UPDATE - 1/30/02 - 10:30 AM PST)
Just when the digital landscape was finally starting to look easy for
consumers to navigate, JVC and a group of four Hollywood studios today
announced their intention to release feature films on their new high
definition D-VHS platform. The studios have opted to release their films
on an optional system within the D-VHS format, called D-Theater. Created
by JVC specifically for copyrighted, high value prerecorded content,
D-Theater provides high encryption and security for content producers.
D-VHS D-Theater software will be recorded in the HS mode at an 28 Mbps
data rate, surpassing the 19 Mbps ATSC standard for HDTV broadcasts.
D-VHS's 44 GigaByte capacity per cassette makes it possible for software
content providers to fit an entire feature-length HDTV movie on a single
cassette. A D-VHS cassette has the maximum capacity to record and
playback 4 hours of high definition television or more than 50 hours of
standard definition television. JVC's high definition recorder also
gives consumers the flexibility to record and play back in analog VHS,
Super VHS, Super VHS ET and digital D-VHS formats (HS, STD and LS3).
Artisan Entertainment, DreamWorks SKG, Twentieth Century Fox and
Universal Studios are expected to release the first D-Theater titles in
June (look for Independence Day,
Die Hard, X-Men,
U-571 and the first two Terminator
films to be among the first titles). You can read more
I'm actually going to see a demo of this new technology tomorrow
morning, so we'll have more to tell you about it tomorrow afternoon. For
now though, it's certainly interesting. And for high-end home
theater-philes (you SuperBit guys) who have been dying to watch films on
HDTV, it's definitely going to give DVD a run for the money. It may
actually sell a few TVs too. And I'll bet the pictures are pretty. But
what happens to those spiffy pix when the tape wraps around the guts of
the player, as is inevitable with any TAPE-based format? I also can't
help but think that this is a tactical move to capture more of the home
video pie by studios who have always been reluctant DVD supporters. Look
who's backing this format most ardently - DreamWorks, Fox and, most
importantly, Universal (which hasn't exactly been the most proactive DVD
studio and has certainly shown the desire to rake consumers multiple
times for the same film on DVD). D-VHS is also gonna confuse the hell
out of average consumers, many of whom are new to DVD. But then again,
maybe that's the point. Do I think D-VHS is a theat to the success of
DVD? No, not really. But I think at least a few execs at these studios
wouldn't mind terribly if it were.
Briefly, in other news today, 20th Century Fox has announced the DVD
release of its Joy Ride: Special Edition
for March 12th. Here's more from the press release:
The Joy Ride: Special Edition DVD lets
viewers continue the ride with four shocking alternate endings with
optional commentary, including a 28-minute never-before-seen third act,
commentary by Director John Dahl, Steve Zahn, Leelee Sobieski, and
writers Clay Tarver and J.J Abrams, voice auditions for the film's
creepy unseen villain with the "More Than One Rusty Nail"
feature, a "Making of" featurette and deleted footage. The
Special Edition DVD is presented in 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Dolby
Surround sound and French Dolby Surround Sound, with subtitles in
English and Spanish.
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/30/02 - 12:01 AM PST)
We're waiting to hear back from our first review staff candidates, and
as soon as we do we'll be announcing them. One thing I want to mention
right away, is that we're going to be spending lots more time going
through all the applications in detail, to make sure we give them all
their due. And if you don't hear from us, know that we're keeping all
the applications on file for the future. We're very excited however,
because we've found a number of people who we think will really fit in
well here at The Bits. More soon.
On to some new DVD news. First up is word on Lord
of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring on DVD. Peter Jackson
an interview with New Zealand's The Evening Post, that
there will be 2 versions of the DVD - the "theatrical" version
in August (on VHS and DVD), and a special edition DVD in November, which
will include about 30 minutes of additional footage. "I don't
really want to call it the director's cut," said Jackson in the
interview. The special edition DVD is also expected to feature the first
part of a documentary by filmmaker Costa Botes on the making of the
trilogy, among other extras.
And we've got word on the contents of Fox's The
X-Files: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD (street date: May
14th). According to the
official X-Files website, the set will include six
dual-layered discs with the episodes in full frame video, along with
English and French Dolby Surround audio. A quick note here - our
information was that anamorphic widescreen might also be included, as
the episodes from season five on were shot widescreen for eventual HDTV
broadcast. Now we're hearing from a few sources that it wasn't until the
start of season six that the series was shot in widescreen. We'll
confirm this with Fox to be sure. The extras on the set will include
audio commentary by Chris Carter for Post-Modern
Prometheus, audio commentary by John Shiban for The
Pine Bluff Variant, deleted scenes from Post-Modern
Prometheus, The Red and the Black,
All Souls and Christmas
Carol (with optional Chris Carter commentary), international
clips from the episodes Redux,
Christmas Carol, Kill
Switch, Patient X and
The End, an all-new 30 minute
documentary (The Truth About Season Five),
several Behind the Truth
featurettes from the FX broadcasts, special effects clips with
commentary, 2 TV spots per episode (:30 and :10 each) and the Earthbound
DVD-ROM game. We'll get back to you on the anamorphic widescreen issue.
Finally this morning, it looks like you can look forward to the
official announcement of Warner's Harry
Potter DVD very soon. The studio has informed us that an
official press unveiling will take place on Tuesday, February 5th. This
will include information on street date, extras and lots more. So watch
The Bits that afternoon for all
Stay tuned... ;-)
Okay... I had to make a quick L.A. trip for an upcoming feature story
yesterday afternoon, so we're going to play catch up today and get down
to business. First things first - a lot of people have asked me whether
MGM's upcoming The Charge of the Light
Brigade (which we mentioned in
Rumor Mill the other day) is the 1936 Errol Flynn version or
the 1968 Trevor Howard/John Gielgud version. It's the 1968 version. No
word on the other yet.
