Well... as predicted, the industry's begun crowing about those DVD
numbers. And rightly so. Here's a bit of the press release Warner Home
Video and the DVD Entertainment Group sent out this morning:
"In 2001 consumers spent a record-breaking
$16.8 billion buying and renting movies on video, up 21 percent over
2000, and more than twice what they spent on movie tickets ($8.1
billion). Consumers spent $4.6 billion on DVDs, 2.4 times more than last
year, an increase that put DVD purchases ahead of VHS purchases for the
first time despite an installed player base of 25 million DVD households
versus a VCR installed player base of 96 million households. Consumer
spending on DVD purchases and rental combined were $6 billion, 2.4 times
more than in 2000.
Strong DVD growth also placed home video revenues at nearly three times
video game sales ($6.4 billion) and more than music CDs ($11.2 billion)
and books ($16.5 billion). The aggregate sales of $16.8 billion for
total video sales include $10.9 billion in new release revenues and $5.9
billion in library release revenue.
According to figures compiled by Ernst & Young on behalf of the DVD
Entertainment Group, approximately 138 million DVD movies and music
video titles shipped in the fourth quarter of 2001, 1.8 times more than
the same quarter last year. And, more than 364 million units were
shipped in 2001 alone bringing the total number of units shipped since
launch to 675 million."
And that's not all. DreamWorks has announced that their Shrek,
which is the favorite to win the Academy's new Best Animated Feature
Film category this year, has become the biggest selling DVD of all time,
with more than 7.9 million copies of the 2-disc set sold to date. Just
to give you an idea of the kind of money we're talking about here,
according to DreamWorks, that translates to some $420 million in retail
revenue for the studio (including both VHS and DVD). Now you begin to
understand why this is such an important business for the Hollywood
In another bit of Back to the Future
news, the BTTF.com
website is reporting that Australian copies of Jurassic
Park 3 on DVD include a brief trailer for the Summer 2002
release of the Back to the Future Trilogy
on disc. So I'd say it's all but official.
A couple more upcoming DVD announcements in case you haven't heard.
Look for Soul Survivors: The Killer Cut
from Artisan on 2/26. Warner's Don't Say a
Word arrives on 2/19. And New Line's Bones:
Platinum Series will street on 2/26.
Looks like MSNBC's
finally picked up that story about DVD extras going the way of the
dodo due to star greed. I just have one question though... who the hell
is Dave Dadekian? That's some kind of hard-hitting journalism that
quotes "my friend Dave" as a source. Guess it must have been a
slow news day. No offense to Dave, of course. ;-)
One more note this morning. As a follow-up to our post from yesterday,
the official Star
Trek website has revealed that the Star
Trek: The Next Generation DVDs will officially be announced
by the studio on January 11th.
Here's something interesting today. Although it has yet to be
officially announced here in the States, Amazon.co.uk has posted images
of the final packaging for the Star Trek: The
Next Generation DVDs. Each season will contain multiple
discs, packaged in a foldout case similar to the one Fox uses for The
X-Files. That, in turn, will be enclosed in a prop-like
plastic outer case (one for each season - see the shot below of all
seven seasons). Look for an official announcement soon, with a release
date for the first season expected in March.
The Consumer Electronics Show begins tomorrow, so be sure to keep your
eyes peeled for interesting DVD-related announcements (visit
the official site,
DVD news and CNet's
in depth CES coverage). Since VSDA was scrapped this year
(attendance was dropping, though it's been held concurrent with CES the
last few years) we decided to pass on this year's show. But there's sure
to be news on DVD-R, DVD-RW and the thus far D.O.A. DVD-Audio format,
including announcements of more consumer DVD-Video players with
recording options. So keep your ears to the ground and your eyes peeled.
In the meantime, HBO has announced that Oz:
The Complete First Season will arrive on DVD on March 19th.
The three-disc set will include all eight episodes, plus audio
commentaries, deleted scenes, interviews with the cast and creator and a
music video. SRP is $64.98.
Here's some more upcoming titles you may or may not have heard about.
Buena Vista's set The Iron Monkey
and The Tall Guy for release on
March 26th. Columbia TriStar has added Barabbas
and The Replacement Killers: Special Edition
to their March 5th slate, with Mr. Sardonicus,
The Order and Straight-Jacket
following on March 12th. Good Times has announced Megiddo:
The Omega Code 2 for February 26th. MGM's also announced more
titles including 1969, The
Aviator, Best Men, Bio-Dome,
Breaking In, Cadillac
Man, Coca-Cola Kid,
Home, Deceiver, Delirious,
Desperate Hours, Extremities,
Full Moon in Blue Water, Hidden
Agenda, The January Man,
of the Spirit and Wild Orchid
(all for February 12th). New Line has set Life
as a House for March 12th. And Sexy
Beast is due from 20th Century Fox on March 12th as well.
In other news,
rentailers scored big in 2001, with DVD rentals raking in more
than $8.4 billion during the year according to the Video Software
Dealers Association. I'd expect we'll be seeing a lot more big year-end
numbers being quoted this week for the DVD format.
One other thing you might like this morning - we've got a look at the
cover artwork for MGM's Bull Durham: Special
Edition, which we mentioned Saturday as streeting on April
2nd. Here you go...
