Just a quick update today with a couple of interesting bits of DVD
information. A whole bunch of readers have e-mailed to let us know that
Lucasfilm's Jim Ward and Rick McCallum confirmed this weekend at the
Star Wars Celebration convention in Indianapolis that the Star
Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones DVD is definitely
coming by the end of the year. Lucasfilm has reportedly already been
working on the disc for over a year. That's not new information (we've
been reporting it in
Rumor Mill for months now), but it's nice to hear something
official. The latest word is that disc should street in October or early
Also on the subject of popular Lucasfilm trilogies today, Paramount has
officially confirmed that the Indiana Jones
films WILL NOT be released on DVD this year.
We've got word on what to expect on Criterion's upcoming DVD version of
The Royal Tenenbaums. Look for a
new anamorphic widescreen digital transfer supervised by director Wes
Anderson, audio commentary by Anderson, the featurette With
the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles, outtakes and
deleted scenes, The Peter Bradley Show
with cast interviews, The Art of the Movie
in-depth art direction and production design featurette, theatrical
trailers, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio options and collectible
multi-panel booklets with set-design drawings, director introspective
and DVD guide. Street date is TBA. Thanks to Bits
reader Mike W. for the info!
Also today, we've updated our review of
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with new access instructions
for the disc's Easter eggs. Thanks to Bits
reader Don G. for those!
And finally, just an FYI. I saw Spider-Man
last night and it pretty much rocks. It's a lot of fun and well worth
seeing if you get the chance.
Don't forget that our Trivia Contest
ends tomorrow night. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
(LATE UPDATE -
5/3/02 - 7 AM PDT)
One last post today and then I'm off to see Spider-Man.
Todd's got a review of Dimension's new 2-disc
Others: Collector's Series for you.
Enjoy and have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/3/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Okay kids... we've got two retro DVD reviews this morning for those of
you who aren't playing hooky from work to go see Spider-Man.
Adam's checked in with reviews of Showtime's
X (Unrated Edition) and one of my favorite recent films on DVD
- New Line's 2-disc
Nights: Platinum Edition.
Also today, ADV Films has revealed that their Farscape:
Season 2, Set 1 DVD streets on 6/25. The 2-disc set will
include 4 episodes, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, deleted scenes, audio
commentary for one episode and more. SRP is $39.98. Thanks to Tim D. for
And in other upcoming DVD news, Anchor Bay will release House
and House II: The Second Story on
6/25. Artisan's Dune: Special Edition -
Director's Cut is coming on 6/11. BMG Music will release Bad
Company: In Concert - Merchants of Cool and Tribe
Called Quest on 5/21. Criterion has announced A
Nous la Liberte, Akira Kurosawa's Red
Beard (awesome!) and Under the
Roofs of Paris for 7/23. And Elite's The
Incubus is due on 8/27.
Image Entertainment gets their own paragrph. Their newly announced
upcoming titles include Kidsongs: A Day with
the Animals, Kidsongs: I Can
Dance!, Kidsongs: I Can Do It!,
Kidsongs: Play Again Songs, Fassbinder
Collection #1: Whity/Pioneers in Ingolstadt, Rick
Springfield: The Best of the Live Drum and Variations:
Without Limits #1 (all 7/2), Bat
Thumb, Berlioz: Requiem - Colin
Davis, Carmen: Bizet - The Culberg
Ballet: Mats Ek, Doctor Dracula,
Graveyard of Horror, Horror
of the Blood Monsters and Monster-A-Go-Go/Psyched
by the 4-D Witch (all 7/9), Jamie
Foxx: I Might Need Security, Kiri
Te Kanawa: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, La
Tirra Trema, Mariss Jansons: In
Rehearsal - Oslo Philharmonic, Max
Ernst, Orpheus in the Underworld:
Offenbach and Ossessione
(all 7/16), Blondes Have More Fun,
Childhood of Maxim Gorky, Country
Cuzzins/Midnight Plowboy, Dance
Theatre of Harlem: Fall River Legend and Street
of a Thousand Pleasures/Way Out Topless (7/23) and Cat
in the Brain, Corpse Grinders II,
Guardian of the Night, Nomads
of the North (silent - 1920)/The
Shock (silent - 1923), Subterfuge
and When Love Comes (all 7/30).
