early to your weekly football party? Yeah... me too.
I joined several dozen fellow members of the
Viking Club, who meet at a local pizza joint here in Orange County
every Sunday, and we watched our team get spanked but good by Tampa Bay.
Ah well - we all knew their undefeated record couldn't last. What can
you do? Anyway, I hope your favorite team won this weekend.
You may have noticed I'm not talking DVD much. That's for two reasons.
First of all, there's never very much DVD news to talk about on a
Monday. But, more importantly, we're saving it all until this evening -
tonight at Midnight to be specific. That's when we're kicking off our
first ever Digital Bits SpookFest 2000!
Throughout the day tomorrow, we'll be posting reviews of some of your
favorite scary movies, including the entire Halloween
series, maybe some Friday the 13th,
all the different versions of Night of the
Living Dead and lots more - more than 20 reviews in all. So
gather up all the skeletons in your closet and we'll see you back here
Stay tuned... mmmoooaaaahahahahah! ;-)
As expected, PlayStation 2 madness has swept gamers across the country.
Seems like everyone's got a news story up on the craze, including
There are scads of links to
reports over at Yahoo.com and our old friend Andy Patrizio's even
one for Wired.com. Gotta love it.
Today is a very slow news day and we're working on something special
for Monday, so we're going to wrap this one up quick this afternoon. But
before we go, we've got a sneak peek at some DVD titles Warner is
working on for later this year and early next year. Note that some are
titles distributed for New Line. Also note that street dates are
tentative. So here goes:
Life Beyond Earth (11/14), Escape
Under Pressure, Switch
(11/21), Chasers (12/5), The
Cell (12/5), Saving Grace,
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me
(12/19), The Art of War, The
Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen, Race
Against Time (12/26), MVP: Most
Valuable Primate (1/16/01), 4
Little Girls, Soul of the Game
(1/23/01), Thelonious Monk: Straight No
Chaser, Scooby-Doo on Zombie
Island, Scooby-Doo and the Witch's
And, as luck would have it, we've got DVD cover artwork for The
Art of War and The Cell,
as well as the two upcoming Powerpuff Girls
DVDs (street date 11/7). Enjoy!
Have a great weekend and stay tuned...!
Well, today is the big day that lots of you get to pick up your
pre-ordered Sony PlayStation 2 game systems. Our own Greg Suarez got in
line at 5:15 AM this morning to get his and was at home playing with it
by 7 AM. Greg reports that (as expected) it pretty much rocks. He's
going to be working on a full report of his first experience with the
DVD-based game system, including a test of how it handles DVD-Video
playback. We should have it up here sometime next week - that is, if we
can get him to stop playing Madden NFL 2001
for long enough to get some writing done... ;-)
In the meantime, click on over to our affiliate network
IGN.com, which has
complete coverage of all things PS2 related, including full reviews of
all 27 games available for the launch. And if you're heading out to buy
a PS2 this afternoon, good luck. We've heard reports that they're
ALREADY gone - everywhere.
Speaking of the PS2, we've just gotten an e-mail from our friends over
Leisure, who tell us that their PS2 versions of Dragon's
Lair I & II, Space Ace
and Hologram Time Traveler are now
on store shelves. Best of all, they're a LOT cheaper than the $49.95 SRP
of most of the regular games (Dragon's Lair
is only $29.95 most places).
here for the company's press release and a look at the games
Entertainment's got a new
News page update, with lots of great upcoming titles listed.
Included are Artisan's Inside the Space
Station (which will premiere on the Discovery Channel in
December - you KNOW I'm there), Columbia's Godzilla
2000, Survivor and Wonder
Boys from Paramount and more.
And speaking of Image, Todd and I just got our hands on their new DVD
release of Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala,
which we'll be reviewing sometime next week. You can bet I'll be happily
giving the disc a spin this evening, 'cause let's face it - Kurosawa
(LATE UPDATE - 10/25/00 - 1:45 PM PDT)
All right Fincher fans... you've waited a LONG time for this one. But
Todd and I are very pleased to be able to bring you an early look at New
Platinum Series 2-disc DVD set, which streets on December 19th
(SRP $30.98). Since you're about to read our in-depth review, I don't
want to say much more than this - this new DVD release was WELL worth
the wait. New Line's gonna make a LOT of people happy this Christmas.
And hey... isn't Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Lust, Pride, Envy and Wrath
what the season's all about these days? ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/25/00 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We've got another review or two coming later today, including possibly
Se7en, so be sure to check back.
In the meantime, we've updated the
Mill again (about time!) with some more upcoming DVD
information, including an official street date on New Line's The
Cell: Platinum Edition, an update on Paramount's future Star
Trek DVD plans and a sneak peek at Buffy
the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season. Don't miss it.
Also, there's word that Columbia TriStar's Under
Suspicion will be released on DVD on January 2nd, for an SRP
of $24.95. Look for the disc to include commentary with director Stephen
Hopkins and Morgan Freeman, a "making of" featurette, talent
files and full frame and anamorphic widescreen video.
And there's good word that Sony's PlayStation 2 is making an impact on
Japan's lagging DVD market. The U.S. market should get an even bigger
boost when the game system hits store shelves on Thursday.
the whole story at Yahoo.
Finally this morning, here's a look at the DVD cover art for a pair of
upcoming titles - Paramount's The
Conversation: Special Edition (a classic Coppola flick which
streets on 12/12) and Disney's Coyote Ugly
(coming in January).