We've just announced the winners of the last
for 2001, so be sure to check them out if you're one of the 3,792 people
who entered. Also today, we've got a whole mess of cool upcoming DVD
First of all, MGM is planning on releasing a new The
Usual Suspects: Special Edition on April 2nd (SRP $24.98).
The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video (mastered from a high
definition transfer), three behind-the-scenes featurettes (Round-Up:
Deposing the Usual Suspects, Keyser
Sose: Lie or Legend and Heisting
Cannes with The Usual Suspects), deleted scenes, a gag reel
with introduction by director Bryan Singer, audio commentary with Singer
and writer Christopher McQuarrie, a second commentary with composer and
editor John Ottman, trailers, TV spots and original advertising
That's not all MGM's got in their bag of tricks. On April 2nd, the
studio will also release their Bull Durham:
Special Edition (SRP $24.98). The disc will include
anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a brand-new
documentary on the making of the film with new interviews with the cast,
a newly recorded audio commentary with Kevin Costner and Tim Robbins, a
second audio commentary with director Ron Shelton, a photo gallery,
trailers and TV spots and more. You'll also be happy to learn that MGM
is working on a Dances with Wolves: Special
Edition, which is soon to be announced.
Artisan Entertainment has just released Open
Your Eyes, the Spanish film by director Alejandro Amenábar
(who also directed The Others)
upon which Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky
was based. The DVD features anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby
Digital 2.0 surround audio (SRP $14.98). I've gotta believe it's a
better film than the muddled and misleading remake, which Todd and I
really disliked. Read
Gleiberman's review over at EW
- he absolutely nails it (though beware of spoilers).
Now here's a really good flick. Columbia TriStar's just officially
announced their Riding in Cars with Boys:
Special Edition for release on March 19th. The disc will
include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the HBO "making
of" special, audio commentary by Drew Barrymore, several "behind-the-scenes"
featurettes (including Drew's Trailer Tour,
Bev and Ray's House: Recreating Reality,
The Cars and Beverly
and Jason: Sons and Lovers) theatrical trailers and more. SRP
will be $27.96.
And Warner Bros has announced two new DVDs: Training
Day and The Heist. Training
Day arrives on March 19th and will include anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, additional scenes and an
alternate ending, feature-length commentary by director Antoine Fuqua, a
behind-the-scenes documentary, two music videos (Nelly's #1
and Pharoahe Monch's Got You) and
trailers. SRP is $26.98. And The Heist
will arrive on March 12th. Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio, trailers and more (SRP $24.98).
Also this morning, I've updated my review of
to include new information, so you might want to check that out (see the
notes at the end of the review).
And in the funny but true category,
already guys standing in line to see the next Star Wars movie
(thanks for the link, Matt!). Hey... I can't wait for the flick either,
but FIVE MONTHS seems a little excessive. Whatever floats your boat, I
guess. Somebody PLEASE tell me there isn't already a line for Episode
(EVEN LATER UPDATE -
1/4/02 - 3:30 PM PST)
One last update for you this afternoon. We've got Paramount's February
release schedule, plus a teaser of their March DVD schedule as well.
Here's February at a glance... The Bad News
Bears, The Bad News Bears in
Breaking Training, The Bad News
Bears Go to Japan (all 2/12), Hot
and Hardball (all 2/19).
Now then, some updates to the January schedule. Rat
Race is now expected on 1/29 (and not 1/22 as originally
slated). Also WWF Tough Enough: The First
Season and Behind WWF Tough Enough
have been moved out of January to March 12th.
And here's some highlights of Paramount's March slate... Zoolander
(3/12), SpongeBob Squarepants
(3/12), Lassie (3/12), Andre
(3/12), The Education of Little Tree
(3/12), Focus (TBA), Our
Lady of Assassins (TBA) and Star
Trek: The Next Generation: Season One (3/19).
Now then... have a great weekend!
(LATER UPDATE - 1/4/02 - 2:30 PM PST)
We'll be back with that review this afternoon, but I wanted to jump in
here with a Final Countdown
update. We have no idea whether the disc will be available in stores on
January 15th, but you can indeed pre-order it directly from Pacific
Family Entertainment at the following number: 1-800-804-8009. The DVD is
$19.95, plus $4.50 for shipping (UPS Ground). I'm told the disc will be
shipped on or about the 15th.
Now then... we promised a review, didn't we? Well... how about two?
Here's my look at Buena Vista's new
Director's Cut - Vista Series (which streets on January 15th)
and Greg's take on Columbia TriStar's recent
Stoker's Dracula (SuperBit) disc. Enjoy!
We've also posted
List of 10 DVDs Coming Next Week to the
Views section, just FYI.
And don't forget that tonight's your last chance to enter the
You've got until 7 PM PST, and we'll post the winners on Saturday.
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/4/02 - 12:01 AM PST)
Things are getting a little busy in
Rumor Mill these days. This morning, we've got a report on
The Lion King possibly being
bumped up in the Platinum DVD release schedule. Be sure to check that
Also this morning, a bit on another long awaited title. We've been
trying to learn more from Pacific Family Entertainment about their Final
Countdown DVD, which is reportedly set to street on January
15th (according to their own e-mails). It may still arrive on that date,
but retailers have yet to receive pre-order information for the title.