Also this morning, Columbia TriStar's announced the DVD release of
Woody Allen's Husbands and Wives
on April 16th (SRP $24.95). The disc will include full frame and
anamorphic widescreen video, English and French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
audio, and a trailer.
Now then... the last couple of weeks have been a real test here at The
Bits. As you may have noticed, we're still having server
troubles. My Cox@Home broadband access crashed harder than an Evil
Knevil stunt cycle for a few days. Just last night, my PC damn near blew
a hard drive (I MacGyvered it back to life with chewing gum and duct
tape) after being irritable for a couple of weeks. Consequently, we
haven't gotten much in the way of new disc reviews done around here.
Seems like the poo all flies off the fan at the same time, doesn't it?
We were actually expecting locusts to start flying through our offices.
But NNNNnooooooooo... we had to get bees instead. Remember that? Here's
the hive being removed...
But hey - we've read The Art of War.
We roll with the punches. We bend like reeds in the wind. We've been
very busy moving and shaking behind-the-scenes here at The
Bits (some of that's just a nervous condition, but the rest
is pure 100% hard work, baby - fingers in the dirt kinda work). We
expect this week to move the site to its (hopefully) final home, on a
server so good we'll even be able to do streaming video if we want to
(no more warning messages and long download wait times). We've got a new
computer on the way, so I can consign my old one to the scrap heap. And
this afternoon, we'll begin announcing the first of several new staff
reviewers. Come mid-February, we should be kicking some serious butt.
Growing pains are a bitch, but the fact that we're growing as fast as we
are shows just how many readers we have and how loyal you all are. So
thanks for hanging in there with us.
You're watching Sports Night on
CSC, so stick around...
(LATE UPDATE - 1/28/02 - 10:30 AM PST)
A couple of quick film-related notes this morning. MGM and Bond
producer Danjaq Prods. win the "studio spoil sport" award this
they've taken issue with New Line over the title of the next Austin
Powers movie, which was to have been called Goldmember.
MGM felt it was an "unauthorized parody" of the title of the
third Bond film, Goldfinger, and
took up the issue with the MPAA. A ruling came down against New Line on
Friday, basically saying that they had failed to go through proper
channels to "authorize" the title. Here's what an MGM
spokesman had to say: "MGM/UA and Danjaq have a zero-tolerance
policy towards anyone who tries to trade in on the James Bond franchise
without authorization." Just FYI... The
Digital Bits has a zero-tolerance policy against lame-brained
studio execs in Hollywood, who can't seem to make a decent Bond film to
save their lives. Denise Richards as a nuclear weapons expert in The
World is Not Enough? These guys are doing enough damage to
the franchise all by themselves...
In greener studio news (puns intended), you Shrek
fans will be pleased to know that
has already signed stars Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy and Cameron Diaz
to voice a sequel. Oh... you knew it was coming.
And on a subject we know some of you have been waiting to hear more,
we're going to ask just a little more patience. Todd and I have decided
to take one more day before we begin to announce who we've selected to
join The Bits staff as new DVD
reviewers. Why you ask? Well... we got so many good applications that
we've decided to take on a few more new staffers than we had planned! So
hang in there and we'll start announcing them tomorrow.
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/28/02 - 1 AM PST)
We're going to have a few updates scattered throughout the day today,
but we wanted to kick the new week off early with a look at a few things
that Paramount's working on for the next few months. And since we did so
well with The
Rumor Mill last week, where better to start today? So fill
your coffee mugs,
on in and enjoy.
In other news this morning, we've got a look at A&E's Space:
1999, Volumes 5 & 6 for you (SRP $39.95 each). Both
2-disc sets street on February 26th, and collectively contain the first
12 episodes of the British TV series' second season. Just FYI, Volumes
7 & 8 (which are expected by the end of the year) will
complete the show's release on DVD.
By the way... we finally figured out what a "Pocket DVD" is.
Some of you may be aware that Columbia TriStar is releasing the anime
Metropolis on DVD on March 12th.
The title will be a 2-disc release. You'll get a standard DVD disc with
the film, plus a second disc - a Pocket DVD - with most of the extras.
It's a smaller sized disc - 3 inches instead of the standard 5 inch DVDs
you're used to. It's similar to those 3-inch CD singles the record
companies released for a while back in the late 1980s. A Pocket DVD can
hold about 90 minutes worth of video and other extras, and will work on
all existing DVD players (it simply fits in that smaller slot in your
player's disc tray). I'm not sure what the advantage of a smaller disc
is, other than the novelty, but hey - we'll give it a try. I suspect,
though, that most DVD fans are simply going to wonder why Columbia
didn't just make it a standard 2-disc set. We'll see. You can read more
about Pocket DVD via
link over at Video Business.
Be sure to drop on by again this afternoon for more. Stay tuned...
We're closing out the week with yet another post in
Rumor Mill this morning, which may be of interest to you Babylon
5 fans. There's also word on more Stargate
TV product and some of MGM's May line-up.
Wanna see something funny? Bits
reader Martyn recently found a bootleg DVD version of Harry
Potter for sale in Hong Kong. Anyone who followed
look at the bootleg versions of the Star Wars films knows
how poor the quality of these things usually is. What's amusing here is
the description of the film written on the back of the Potter
disc. See for yourself...