Moving on, MPI's got Dark Shadows: Set #2,
Honeymooners: Lost Episodes #21
and Honeymooners: Lost Episodes #22
set for 7/30. Sony Music has B2K: Introducing
B2K (DVD single) and Five For
Fighting: Easy Tonight/Superman due on 5/14, along with Incubus:
Morning View Sessions on 6/25. 20th Century Fox is delivering
Boondock Saints, Five
Aces, Rapid Fire and
Reckless and Wild on 5/14, Buffy
the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season on 6/11, Ablaze
on 7/16, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist,
M*A*S*H: TV Season 2 and Speed:
Special Edition on 7/23 and Super
Troopers on 8/6. Universal is delivering Change
of Habit and Elvis: His Best
Friend Remembers on 7/30. And upcoming Warner titles include
Clash of the Titans, Exorcist
II: The Heretic, Swarm: Expanded
Edition, Them!, Time
After Time, V: The Final Battle
and Wolfen (all 8/6) and Gremlins:
Special Edition, Gremlins 2: The
New Batch, Hometown Legend,
Magic School Bus: Creepy, Crawly
Fun, Nightmare Room: Camp Nowhere,
Nightmare Room: Scareful What You Wish For
and Scooby-Doo Meets Batman (all
8/20). Warner also has lots more Doctor Who
titles coming from their BBC license, including Doctor
Who: Tomb of the Cybermen (on 8/6) and Doctor
Who: Armageddon Factor, Doctor
Who: Power of Kroll, Doctor Who:
Ribos Operation, Doctor Who:
Stones of Blood, Doctor Who: The
Androids of Tara and Doctor Who:
The Pirate Planet (all on 10/1).
Finally this morning, our good friend Ron Epstein (of
Home Theater Forum) has checked in with one of the Net's first
reviews of an actual theatrical screening of
Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Lucky dog. You'll
have to wait until next week to hear what WE think of the film. ;-)
Two things today. First of all, we've just posted a review of the BBC's
Guide to the Galaxy DVD, which is now available in fine stores
across the universe (and here in the States from Warner Home Video). I
think you fans of the classic TV series will be pretty thrilled with it.
Also today, we're very pleased to announce that renowned film producer,
historian and preservation expert Robert Harris is going to begin
writing a regular column here at The Digital
Bits in the coming weeks.
As many of you know, The Digital Bits
has long been an advocate of anamorphic widescreen and films being
released on DVD in their original aspect ratio. We've been very active
in trying to educate both the studios and consumers on this subject, and
we created our widely-read
to Anamorphic Widescreen for Dummies for this very reason.
We've often led the charge when studios tried to release their
much-loved films on DVD in full frame only (think Willy
Wonka), because their market research said "families
don't like black bars".
As DVD becomes mainstream, the wider audience of average consumers
seems to be having a much greater influence over the studios'
decision-making in terms of how to best present their films on the
format. And sadly, this audience has absolutely zero understanding of
the importance of things like aspect ratios. What's worse, the studios
seem to be reluctant to educate their consumers on these issues. So we
believe it's time for the experts to step forward, and for websites like
The Bits to make a new push to
take on this responsibility.
We're in a unique position at The Digital
Bits, in that our readership doesn't just include cinephiles
and hard-core home theater enthusiasts. Our audience is wide and varied,
from the most savvy studio insiders and DVD producers to the most
recent, mainstream consumers to jump on the DVD bandwagon. We have the
ability to help take these issues into a much larger arena, and to
educate more mainstream audiences on the importance of things like
anamorphic widescreen and original aspect ratio.
And who better to do this than Bob Harris, a genuine film expert and a
man who has been responsible for some of the most important work to save
and restore our favorite classic films? I hope you'll all join us in
welcoming Bob and supporting our joint efforts. We're working out the
details now, so keep watching this column for updates and for news on
Bob's first column here at The Digital Bits.
And you should know that each column will tie into discussion treads
over at The
Home Theater Forum (which has long been the official DVD
discussion group of The Bits) to
create an ongoing community of thought on these issues.