At this point, your guess is as good as ours as to when it will be in
stores. We'll post here if we learn anything more.
This afternoon, we've got an update for you on those Titanic:
SE DVD rumors in
Rumor Mill. Seems director James Cameron did indeed return to
the famous shipwreck for a new project he's working on. We've also got
more details on Lord of the Rings.
In other news today, we wondered yesterday just how many DVD titles
have been released with separate widescreen and full frame releases.
Bits reader Steven Gardener (of
Image Entertainment) has informed us that there are 19 such releases
currently available in stores (although there have been others
previously). The list is as follows (thanks, Steve):
102 Dalmatians, Airport,
American Pie 2 (R Rated), American
Pie 2 (Unrated), Cats and Dogs,
Charlotte's Web, How
the Grinch Stole Christmas, Jaws,
Jurassic Park, Jurassic
Park 3, Jurassic Park Collection,
Lost World: Jurassic Park, Mummy
Returns, Princess Diaries,
Remember the Titans, Santa
Claus: The Movie, Silence of the
Lambs, Stuart Little
and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
Also this afternoon, we've got instructions for you on how to exchange
your defective Monty Python and the Holy
Grail: Special Edition DVDs for fixed replacements from
Columbia TriStar (some people are reporting that the subtitles
spontaneously turn on at various points in the film on certain models of
DVD player, whether the subtitles have been selected or not). Send your
defective discs to the following address (make sure you include your
ATTN: Client Operations
10202 W. Washington Blvd
Culver City, CA 90232
Replacements will be shipped as soon as they're available. Thanks to
Bits reader James McKane for that.
Around the Net today, tech analysts are saying that DVD burners will be
hot items in the year to come (read
that story here). There's also
story on the current IMAX re-release of Disney's Beauty
and the Beast, which very briefly mentions the eventual DVD
release (this year's Platinum title from the studio, coming in
November). And fans of musician Sarah McLachlan
be happy to learn that the Lilith on
Top documentary (now in theaters - which goes behind the
scenes on McLachlan's Lilith Fair music festival) will eventually be
released on DVD with additional musical numbers (street date TBD).
Don't forget that tomorrow's your last day to enter the
We're giving away tons of great DVDs, including a signed Almost
Famous Untitled, so get your entries in quick.
That's it for today. Tomorrow we'll be back with my review of a disc
I've been waiting for a very long time: Buena Vista's Tombstone:
Director's Cut - Vista Series. See you then...!
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/2/02 - 5 PM PST)
We've just posted Brad Pilcher's review of a recent NBC miniseries,
released last month on DVD by Warner Bros - Jon Avnet's
I've watched the disc myself. The quality is surprising for a
made-for-TV production on DVD, and it's definitely worth a look.
Enjoy the review and we'll see you tomorrow!
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/2/02 - 11:30 AM PST)
Welcome back, everyone! And welcome to 'ought two. Gee... doesn't feel
much different. Still no flying cars. In fact, feels suspiciously like a
Wednesday morning. Oh well. What can you do?
We're gearing up for the new year here at The
Bits, and we got lots of fun plans in the works. We're doing
some housekeeping around the site today, and we'll be back later with
the first review of 2002.
In the meantime, we've had a look at that
widescreen petition, which now boasts more than 11,000 signatures.
Let's keep 'em coming. Blockbuster, in new responses to their customers'
complaints, are blaming the Hollywood studios for their choice of full
frame over widescreen. Their argument, in effect, is that it's the
studios' fault for not including both formats on the same disc. A
majority of their customers prefer full frame, so if it's a choice
between two discs, they're always going to pick the full frame version.
But my question is, just how many discs are we talking about? How many
titles are there that feature widescreen on one disc and full frame on
the other? Not that many. Seems to me, we're talking about a handful of
titles each quarter (most of them from Universal). So how hard could it
be to make sure you've got a few widescreen copies of each disc on hand
to please customers that prefer the original aspect ratio? Not that hard
Hey... if you guys at
Blockbuster want to contact me and explain your position, go for
it. In the meantime, I find your replies to your customers' inquiries a
little hard to swallow. And so do your customers.
Also this morning, we've got word that director James Cameron may
finally have a Titanic: Special Edition
on his radar screens. You'll find that in our first
Mill post of 2002, along with reports on what promise to be
two of the biggest DVD releases of the new year.
Back with that review soon...
We've got a few more pieces of upcoming DVD cover artwork for you
today, for titles you're probably already looking forward to. So here's
a look at Buena Vista's Bubble Boy
(1/15), Columbia TriStar's Used Cars
(2/5), Universal's American Pie 2:
Collector's Series (unrated/widescreen) (1/15) and
Dimension's Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back:
Collector's Series (2/26).
Around the Net today, Yahoo's got a couple of interesting wire stories.
an AP story on how DVD Video recorders compare to PC DVD-R drives.
has a story on Universal Pictures Germany acquiring the German
distribution rights to Senator Entertainment AG's library of films,
including The Others and America's
Sweethearts. In other news, you'll be happy to learn that the
average price of a DVD player dropped from $202 in 2000 to $158.88 this
year. Also down were a whole host of other consumer electronics goods (see
a story that should make you music lovers happy, it seems that the
music industry is slashing CD prices across the board in an effort to
discourage online piracy ('bout time).
there's a good story about the competition between DreamWorks and
Disney to nab next year's first ever Animated Feature Film Oscar.