Got that? Good, 'cause there's gonna be a quiz later. Dare you to say
THAT three times fast.
Now then... here's some new DVD announcements. A&E will release the
recent TV remake of Magnificent Ambersons
on 1/29. Anchor Bay has 18 Again,
Crimes of Passion, Soul
Man, Wrong Guys and
Fraternity Vacation due on 3/19.
Columbia TriStar's added 3:10 to Yuma,
Master and The Net: Special
Edition to its 4/2 slate, with Shiri
following on 4/9. Paramount's set to release Domestic
Disturbance on 4/9 and My First
Mister on 4/23. Sony Music has Vangelis:
Mythodea slated for 2/19, with Bela
Fleck and the Flecktones: Live at the Quick, Gloria
Estefan: Live in Atlantis and Sade:
Love Tones following on 2/26. Warner's finally revealed Friends:
The Complete First Season on 4/30. They also have Any
Which Way You Can and Every Which
Way But Loose due on 5/7, and Billboard
Dad, It Takes Two and
Switching Goals on 5/21. Upcoming
Warner BBC titles now officially include The
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and The
Way We Live Now on 4/30, with Blue
Planet: Seas of Life #3 & 4 following on 5/7. Goldhill
Media will release William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy's Mind
Meld: Secrets Behind the Voyage of a Lifetime on 1/29. And
Wellspring Media will release Directed by
Alan Smithee and Kurosawa
Finally today, there's word that Warner Home Video has lost a legal
battle with Australian retailers over DVD rental guidelines.
here for more on that.
And that will do it for this week. We'll be back on Monday with lots of
new content, including a new Doogan's Views
and more. Plus, we expect to announce the latest additions to The
Digital Bits' review staff then as well. So have a great
weekend and we'll see you then!
As we continue to work our way through all of the reviewer
applications, we're gonna keep things simple today. But we've got lots
more good upcoming DVD information in
Rumor Mill this afternoon to keep you going. Some good stuff
in there, about a whole bunch of big upcoming titles, so don't miss it.
run a good story on how the Hollywood studios are working to
create a new copy-protection scheme for digital TV broadcasts. The "digital
tagging" scheme will still allow people to copy on-air programming
for their own use, but will ideally prevent that content from then being
spread online through file-sharing services like Napster.
And for you Lord of the Rings
fans, you can now order a copy of the National
Geographic Beyond the Movie: Lord of the Rings documentary on
VHS and DVD. Click
here for the official site.
And one side note: we got a review position inquiry during our open
call from a reader by the name of Andrew Smith. Andrew... your return
e-mail address isn't working. But please send us your stuff (and your
correct return address). We'd like to consider you for the positions.
Well... we're going through all the reviewer applications, and we
should have them narrowed down by Friday. We did receive a lot of good
applications, so going through them all is both fun and a challenge. But
we're excited about adding some new staffers to the mix here at The
Bits. We'll keep you up to date on this - we should have
something to announce soon.
Now then... we've got confirmation from multiple sources on a street
date for Warner's Harry Potter and
another major title. You'll find that in
Rumor Mill today.
We've got a few new rumor tidbits today, pertaining to Star
Trek and Harry Potter
among other titles. You'll find those in
Rumor Mill, along with a recap of other recent rumors.
Also today, we've got word from several readers that The
Final Countdown DVD has been delayed by minor production
problems, but the problems are being resolved and the discs should be
The official Weird Al
Yankovic website has word that MGM's UHF:
Special Edition should be out this summer on DVD, featuring
audio commentary and more. Here's the quote from the site:
"Because you DEMANDED it, MGM Home Video
will be releasing Al's 1989 feature film UHF on DVD this summer.
We're happy to announce that it will be an ultra-spiffy Collector's
Edition - Al has been busy working on all the special features and bonus
materials for the release. We'll give you more specific information as
soon as we can."
Warner Bros. has announced that their recent Thirteen
Ghosts will street on April 2nd (SRP $24.98). You'll get
anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, Ghost
Files (12 in-depth vignettes created by the film's conceptual
artist describing the back stories of the ghosts in the film - their
life experiences and how they became ghosts), the Thirteen
Ghosts Revealed behind-the-scenes documentary, audio
commentary by production designer Sean Hargreaves and creator of special
make-up effects Howard Berger, the original theatrical trailer, a music
video montage and more.
You may have heard that Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford are finally
talking seriously about making an Indiana
Jones 4. At a Golden Globe after party,
pair confirmed to reporters that they've finally got a good
script, an as-yet-unannounced title and that Spielberg will begin
serious work on the film as soon as he completes his upcoming Catch
Me If You Can (with Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks). 'Bout
And finally today, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of
Jackie Chan's original Drunken Master
on April 2nd (SLP $24.95). Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby
Digital mono audio in Cantonese and English and a trailer.
We've gotten word that Warner will announce their Friends:
The Complete First Season DVD box set this week, possibly as
soon as tomorrow. And the expected street date for the title is April
30th. Would anyone care to guess what else is coming on that day?
Warner's 2-disc DVD release of Douglas Adams' The
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, as produced for TV by the
BBC! Look also for the BBC sci-fi/comedy Hyperspace
on 4/30. And while we're talking Warner DVD, here's a look at the cover
artwork for Mr. Show: The Complete First and
Second Seasons (HBO via Warner - street date 4/2) and the
animated Justice League (4/23):
In other news today, HBO's Band of Brothers
mini-series is soon to see its release on DVD. How do we know? Tom Hanks
spilled the beans
the Golden Globes last night, when the series won for Best
Miniseries or Movie Produced for Television (click
here for a list of all the winners). Here's a quote:
When one reporter compared it in scope to New
Line Cinema's current hit The Lord of the Rings Hanks only waved
dismissively, and shouted "A puny nine hours! We've got 10 hours!