Back tomorrow with more reviews. Stay tuned...!
(LATE UPDATE - 5/1/02 -
6 PM PDT)
This is completely unrelated to DVD, but it's very cool anyway. Right
now, as I type this, the grandson of Charles Lindbergh (the first man to
fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean) is recreating his grandfather's
flight in honor of its 75th anniversary. As of 6 PM PDT, Erik Lindbergh
is about halfway through his journey to Paris, having left New York just
after noon today. You can track his progress live
link. As I said, it has nothing to do with DVD, but it's cool
nonetheless. Any of you guys that live near Le Bourget Airport (outside
Paris) should head on out there and give him a big welcome when he
Now then... here's something that IS DVD related. Those Vault Disney
titles I mentioned earlier? They're all in the original theatrical
aspect ratio and they're all 16x9 enhanced. Just FYI.
(STILL PRETTY EARLY UPDATE - 5/1/02 - 11:15
We've just learned some pretty exciting news, which is that the
upcoming Vault Disney collection DVDs (Pollyanna,
The Parent Trap, Swiss
Family Robinson, Old Yeller,
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and
The Love Bug) are going to be a
lot more extensive in terms of extras than anyone thought. Here's a look
at what to expect. This comes straight from the DVD producer on these
projects, Eric Young.
"Each title is a 2-disc set - the first disc
contains the movie, a cast and filmmaker commentary and a cartoon. The
second disc in each set contains substantial supplemental material as
Old Yeller - the original documentary, Old Yeller:
Remembering a Classic with new interviews with Fess Parker, Tommy
Kirk, Kevin Corcoran (rare), Bob Weatherwax (son of dog trainer) and T.
Beck Gipson (son of the author). Other new features include Conversations
with Tommy Kirk, Lost Treasures: Ranch of the Golden Oak, a
featurette entitled Dogs!, 1957 studio album (retrospective),
Inside the Disney Archives Tour (extensive bios and galleries),
a script excerpt, film archives including Best Doggone Dog in the
World and audio archives.
Pollyanna - the original documentary, Pollyanna: Making of a
Masterpiece with exclusive interviews, a feature entitled Recreating
Pollyanna's America, a featurette entitled 1912, Lost
Treasures: Walt Disney TV Introductions, the 1960 studio album, Inside
the Disney Archives (bios and galleries), film archives including
Promoting Pollyanna (merchandising piece), A Day in the Life
of an Actress (Nancy Olson) as as well as a section devoted audio
archives (songs and a multi angle feature called Sound Studio
that allows the viewer to hear the various discrete soundtrack elements
of a scene).
Swiss Family Robinson - the original 55 minute documentary, Adventure
in the Making, a featurette entitled Pirates, Conversations
with James MacArthur, 1960 studio album, Inside the Disney
Archives (galleries, bios), film and audio archives (including
excerpts from the 1940 version of Swiss Family Robinson).
The Parent Trap - the original documentary Caught in the
Act: The Making of The Parent Trap, a featurette entitled Let's
Get Together, The Sherman Brothers' Music Magic, Lost
Treasures: Who's the Twin, 1961 studio album, Inside the Disney
Archives Tour and sections devoted to the film and audio archives.
We've also included never-before-seen footage from the private
collections of David Swift (for Parent Trap and Pollyanna)
and James MacArthur (Swiss Family Robinson). On Swiss Family
we also have footage of the opening of the Swiss Family Treehouse
Attraction at Disneyland (not ever seen by the public) with commentary
by Hayley Mills.
We've included extensive bios, photo galleries, sound archives pieces
and more. I've been working on these projects and can't possibly list
all the material in a few paragraphs. They have been a major labor of
love that will permit fans and the general public alike a rare and
comprehensive look at everything associated with these titles. There are
hours of supplemental materials painstakingly researched and uncovered
on each disc.