Finally, we've gotten word that Columbia TriStar plans to release a
trio of Jackie Chan films on DVD on March 12th. These include To
Kill with Intrigue, New Fist of
Fury and Snake and Crane Arts of
Shaolin. Each disc will carry an SLP of $19.95. All will be
in widescreen, with at least To Kill with
Intrigue in anamorphic widescreen. Audio will be English and
Cantonese Dolby Digital mono, with subtitles in English, French, Spanish
Well... that about does it for 2001. We'll be off Monday and Tuesday
with the rest of you, and we'll return on Wednesday, January 2nd for a
whole new year's worth of DVD coverage Digital
Bits style. So from all of us here, please have a very happy
and safe New Year's celebration and we'll see you all in 2002!
So did everyone have a good holiday? We're back today with some cool
new upcoming DVD title information. But first, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 353,501 players that
shipped to dealers in the first week of December (ending 12/7). All
charts have been updated accordingly.
Now then... we've got word of a whole slew of Batman:
The Animated Series DVDs coming on April 23, 2002. There's
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub Zero,
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
(Original Cut), The Batman/Superman Movie,
Batman: The Animated Series - The Legend
Begins and Justice League.
Here's a look at some of the cover art and menu screens for a few of
Now then... other good upcoming titles from Warner include Hearts
in Atlantis (February 12th), Attack
of the 50ft Woman (1993), Babe
Ruth, Barcelona, Exit
to Eden, Doctor Who: The Caves of
the Androzani, Doctor Who:
Remembrance of the Daleks, House
Arrest, Joe Versus the Volcano,
National Lampoon's European Vacation,
The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged
Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom, Victor/Victoria
and Where Have You Gone Joe DiMaggio?
(all April 2nd) and Calamity Jane (2002)
and The Harvey Girls (both April
30th). Newly announced Columbia TriStar upcoming DVDs include Funny
Lady (2/5), Jo Jo Dancer, Your
Life is Calling and Nothing in
Common (2/19), Barabbas
and The Replacement Killers: Special Edition
(3/5), Metropolis (anime - 3/12)
and Riding in Cars with Boys: Special Edition
(3/19). Coming from Buena Vista are The Iron
Monkey and Mexico City
(3/12) and Corky Romano (5/14).
And upcoming Universal titles include The
Curse of the Jade Scorpion (1/29), Captain
Corelli's Mandolin (2/5), Balto
and Balto 2: Wolf Quest (2/19),
The Long Run and The
Musketeer (2/26), The Last Castle
(3/5) and K-Pax (3/26).
This is a last quick update before the holiday to let you all know that
we've just kicked off the very last
Contest for 2001. You'll get the chance to win a copy of
DreamWorks' Almost Famous: Untitled
signed by actor Jason Lee and lots more! Best of all, entering couldn't
be any easier and you've got until Friday, January 4th to do so. Good
luck and Happy Holidays!
Well... it's that time again, folks! With the Christmas holiday almost
here, we've got another of our annual
Holiday Cards for you. Think of it as just a little reminder
to all you studio folk out there of some of the work left to be done in
the New Year!
Now then, we've just posted
last column for 2001 in the
Views section, featuring reviews of Fox's
of the Dragon (street date 1/22) and Columbia TriStar's
of War (available now). We've also announced the winners of
Contest. And we'll be back late this evening to kick off one
last contest to take us through the holidays.
Some announcements today - A&E will begin releasing the second
season of Space: 1999 on 2/26
(with Volumes 5 & 6).
Universal will release K-Pax, Slap
Shot and Slap Shot 2 on
3/26. New Line's finally delivering Twin
Peaks: Fire Walk with Me on 2/26 along with Bones.
And Warner's Hearts in Atlantis
arrives on 2/12, with 13 Ghosts
following on 2/26.
By the way, we've spoken to Paramount this morning, and there's nothing
solid to report about that Raiders of the
Lost Ark DVD rumor that's been floating around. Apparently, a
European DVD magazine claimed that Paramount's confirmed it will be
released for the holidays next year. Official word is that there's talk
about finally releasing the film to DVD, but nothing has been decided
upon. The holidays next year would certainly make sense, but that's a
long ways off yet. Just FYI.
In other news today, if you're using Microsoft's new Windows XP
operating system, you definitely need to be aware of
important security flaw that's been discovered in the program.
Microsoft has already made
fix available for free on their website, so download it
immediately if you're affected by this.
One last bit of business this afternoon. Last weekend, I had the chance
to play Santa at a local PETsMART store, posing for holiday pictures
with animals to help raise money for a local animal adoption charity. So
Sarah thought you might get a kick out of this picture of us. Yep...
that IS me in the red suit (thanks for the pix, Jim!)...
Lest Todd think he can escape 2001 cleanly, here's Doogan enjoying a
little fan adoration at last year's VSDA...
That's enough shenanigans for one day, I'd say. ;-)
We've decided to make like the reformed Scrooge and give our staff here
at The Bits a week off for the
holidays. I'll be back with a few things next Thursday, December 27th.
