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page updated: 3/15/01



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/5/01 - 1/11/00)


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2/5/01

So how was the weekend? We've been very busy here at the Bits. We're getting ready to blow out a whole bunch of DVD reviews, starting with 11 discs today! We're also debuting a new review format that we're going to use on occasion here at the site - Todd Doogan's DVD Fanboy series. This more compact style will allow us to review more titles, in particular, titles that have some aspect in common. Todd's first turn as the Fanboy features MGM's recent Soul Cinema series of "blaxploitation" films on DVD, and includes his thoughts on I'm Gonna Git You Sucka, Cotton Comes to Harlem, Sheba, Baby, Friday Foster, Black Mama, White Mama, Slaughter, Slaughter's Big Ripoff, Black Caesar, Foxy Brown, Coffy and Truck Turner. So if you bad enough, if you got game... click on over to Todd's Fanboy and check 'em out. And if you've got questions when you're through, talk to the hand...

Todd Doogan is DVD Fanboy!

Now then... Warner's making news for topping Disney in the total number of DVDs and VHS tapes sold in 2000 (click here for that story via Yahoo).

Word is, actress Sigourney Weaver has landed a deal to star in and produce Alien 5 for 20th Century Fox. The film will be produced by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon (click here for more on that). Not to diss on Buffy, but short of Ridley Scott coming back to take the reigns, I don't hold out much hope for the results. Why the hell can't Fox just do that Alien vs. Predator film we all want, anyway?

Image Entertainment's always helpful DVD News page has been updated with information on a slew of new, Image-exclusive titles (which we listed in the Rumor Mill on Friday). Do check 'em out.

And finally, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of My Life and Princess Caraboo on April 24th. Both DVDs will SRP for $19.95. I sure wish Columbia would get around to releasing Wind on DVD. How far back in the catalog can that be? The film stars Matthew Modine, Jennifer Grey and Stellan Skarsgård, was directed by Carroll Ballard (Never Cry Wolf and The Black Stallion) and was produced by Francis Ford Coppola. It's all about the America's Cup challenge, and features some of the best sailing footage you'll ever see. Anyone else want that on 5" disc as much as I do? My laserdisc copy just doesn't cut it.

Stay tuned...

(EVEN LATER UPDATE - 2/2/01 - 10:30 PM PST)

We've just announced the winners for Trivia Contest #2 (see above). Congratulations to those of you who won, and thanks to all 1,459 people who entered. We'll have another contest soon, so stay tuned. And be sure to click here to see the answers.

Now then... we've just posted three new DVD reviews. Todd's taken a look at Synapse's Fatal Frames: Special Edition and Troma's Terror Firmer: Special Edition 2-disc set. And Brian's given USA's Waking the Dead a look as well.

Finally, we've also updated The Rumor Mill to include a whole slew of great (and official) DVD title announcements, including Men of Honor, Billy Elliot, The Magnificent Seven, Duets, Ghost, Coneheads and all those May MGM titles as well.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/2/01 - 3 PM PST)

We're still going at those reviews, but I just HAD to squeeze this in - we've got Upcoming DVD Artwork on almost all of MGM's May DVD releases! This includes The Magnificent Seven: SE (which will feature audio commentary with James Coburn, Eli Wallach and Walter Mirisch, a photo gallery and more - SRP $19.98), Some Like it Hot: SE (which includes a new Tony Curtis interview, a featurette, never-before-seen photos and more - SRP $24.98 - note that a standard edition will also be available for $14.95), Stargate SG-1: Season One 5-disc boxed set (which includes behind-the-scenes featurettes and interviews and all season one episodes - SRP $89.96), City Slickers, Eight Men Out, A Family Thing, Mississippi Burning, The Pope of Greenwich Villiage, Throw Momma from the Train, The Man Who Loved Women, Amos & Andrew, Blame it on Rio, Canadian Bacon, Frankie & Johnny, A Home of Our Own, The Mean Season, Posse, Shag, Southern Comfort and Winter People. Whew! Note that we have our titles organized by the street date listed on MGM's official press releases (retailers may have different dates listed). We'll leave you with that for now... as well as a larger scan of the Stargate SG-1: Season One box.

MGM's Stargate SG-1 Season One boxed set (5-discs, street date May 22nd)

Don't forget that Trivia Contest #2 ends tonight, so get your entries in fast! Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/2/01 - 12:30 PM PST)

Well, it's been kind of a weird 24 hours here at the Bits. We HAD a new special feature story ready to post yesterday afternoon, which was at first delayed until this morning and then kaboshed altogether. I'm not going to go into details, other than to say that this kind of thing does happen on occasion. But, sadly, I've got considerably less respect for the particular studio involved. Enough said.