And it's coming out on DVD soon!''
Also this morning,
of the items demoed at CES this year was a new super-high density
optical disc format, which has six times the storage capacity of
DVD and could be the basis for a future HD-DVD format. DVD giant Toshiba
created the new discs, which can be both read and written via new blue
laser technology. But should you start getting excited for HD-DVD? Not
quite yet. In fact, I wouldn't hold you breath. HD-DVD is definitely the
future... but do you really think the studios are going to cannibalize
their current golden cow (DVD) with a format that most people don't even
have the TVs to view yet? Not likely. And then there's the digital
piracy issue - studios were very reluctant to release their films in DVD
quality on disc. HD-quality will be an even dicier proposition for them
until a better copy protection scheme is developed. From everything
we're hearing at The Bits from
industry experts (and our best guess), any sort of HD-DVD format is at
least ten years away. But it's cool to know that they'll be ready to do
it when they want to. Hey... I remember seeing HDTV demonstrations back
in the mid-1980s. And twenty years later, we're still just starting the
HD conversion! Remember this mantra: "We shall sell no format
before its time."
By the way... we've announced the winners of the
so be sure to check that out if you entered.
Okay... that's enough for this MLK, Jr. Day. See you back here
(LATE UPDATE - 1/18/02 - 1:30 PM PST)
Just a last quick update for this week. It's taken us a long time to
get the numbers from CEA, crunch 'em against our own records and check
'em twice... but we've FINALLY updated the
DVD Player Sales figures for the whole of 2001. Some 1,862,772
players were shipped to retailers from manufacturers in the month of
December (which, for record keeping purposes, had five weeks). That
takes the players shipped total to a grand 12,706,584 for all of 2001,
and some 26,628,915 to date (since the format's inception in 1997) here
in the United States. And yes... all charts have been updated
Video Store is reporting that
Image Entertainment may be developing its own branded line of blank
recordable DVD media, banking on the future success of recordable DVD
players, which should start becoming affordable to consumers in the next
year or two. VERY interesting (and cool in our book).
Also, we've got a few more official announcements. Look for After
Dark My Sweet, Light Sleeper,
Queen's Logic and Trees
Lounge from Artisan on 3/26. Add Bite
the Bullet and She Creature
to Columbia TriStar's 4/2 slate. Elite will deliver a Re-Animator:
Millennium Edition on 4/30. As we've mentioned recently
Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation -
Season One will street on 3/26. They'll follow on 4/16 with
The Accused, Eye
for an Eye, Fatal Attraction,
Flesh and Bone, Indecent
Proposal, The Temp and
Thief of Hearts. And Warner music
will release a trio of Bjork discs on 2/19... Bjork:
Live at Cambridge, Bjork: Live at
Shepherds Bush and Bjork: MTV
Enjoy the weekend, folks!
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/18/02 - 11:45 AM PST)
Our own Dan Kelly's checked in today with a review of 20th Century
Jones DVD, which streets on Tuesday.
In other news today, Michael Felsher of Anchor Bay has revealed that a
last minute situation (believed to be a legal/rights snag) will mean
that their upcoming Evil Dead: Book of the
Dead edition (street date 3/5) will no longer include the
short film, Within the Woods, that
inspired it. They're just as disappointed as fans are, but the problem
was apparently unavoidable. Sad, but we're still looking forward to the
disc in any case.
Also this morning, since many, many readers have asked for it, we've
got an update on the whole Final Countdown
situation. The disc was supposed to be shipped from Pacific Family
Entertainment on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. But several readers
have e-mailed us to say that the discs have not yet been sent. Here's a
report from Bits reader Stacy R:
I called PFE to ask why I haven't received my DVD
yet since they charged my credit card two weeks ago. I was told that was
their policy and that even though the release date was yesterday, it was
going to be delayed "a couple of days." He then told me "we
haven't exactly had an influx of orders so we had to adjust a little."
I haven't any idea what that means but when I asked him when I could
expect to received the DVD, he said, "well, to be safe, I'd wait
two more weeks."
While we know for a fact that there are thousands of fans of this film
out there waiting for its DVD release, I don't think anyone should be
surprised that there hasn't exactly been an influx of orders. Has PFE
issued a press release on the title? No. Have they promoted it to fans
or the DVD media (even those that call repeatedly for information)? No.
Is it available for order anywhere online? No. In fact, you can barely
find information about it on their own website. In any case, if you've
ordered the disc, be patient. It is coming. But after all the
frustration we've gone through over this title... if we never mention it
again, don't be surprised.
How about ending on a more upbeat note today? We've gotten official
word that M*A*S*H: TV Season Two
is coming to DVD in May from Fox! And we've been told quietly to expect
a lot of TV product from Warner in 2002. No word on what that might mean
aside from Friends, but South
Park and Babylon 5 are
And how 'bout
story from Business Week? Rumors are that MGM is for sale,
for a snappy asking price of $7 billion. Just a year or so ago, MGM was
seen to be one of the financially weakest studios in Hollywood. Why a
price tag with so many zeros? DVD of course. It seems the studio's
4,100-odd catalog titles are ripe for re-release on our favorite 5"
disc, and the vaults have barely been tapped. According to the article:
Last year, MGM generated $264.2 million in
revenues from selling DVDs of more than 300 of its titles, including
such oldies as When Harry Met Sally and the Rocky
series. That's a 67% hike from a year earlier, and closing in on the
$395 million generated from home video sales. And some of MGM's
more recent special editions, including The
Terminator, Mad Max,
Buckaroo Banzai and Jeepers
Creepers, have been damn fine indeed. Note to MGM Home
Entertainment: Nicely done, guys. Now if we could just get Wim Wenders'
Wings of Desire on disc... ;-)
Have a great weekend!