We'll be back later, so stay tuned...!
Today's a busy day around the Bits.
Even as your faithful editor recovers from a massive head cold (ouch),
we've finally got our review of Columbia TriStar's
in Black posted. Todd and I have compared all three versions
of the film on DVD in depth, and talk extras and quality. If you're a
fan of this flick and you haven't already picked up one of these discs,
we'll be giving you a reason to head to the video store tonight. ;-)
And no sooner do we get that done, we've got our hands on another major
new double-disc DVD set to review for you... New Line's Se7en:
Platinum Series. We'll try to get the review done as soon as
possible. But I can say, based on an initial spin of these discs, I
think you'll be pretty excited. It was worth the wait.
Image has got some cool DVD news today. They've just announced that
they're going to be releasing Aardman Anamation's classic short Creature
Comforts on DVD on November 28th. The film, by the same
people who gave us Chicken Run and
the Wallace & Gromit series,
will arrive on disc for an SRP of only $9.99. Best of all, 3 additional
Aardman shorts will be included as well - Wat's
Pig, Not Without My Handbag
and Adam. Personally, I can't
wait. I'm a big Wallace & Gromit
fan and I really dig this animation style. Very cool news.
Also today (and file this one in the "Oh... They're Still Making
Laserdiscs" category), Pioneer has just announced that they're
releasing Universal's The Nutty Professor II:
The Klumps on LD. That's cool and all, but is anyone still
buying new films on laserdisc? It's one of those things that make you
In case you didn't know, we've kicked off the last
for October with another Name That DVD Cover
puzzle. One winner will take home a Panasonic
SC-HT80 Home Theater System - it's just the right size for
your office or dorm room. You have until 7 PM PDT on Tuesday, October
31st to enter. And since that's Halloween, you can bet the DVD covers
you have to guess will have something to do with things that go bump in
the night... ;-)
All right... I'm outta here. I've got hours more reviewing to do. Have
a great night and see you back here tomorrow... same Bat time, same Bat
Okay... this is the first of a couple of updates that will go up today,
so keep checking back. But, as a nice way to kick off the new week, I
thought you might want to get your first look at Fox's forthcoming
DVD (street date 11/21). Also, I've done a little more playing with my
World DTS discs and have updated the reviews again with
further comments. I have been able to get more low frequency from the
DTS soundtracks, but it took some tweaking. Ultimately, if your system
is capable of reproducing it accurately, you'll enjoy an excellent DTS
experience. But I'm still not sure how I feel about the fact that it
took additional tinkering with an already professionally calibrated
system to enjoy that audio. I'm betting that a lot of less tech-minded
DTS fans are being left in the dark, so to speak. Anyway, check the
In other news, it looks like Buena Vista's taken care of that Toy
Story 2 problem - at least according to them. We received
this statement from them late Friday:
"Buena Vista Home Entertainment has learned that, due to a
manufacturing defect at Technicolor Videocassette, Inc., a limited
number of Toy Story The Ultimate Toy Box
DVD 3 Packs are defective. The second disc within the set
inadvertently contains part of an "R" rated movie.
There has been NO defect identified with discs contained in the
two-disc DVD Toy Story 2-Pack.
We are confident that the defective product has been isolated and
removed from store shelves. The defect occurred in less than 1% of the
If your Ultimate Toy Box contains
a defective disc, please return it to the location where it was
purchased for a full refund or exchange."
Hopefully, that should be the end of that. Now then... we'll be back
with more in a few hours. Stay tuned...
We've got LOTS of reviews for you today. First of all, Todd and I have
done some comparisons between the Dolby Digital and DTS editions of
Lost World, and we've updated our reviews accordingly. DTS
fans... prepare to be disappointed. Todd has also got a two-shot look at
a pair of classic Orson Welles film noir classics, Columbia TriStar's
Lady from Shanghai and Universal's
of Evil (street date 10/31). We suggest starting with Lady
from Shanghai, because the two reviews are sort of a matched
pair, discussing the career of Welles from one film to the other. Then,
Todd rounds things out with a look at Columbia's
Metal 2000: Special Edition and Synapse's forthcoming
Dead Trap (street date 10/31) as well. Topping it all off,
Florian's given Miramax's
Cider House Rules a spin, and he's got some thoughts on it for
you. Told you we had some reviews coming! And don't fret, 'cause we've
got more on the way for Monday, including (finally!) Men
in Black and Frequency.
I know - you'll believe it when you see it. ;-)
Just FYI, we've also updated the
DVD Player sales chart to include the 128,174 players shipped into
retail in the second week of October (ending 10/13). That takes the
monthly total up to a nice 311,827, with 2 weeks to go. All listings
have been updated accordingly.
Yesterday, we mentioned MGM's forthcoming When
Harry Met Sally: Special Edition, without talking extras. So
now... let's talk extras. The disc is expected to include some 11
minutes of deleted scenes, a new audio commentary by director Rob
Reiner, a "making of" documentary with new interviews
(including Reiner, Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan and Carrie Fisher) and Harry
Connick, Jr.'s It Had to be You
music video. The disc streets on January 9th, for an SRP of $24.98.
Guys... get the Kleenex boxes out and keep 'em handy. The studio is also
releasing In the Heat of the Night
the same day with a new audio commentary (featuring director Norman
Jewison, Rod Steiger and Lee Grant). And MGM has also finally announced
all of the other January titles we mentioned in
report on their 2001 DVD plans. I have just one thing to say.