In any case, we've luckily got a whole mess of reviews that are getting formatted for posting as we speak, so we should be back soon with that. And in the meantime, I thought you guys might appreciate this - a MUCH better look at the cover artwork for Columbia TriStar's upcoming Lawrence of Arabia: Special Edition 2-disc set. We've updated the Upcoming DVD Artwork section with better art for the titles as well. Cool no?

One last note - some people are experiencing playback problems with DVD copies of Dinosaur and The Kid from Buena Vista. These include "stuttering", "sudden pauses" and menu features which can't be accessed. The problems SEEM to be primarily with Sony DVD players, although they may be more widespread. Buena Vista is aware of the problem and is investigating.

Stay tuned...

2/1/01

The winners for Contest #1 have been announced. Congratulations to all, and you can find the answers to the contest by clicking here. Don't forget that you can still enter the Contest #2, which gives you a chance to win copies of What Lies Beneath as well as posters signed by director Robert Zemeckis, until Friday.

Also, we've had a lot of people asking which Columbia TriStar titles are involved in the reprice we mentioned yesterday. Effective immediately, the following 15 titles are repriced to $19.95:

Air Force One, Arlington Road, As Good as it Gets, Blue Streak, Bram Stoker's Dracula, A Few Good Men, Flatliners, Fools Rush In, Ghostbusters, Godzilla, Mask of Zorro, My Best Friend's Wedding, Sleepless in Seattle: Special Edition, Starship Troopers, Taxi Driver: Special Edition

On March 6th, 15 more titles will be repriced to $19.95:

A League of Their Own, A River Runs Through It, Anaconda, Boyz N the Hood, Groundhog Day, Jumanji: Collector's Series, Legends of the Fall: Special Edition, Men in Black: Collector's Series, Seven Years in Tibet, Sniper, Striking Distance, The Cable Guy, The Deep End of the Ocean, The Freshman, Wild Things

Also on March 6th, 15 additional titles will be repriced to $14.95:

Baby Geniuses, Beverly Hills Ninja, Body Double, Double Team, Hudson Hawk, Johnny Mnemonic, Knock Off, No Mercy, Replacement Killers, Revenge, Solo, Spice World, Starman, The Big Hit, The Net

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

(LATE UPDATE - 1/31/01 - 2:30 PM PST)

We've added 2 more reviews (of 3 more discs) today. Greg Suarez has been busy delving into vampire lore with Image's original and new special edition DVD versions of F.W. Murnau's 1922 classic Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror. He's also given Werner Herzog's 1979 remake a look, Nosferatu the Vampyre, which is available on DVD from Anchor Bay.

In other DVD news today, you'll be happy to learn that Columbia TriStar is cutting the prices on some 45 of their catalog titles. The first 15 titles, which include As Good As it Gets, Air Force One and the Sleepless in Seattle: Special Edition, are dropping to $19.95 from $24.95 or $27.95. These prices are currently in effect. And on March 6th, the remaining 30 titles will be repriced, including the Jumanji and Men in Black: Collector's Series DVDs. Some titles will be cut to as low as $14.95. Good news for consumers!

Also today, Warner Bros. Publications has revealed that they're going to be releasing DVD "mini" discs, which are 3" discs (rather than full-size 5" discs) that are allowed for in the DVD spec. The "minis" will be used for music, instructional and children's material (rumor is, one of the first will be a DVD single for a Madonna song).

Don't forget - our first Trivia Contest ends tonight at 7 PM Pacific (the one were we're giving away the DVD player and all those other goodies), so get your entries in quick to be eligible!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/31/01 - Midnight PST)

Well... seems like it's been a while since I reviewed anything here at the Bits, so I figure I'm overdue. I thought I'd jump back into the ring swinging - here's my take on Fox's recent 7-disc The X-Files: The Complete Second Season on DVD. That ought to keep you chewing for a few hours at least. ;-)

Stay tuned...!

1/30/10

We'll be back later with more, but I wanted to post this as soon as possible. Anyone in the mood for a little more Upcoming DVD Artwork? Good, because we've just posted the cover art for Disney's 102 Dalmatians (which will be available in dual widescreen and full frame versions on April 3rd), as well as Fox's May 15th war bonanza - Von Ryan's Express, Twelve O'Clock High, The Sand Pebbles and the new Tora! Tora! Tora!: Special Edition. Hhhmmm... there wouldn't happen to be a big World War II movie slated to appear in theaters in May, would there? Hhmmmm...