And you're in for a real treat with the forthcoming 20,000 Leagues
Under the Sea. In addition to myself, I've enlisted the work of
David Skaal (Universal Monsters Series) and Disney Archivist Les
Perkins, along with film historian Rudy Behlmer and collectors Bob Burns
and Larry & Paul Brooks to create the ultimate fan's dream: over
three hours of original, extensive supplements. I've discovered
substantial behind-the-scenes footage from 20,000 Leagues Under the
Sea missing for almost 50 years as well as a few other surprises.
We're also completing Love Bug for 2003 with archival footage
and the participation of Buddy Hackett and Dean Jones, to name a few."
Just FYI, Pollyanna, The
Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson
and Old Yeller street on 5/7. The
other two titles are still in production. Anyone else think these DVDs
should be pretty cool?
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/1/02 - 11 AM PDT)
Happy May Day to ya'll. To kick off the new month right, I thought we'd
take a brief look at some major upcoming DVDs that are currently in
production (but definitely unannounced) from the major studios. You'll
find that in today's update of
Rumor Mill. Enjoy!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/30/02 - 2:45 PM PDT)
Our review of Warner's new 4-disc
The Complete First Season DVD box set is now up for you to
check out. The set is definitely worth buying if you're a fan, although
the extras could use a little kick in the pants given the not-so-cheap
SRP of $69.98 (hopefully, Warner will load up future sets with more
worthy bonus material... or drop the price a bit accordingly). Just FYI,
you should find the title on store shelves today.
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/30/02 - 1 PM PDT)
After my post yesterday about bootleg DVDs becoming available in
Afghanistan, I got a great e-mail from Master Sgt. Doug Oswald, who is
currently serving in Kuwait with the Air National Guard. Seems our boys
and girls in uniform are enjoying DVD over there as well. Here's what he
had to say:
"I'm serving with my Air National Guard unit
in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and read the
story about electricity and pirated DVDs in Afghanistan. While I didn't
see any DVD players there, I have one in my tent were I'm serving in
Kuwait. They sell them at the base exchange and a trip into town to the
local bazaar yields hundreds of pirated DVDs and VCDs. While the quality
ranges from watchable to pretty good, the price is between $7-$10 each
and there is a wide range of titles like "Lord of the Rings"
and "Jason X." I was hoping to find a copy of "Star Wars:
Attack of the Clones," but I don't think that title will show up
until it hits theaters. DVD is very popular with the military and some
people who are staying for a longer rotation have ordered surround
systems for their living quarters. I've enjoyed the updates while I've
been over here and check in daily."
Doug also sent over a few pictures of one of the local bazaars, showing
tons of bootleg discs in cardboard sleeves.
Also available (on the same table pictured here) is perfume, Gameboy
games - you name it. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for dropping us a
line, Doug! When you get that home theater set up in your tent, maybe
you'll have to send us a DVD review or two! Stay safe and please give
our best to everyone serving with you over there.
And in other news today, there's
story over at Yahoo on the release of Warner's Friends:
The Complete First Season on DVD. Watch for our review later
(LATE UPDATE -
4/29/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)
We've got a little interesting DVD news for you to round out the day.
It seems that DVD players have become all the rage in Afghanistan now
that electric power is more readily available (see
the complete story via Yahoo). Word is that "people are
snapping up videotape and DVD players to watch pirated Rambo and
Jean-Claude Van Damme movies from Pakistan on televisions that no longer
need to be hidden". Fascinating.
there's news that Blockbuster is going to be testing a "subscription"
service that will allow select customers to keep their rented DVD movies
as long as they like without paying rental fees. This would be in an
effort to head off competition from the likes of Netflix, which allows a
similar DVD rental service online.
And finally this afternoon, we've got a look at the final DVD cover art
for MGM's Hart's War (7/9), along
with Paramount's I Love Lucy: Season 1,
Volume 1 (7/2), Artisan's Rambo
Trilogy: Special Edition boxed set (5/21) and Fox's Kung
Pow: Enter the Fist (7/23). Enjoy!