MGM... please release Wim Wenders' Wings of
Desire on DVD, ASAP. Okay... I've said my piece.
Fans of documentarian Ken Burns will be delighted to learn that Warner
is releasing Jazz as a 10-disc DVD
set on January 2nd. The set will SRP for $199.92. Of Burns' other
multi-part documentaries, Baseball
was just released on DVD and we have good word that The
Civil War is on the way for next year.
Columbia TriStar has also just announced their DVD release of Paul
Verhoeven's Hollow Man. The
special edition DVD will also street on January 2nd, for an SRP of
$24.95. Included on the disc will be a commentary track with director
Paul Verhoeven, Kevin Bacon and Andrew Marlowe, Jerry Goldsmith's
isolated score with commentary, the HBO special Anatomy
of a Thriller, 3 deleted scenes, talent files and much more.
Should be cool.
Finally today (and speaking of Columbia TriStar), you L.A.-area fans of
Mel Gibson's The Patriot will be
happy to learn that Columbia TriStar is holding a special signing event
on Wednesday, October 25th at the Virgin Megastore on Sunset Blvd. in
Hollywood. The signing will run from 7 to 9 PM PDT, and on hand to sign
your DVD copy of the film will be director Roland Emmerich, producer
Dean Devlin and actor Jason Isaacs (who played the vile Colonel
Tavington). Should be a fun evening, so if you're in the area, don't
miss it. We'll have a review of the DVD soon.
Now then... the Trivia Contest is
being assembled and should be up sometime tonight, so be sure to check
back. As always, have a great weekend and stay tuned...!
(LATE UPDATE - 10/19/00 - 5:45 PM PDT)
Reviews! We've got a look at Fox's
A.E.: Special Edition, which isn't the best animated flick
I've ever seen, but the DVD is well worth a look. And our own Erin
Lindsey has given all of Paramount's
Holiday Collection DVDs a spin - A
Charlie Brown Christmas, It's the
Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and A
Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. If you want a real warm-fuzzy
blast from the past, you can't beat 'em. We've got several more reviews
coming tomorrow, and we'll start the contest then too. I'm trying to get
stuff posted as fast as I can - I'm on the road to recovery but this flu
drains the energy out of you fast. ;-)
One thing I did want to mention - I've heard back from Buena Vista
regarding the problems with the Toy Story 2
disc. Apparently it's a problem that occurred at the replication stage,
with Technicolor, and it only effects the version of the film that
appears in The Ultimate Toy Box.
Here's Technicolor's official statement on the matter:
"Technicolor has identified and is investigating a manufacturing
defect in part of the Disney three-disc DVD set, "Ultimate Toy Box."
The problem exists in only a small percentage of the three-disc DVD
packages and is limited to a specific isolated region of the United
There has been NO defect identified with discs contained in the
two-disc DVD "Toy Story Deluxe" sets.
The manufacturing defect has been identified as a content mix,
affecting some of the Toy Story 2 DVDs from the "Ultimate Toy Box".
Technicolor will continue to investigate the cause of the defect and
the magnitude of the problem. Further information will be provided as
soon as it becomes available."
So it's apparently not Disney's fault, but a replication error. In any
case, if you've got a problem disc, you can call Buena Vista's customer
service number and they'll arrange a replacement - 1-800-723-4763.
(EARLY UPDATE - 10/19/00 - 12:15 PM PDT)
Well, I suppose with all the DVDs being rushed to market this fall, it
was inevitable that there'd be a few problems along the way. Such seems
to be the case with Toy Story 2.
We've been told by numerous readers that some are having problems with
the supplement disc of the Ultimate Toy Box
not playing properly, while others are having trouble with Toy
Story 2 - when it hits the layer switch as you watch the
movie, it suddenly switches to a scene in High
Fidelity (also a Buena Vista release), then locks up
entirely. We've HEARD that some discs are being recalled, but that's
just second-hand information. We do have a call into the studio, and as
soon as we hear back from them we'll let you know what the story is (no
But it's not just Buena Vista having problems - as you may remember
from a few days ago, MGM is taking flak for missing subtitle problems in
several of their discs (The Living Daylights,
Octopussy and Delta
Force). Remember - you can call MGM's toll-free customer
service line (1-877-MGM-4YOU) to get your problem discs replaced. But
give MGM a day or two to figure out exactly what's wrong and get the
Here's some more upcoming DVD cover artwork for you - a look at the
regular movie-only edition of Disney's Dinosaur
(street date 1/30/01) and Disney's The Kid
(1/16/01), as well as MGM's forthcoming When
Harry Met Sally: Special Edition (1/9/01), which also gives
you a sneak peek at MGM's new DVD cover layout. Look for all MGM's
future discs to use a variation of this layout.
Now then... we'll be back with reviews later this afternoon. But we
wanted to mention this first. We've managed to confirm that Columbia
TriStar's The Patriot: Special Edition
is the first Region 1 disc to be enhanced with RCE (Region Code
Enhancement) so that it will not play on modified all-region DVD
players. When you try to play it on a modified player, you'll see this
We're not gonna get into a debate about whether RCE is a good thing or
a bad thing - we've already been there and done that and a lot of you
seem to have wildly conflicting thoughts on the issue. So debate, but
debate elsewhere. We're just posting this information here as an FYI to
those of you who might try to buy The Patriot
for use on a hacked player. I suppose we can count the days until some
would-be Wozniak figures out how to bypass this. ;-)
We've been hearing from a LOT of panicked Ridley Scott fans, who have
read elsewhere on the Net that Universal's Legend:
Collector's Edition has been cancelled. That information is
misleading. Here's Universal's official statement on it:
"The DVD release of Legend Collectors
Edition has been postponed until further notice."