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/29/01 - 4:30 PM PST)

We've got more Upcoming DVD Artwork for you - better artwork for all the recently announced Fox titles, as well as Nine Months, The Natural, Bounce, Krull: Special Edition, True Believer, The Right Temptation, The Story of Jacob and Joseph, Children of the Corn, the final Girlfight art and Postcards from the Edge.

Also, we've updated The Rumor Mill to include a slew of new title announcements, including The Natural, Bounce, Krull, Lawrence of Arabia, Cleopatra, 102 Dalamatians and more.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/29/01 - 1 PM PST)

Everybody enjoy the Superbowl? Luckily, the power companies here in Southern California managed to keep the power on so we could see it. But things are getting kinda dicey here power-wise, so if the Bits goes down for a day or two, I'll be because we don't have power to upload!

We've got some great news for you anime fans - the pioneering anime Akira is currently undergoing a major, multi-million dollar restoration by (appropriately) Pioneer Entertainment. The film is being mastered in high-definition video and will be fully digitally restored, using a brand new interpositive of the film. Akira will be THX-certified, its original audio components will be re-mixed to Dolby Digital 5.1 and a new English dub will be created from a new translation of the original Japanese script. A theatrical release is planned for April 2001, and you can expect a DVD release shortly thereafter. VERY cool.

Also today, we've kicked off a 2nd Trivia Contest this afternoon, and FIVE lucky winners will each take home a copy of DreamWorks' What Lies Beneath on DVD. Not only that, but each winner will also get a copy of the film's theatrical poster personally signed by director Robert Zemeckis! The contest will run until 7 PM PST on Friday, February 2nd, so get your entries in fast!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/26/01 - 4 PM PST)

Well, we've just added the next review in our look at The Films of Oliver Stone on DVD. This time, Brian's looking at the Fox and Warner versions of Wall Street. We've also posted Dan's review of Paramount's Children of a Lesser God. Here's a funny story the latter film reminds me of. When I first met my wife Sarah (way back in Minneapolis in 1986), she knew I was a big movie fan, so she wanted to impress me by taking me to see an "art" film. She bought a pair of tickets and we show up at this little art house cinema in St. Paul to see... The Reanimator. Now if you've ever seen Reanimator, you know it's not exactly a great first date flick. It's a really gruesome horror/gore-fest, about a guy who makes dead people come back to life. Sarah was mortified, and Children of a Lesser God was the second film we ever saw together. Or maybe I should say, it was the FIRST film we ever saw together that didn't involve a guy who gets strangled by his own intestines. Things obviously worked out, because we've been married for 10 years now. But I laugh every time I think about that first date... ;-)

Speaking of Sarah, she's just posted the second Trivia Contest for January. It's a pretty easy one, and you don't want to miss it because the prizes are really great. One Grand Prize winner will take home a Pioneer DV-434 DVD player (thanks to Etronixs.com), a pair of DTS and Dolby Digital sound plaques and a DVD Marquee display (thanks to ShowOff Displays), a Trio for DVD care kit (from CD Playright), a copy of When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition (thanks to MGM), a copy of The Nutty Professor 2: Collector's Edition (from Universal), and A Better Tomorrow 1 & 2 (courtesy of Anchor Bay)! 4 Runners-Up will also each get copies of the 4 DVD titles. How's that for a good bunch of winnings? The contest will run until next Wednesday, January 31st, so get your entries in quick.

We'll be back Monday with more reviews. Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/26/01 - 11 AM PST)

Our normal post daily post should be ready to go soon. In the meantime, I just wanted to thank you all for sending e-mails regarding Warner's 2-disc Snapper case. We've been forwarding all of them, and suffice it to say that the studio's definitely gotten the message again. I've been assured by Warner that the disc-in-sleeve idea was a best-available, temporary solution for the Stone Collections, but that the studio understands that it's disliked and they will NOT use it again. Warner remains committed to the Snapper package, but they're currently investigating a number of new configurations and alternate solutions for future 2-disc releases. So you Superman and Blade Runner fans can all breathe a sigh of relief!

In the meantime, we'd like to ask that you please NOT send any more comments about the packaging... because we've gotten so many that OUR e-mail server is starting to meltdown! ;-) Thanks for the feedback everyone - we're glad to know that we can always count on our readers in situations like this. No question about it - you guys rock. And know that we're always happy to make sure that your collective voice is heard by the industry.