So until then, from all of us here at The
Digital Bits, a very safe and happy holiday! Peace.
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/19/01 -
12:15 PM PST)
Okay, I'm recovered from my adventure last night just in time to post
new column in the
Views section. This time around, he reviews Fox's
the Vampire Slayer: The Complete First Season and
Rouge: Special Edition, along with Cult DVD's
Vision. As far as street dates, Buffy's
due on January 15th. Moulin Rouge
and Tunnel Vision are already
available. Plus, Todd's got a good rant on that issue of Hollywood
talent running up their prices for participating in DVD special
editions. I think it puts a good perspective on things.
We've gotten word that Columbia TriStar will release Jet Li's The
One: Special Edition on DVD on March 5th. The disc will
include anamorphic widescreen and full frame video options, audio in
English Dolby Digital 5.1 and French Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround,
subtitles in English, French, Chinese, Korean and Thai, an audio
commentary with the director and writer, "making-of"
featurettes (Jet Li is the One,
Multiverses and Create
the One), special effects featurettes (About-Face
and The Many Faces of Jet Li), an
animatic comparison for "RE-Shoot", theatrical trailers and
And just FYI, if you're a fan of Moulin
Rouge director Baz Luhrman, you'll be happy to learn that
he's currently hard at work on DVD special editions of his earlier
films, Strictly Ballroom and Romeo+Juliet,
for a special boxed set called Red Curtain
Trilogy that will come out from Fox in March.
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/19/01 - 4 AM PST)
So... it's 4 AM PST and I've just gotten back from seeing The
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring. Simply put, it
rocks. The images are spellbinding, the story is every bit as enchanting
as I remember it and the action is swift and riveting. Fear not if
you've never read the books - this is a Ring
that anyone can thoroughly enjoy. More importantly, long time fans
should be pleased as well. It's a cinematic achievement... and it's
going to be a very long twelve month wait for The
Two Towers! Go forth and enjoy as soon as you can get
Now then... I'm off to sleep (or try to anyway, with vision of orcs
dancing in my head). Back later... ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 12/18/01 - 2:45 PM PST)
We've just kicked off a VERY quick, 2-day
Contest, which will give 5 lucky winners a chance to take home
a copy of HBO's new The Sopranos: The
Complete Second Season on DVD. It's an easy contest if you're
a fan, but you've got to get your entries in quick!
We've also posted a few new reviews of some classic Holiday-themed
titles on DVD, namely Warner's
Year Without a Santa Claus, Sony Wonder's
the Red-nosed Reindeer and Disney's
and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. Enjoy!
And finally this afternoon, we've got word that the complete first
season of HBO's acclaimed TV series Oz
will be arriving on DVD next year.
Now then... it's off to see The Lord of the
Rings. See you back here tomorrow!
(EARLY UPDATE -
12/18/01 - 11:30 AM PST)
Just a quick reminder to get things started today - be sure to sign the
widescreen petition if you haven't already. It's already up to
over 7,000 signatures, so keep 'em coming. With any luck, they'll
listen. But most people have been getting this standard e-mail response
from the rentailer:
"The movie studios determine whether or not
to release their DVDs in standard (full-screen) or wide-screen versions.
It is our preference, and the preference of our customers that because
of the versatility and storage capacity of DVD technology, DVDs include
both versions on one disc. In the past, when the studios have chosen to
release separate standard and wide-screen version DVDs, it has caused
confusion amongst our customers. To minimize our customer
dissatisfaction, we have chosen to carry only one version of a title on
DVD, and our research has shown that more customers prefer the standard
than the wide-screen version. We take your comments and suggestions as a
welcome show of interest and loyalty. We are forwarding your comments to
the appropriate department for their review."
Well Blockbuster... maybe it's time to try to end that confusion by
educating your customers? Thanks to about a hundred readers who sent
In other news today, we've got a host of new title announcements.
Artisan has set Soul Survivors for
release on 2/26. Capitol EMI has He Touched
Me: The Gospel Music of Elvis Presley on 1/8. Central Park
Media is bowing Labyrinth of Flames: Tales of
a Wannabe Samurai on 2/12. Columbia TriStar will release Forbidden
Sins/ Human Desires on 2/19 and Haiku
Tunnel on 2/26. Criterion has also just announced a slew of
new titles, including Fireman's Ball,
Loves of a Blonde and Wild
Strawberries all on 2/12, Confessions
of Robert Crumb and Jackson
Pollock: Love and Death on Long Island on 2/19 and In
the Mood for Love on 2/26. You already know about DreamWorks'
A.I.: Artificial Intelligence on
3/5, so know also that it will be available in dual full frame and
widescreen versions (guess that means you won't be able to find the
widescreen at Blockbuster). Lion's Gate is releasing Dead
in the Water on 2/12 and Lush
on 2/26. Trimark has set Nightmaster
for 2/5 and Sonic the Hedgehog: Super Sonic
and Super Mario Brothers: Mario's Greatest
Movie Moments for 2/26. Pioneer will release Chuck
Berry: Rock and Roll, George
Clinton: Parliment, James Brown:
Body Heat, John Lennon: Sweet
Toronto, Little Richard: Keep on
Rockin', Muddy Waters: Chicago
Blues, Otis Redding: Remembering,
Pointer Sisters: All Night, Story
of Jerry Lee Lewis and Woodstock
Jazz Festival, all on 1/22. Spartan will bow Heart
and Extreme Days: Special Edition
on 1/29. Universal's hitting the road in March with College
Swing/Big Broad of 1938, Ghost
Breakers, My Favorite Blonde/Star
Spangled Rhythm, Paleface,
Road to Morocco, Road
to Singapore, Road to Utopia
and Road to Zanzibar, all on 3/5.