We've been working closely with Universal and the disc's producers on
an in-depth story on the Legend
DVD, and I can tell you wholeheartedly that it HAS NOT been cancelled.
It's just been delayed. I can also tell you that the delay isn't about
legal issues. They merely need more time to finish the disc to make it
as good as you all want it to be. That MAY (note the emphasis on may)
include adding a feature or two, and tweaking the technical aspects of
the release. The delay shouldn't be long and there's every reason to
believe that the title should be out before the end of the year. So hang
tight - Legend is still coming and
you're all gonna be the better off for this delay.
Now then... your editor is unfortunately still sick in bed, but I
thought I'd give you a look at a couple of other upcoming DVD releases,
Disney's Dinosaur: Collector's Edition
(2-discs - street date 1/30/01) and Criterion's The
Rolling Stones: Gimmie Shelter (11/14). Enjoy!
We'll be back tomorrow with several reviews and the new Trivia
Contest, so stay tuned...
Well... you may have heard the news and you've certainly heard the
rumors - three of MGM's just released DVDs are semi-defective, suffering
from the same "missing" film captions problem that their This
is Spinal Tap: Special Edition did. The titles in question
are Octopussy and The
Living Daylights from the Bond
Wave 3 set (and the single copies as well) and Delta
Force. I spoke yesterday with the studio, and rest assured,
MGM is aware of the problem and has, in fact, ALREADY corrected the
discs. That means all current shipments are of the corrected discs. BUT
some bad ones did get shipped early on. MGM is planning NO recall, but
I'm told if you did get a defective copy of ANY of these titles, you can
simply call their toll-free customer service line (1-877-MGM-4YOU) and
they will arrange to replace them with corrected copies free of charge.
Here's how to tell if your copy is good or not - on the top label on the
disc (the white seal sticker), if it just says the film's name, that's a
bad copy. The corrected copies say "4*Octopussy4*" with a "4*"
on either side of the title. That probably doesn't apply with the boxed
sets, but at least its a start.
Now then... today's another slow news day, and wouldn't you know it,
I've been sacked with a head cold. But
Entertainment's got another great
News update posted with details on lots more upcoming titles,
including Better Tomorrow 1 & 2
and Children of the Corn from
Anchor Bay, BMG's Annie Lennox: Totally Diva,
Chieftains: An Irish Evening, Eerie
Indiana (3 episodes of the TV series) and Eurythmics:
Greatest Hits, Buena Vista's Dinosaur
(2 versions), Columbia TriStar's Loser,
The Road to El Dorado from
DreamWorks, all those DVD-Audio titles from Warner Music and lots of
other great titles. Be sure to check it out.
We've got a few things for you today. First up, we've finally announced
the 13 winners in the
We had some 1,412 entries, and people seemed to enjoy this one a lot. We
have another contest that will be starting in the next couple of days,
so be sure to check back for it. In the meantime,
click here to
see the winners and answers.
We've posted the
transcript of another chat our friends over at the
Theater Forum held last week with Michael Felsher of Anchor Bay
Home Entertainment. Lots of good questions were asked and answered, and
a number of new title announcements were made. I have to say, I'm really
impressed with the quality of the work Anchor Bay has been doing on DVD.
Since many of their titles aren't A-list films, like Avis, they have to
try harder. And they're really releasing some fine discs in the process.
Speaking of Anchor Bay, we've just posted a review of one of their
Beyond: Limited Edition. Todd's also taken a look at another
big upcoming release from Warner -
Perfect Storm: Special Edition (street date November 14th). I
think you'll find both reviews, and their respective discs, worth a
We've also updated the
DVD Player sales numbers today, to add the 183,653 players that
were shipped to retailers by manufacturers in the first week of October
(ending 10/6). At this rate, we feel pretty confident in predicting that
the number of players in Region 1 will exceed 12 million by the end of
We've been getting a lot of good comments on RCE and Region Coding,
both from people for and against. Some of you seem to feel pretty
strongly about the issue. We can't reply to everyone who has sent in
their thoughts, but we do appreciate them nonetheless. We suggest
continuing the debate over at the
Theater Forum - our favorite place to hang on the Net for
enlightened DVD discussion (when we're not working on the Bits,
In other news,
has finally announced their DVD edition of Road
Trip for release on December 19th. The disc will include 30
seconds of unrated footage, deleted scenes, music videos and much more,
for an SRP of $26.98.
the details are finally in on Paramount's DVD release of the CBS
TV series Survivor (argh!).
Entitled Survivor Season One: The Greatest
and Most Outrageous Moments, the disc will street on January
9th, just 2 weeks before the next contest starts on CBS (for an SRP of
$19.95). I just don't have anything to say about this, expect that I'm
wondering when Big Brother Season One: Eddie
Brushes His Teeth and Other Thrilling Moments streets...
Finally today, a football comment or two. Before the start of this NFL
season, I had to endure countless predictions of disaster for my team,
the Minnesota Vikings, and now here they are, as yet undefeated at 6-0.