Yep - it's true. We've confirmed that Warner will soon release Friends:
The Complete First Season on DVD! We don't have an official
street date, but word is April 30th according to a few retailers. We'll
post more details as soon as they're available.
Now then... we've got a little ground to cover today. First of all,
we've been told that Fox's Buffy the Vampire
Slayer: The Complete Second Season will street on DVD in
June. And Anchor Bay's new 2-disc Highlander:
The Immortal Version is coming April 16th. Buena Vista's The
Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is due on May 7th, with
Corky Romano following on May
14th. "O" streets on
February 19th from Lions Gate. All in the
Family: The First Season streets on March 26th from Columbia
TriStar, along with the Ray Harryhausen classic First
Men in the Moon. You high-end home theater buffs will be
happy to learn that Columbia's Vertical
Limit: SuperBit and The Big Hit:
SuperBit DVDs have been announced for March 19th. And The
Net: Special Edition streets on April 2nd.
Also today, Elite Entertainment's sent over details on their Night
of the Living Dead: Millennium Edition (street date 3/12 -
SRP $24.95). The disc will include a newly approved THX film transfer,
Dolby Digital 5.1 remixed audio, the original mono soundtrack, dual
commentary tracks featuring George A. Romero and the entire cast,
trailers and TV spots, the film parody Night
of the Living Bread, a still photo gallery featuring rare
color photos, the history of Romero's company - The Latent Image, scenes
from the "lost" Romero film There's
Always Vanilla, a video interview with Judy Ridley, a final
interview by star Duane Jones, a look at foreign and domestic posters
and collectibles and original props, the entire original shooting
script, cast member's personal scrapbooks, a THX Optimizer,
Romero-directed TV spots and short films, liner notes by Romero and
Stephen King and more. Here's the cover art...
Now for some non-Rumor Mill
rumors: Stephen Clark, editor of BTTF.com,
e-mailed me this morning with an update on the upcoming release of Back
to the Future on DVD. Seems producer Bob Gale's confirmed
that new high-def transfers of the films are being done for DVD from
newly struck and restored elements. ETA on the discs is reported to be
the 2nd half of 2002. Click
here for the complete text of Gale's comments.
Also today, The
One Ring.net has a "spy report" (reportedly from
CNN) that when The Fellowship of the Ring
hits DVD later this year, it will include a four-and-a-half hour cut of
the film. Cool if true, but I'd say this is best left in the rumor
category until confirmed by New Line.
We've been hearing from people that Universal's Legend
is being released in R2 in March. My understanding, however, is that
this will be a movie-only release. There's no word on an official street
date for the R1 disc yet, but I'd hazard a guess that the studio may be
waiting to capitalize on the DVD release of Ridley Scott's Black
Hawk Down. Here's what I do know... the title will be a
2-disc Ultimate Edition and all the special edition materials are done.
As soon as we heard anything, we'll let you know. We've also been told
that Universal has plans to release Steven Soderbergh's King
of the Hill on DVD later this year (thanks Martin!).
And you Bay-area fans of the film Ghost
World will be happy to learn that Video Droid in San Rafael,
CA will be hosting an autograph signing and Q&A with writer/director
Terry Zwigoff next month, in honor of the MGM DVD release. It will be
held on Saturday, February 9, 2002, from 2 to 4 PM. Video Droid is
located at 898 Lincoln Avenue in San Rafael (phone: 415-456-3146).
No... we haven't suddenly been overrun by mysterious forces from
Home Theater Forum, in case you were wondering! You may have
noticed that, occasionally, a visit to The
Bits looks more like a visit to the HTF.
That's because both sites are on the same server. And when it goes down
and reboots, it takes a little while for our web address to point back
to the site. Just FYI. ;-)
Well... as of our closing deadline of midnight we officially have more
than 350 applications for our DVD reviewer positions here at The
Bits. We're going to start going through them today and we
should announce our new staffers some time early next week. Thanks to
everyone who applied!
By the way... Bits reader David
A.'s pointed out that Dick Tracy
is listed as an April 2nd, 2002 release to DVD on Amazon.com. You may
also be interested to know that Red Dwarf:
Season 1 & 2 will be released by Warner and the BBC here
in Region 1 in August. And here's something that will get people in the
States riled up... word is that The West Wing
will start appearing on DVD soon too... in Region 2. Syndication issues
will likely prevent its release in R1 for some time. Hey... does anyone
else out there watch reruns of Aaron Sorkin's other great show, Sports
Night, on Comedy Central? Now there's a show I'd love to have
on DVD. And there was only like 1 or 2 seasons of it anyway...
Our own Greg Suarez wanted to jump in here this morning with a word or
two on director Ted Demme, so here he is...
Thanks Bilbo. As you're probably aware by now, director Ted Demme
passed away this week at the frighteningly young age of 37. Beginning
his career in television, Demme soon made the transition to feature film
and, in my eyes, became one of the premiere east coast directors. Films
such as The Ref, Beautiful
Girls and Monument Ave.
(aka Snitch) were shining examples
of his ability to coax a unique depth and personality from his
characters. With his swan song biopic Blow,
Demme further demonstrated this talent.