Universal Music will deliver Def Leppard:
Hysteria and Def Leppard:
Visualize on 1/29. Warner's set Passport
to Paris and Winning London
for 2/12. And finally Warner/National Geographic will release National
Geographic: Beyond the Movie - Lord of the Rings on 2/5.
We'll be back to kick off the next Trivia
Contest later this afternoon, so stay tuned...
Boy... is anyone else looking forward to this week as much as I am?
We're finally going to get a look at The Lord
of the Rings! I've already got tickets to a 12:01 AM show on
Wednesday morning to see the film with a group of friends. Feel like a
kid again. ;-)
A couple of things for you this morning. First of all, we've updated
DVD Player Sales numbers with the complete weekly sales totals
from November. And there's good news - the DVD format is officially 25
million players strong! Be sure to check out the
listing above, as well as
full chart, for all the details.
Also this morning, we've got a look at the DVD menus for a pair of
upcoming 20th Century Fox DVDs - Kiss of the
Dragon (1/22) and Don't Say a Word
Finally this morning, if you get Daily
Variety, be sure to check out today's issue for
interesting story on the soaring costs of producing DVD special
editions. It seems certain that A-list talent (Arnold Schwarzenegger
anyone?) and the various guilds are starting to demand big bucks to
participate in things like audio commentaries. Greedy bastards always
seem to do their best to ruin a good thing, don't they? Hollywood, like
Major League Baseball, is sorely in need of a salary cap, in my humble
(LATE UPDATE - 12/14/01 - 8:15 PM PST)
We've just posted
List of 10 DVDs Coming Next Week in the
Views section, along with his
column featuring reviews of Artisan's
Peaks: The First Season - Special Edition and Columbia
of Mars: Special Edition. Enjoy!
And we've also just posted the list of winners of our last two
Contests. Congratulations to everyone. ;-)
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/14/01 - 10 AM PST)
Wow - we've been getting bombarded by e-mail from readers, many of whom
have never written before, who are angered by Blockbuster's lack of
widescreen support in their rental stores. Several have even humorously
pointed out that Blockbuster's recent TV adds for Jurassic
Park III show both widescreen clips from the film and the
widescreen DVD cover... which isn't available for rental in their
stores. We've also gotten dozens of e-mails from actual Blockbuster
employees who are frustrated by their employer. Many of them say that
they also get complaints from customers about widescreen DVDs (the old "why
are these black bars there?" question), and feel that their company
is doing a disservice to customers by not attempting to educate people
about the differences between widescreen and full frame. We couldn't
agree more. In lieu of Blockbuster doing anything at all, feel free to
point people to our
guide if you think it might help. The main points we want to make
1) Blockbuster should make an
effort to educate people on the differences between widescreen and full
frame. Most people have no idea what they're missing with full frame,
assuming in error that when the picture fills their TV, they're getting
everything. Let customers make an informed choice. For a company that
makes its money by showing people movies, it should have more respect
2) No one is saying that
Blockbuster should stop carrying full frame. We simply believe that they
should try to service both customers - the ones who want widescreen and
the rest who want full frame.
To make sure Blockbuster gets this message, sign the
widescreen petition ASAP and get everyone you know to do the same.
Spread the word!
Meanwhile, we wanted to remind all of you that director Brett Ratner
will be signing copies of Rush Hour 2
on DVD at Dave's Video - The Laser Place here in L.A. tomorrow afternoon
(Sat. 12/15 from 1-3 PM PST). As always, you can get two items signed,
one of which must be a copy of the DVD purchased at Dave's. A portion of
the proceeds will be donated to a charity of Ratner's choice. Dave's
Video is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA.
And around the Net today... be sure to check out the new
trailer that just went live last night. Very cool.
just posted Lord of the Rings DVD
comments by New Line's Rolf Mittweg, president for worldwide
distribution and marketing. He says New Line plans to release the DVD
version of The Fellowship of the Ring
in August, 2002, featuring a full-fledged trailer for the next
installment, The Two Towers.
(LATE UPDATE - 12/13/01 - 6 PM PST)
We promised you a special feature, didn't we? Well, here you go. We're
very pleased this afternoon to give you
interview with Highlander producer Bill Panzer on the
upcoming DVD release of the complete first season of the TV series.
Bill's been working hard on the discs, along with the DVD staff at
CineSite, and they're just about to ship now. I think you fans of the
show will enjoy our discussion. Bill also talks about the future of the
Highlander franchise, so don't
In DVD news, Universal has just announced the DVD release of The
Musketeer for February 26th. SRP for the DVD is $26.98.
We've also posted our review of MGM's forthcoming
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Special Edition (street date:
January 1st). It isn't a perfect special edition, but you fans of the
film are going to love it.