I'm not so stupid as to think it's gonna last - the Vikings are nothing
if not masters of the big choke. But it's sure nice while it lasts. I
know it has nothing to do with DVD, but DAMN I love football season. ;-)
Just a quick note this freaky Friday the 13th - today is the last day
in our Trivia
Contest, so get your entries in by 7 PM PDT this evening for
your chance to win copies of This is Spinal
Tap or The James Bond DVD
Collection - Wave 3 from MGM, or even a light-up 3D movie
poster frame from ShowOff Displays. And just so you know, another great
contest will kick up on Monday. Good luck!
Now then, as I mentioned in the last post, I spent yesterday afternoon
at the sound and video post production facilities of Disney studios,
talking with their DVD and home video staff about their plans for the
format in 2001. To start with, I was given a video and audio
demonstration of their Ultimate Toy Box
here) and The Fantasia Anthology
(which streets in November), as well as one of their other new "standard"
DVDs, Shanghai Noon. These were
used to illustrate the studio's new commitment to DVD quality and
extras. It's no mistake that Buena Vista chose to give 3-disc special
edition treatment to the Toy Story
and Fantasia films, as doing so
involves handling both their newest and oldest product at the same time.
They consider both sets a sort of opening shot - a statement of intent,
of you will - about their renewed commitment to the format.
Part of Disney's new seriousness about DVD comes from the fact of it's
impressive growth - 10 million players in the market in a little over 3
years. Their research also shows that DVD is aggressively moving into a
more mainstream market, which means many more "families" and
less technical folks - the VHS crowd - is getting into the format. So
the studio's future DVD plans are two-fold. They plan to cater to the
high-end film buffs, with the super amazing special editions, and the
casual movie fan as well, with less "tricked-out" versions
(witness the Ultimate Toy Box and
their movie-only Toy Story 2-Pack
as examples of this two-pronged attack). You'll be happy to know that
the studio has created a new DVD content production and development
group internally, so they can really add unique and valuable
supplemental material to their discs. They're committed to anamorphic
widescreen enhancement of all films that were exhibited widescreen in
theaters. But they also plan to provide full frame versions of many
films (particularly family films) whenever they can (their research
shows that Moms hate letterboxing). They're not going to abandon
widescreen, they're just going to try to serve both audiences. They're
also committed to adding more solid bonus content to even their standard
DVD releases, of which they say that Shanghai
Noon is a good early example. And the studio says they'll
continue to consider DTS audio on a title by title basis.
Of course, one of our biggest complaints (and yours as well) of Buena
Vista DVDs has been the mandatory promo trailers for other Disney DVD
product that play at the start of every "standard" grade disc
- even before you get to the menu screen. The studio has heard your
complaints and has developed what they believe will be a happy medium.
The trailers will still play when you put in the disc... if you take no
action. However, they are now authoring all their discs so that you can
skip the trailers immediately if you press the ">>" or "menu"
buttons on your remote. And you will soon notice that their DVDs will
begin sporting a message at the beginning of the trailers, informing you
that you can skip them by pressing "menu" at any time. We
think it's a fair compromise, even if it's not ideal. Of course,
multi-disc special editions will never feature such trailers.
Disney basically wants you all to get the following message: they
believe DVD is for real and that it is the future. Having made that
determination, their goal is to treat DVD as carefully as they currently
do their theatrical product. Going forward, the studio claims to have a
LOT of product in the development pipeline, including a wider variety of
family and niche product (like art, foreign and genre titles). Though
they were guarded about giving specifics, they say that they have a lot
more genuine special editions on the way, including more multi-disc sets
(the first of which will be Dinosaur
on January 31st, which they claim will have as much, if not more, cool
content than the Ultimate Toy Box
or the Fantasia Anthology). You're
going to see more classic animation and more direct to video animation (Lady
and the Tramp II anyone?). And they're going to kick off
their "Platinum" line of classic animated DVD special editions
in 2001 (tentative plans call for Snow White
to be the first title, but this could change). Their plan for the
Platinum series calls for 10 titles, released one per year.
I do wish they had been more candid about their upcoming product, to
give you all a sneak preview of things to come. But if their future
product is of the caliber of Toy Story
and Fantasia, I think we'll all be
very happy with their DVD work for 2001. By the way, I did find out some
interesting things about Toy Story
and Fantasia. First of all, the
supplemental disc (disc 3) of the Ultimate
Toy Box contains some 6 hours of video and audio programming
(not including the films on the other two discs, mind you), along with
over 2,000 still images. And the disc includes a funny Easter Egg as
has been updated accordingly). If anything, the Fantasia
Anthology is even more cool - the 3rd disc in that set
includes 11 hours of video and audio programming (again, not including
the film discs) and 2,200 still frames. All the discs are organized
using very classy, film-themed animated menus, which allow you to access
the material as if you were peeling the layers of an onion. Some of this
stuff is very cool. Fantasia
includes a commentary with Walt Disney himself, put together from audio
interviews he did about the film back in the day. And Fantasia
2000 also includes a "showcase program" which is a
7 or 8 minute home theater demonstration program of the best audio and
video material in the film. You're also going to see material from the
original film that has NEVER been seen before, including abandoned
segments, unused animation and more. It's all extremely cool. The really
great thing, is that if you're a serious fan or student of feature film
animation, these two sets are going to really cover every possible
aspect of the process.
So that's Disney's presentation for the coming year. I have to say, I
was impressed. Obviously, there wasn't a lot in the way of details about
upcoming releases. But I do believe Disney when they say that they're
serious about the format. The studio plans to take a leading role in the
DVD industry, and if their immediate upcoming releases are any
indication, I think it's safe to say they're well on the way.