(LATE UPDATE - 4/29/02 - 12:45 PM PDT)
Just a quick note to let you know that we've just kicked off our latest
Trivia Contest, giving you each a chance
to take home copies of MGM's Bull Durham,
Usual Suspects and Bandits
special edition DVDs. There will be five winners in all and the contest
will run for one week. So
click here to
enter and good luck!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/29/02 - 11 AM PDT)
We've got a few posts coming today. First up, we've updated all the
data charts including the
DVD Player Sales numbers (to include the players shipped in
the second week of April). We've also updated all of the other stats
Around the site today, we've finally gotten our banner CGI running
again. Took long enough, but now you don't have to look at broken links
anymore. We're still working on the search engines, so we should have
that done soon. We've had a lot of people e-mail us to let us know they
were down. One guy even said - "Hey - you should get your web
developer guy on that!" Well, guess who our web developer guy is...
yep, yours truly. So I'm editor guy, writer guy, news gathering guy,
interview guy and web developer guy. Any wonder things take a while to
get done around here? The Bits is
your mom and pop DVD news site. We put more love into everything we do.
On the news search note, if anyone can suggest a good, solid search
engine CGI script that will work on an NT server, please let me know. It
needs to be able to look through a large batch of files efficiently for
a particular text string and display a list of results. An added bonus
would be that when you click on one of the results, it takes to you the
actual instance of the text string in the target page. Any help would be
In other news, we have details on MGM's forthcoming Hart's
War DVD (street date 7/9). The disc will feature both
anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio,
audio commentary with Bruce Willis, director Gregory Hoblit and writer
Billy Ray, a second audio commentary with producer David Forester,
deleted scenes with director's commentary, a 42-page photo gallery and
the film's theatrical trailer. SRP is $26.98. Note that the disc was to
have been labeled a special edition. It isn't anymore, despite the fact
that there are significant SE materials on the disc.
Also coming soon from MGM is No Such Thing
(street date 7/9), which will include anamorphic widescreen and full
frame video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. SRP $22.50.
You know, we've really got to hand it to MGM. They're doing some great
special editions, good solid standard editions, they're not afraid to
include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame on the same disc and
they price their discs reasonably relative to what they include on their
discs. Props, guys.
We've got word of other upcoming DVDs today as well. More upcoming MGM
titles include Care Bears Movie/Water Babies
and True Heart/Courage Mountain,
both on 8/6. MPI is delivering The
Honeymooners: Lost Episodes 17 & 18 on 5/28 and The
Honeymooners: Lost Episodes 19 & 20 on 6/25. Pioneer's
Armitage: Dual-Matrix arrives on
6/25. Rhino will deliver Mystery Science
Theater 3000: The Crawling Hand and Mystery
Science Theater 3000: Hellcats on 6/11. And Warner has
announced Getting There,
Sweet 16 and License to
Drive (6/11) and Charlotte Gray
Back later. Stay tuned...
Here's a little something to start your day off right. An in-depth
review of Paramount's
Trek: The Next Generation - Season Two DVD boxed set (by yours
truly), which streets on May 7th.
Also this morning, we wanted to point out a really good article in Business
2.0 magazine this week on the battle between Hollywood and
everyone else over copyright in the digital age.
can find it available online at this link and it's well worth
reading. We can't stress to you enough how important this issue is. Do
yourselves a favor - read all you can and get active!
Here's a little something I figured you guys would enjoy... how about a
look at 20th Century Fox's upcoming Speed:
Five-Star Collection (street date 7/30) and M*A*S*H:
Season Two Collector's Edition (7/23) DVDs?
The 2-disc Speed: Five-Star Collection
will feature the film in newly mastered, THX-certified anamorphic
widescreen video with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 versions (SRP
$26.98). Extras will include audio commentary by Jan De Bont and audio
commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon (with chapter selection), 5
extended scenes including (Jack shoots Payne in the neck," "Payne
lives/cops party," "Annies job," After Helens
death and Rays Crime), multi-angle stunt
comparisons on "Bus Jump (9 angles), Cargo Jet
Explosion (9 angles), Jack vs. Payne (4 angles) and Metro
Rail Crash (9 angles), 5 featurettes (On
Location, Stunts, Visual
Effects, Bus Jump and
Metro Rail Crash), 4 storyboard to
film comparisons (for "Bombs on Bus," Baker Sequence,"
Bus Jump and Metro Rail Fight & Crash),
interviews with Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff
Daniels and Jan De Bont, the HBO First Look
special, the original theatrical trailer, 11 television spots, the Billy
Idol music video and production notes, Easter Eggs, the original
screenplay and an image gallery totaling over 400 images (including "Production
Design," "Behind the Scenes" and "Press Kit"
That same day, you'll also be able to get Speed
2: Cruise Control on DVD in newly mastered, THX-certified
anamorphic widescreen video with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1
versions, along with a never before seen "making of" special
(SRP $19.98). And both films will be available in the Speed:
DVD Box Set (SRP $39.98).