Back soon...!

1/25/01

We've added another review to our look at The Films of Oliver Stone on DVD. This time, Todd compares Warner's new Natural Born Killers disc with Trimark's unrated Director's Cut.

Also today, we're working on another DVD-related issue with Warner. Those of you who have seen their terrific Oliver Stone Collections have, no doubt, experienced the custom 2-disc Snapper packaging for the new special editions of Any Given Sunday, Nixon, JFK and The Doors. Basically, one disc goes in the Snapper as usual, and the other goes into a little envelope, which then slides into the front cardboard flap of the package. It's as awkward and inelegant a packaging solution as we've ever seen, and it's a real pain to deal with. We've been getting a lot of e-mail from people who dislike it as much as we do, and who are afraid the forthcoming 2-disc releases of Superman, Blade Runner and others will suffer the same packaging fate. We've made Warner aware of your concerns, but they've asked us for your feedback. So if you feel strongly about this issue, e-mail your comments on the packaging to us and we'll forward them on to the studio.

By the way... while we were on the phone with Warner, they did confirm that episodes of the TV series Babylon 5 will be released on DVD this year (but not before summer, and no other details are yet available). Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/24/01 - 11 AM PST)

Just a quick update. When I posted our review of The Doors last night, I mistakenly indicated that the new 2-disc edition's video is anamorphic widescreen. It isn't, although Warner's packaging SEEMS to indicate that it is (but if you look closely, the diagram is REALLY showing you how the non-anamorphic disc will look on a 16x9 display - it's very easy to make the mistake of thinking that it's indicating anamorphic enhancement). That's gonna cause some heartache for fans. The error was mine, inadvertently introduced when I edited Todd and Greg's review. I hadn't seen the disc myself, but when I was editing their text, and saw that they hadn't mentioned anamorphic video, I figured they musta been on drugs or something to miss it. Guess I was the one on drugs (or at least suffering from severe lack of sleep). Anyway, MY bad - the review has been corrected. Sorry for the confusion... ;-)

Also, just FYI, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Krull on April 3rd. The anamorphic widescreen disc will include audio commentary by director Peter Yates, editor Ray Lovejoy and stars Ken Marshall and Lysette Anthony, a "behind-the-scenes" audio commentary (basically a reading of the Cinefantastique article), the original featurette Journey to Krull (narrated by Tom Bosley), theatrical trailers, a Marvel Comics video adaptation, a gallery of some 247 photos, cast portraits, additional behind-the-scenes material, design and concept art, vintage advertising and filmographies. Audio is English Dolby Digital 5.1 (with 2.0 audio in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese). SRP is $24.95.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/24/01 - Midnight PST)

All right - we've got more DVD reviews for you today! But not just any reviews... we're taking an up-close look at Warner's new Oliver Stone Collection, and all of The Films of Oliver Stone on DVD. We've got the first 4 reviews up now, including details on all existing DVD versions of JFK, The Doors, Born on the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth. And we'll have more Stone reviews (and others as well) throughout the week..

Stay tuned!

1/23/01

You know... there's just not enough hours in the day. Todd and all the guys and me are working very hard on a bunch of great content for the site - new reviews, several more "behind-the-scenes" filmmaker interviews and, yes... the CES photo gallery. But with so many great discs coming out, it's a battle to keep up with it all! Nevertheless, tonight at Midnight, we're posting the first of our reviews of The Oliver Stone Collection from Warner. Some of the 2-disc special editions in this set have so much content that it takes most of a day just to get through it all, much less review it. But get through it we are, so check back tonight (or should I say tomorrow?) for that.

The big piece of news today is that Columbia TriStar has officially announced the DVD release of The Natural for April 3rd. The film will be in anamorphic widescreen, with English Dolby Digital 4.0 (and 2.0 audio in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese). Extra materials will include The Heart of the Natural documentary (featuring interviews with Cal Ripken, Jr.), filmographies, trailers and a book insert which reproduces archival newspapers clippings. The SRP for the disc is $24.95.