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/13/01 - 10:30 AM PST)
Well, folks... we've got another battle to fight in the widescreen
wars, and this time it's Blockbuster lined up on the other side of the
battlefield. We've been hearing from tons of readers who say they've
tried to rent copies of The Mummy Returns,
Cats & Dogs, How
the Grinch Stole Christmas and Jurassic
Park III on DVD from the giant. When when they do, they're
surprised to find NO copies of the widescreen version of the films on
store shelves. It seems that when there's two versions of the disc
available, Blockbuster only stocks the pan & scan version. When
people complain to the company, they're basically given the brush off.
One reader had this to say this morning: "When I asked the clerk
when the widescreen (16x9) copies would be available, he said probably
never." Another reader tried the customer service number, and got
this response: "We don't decide what goes on our shelves. Only the
studios decide that." Which is complete bullshit. Blockbuster is a
1000lb gorilla in the industry and it does plenty of term dictating to
the Hollywood studios. And we think it's time that someone took them to
task for this widescreen thing. At the very least, the retailer should
stock both versions of a disc. Clearly, they're not serving the needs of
an important and vocal portion of their customers. So here's what you
1) Call their customer service hotline and complain - 972-683-5959
2) E-mail their customer service people
this link and do the same
3) Phone and write to their world headquarters to complain at this
address: Blockbuster Inc. 1201 Elm Street Dallas, Texas 75270 -
online petition's been started to show Blockbuster just how many
people they're pissing off - sign it, have your family and friends sign
it and link to it from your websites.
5) Try another video retailer in your area.
We've also created a set of graphic logos you can use if you like (link
to the online petition). Wouldn't you know it? Their own corporate logo
isn't full frame friendly!
This widescreen vs. pan & scan thing is only going to get worse if
we let companies like Blockbuster have their way. It's easy to imagine
the studios deciding to support only full frame if stores and rental
giants negatively skew widescreen sales numbers by not stocking
widescreen copies of DVDs. Some believe it's already happening. So let
Blockbuster know how you feel on this issue and tell your friends to do
the same. It's time they get the message.
(LATER UPDATE - 12/12/01 - 10:30 PM PST)
Slight schedule reshuffling. We've got two new DVD reviews for you this
Eating Gilbert Grape and Pioneer's
We Will Rock You. I'll have Buckaroo
Banzai up in the morning... thanks for being patient. And
we're just dotting the "I"s and crossing the "T"s on
our new special feature story, so look for that early tomorrow as well.
In the news today (aside from the A.I. announcement earlier),
has just unveiled the latest version of its Windows Media software,
and DVD player chip manufacturers say they'll support the technology in
systems to be shipped next year. Code-named "Corona", the
codec can play streaming video with 5.1 audio (96/24) over a broadband
Internet connection. It also supports the playback of
high-definition/1280p video at 24 frames per second. The idea, we
assume, is that you could eventually have a "networked" DVD
player that can not only play standard discs, but video-on-demand
content as well. Interesting...
See you tomorrow!
(LATE UPDATE - 12/12/01 - 12:30 PM PST)
Thought you might like to hear this right away. DreamWorks has just
officially announced the DVD release of Steven Spielberg's A.I.
Artificial Intelligence for March 5th. The 2-disc special
edition release will carry an MAP of $22.95, and will feature the film
in anamorphic widescreen video, with audio in DTS 5.1, along with Dolby
Digital 5.1 and 2.0. Extras will include a documentary detailing how the
vision of A.I. Artificial Intelligence
was brought to the screen, a rare look at the production design from the
original conceptual drawings to the building of the sets, interviews
with Steven Spielberg, Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law, behind-the-scenes
featurettes on the design, lighting and costumes for the film, an
in-depth look at the development and creation of the robots including a
behind-the-scenes visit to Stan Winston Studios, a look at the creation
of various special effects on the set with effects supervisor Michael
Lantieri, interviews with Dennis Muren and Scott Farrar of Industrial
Light & Magic special effects group about the seamless blending of
animation and live action, a visit to Skywalker Sound with sound
designer Gary Rydstrom, a conversation with composer John Williams about
scoring the film and his collaboration with Steven Spielberg, storyboard
sequences, production drawings, a photo gallery and theatrical trailers.
Here's a look at the cover art...
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/12/01 - 10:15 AM PST)
This is just the first post of several today. But we wanted to jump in
early this morning, because a lot of you have been asking how the Jurassic
Park III bonus disc offer works. That's the disc that comes
in the new Jurassic Park boxed set
of all the movies. But you don't have to buy the box to get the disc if
you already have the first two movies on DVD. You do, however, have to
buy Jurassic Park III on DVD
before March 31st of next year. Inside the case, you'll find a mail-in
offer form for the disc. Fill it out and send it to the address
indicated, along with your receipt for the Jurassic
Park III DVD and a check or money order for $6.95 to cover
shipping and handling. Your mailing MUST BE POSTMARKED BEFORE APRIL 15TH
2002 to make sure you get the disc. And there you go.
Lest anyone think we're slacking off around here, know that both Todd
and I are working on a number of new DVD reviews today. We'll start
posting them tomorrow, including my look at MGM's forthcoming The
Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension: Special
Edition. We've also got a new special feature story that we
expect to post sometime tomorrow.