Now then, have a great Friday the 13th and a terrific weekend. Rest
assured, we'll be back on Monday with a bunch of cool stuff for you, so
stay tuned. And you know I can't resist - Go Vikings!
Looking for DVD-Audio titles? Well... November 7th's the big day for
you. That's when Warner Music releases a spate of 7 DVD-Audio titles in
their catalog, priced at $24.98 each. Among the titles expected are Core
by Stone Temple Pilots, Tigerlily
by Natlie Merchant and Brain Salad Surgery
by Emerson Lake and Palmer. If only the players didn't still cost so
Entertainment's got a new
News update posted with details on lots more upcoming releases,
including Anchor Bay's All Creatures Great
and Small and Times Square:
Special Edition, Styx/REO
Speedwagon: Arch Allies: Live At Riverport from BMG, Annie,
Kikujiro and Trixie
from Columbia TriStar, Dragon's Lair 1 &
2, Space Ace and Traveller
for the PlayStation 2 from Digital Leisure, La
Femme Nikita from MGM, The
Conversation: Special Edition, Children
of a Lesser God, The Odd Couple,
An Officer and a Gentleman: Special Edition
and The Virgin Suicides from
Paramount and The Replacements: Special
Edition from Warner.
Also today, Don May, Jr. at Synapse
noticed something with a new DVD he just got his hands on and, out of
his love for the DVD buying public, wanted to alert us to a possible
problem. If you bought the new From Dusk to
Dawn double disc set with Full
Tilt Boogie included, you may have a defective disc. There
must have been a run of bum discs, and since people ran out to pick up
the set for the new documentary and didn't watch the film, they're
missing a glitch. First look at the data side of the FDTD
disc, and if you notice a milky swirling, then move to the next step.
Pop the disc into your player and check the film at about 70 to 71
minutes in - spoiler ahead (where Quentin as a vampire is snuffed by
George). Okay, end of spoiler. If your picture skips ahead a scene,
pixilates or freezes and shuts your player down... well, then you
obviously have a bad disc. We haven't talked to Disney yet (we will soon
- more in a moment), and we don't know the official word, so about your
only option at this point is to return the disc to your retailer and
hope the next one you get isn't faulty. Be warned, Don went through 6
discs at his local store on their player looking for a good one. So if
you're as pushy as Don, do the same to ensure vampiric satisfaction.
And finally this morning, DreamWorks has officially announced their DVD
special edition edition of the animated The
Road to El Dorado. The disc will street on December 12th, for
an SRP of $26.99. Included will be anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby
Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, director's commentary, an Elton John music
video for the film's theme song, a behind-the-scenes featurette, a
gallery of marketing materials, cast & crew bios, production notes,
a DVD-ROM brain teaser game and lots more. Should be worth a look.
Now then, as you know, last week I was invited to attend a studio
meeting with the folks from MGM, to talk about their plans for DVD in
2001. This afternoon, I'm heading up to Buena Vista Home Entertainment
to chat with them about their upcoming DVD work, and to get a preview
for all of you of what's ahead. We'll have that tomorrow, so be sure to
check back for it. And I'll be sure to ask that all-important question,
"Why forced trailers on your discs?" ;-)
Well... we've had a little change of plans as far as our DVD reviews.
And I don't think you'll mind one bit. We've gotten our hands on Disney
Story: The Ultimate Toy Box 3-disc DVD set, and we've got a
full in-depth review up for you now! You're gonna love this thing! It
streets in just 6 days (on October 17th) for an SRP of $69.99, and we
think it's worth EVERY penny. You get both Toy
Story and Toy Story 2
in amazing anamorphic widescreen video, mastered using the same
straight-digital transfer process Pixar created for their DVD of A
Bug's Life. You get terrific Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound
(Toy Story 2 even features 5.1
EX). And you get audio commentaries, deleted footage, trailers and more
supplemental materials that you can shake a stick at - enough to last
days and fill up an entire third disc (they even squeezed extras onto
the movie discs as well). This is just a blast - absolutely DO NOT miss
Before we get back to our review work today, we just wanted to say a
little more about this whole Regional Code Enhancement controversy. Some
of you (particularly our European readers) obviously feel very strongly
about this issue, and you might have misunderstood our position. Look...
we know that lots of you in Region 2 import movies from Region 1 because
the studios aren't being as aggressive in releasing them in your own
areas. And we at the Bits have
all-region players ourselves and import the occasional disc from Europe
or Japan. But as we mentioned yesterday, you simply can't deny the fact
that the studios have a right to protect their product. I mean, they OWN
the films - not us. Region-unlocked players or not, none of us here at
The Digital Bits expected that the
studios were going to just allow people to keep importing discs from
outside their regions forever. And those of you outside the U.S. should
keep in mind that you still have access to nearly 8,000 movies already
released here that don't use RCE. Also, RCE is still only in the testing
phase - there's no guarantee that it's going to become standard even at
Warner, and there's no guarantee that other studios will adopt it. But
it IS undeniably the studios' right to use it if they so choose, just
like it's their right to use Macrovision or CSS encryption. You might
not like it, but you don't own the film. Hey - we download MP3s from
Napster. Do we begrudge the record companies the right to sue Napster?
No. Would we begrudge them the right to encrypt their music or watermark
it to fight piracy? No. We might not like it, but we knew it was a
possibility going in... just like all of you who purchased all-region
players should have known that you were taking advantage of a loop-hole
that could be closed at any time.