Now for a clarification. I made a comment yesterday in reference to the upcoming Clerks: Uncensored: "yeah... another one - hopefully the FINAL one." Some people assumed I thought this was a re-release of the film Clerks on DVD (it's actually a DVD release of the short-lived animated series). What I was talking about was the disc's cover artwork. We've seen no less than 3 different versions of the artwork, and I've had to repost it in the Upcoming DVD Art section each time. That's it. So you guys can all stop e-mailing me about it... ;-)

Finally, before I get back to working on the Stone reviews, I wanted to point you toward something that I think is pretty cool, and which many of you filmmakers out there might find useful. If any of you use a Palm Pilot, there's a number of great pieces of software you might want to check out. The first is Chalk, which is a handy utility for developing story outlines on the Palm. Next is Ginger, which is a mini (and portable) storyboarding utility. PalmSlate allows you to log film and video footage on set, shot by shot and take by take (you can even keep track of timecode numbers!). And finally, Armadillo lets you create a database of all the people working on your production - their phone numbers, what they do, the scenes you need them for... you name it. All of these Palm applications are freeware (with the exception of Chalk, which can be purchased for only $5 online - a demo is available). And all of them can be downloaded from the author's website, Engine 16. I've been playing with these programs for the last few days, and I think they're pretty cool (and useful). If you think you might be interested, I'd definitely recommend checking them out. Can't beat free, right? And if you do try them, be sure to tell C.A. that Bill from the Bits says hello!

See you back here in a few hours...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/22/01 - 7 PM PST)

We've got a MAJOR update of our Upcoming DVD Artwork section for you this afternoon - almost 40 new covers including a lot of the Fox titles! Here's a list of what's new: 9 to 5, Absolutely Fabulous Collection, Alien Nation, Apostate, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Clerks: Uncensored (yeah... another one - hopefully the FINAL one), The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, Creepshow 2, Death on the Nile, DeepStar Six, Eisenstein: The Sound Years (Criterion), Enemy Mine, Evil Under the Sun, For the Boys, The World According to Garp, Giant, Girlfight, Immortality, The Killing Fields: Special Edition, La Guerre est Finie, Lucky Numbers, Lust in the Dust, Maximum Overdrive, Myst (Nuon), Norma Rae, Phish, Power Rangers Double Feature, Reindeer Games: Exclusive Director's Cut, The Rocky Collection, The Specials, The Sword in the Stone, The Tao of Steve, Tapeheads, Terror Firmer (Unrated), That Girl, Volume 1, The Truth About Cats and Dogs, Working Girl and Zardoz. Whew!

Back tomorrow...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/22/01 - 11 AM PST)

You fans of 20th Century Fox's DVD efforts are going to be pretty happy with this news... they've just announced a whole slew of great DVDs for March, April and May! Here's what to expect (we'll list extra features where known): 9 to 5 (16x9, street date 4/17), Alien Nation (16x9, "making of" featurette, trailer, 3/27), Enemy Mine (16x9, trailer, production stills, 3/27), For the Boys (16x9, 4/17), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie/Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (double feature, 16x9, "making of" featurette, trailer, 3/13), Nine Months (16x9, 4/17), Norma Rae (16x9, 4/17), Sand Pebbles (16x9, 5/15), Tora, Tora, Tora!: Special Edition (16x9, audio commentary, "making of" featurette, trailer, 5/15), The Truth About Cats and Dogs (16x9, 4/17), Twelve O'Clock High (5/15), Von Ryan's Express (16x9, 5/15), Working Girl (16x9, 4/17), Zardoz: Special Edition (16x9, audio commentary, trailer and radio spots, production stills and artwork, 3/27). Is that a great batch, or what?!

We'll be back again later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

1/20/01

Start the countdown, space cadets! Warner's Red Planet blasts off on DVD on March 27th (SRP $19.98). And you can now find the disc's cover art in our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. Enjoy!

1/19/01

Anyone want a look at the DVD cover artwork for Charlie's Angels? We've got that and 10 other new covers for you to check out in the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. You'll also find 32 Films About Glenn Gould, Traffic, The Crew, Criterion's Do the Right Thing, The Legend of Drunken Master, The Prisoner, Sets 3 & 4, The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night, CNN Election 2000 and the final art for DreamWorks' Almost Famous.

Also on tap for today are more reviews from Greg - both the standard and limited editions of Anchor Bay's Manhunter and Image's The Cranberries: Beneath the Skin - Live in Paris. Don't miss 'em.

We've also updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to move Lawrence of Arabia and Some Like it Hot into the "officially announced" category. And another title has been moved into the "in production" category - save room for a box of chocolates 'round the holidays... ;-)

We're going to be working on a LOT of great stuff over the weekend, so check back Monday for more. See you then!