In the meantime, we've got two things we wanted to share with you this
afternoon. First of all, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the fourth week of
November (ending 11/23). Some 349,710 players were shipped to retailers
during the week, taking the total for November to 1,781,048 units. With
one last week to go in the month, I'd be surprised if the total doesn't
top 2 million. All charts have been updated accordingly.
Also today, Bits reader David H.
Pierce forwarded us a couple of links that I think are very valuable to
all readers. The first is a link to
Media Access website, which features an excellent
reference work on DVD
Accessibility (meaning how accessible DVD content is to the
sight/hearing impaired). The second link is to Gary Robson's Closed
Captioning FAQ, which will explain what captions are, how
they're different from subtitles and how they work. We encourage
everyone to check both links out (particularly you studio people), as
this is a very important issue for many people.
Okay... we're back to work. A quick Happy Hanukkah to those of you who
celebrate it! See you tomorrow with some new reviews...
Boy... people sure seem to get a kick out of the Bee Man story. Go
figure. Anyway, as of this morning, we officially have no more bees. And
that's good, because we do have some great Criterion DVD news.
In March, Criterion is expected to release Federico Fellini's Juliet
of the Spirits and David Gordon Green's George
Washington. Juliet of the Spirits
should include anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1), Italian Dolby
Digital mono audio, optional and newly translated English subtitles and
a theatrical trailer. George Washington
should also include anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1) along with
English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio, audio commentary (by director
David Gordon Green, cinematographer Tim Orr and actor Paul Schneider), a
deleted scene with commentary, the original theatrical trailer, David
Gordon Green's short films (Pleasant Grove
with commentary and Physical Pinball),
a Charlie Rose interview with David Gordon Green, new video interviews
with the cast and Clu Gulager's 1969 short film A
Day with the Boys. And we've saved our favorite until last -
Criterion is also planning to release Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon
in the 1st Qtr. The disc is expected to include a new high-definition
transfer of the full frame (1.33:1) image, Dolby Digital mono audio in
Japanese (with newly translated English subtitles) and dubbed English,
audio commentary by Japanese film historian Donald Richie, a video
introduction by Robert Altman, excerpts from The
World of Kazuo Miyagawa (a documentary film about Rashomon's
cinematographer), reprints of the Rashomon
source stories (Ryunosuke Akutagawa's In a
Grove and Rashomon),
Akira Kurosawa on Rashomon (a
reprinted excerpt from his book Something
Like an Autobiography) and the theatrical trailer. Very cool!
Also this morning, there's word that Buena Vista's Pearl
Harbor has sold more than 3.7 million copies on DVD in its
first week, making it the new one week record holder for the format.
Just wait until Harry Potter and
Lord of the Rings hit DVD...
got a good story on the trend to put complete seasons of TV
product on DVD, featuring interviews with several studio reps. Worth a
Just had to share this with you. Yes, Virginia... there really is a Bee
What... you were expecting a yellow suit with black stripes? Have a
great weekend! ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 12/7/01 - 4:30 PM PST)
Ever had one of those days? I'm sitting here in my office, working on
today's post, and suddenly my cable modem goes out. It's not an
equipment problem, though. You see, my hosting service is Cox @Home, and
if you've been
the Tech news lately, you know that the @Home service is a little
unsteady these days. Lovely.
So then, while I'm pulling my hair out dealing with Cox, I happen to
glance out my office window... and notice a helluva lot of bees buzzing
around outside. Seems we have a whole swarm of what "could be
Africanized bees - never can tell" (the words of an expert) that's
taken up residence between the outside paneling and drywall above our
garage. So we called in the Orkin guys to kill 'em. They took one look
at the swarm and here's what they said: "No... that's too big for
us. We can't help you. You need to call The Bee Man. That's a lot of
bees, isn't it?" So now we've got The Bee Man coming tomorrow,
complete with his special "bee suit" (no shit), to exterminate
the damn things. And not for free, let me tell you. Doh!
Anyway... such is the messy business of life at the beginning of the
21st Century. Still, we've managed to post another pair of new DVD
reviews this afternoon. I've given A&M's
All This Time disc a spin (there's a joke here, isn't there?),
and I think fans will really be pleased with it. And Greg's taken a look
Psychedelic Furs: Live from House of Blues. Nothing like a
little music to round out the week. And we'll have more reviews (of a
few big new movie titles) on Monday.
Finally today, we've got some good news for you Final
Countdown fans. Word is that the DVD we mentioned earlier
will include anamorphic widescreen video mastered from "an original
35mm print", Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, the theatrical trailer,
production stills, a limited "behind the scenes" section and
actor bios. The film will also be the "uncut 114-minute version".
Thanks to Jonathan for the heads up.
Have a great weekend everyone! We'll see you Monday... hopefully, not
nursing a host of bee stings... ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/7/01 - 10:30 AM PST)
We're getting word that Pacific Family Entertainment has finally
decided upon a January 15th street date for their long-awaited Final
Countdown DVD. SRP is $19.95. There's no word yet on what the
features might be, if any, but we'll let you know as soon as we hear
We've also just posted
List of 10 DVDs Coming Next Week in the
Views section. Be sure to check it out.