You always know when you're watching a Ted Demme film. His ability to
leave an intangible trademark on his work continually assured the viewer
that they were in for a quality experience - a vision more tuned to
depth than width. Demme was a director who reminded us of the important
rule that a big budget does not a good film make. Many of Demme's films
were made for next-to-nothing, yet are so unique (there's that word
again) and clearly envisioned that they beg for repeated viewing. The
director also had the rare ability to be as good with drama as he was
with comedy. The Ref is a
scathing, yet brilliantly funny look at family psychology. Monument
Ave. is a film rooted in the suspense of Irish-American
gangland Boston, while Beautiful Girls,
one of the 1990s best romantic comedies, is as touching a drama as it is
a humorous look into relationships between men and women in love.
It never hurt that his films were brimming with talented actors in-tune
with Demme's style. This has included a (then) relatively unknown Kevin
Spacey, Timothy Hutton, Uma Thurman, Mira Sorvino, Natalie Portman,
Martin Sheen, Famke Janssen and, most recently, Johnny Depp and Ray
Liotta. And what kind of a Demme fan would I be if didn't give a shout
out to one of the director's closest friends and filmmaking cohorts,
So, in tribute to the late Ted Demme, I implore you to spin a couple of
his films on DVD this weekend. Beautiful
Girls might be a crappy DVD technically, but the quality of
the film will allow you to overlook the disc's flaws. New Line pulled
out all of the stops when translating Blow
to DVD, as the studio made the disc one of its flagship Infinifilm
titles. And you owe it to yourself to at least give Monument
Ave. a rent. Disney, your task is to put The
Ref - possibly Demme's finest film - on your release schedule
right now. Not next week, not next month... right freakin' now! There's
no reason this film should not be on DVD in the format's fifth year.
Goodbye, Ted. Your career was short, but your contributions will not be
No problem. I must confess, I wasn't a hug fan of Blow
and I'm not terribly familiar with all of Demme's work. But I'll
definitely second Greg's comments on
Girls, which is a terrific little movie that's been a favorite
of mine since its release in 1996. And Greg's point is well taken... how
better to remember a director than to give his work a spin on DVD?
My cable modem has been down all morning, so I'm working to get back up
to speed. I'm a subscriber to Cox@Home here in Orange County, CA, and if
you know anything about the @Home financial saga, you'll know that
things can get a little dicey for us subscribers.
First off this afternoon, I wanted to thank everyone who has sent in an
application for the staff reviewer positions. We've gotten - no kidding
- more than 300 good applications in the last 24 hours! And we're very
happy to see that several are women. We're going to be taking
applications until MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, after which time we'll cut
it off and start reviewing them all. So get your apps in fast if you
want to be considered. And thanks again to everyone for the tremendous
interest. We can't tell you how much we're honored by that. We're
looking forward to working with at least a few of you. And we'll keep
everyone's applications on file for next time.
This would normally go in The
Rumor Mill, but for sake of brevity, I'm posting it here. A
reader e-mailed us this morning to say that director Ridley Scott
confirmed, during an Atlanta radio interview, that the forthcoming Blade
Runner: Special Edition (due late in 2002) would likely be a
3-disc affair (thanks to Ed B. for the tip). That's nothing we didn't
already know, but since Scott himself confirmed it, it's worth
mentioning. We've also gotten more word that Buena Vista is now working
on a Who Framed Roger Rabbit
special edition DVD, in addition to their Dick
Tracy. If anyone from the studio is reading this, may we
respectfully request you add Ed Wood
and The Rocketeer to your list of
badly needed special editions? They'd sure make great Vista Series
Speaking of badly needed special editions, we'd like to point out that
Miramax is rapidly positioning itself to take the Studio
We Want More From honors in our upcoming Bitsy
Awards (you can find out who took past honors by visiting the
last two Bitsy Awards in the
Archives section). Miramax has so many great films that are
WELL OVERDUE for special edition treatment - The
English Patient, Pulp Fiction,
Kieslowski's Blue, White
and Red, Jackie
Brown... the list is long and filled with gems. We've been
hearing that they're "in production" for some time now - it
would be good to get an update. Miramax? Anyone? By the way, look for
our 3rd Annual Bitsy Awards in
In other news, Columbia TriStar has announced the release of their Wilde:
Special Edition on March 19th. The disc will feature
anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, audio commentary
with cast and crew, the featurettes Simply
Wilde and Still Wild About Wilde,
DVD-ROM material (including the content of the official Wilde
website) and more. SLP is $29.95. The studio is also releasing another
volume in their Three Stooges
series on March 26th (SLP $24.95). The disc will include the following
shorts: Three Arabian Nuts, Three
Little Beers, Three Smart Saps,
Three Dark Horses and Three
And we have a vague price on Paramount's forthcoming Star
Trek: The Next Generation - Season One set - looks like
$139.98 is the "SRP", but most places will be selling it in
the neighborhood of $89.98.
Finally this afternoon, all of us at The
Digital Bits would like to give a respectful nod to director
died yesterday here in LA. Demme was a successful producer at MTV
for many years, and later directed such films as Beautiful
Girls and Blow. He'll
Back soon with that
Contest. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 1/14/02 - Noon PST)
We've just posted
List of 10 DVDs Coming Tomorrow in the
Views section, along with
latest column, which includes reviews of Universal's
Fast and the Furious: Collector's Edition, MGM's Jeepers
Creepers: Special Edition and
From Hell 1 & 2 from Tokyo Shock.
We've also got some DVD news from Todd, so here he is...