1/18/01

We've got more reviews for you today, as promised. Greg gets down with Paramount's new The Untouchables, and compares both the original and new "enhanced widescreen" versions of Fox's The Last of the Mohicans as well. Dan's doing a little comparing of Fox discs too - the original and new "enhanced widescreen" versions of Predator. Todd's also checked in again today with a Canadian import - Black Christmas, which was one of the first films of the teen slasher genre.

And we're very pleased to welcome a new reviewer to The Digital Bits staff - Brian Ford Sullivan. Some of you might know Brian as that TV critic extraordinaire, The Futon Critic. You may also recognize Brian for his commentary on ESPN's website concerning the New Orleans Saints. Always hard at work in front of a TV, Brian offered to send us some DVD reviews - and who are we to say no? You can read his first disc review for us now - Fox Lorber's Telling Lies in America. Brian's got lots of good stuff to say, and we think he makes a great addition to the Bits staff. Be sure to drop him a line and say hello. Welcome on board, Brian!

And finally today... could USA Entertainment's DVD version of Traffic be due to street on June 14th? It's a mite early to be revealing that information, given that the film just opened in theaters. But Amazon.com seems to think 6/14 is the day (you can already pre-order the disc - SRP $26.95). Go figure.

Stay tuned... ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 1/17/01 - 9:30 PM PST)

We've just posted 4 new DVD reviews for you. Todd's taken a hard look at Warner's controversial (and terrific) Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker disc, Dan Kelly's got a long-overdue review of Universal's U-571: Collector's Edition (which features one of the best DTS tracks we've EVER heard) and Greg Suarez has some thoughts on MGM's new When Harry Met Sally: Special Edition and Fox's new "Enhanced Widescreen" version of The Thin Red Line (which really only adds a DTS track to the mix). And look for our reviews of Disney's 2-disc Dinosaur and the complete Oliver Stone Collection in the coming days. We're going to be working hard to get caught up on our review work around here, so stay tuned...

See you tomorrow!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/17/01 - 12:30 PM PST)

We'll have another update later this afternoon. But we wanted to sneak a quick one in now, to let you all know that our Warner TV DVD campaign was a big success. Warner Home Video has definitely received your message and they're evaluating their plans now. We'll be sure to post an update on how this effort changes their TV DVD releases as soon as we can - they've promised to keep us to the minute on things. With any luck, before the year is out we'll get Friends: The Complete First Season and more South Park discs, picking up where Rhino left off. To give you an idea of just how successful the campaign was, the studio got so many e-mails that it bogged down their e-mail server! They've had to shut down the address for the time being. So please don't send any more messages (although we may do this kind of e-mail feedback campaign again in the future). Just rest assured that they've gotten the message we all wanted to send. Well done, folks!

Now then... we've FINALLY gotten the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers in for all of December (and thus, all of 2000). The final format to date total (as of 12/29) is 13,922,331 players in the States. And CEA is currently compiling the first week of January numbers, which are sure to tip the format over the 14 million mark. Stay tuned...

Also, we've updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the latest release version (January 14th), so be sure to check that out. And we've updated the Upcoming DVD Artwork section as well - no new scans but tons of new ordering links on the existing ones for titles as far off as May.

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

1/16/01

All right - it's back to business here at the Bits. Today we've got the second part of our report on this years VSDA and CES, with a look at the hardware side of DVD. We'll discuss the current state of the DVD format (with the latest sales numbers direct from the Consumer Electronics Association), including the launch of DVD-Audio, the future of recordable DVD and what to expect from the coming year for the format as a whole. We've also got a look at what 2001 and beyond holds as far as Digital Television (DTV) and High-Definition Television (HDTV). Think of this as your primer for the year to come on DVD and DTV. And we're almost ready to post the Picture Gallery as well, with images from both shows.

So we're going to get back to work. But before we do, we've received an update from Warner Bros on the e-mail campaign about the studio's TV series DVD product. Warner has received more than 700 e-mails from you - almost all polite and professional - and the overwhelming consensus seems to be that you want your TV product (including Friends) released on DVD in complete, season by season chunks (none of this lame "best of" stuff). Warner is rather surprised at this response, and assures me that they're taking your input very seriously. In fact, I think the words they used were, "To say their responses will be taken into consideration is a gross underestimation!" So well done to all of you! Keep those e-mails to Warner coming at: bestoffriendspublicity@warnerbros.com

Be aware, however, that Warner's e-mail servers are a bit overwhelmed, so if you get your e-mail bounced back, wait a few hours and try again.