We're not saying that you don't have very good and understandable
reasons for being angry about RCE. But the answer to your problem isn't
fighting RCE. You should all work together, gather up that energy and do
something positive with it - like lobby the studios to get more
aggressive about their DVD work in your particular region. Maybe the
worldwide day-and-date release of films and DVDs is the answer - we
happen to think it IS the future. But keep in mind that it takes time,
money and a LOT of effort to release a film worldwide simultaneously.
It's hard enough to release a good special edition DVD - now imagine
having to translate the menu pages in 20 or 30 other languages, and
create subtitle and language tracks in them too, and master it all
together so it works properly and replicate enough discs to meet
demand.... It takes time. And the demand for day-and-date DVD releases
here in the States means that the studios barely have enough time to get
a disc ready for release here on time. But the movie studios are NOT out
to cheat you. There's no conspiracy. They're not sitting back in their
offices, smoking stogies and plotting their next big screw. They're just
very scared of losing their way in an all digital world. You can't blame
them for that. Angry (and irrational) posts like the one on Ain't
it Cool are only gonna scare them more. You've got valid
concerns, so make them known (in a CONSTRUCTIVE way) to the studios.
Change CAN happen folks - we saw that with Divx. But you have to direct
your energy positively and you have to be patient. You've got to work
Reviews at last! I've just posted my in-depth reviews of Universal's
nifty Sci-fi thriller
Black (both the R-rated and unrated versions - street date
October 24th), as well as a recent favorite which is getting special
edition treatment from our friends at Synapse -
Days in Roswell (street date November 14th). Both are great
little flicks and we highly recommend them.
We'll be back with more reviews tomorrow (including Frequency
and our long-awaited Men in Black
review), so stay tuned...
In the meantime, a quick note - our friends over at Full Moon
Entertainment are hosting a big Halloween event this Friday the 13th,
from 6-10 PM PDT, at the Tower Records/Video store in Glendale, CA (on
Brand Ave. across from the Glendale Galleria). It's called "Full
Moon Over Tower" and there will be tons of prizes and special
giveaways. There will also be a series of celebrity appearances,
including some of the directors and stars from such films as Witchhouse
1&2, Subspecies 2-4,
and more. Should be a lot of fun, so if you're in the area, drop on by.
Now then... Todd and I have worked up another good rant on a bit of DVD
"news" that broke on the Net in the last few days. So here
Recently, Aint It Cool Newss
Coaxial News section posted a rant by El Cosmico concerning
rumored goings-on at Warner Bros, based on an "internal document"
that's been posted on the Net. He labels the rant: Warner Bros.
Out to Screw the Worldwide DVD Market? The answer to that question
would be a simple, No.
The screwing in question involves a new technology Warner
is developing. With what is to be called Regional Code Enhancement
(RCE), Warner Home Video will enhance the capabilities of the
regional code specification for DVD." According to the document, this
program is a response to the unauthorized practice of altering DVD video
hardware players so that they bypass the region code requirements for
DVD. This is happening on a more frequent basis in many territories, and
retailers are openly marketing these non-complying players with names
such as region free and multi zone.
Basically, everyone in the US with a store-bought player has absolutely
nothing to worry about. But if you altered your player somehow with a
kit, bought a pre-altered player off the Internet or have one of those
hacked DVD-ROM drives, you're possibly screwed. Then again, you'd be
screwed anyway, because if your altered player breaks down, the
manufacturer won't honor the warranty. The main people affected will be
those of you who live in a country outside Region 1 line, who have been
viewing imported Region 1 titles. RCE is a real technology, but it isn't
as close as you'd think. The memo posted the DVD
Debate website, and referenced in El Cosmicos rant,
claims that WHV will start applying RCE to discs scheduled for release
in the U.S. market beginning in late October. We've spoken with the
studio - these dates have been changed and, at the moment, RCE encoding
is just in the testing phase.
How will the technology work? Apparently, much like Macrovision, the
enhancement is an additional imbedded code within the bitstream on the
DVD disc, that will make the current regional coding much more robust.
From the memo: The RCE allows the disc to detect if a hardware
player is region specific (as required by the CSS licensing agreement),
or if it has been manufactured or altered in the market to be region
free. If the player is region free the RCE will not
allow the disc to play the program material. It will instead display a
message on the television advising the consumer that the machine is not
authorized to play this disc. It won't change the picture or sound
quality one bit, and if you live in Region 1, and have a store-bought
Region 1-encoded player, you'll never notice it. But if you play a
Region 1 disc on a multi-region player, the following text will pop up
on your monitor: THIS DVD PLAYER MAY HAVE BEEN ALTERED AND IS
UNABLE TO PLAY THIS DISC. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS DISC. DVD
PLAYERS AND DISCS ARE DESIGNED TO WORK IN CERTAIN REGIONS; THIS DISC IS
NOT COMPATIBLE WITH THIS PLAYER. PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL RETAILER OR
PLAYER MANUFACTURER FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION. WE APOLOGIZE FOR ANY
In his story, El Cosmico comments that, This is just the sort of
evil crap that those I commonly refer to as "muckety-mucks"
enjoy pulling on those of us who seek enjoyment out of life."
That's like complaining that The Bible
says you can't kill people because it's just "taking the fun out of
life. Regardless of what El Cosmico has to say, Warner is not
running a conspiracy or trying to destroy consumer interest in DVD.