New from Fangoria's Weekend of Horror panel on DVD: Anchor Bay
announced a three-disc Dawn of the Dead
special edition with the Italian Dario Argento cut, the theatrical cut
and the George A. Romero director's cut. Commentary and extras from
Elite's special edition laserdisc along with a new commentary featuring
all four members of the "human" cast. Also coming are
Near Dark, Fear
No Evil (from the creator of Lady
in White Frank LaLoggia) and the Rankin and Bass classic
Mad Monster Party.
Alternative Cinema announced Al Adamson's first biker film
Hell's Bloody Devils.
Media Blasters announced for it's Shriek Show line: Lambero Bava's
Delirium (with interviews with
director Bava, George Eastman and David Brandon, trailers and talent
bios), Joe D'Amato's Beyond the Darkness
(Buio Omega) (with interviews with Cinzia Monreale,
assistant/art director Dontella Donati, trailers, talent bios; still and
poster gallery), Zombie Holocaust
(featuring interviews with director of U.S. title scene (Roy Frumkes),
actor Ian McCulloh and special effects Man Maurizio Trani, scenes from
the unfinished film Tales to Rip Your Heart
Out that were used in U.S. version called
Dr. Butcher M.D. with commentary
by Frunkes, plus still and poster gallery and talent bios). There's also
a bunch of Lucio Fulci films coming: Lizard
in a Woman's Skin, House of
Clocks/Sweet House of Horrors Double Disc and
Zombie III. Look for some Umberto
Lenzi films: Hitcher in the Dark,
Eaten Alive, Spasmo
and Seven Blood Stained Orchids.
Also look for Ruggero Deodato's House by the
Edge of the Park, Jean Rollin's Two
Orphan Vampires and Fiancée
De Dracula, Lamberto Bava's Demons
III: The Orge. There's a lot huh? There's more. How about:
My Dear Killer,
What Have They Done to Solange?
and Zombie IV: After Death. Also
look for two new Tokyo Shock flicks by Takashi Miike
Fudoh and Visitor
And finally our friends at Synapse have the LSD thriller
Blue Sunshine coming as well.
Oh... and at the View Askew Vulgarthon 2002, Don May, Jr. announced a
two-disc set of Hollywood Brian Lynch's Angry
Naked Pat webtoon (check it out at
The disc will feature a lot of cool bonus material and maybe even an
exclusive toon created specifically for this DVD. If you ever found the
secret commentary on A Better Place,
you know this is going to be a hugely funny disc. And Brian... if you
need a DVD fanboy voice, I'm here. Back to you Billy-boy.
I'd say we're good for now. Check back later for a new
Contest. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/14/02 - 10 AM PST)
All right... we've got a lot of stuff to post today here at The
Bits. To start with, we've been hearing from a few readers
that Blockbuster is responding to their calls and e-mails about the lack
of widescreen... with word that they'll start carrying more widescreen
versions. You'll find that in
Also this morning, we're putting out the call for intrepid DVD
reviewers to join the staff of The Digital
Bits. We're looking for at least three new reviewers, and
we'd very much like for at least one to be female. We think it would be
nice to get the fairer perspective on DVD once in a while, don't you?
Staff reviewers don't get paid, but we do try to provide them with discs
to review and keep when we can, as well as other perks as opportunities
present themselves. All reviews become the property of The
Digital Bits and must be exclusive (they cannot appear
elsewhere), but you will ALWAYS receive full credit for you work. Plus,
this is a chance for your writing to be read by a virtual Who's-Who of
the film industry - you'd be amazed to know who will see your work.
Ideal candidates should have solid film knowledge, ranging from early
classics and foreign films to modern Hollywood fare. Knowledge in
specific genres of film is very welcome as well (film noir, silents,
musicals, 50s sci-fi, etc...). We also like our reviewers to be
experienced home theater enthusiasts with good knowledge of the DVD
format and its features and capabilities. You should have viewing
equipment with 5.1 audio capability, and an anamorphic widescreen
display is a plus. As I mentioned, we will try to send you new product
to review whenever possible, but you are more than welcome to review
both new and older discs from your own collection. And if you have
access to early screener product from the studios or through a retailer,
that's a MAJOR plus. So... if you're interested in joining our
experienced Bits review staff,
send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to use the words REVIEW STAFF in the header. Tell us
about yourself and your qualifications, and include one or two samples
of your writing (preferably a film or DVD review). We're looking forward
to having some of you join us, and add your own unique voices to The
Bits in the new year!
Okay... we'll be back again shortly with more, so stay tuned...
Yeah... I know. Lots of you are probably wondering what's taking
today's post so long to... well, post. The truth is, I had this huge
amount of stuff I was going to put up this afternoon. Then I got an
offer I couldn't refuse. I went hiking. Yep... me and my buddy Jim Carey
(the REAL Jim Carey - not that actor guy) headed for the hills, and
spent a few hours climbing up through a canyon to this place called Holy
Jim Falls (that name thing's a long story). Why you ask? You know...
sometimes, you just need to recharge the batteries. Get out into Nature.
Leave the office and the computers behind and breathe some fresh air for
a change. Sadly, we couldn't drag our wives up there, so we had to take
a picture to prove we actually made it (that's me on the right).
So anyway, that big post will be ready for all of you Monday morning,
to enjoy over your first cup of coffee. In the meantime, there is one
bit of DVD information that I though I'd sneak in here this afternoon.
We've basically confirmed that The Lion King
will be Disney's Platinum DVD title for 2003. How you ask? Well...
Disney's actually created
official website for the film's 1/1/2003 IMAX re-release, complete
versions of that trailer we mentioned a few days ago that people
were seeing before Beauty and the Beast
(now playing in IMAX theaters and coming to DVD in November of this
year). I'd say that about seals the bargain. Thanks to Bits
reader Scott M. for the heads up on the trailers!