And, in one last piece of Warner news, don't forget that tomorrow is the big night for the studio's Perfect Storm Virtual Theater online event with director Wolfgang Petersen. Fans from around the world will be able to participate in a simultaneous full-length screening of the film (via DVD-ROM) and live chat with Peterson. The fun starts at 6:00 PM PST tomorrow night - 1/17/01. To participate, you'll need a computer equipped with a DVD-ROM drive, The Perfect Storm DVD and an Internet connection. A cue sent by Warner Home Video (via the Internet) will trigger the movie to begin at the same time for everyone on your computers. You'll then view the movie together at DVD quality in the "Virtual Theater" and you'll be able to ask Petersen questions while you watch (note that without a DVD-ROM drive, you will be able to participate in the chat only). You can register for the event by going to "Online Events" in your Perfect Storm disc's DVD-ROM menu, or by visiting the following website (note that the URL is case sensitive): http://www.warnervideo.com/Perfectstormevents/. Users can also submit a question in advance or find additional information at the site.

We'll be back tomorrow with some new DVD reviews, so stay tuned...!

1/15/01

You know... there must be some kind of cosmic hex on the Minnesota Vikings. Would it really hurt the Universe for the Vikings to win just one Superbowl? Maybe it would. Maybe if the Vikings got to the 2 minute warning of the big game and were actually winning, the very fabric of space and time would unravel. Okay... by now its obvious to most of you that I'm not talking about DVD. I'm sure many of you are aware that I'm a fan of Minnesota Vikings football. In fact, I've been a fan for as long as I can remember. And after watching the Vikings annual post season choke yesterday - a 41-0 disaster vs. the Giants - I'm more certain than ever that I'm gonna die an angry old Vikings fan. I was actually okay after watching the game. In fact, when a friend asked me Saturday if I was ready for the game, I said, "I'm ready for them to lose, but I'm not ready for them to win." So I was okay after the game ended. I went to see Finding Forrester with some friends - all was well. No problem. Then, like an idiot, I read this story on NFL.com about the Vikes' loss. The story contained this passage:

"To many outside of Minnesota, the Vikings' history is defined by its defeats. Four in the Super Bowl, the most of any NFL team without a win. Six postseason losses in a row from 1989-96. The "Hail Mary" loss to the Dallas Cowboys in 1975. The crushing overtime defeat to the Atlanta Falcons in the 1998 NFC Championship Game, when the Vikings became the only 15-1 team in NFL history to fall short of a Super Bowl. None were as thorough and demoralizing as this."

That sound you can't hear is blood coming out of my ears. You know, being a Vikings fan is like have a bad rash you can get rid of. Why am I a Vikes fan? I don't know - I couldn't explain it if I tried. And probably a lot of you don't care much. But I know there are a lot of you Vikings fans out there who feel just like I do this morning. So this needs saying - God dammit, I'm a Vikings fan, and I'm proud of it. And I'm gonna die a Vikings fan. And if they never win a Superbowl, so what. So be it. Superbowls are for pussys anyway.

Now then... we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest. And I promise that we'll be back tomorrow with everything we've been working on this weekend. But today... well, you'll forgive me if today... I'm taking a badly needed mental health day. Anyone know how you stop blood from coming out of your ears? ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 1/12/01 - 4 PM PST)

Okay... we've just published the first of our VSDA/CES updates. This one features a look at all the upcoming DVD release information we uncovered at the show, as well as a rundown of the nominees and winners at the 2nd Annual DVD Festival Awards, which were announced Monday. Our second report will take a look at the state of the DVD format, based on visits to CES and the DVD Entertainment Group's annual reception. Finally, we'll post the VSDA/CES Photo Gallery, with a look at some of the goings-on at both shows. We'll be posting all weekend until we're done, so keep checking back (and thanks for your patience!).

L to R: Digital Bits editors Todd Doogan and Bill Hunt... the boys are back in town!
L to R: Digital Bits editors Todd Doogan and Bill Hunt...
the boys are back in town!
One other note this afternoon - we've spoken with Warner Home Video since the Friends/TV DVD feedback e-mail address went live this morning. They received some 35 responses in the first few minutes after we posted the address alone! All of them are being printed out and given to the appropriate people, so be sure to send your comments and spread the word far and wide. The address again is: bestoffriendspublicity@warnerbros.com

And finally today, we promised you a better look at the cover artwork for Columbia TriStar's 2-disc Lawrence of Arabia: Limited Edition DVD (street date April 3rd). Well here it is (the Upcoming DVD Art section has also been updated to include it). Enjoy!
Columbia TriStar's 2-disc Lawrence of Arabia: Limited Edition
Have a great weekend, keep checking back for more VSDA and CES coverage and... GO VIKES!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/12/01 - 11 AM PST)

We should have our VSDA/CES report up later this afternoon. We just gathered so many little pieces of information, it's taking a while to compile the story. Also, we had two different people taking digital pictures, so getting those all prepped has taken longer than expected.