Simply put, Warner has every right to protect their DVD product from
being exploited in markets other than what they were meant for and
comments like the above do nothing but inflame the masses for no reason
El Cosmico summarizes the situation thusly: This doesn't affect
people living in Region 1 nearly as much as people in Regions 2 and 3,
who buy most of the code-free devices. Of course, that's MILLIONS and
MILLIONS of people, most of them living in very industrialized
countries, with LOTS of spending cash. Region-free players are VERY
widespread in these two Regions. I really can't wait to see their
reaction if this becomes widespread. Will they just start buying Region
1 and eschew product from their own Region? Will the French farmers and
teamsters blockade the seaports? Huh? First, multi-region players
aren't sanctioned by the manufactures, so just by buying one, you're
already on your own. If you live in a Region outside Region 1, you've
still got your own Region's discs to watch. Since this hasn't even been
implemented yet, all the Region 1 discs released thus far will still
work just fine. And we're just guessing that French farmers and
teamsters, as much as they love their DVD, have better things to do than
revolt because they aren't getting the American version of The
Perfect Storm or The Patriot.
Look... movies cost a lot of money to make. They also take time and
effort to market and release. Let's say, for example, The
Perfect Storm hasn't been released in theaters in Germany yet
(it has, I know, but this is just an example). The DVD comes out early
next month here in the States, and Joe Schmo in Germany buys the DVD
from a source that gets him imported Region 1 discs. When the
German-licensed DVD comes out in Germany later, Joe isn't going to buy
it. The company that licensed the film from Warner loses money and
complains to WHV, who therefore has to figure out a way of protecting
their investment. Warner also distributes other studios' films in
foreign countries, so they lose money when they release The
Patriot in theaters in Germany, but loads of people have
already seen it on imported Region 1 DVDs. Bottom line - Warner and the
other studios have every right to protect their product.
What about the issue of ethics? The Internet has a bad rap these days
as it is, and silly posts like the one found on AICN
only serve to justify that reputation. Isn't it a little questionable to
be posting an inter-company memo on the Net at all? Next thing you know,
some wiseguy will be posting stolen storyboards from Star
Wars: Episode II (oops - already been done). Its
We've become selfish, all of us. We want EVERYTHING and we want it
RIGHT NOW and to hell with anything or anyone who stands in our way.
This kind of pressure is so bad, that it recently forced director P.T.
Anderson to give us a deleted scene on the Boogie
Nights set that you could tell on the commentary he simply
didn't want to give us. We're all going to have to change our way of
thinking a little bit, because it's just not fair to the studios or the
artists who make these films. DVD fans need to pick their battles,
folks. And this one just isn't worth fighting.
- Todd Doogan and Bill Hunt
Well... I feel like an old man now. I celebrated my 33nd birthday on
Saturday and even had a weird little visit from a family member to make
it... well, I'm not gonna say perfect. Unusual - how's that? Probably
everyone has at least one relative that just is like the black sheep in
the herd. You know what I mean? You choose your friends, but you're
pretty much stuck with your family. Anyway, it made for a fascinating
We've got reviews coming this evening, and all through the week - some
really great new and upcoming titles. And I'll say no more until we post
We've also got something cool for you right now - how about a look at
upcoming DVD cover artwork for DreamWorks' The
Road to El Dorado (12/12), Warner's Space
Cowboys (TBD) and The Replacements
(11/28 - WHEW, that was fast!), Paramount's Rules
of Engagement (10/17) and a better look at HBO's The
Sopranos: The Complete First Season (12/12). Enjoy!
For those of you who are into the thriving used DVD market, our friends
at Thunder DVD
have a pretty good thing going for you. They now buy and sell used DVD
titles - a good way to catch up on titles you missed and maybe make a
few bucks on titles you want to get rid of. We think this is pretty
cool, so do check it out.
Finally, this morning we're launching a GREAT new
There will be 13 winners in all, with each winner taking home one of the
following great prizes: a light-up, 3D back-lit movie poster case from
Displays, one of three DVD copies of MGM's This
is Spinal Tap, or one of nine copies of MGM's The
James Bond DVD Collection - Wave 3 (which includes Diamonds
are Forever, The Living Daylights,
From Russia with Love, Octopussy,
A View to a Kill and You
Only Live Twice). The contest will run until 7 PM PDT on this
Friday, October 13th. That's 13 winners on Friday the 13th! So get your
entries in fast, folks!
First up, wouldn't you know it? We posted a review of Columbia
Special Edition yesterday and forgot to mention it in our
daily column! Anyway, it's a great sports movie - and a great football
movie - from the folks who brought you Hoosiers.
I really think you'll enjoy it, so do check out the review and the disc.
Today is a really slow news day so far, but we've officially received
DVD Player sales numbers for the final week in September -
617,952. That makes September another record month with 1,296,280
players shipped into retail here in the States. AND... it brings the
format total to date to some 10,516,075 players. 20 million here we
Okay, there IS one little bit of DVD news.
basketball star Monty Mack was arrested Thursday on shoplifting
charges - apparently he walked out of a Kmart store with seven DVD
movies hidden in his sweat pants. I'm not even gonna go there. I know
that's not exactly the kind of DVD news you were looking for, but hey -
we didn't make this up! ;-)
Today is going to be a light post, because we're trying to ready a
whole slew of new DVD reviews to post. In the last week, we've received
a score of great upcoming DVD titles, and we want to get as many of them
looked at for you as possible. We've also got a new Trivia
Contest coming on Monday. So have a great weekend and we'll
see you Monday with a bunch of great stuff! Stay tuned...