All right... have a great weekend, all of you. Relax. Take a load off.
Throw care to the wind. You get the idea. Sure feels good once in a
(LATER UPDATE -
1/10/02 - 3:15 PM PST)
Okay... we promised you a picture of the final packaging format
Paramount's decided upon for their Star Trek:
The Next Generation DVDs. Here you go...
Looks pretty great to me. And for under $100 a season, it's hard to
By the way... I actually got a nice e-mail from Dave Dadekian, who was
quoted in that MSNBC
story about DVD extras the other day. He's a good guy... and a
Bits reader too! ;-)
(LATE UPDATE -
1/10/02 - 1:45 PM PST)
WOW! We just received the official announcement from Paramount for
their upcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation
DVDs. Get this - the studio plans to release ALL SEVEN SEASONS of the
series on DVD in 2002, starting with Season
One on March 26th. A new season will then be released every
other month throughout the year. Each release will include all that
season's episodes in their original full frame aspect ratio, digitally
remastered and in full Dolby Digital 5.1 sound (2.0 audio will also be
included, as will English subtitles and Closed Captioning). Season
One will include 26 episodes, along with four newly created
documentaries exclusive to the DVD release. Here's a detailed
description of the documentaries, which will be included on Disc Seven
of the set:
The Beginning focuses on the
challenges of creating a new series and keeping to Gene Roddenberry's
vision - includes interviews with Roddenberry, Patrick Stewart, Robert
Justman (former producer of the Original
Series), Rick Berman (Co-Executive Producer at the time),
Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby and other cast members.
Selected Crew Analysis features
first season cast members talking about their roles, their acting
backgrounds prior to being cast and their impressions of the Star
Trek legacy. Also features a comparison between the launch of
the series in 1987 and the comments from the cast seven years later
(1994), using archive interviews and b-roll to present a fascinating
'before' and 'after' look from the series cast members.
The Making of a Legend features
commentary from the first season production staff members: Michael
Westmore (Make-up), Herman Zimmerman (Production Designer), Mike Okuda
(Scenic Artist), Richard Sternbach (Scenic Artist), Dan Curry (Visual
Effects), Peter Lauritson (Co-Producer), Rick Berman and others, as they
discuss the making of the new series. Uncovers information on how the
beaming effect is achieved, Worf's make up process and how much time and
effort goes into creating each episode.
Memorable Missions features cast
and crew discussions of specific episodes and events that occurred
during the first season.
There is no specific SRP for each single season set, but they're
expected to retail for less than $100 each. One of the ways they're able
to keep the cost lower is that they've decided against the extra plastic
case packaging (shown
below). We'll have a better picture of the final packaging for you
shortly. I have to say, we at The Bits
are duly impressed. And with the complete Next
Generation coming out this year, we're now wondering if we
won't see similar treatment of Deep Space
Nine and Voyager in
2003 and 2004. Hhmmmm....
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/10/02 - 10 AM PST)
Good news for you fans of The X-Files...
back when it was still a good show I mean. 20th Century Fox Home
Entertainment will release The X-Files: The
Complete Fifth Season on DVD on May 7th. You can expect all
twenty fifth season episodes to be included, and word is (this is yet to
be confirmed) they'll be in anamorphic widescreen for the very first
time. The show's producers began shooting the series in widescreen for
eventual HDTV broadcast at the beginning of this season. Some highlight
episodes of the season include Christmas
Carol, Emily, Kill
Switch (an episode written by author William Gibson), The
Red and the Black and The End
(the season ending cliffhanger which led into
X-Files: Fight the Future feature film). Other details on the
set are TBA, but you can reasonably expect deleted footage,
behind-the-scenes interviews, commentary on a few episodes and TV spots.
We'll post more when we can.
And you Doctor Who fans will be
pleased to learn that Warner Bros (who holds the U.S. domestic release
license for the BBC) will release two new DVDs featuring the good Doctor
on April 2nd (SRP $24.98 each). According to the discs' content producer
for the BBC, Remembrance of the Daleks
will include audio commentary by Sylvester McCoy (The Doctor) and Sophie
Aldred (Ace), two TV trailers, deleted and extended scenes, outtakes,
two multi-angle sequences, the complete isolated music score, "subtitle"
production notes and a photo gallery. The
Caves of Androzani will include audio commentary by Peter
Davison (The Doctor), Nicola Bryant (Peri) and Graeme Harper (director),
a TV trailer, an extended scene (with optional commentary), the Creating
Sharaz Jek featurette, the Regeneration
featurette (with optional commentary), an option to watch remastered or
original effects sequence via branching, three news items reporting on
Peter Davison leaving the show, the complete isolated music score, "subtitle"
production notes and a photo gallery. Maybe they'll throw in a K-9 too -
whew! Thanks, Steve!
We've got an update on that
petition to get Blockbuster to serve the needs of its widescreen
consumers a little better. It's up to almost 18,000 signatures. Who
knows if Blockbuster will even bat an eye, but keep them coming. At
least we can send a message...
In news from CES,
DVD player manufacturers have announced that they'll support
Microsoft's Windows Media Audio technology in their players. This
would enable consumers to play CD and DVD discs created on their
computers with that technology on their DVD players. The manufacturers
are Toshiba, Panasonic, Apex Digital Inc. and Shinco, a Chinese
Also today, CNet's
a story on inexpensive DVD products that include high-end features
like progressive scan, DVD-Audio and DVD-R support.