In the meantime, you may remember from a couple of weeks ago, I did a little rant about Warner's The Best of Friends DVD. Specifically, I made a number of comments on the way Warner handles their TV product on DVD (and how they should do so in the future). Well, I got a TREMENDOUS number of responses on this issue. It seems that a lot of you feel the same way I do - that Warner should skip this "best of" routine and release complete seasons of a show if they're gonna release it at all. I've spoken with Warner on this, and they tell me that The Best of Friends is seen as a test case. They're trying to evaluate whether there is demand for complete seasons of Friends and other shows on DVD. My points to them were as follows:

1) Fox has been tremendously successful with their X-Files: Complete Season DVD releases, and A&E is releasing whole seasons of Monty Python, Space: 1999 and The Thunderbirds. How about HBO's success with The Sopranos and Sex in the City? Clearly, there IS consumer interest in collecting TV product on DVD.

2) How can you expect to get an accurate assessment of the performance of Friends on DVD by releasing "best of" discs, when people are opting to wait instead for complete seasons? The people who want Friends on DVD the most aren't going to buy "best of" discs!

3) If consumers can't get complete seasons of Friends on DVD here, they'll get them elsewhere. LOTS of consumers are importing Region 2 DVDs of Friends - almost the complete SERIES is available there, and people are buying hacked all-region players just for that reason alone.

4) It's not just Friends people are worried about - what about Rhino's great South Park DVD series (which Warner promptly ruined by releasing a pair of "best of" discs)? What about Looney Tunes? Babylon 5? The West Wing? You'd be amazed how many people ask us about those shows.

When I discussed this with Warner, I think they were surprised at the interest I told them existed among our readers for better handling of their TV product on DVD. So I asked them to create a feedback e-mail address, where all of you could let them know how you feel about this yourselves. The studio graciously agreed. So here it is:

bestoffriendspublicity@warnerbros.com

There are a few RULES to keep in mind before you start using this address. First of all, BE CIVIL! A well-worded, sincere note about your feelings on this issue will work wonders, but a nasty, angry tirade will just get deleted and will probably hurt the effort. Also, be sure to keep your comments restricted to Friends and how you'd like to see Warner handle their TV product in general. This is not the place to be asking about the upcoming Superman DVD. Feel free to mention South Park or other Warner TV properties, but be sure to reference Friends as an example. A good e-mail might be worded as follows:

"Dear WHV,

I'm writing to express concern for the way your company is releasing TV product on DVD. Your tendency is to release "best of" discs of such series as Friends and South Park, when I'd really like to purchase ALL the episodes of those shows in complete seasons. Please follow the example set by Fox, A&E and HBO - TV product should be released in complete seasons, or at least ALL the episodes of a show should be released in order... etc, etc...

Sincerely,
Joe Average Consumer"


You get the idea. Warner will not be able to reply in person to everyone, but they will print out all e-mails and give them to their market research and decision-making people. The studio tells me that they ARE releasing more TV product on DVD in 2001, and you CAN have an impact on the way they do so. So spread the word. If you run another DVD website, let your readers know about this. If we can get a few thousand people to tell Warner how they feel on this issue, we can have make a difference. Or, better phrased, YOU can make a difference.

Stay tuned...!

1/11/01

We're starting up our VSDA coverage with a look at some more Upcoming DVD Artwork that we gathered at the show. We've got some 30 new covers for you to check out today, including Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles, Beautiful, Dr. Strangelove: SE, In the Line of Fire: SE, the final Meet the Parents art, The Broken Hearts Club, Bedazzled: SE, Avalon, The 6th Day, A Passage to India, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Mummy: Ultimate Edition, Bus Stop, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, The Seven Year Itch, There's No Business Like Show Business and more. And here's a look at the cover art for a Columbia disc that was announced (for 4/3) at VSDA (we expect to have higher quality art soon)...

Lawrence of Arabia

One other thing to note - the DVD Festival that was set to happen during VSDA was cancelled at the last minute. This means that there was no director's panel this year. Just another reason why VSDA 2001 was less than thrilling from a news perspective.

We'll be back soon with more reports on VSDA and CES, so stay tuned...


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