The 3 discs contained in the M*A*S*H: Season
Two Collector's Edition box set will include all 24 second
season episodes of the series (SRP $39.98), including favorites The
Incubator, Five O'Clock Charlie,
and Carry On Hawkeye. As with Season
One, each episode on the DVD is presented in English, French
and Spanish, and with the option of turning off the laugh track in
Also from Fox, watch for Kung Pow: Enter the
Fist on 7/23.
And just FYI, there's
new online petition to get Disney to release their two upcoming
Muppet Treasure Island and Muppet
Christmas Carol in their original widescreen aspect ratios.
Make sure to get on over there and sign it.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/24/02
- 1:15 PM PDT)
We've got a look at the final DVD cover artwork for major upcoming DVDs
this afternoon... Universal's A Beautiful
Mind: Awards Edition (widescreen version - street date 6/25),
New Line's Special Extended Edition
and Collector's Gift Set versions
of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of
the Ring (both street 11/12) and Paramount's Top
Also, just FYI, Universal has officially set 6/25 as the street date
for Gosford Park (a title which
was taken over by the studio from the now defunct USA).
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/24/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)
Some of you may have heard that Universal's upcoming DVD release of
Steven Spielberg's Duel has been
cancelled. That is not true. I have it direct from the studio that the
title has merely been postponed, likely due to production issues. Fear
not, it is coming.
Unfortunately, the news is not so good for Muppet fans. We've confirmed
that Disney's upcoming Muppet Treasure Island
and Muppet Christmas Carol are
both being released full frame only, which has TONS of fans really
steaming. You can read more here via the
News Central website. Let Disney know what you think about
this folks: call 'em at 1-800-72-DISNEY and e-mail 'em at
On the subject of widescreen vs. full frame DVD, there's
good article over at USA Today you should read. One of the
key points in the article is from Toshiba's Scott Ramirez:
"But Ramirez also notes that the industry is
moving swiftly toward 16:9 as the retail standard. Last year, he said,
about 30% of all rear-projection sales including 60% of
high-definition digital models were in widescreen. In 2002, the
percentage of wide-screen sales is expected to jump to 60%; at the same
time, 80% of high-definition sales are likely to be in wide-screen
Can't you just already hear the uneducated masses complaining in a few
years: "Hey... why do I have these ugly gray bars on the side of my
new widescreen TV when I watch all my DVDs that used to fill the whole
(LATE UPDATE - 4/23/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)
Okay, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts with the numbers for the week ending
April 5th. Also, we've got three new DVD reviews for you this morning -
Todd's look at Fox's
Hell: Director's Limited Edition (street date: 5/14) and Dan's
take on Fox's
Deep End and USA's
Man Who Wasn't There (both now available). We'll have more
reviews over the next few days.
Check back later for the start of our new Trivia
And one last note this morning. I wanted to recommend a great movie I
saw this weekend while I was waiting for my cable modem connection to
right itself. It's called My Big Fat Greek
Wedding. My wife Sarah had to practically drag me to see it,
but I have to tell you... I haven't laughed that hard in a while. It's
in limited release, but it's really worth seeing if you can find it. And
it makes great counter programming if you get tired of all the Spider-Men
and Clones coming to theaters in
the next 30 days.
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/23/02 - 9 AM PDT)
Sorry we disappeared there guys. My cable modem connection decided to
get spotty on me early Saturday morning and didn't clear up until last
night. We've got a lot of stuff ready to post, but it's going to take a
while to get it all up, so please give me until later this afternoon to
get caught up. Reviews are on the way!
One note for the benefit of our readers: seems like we're seeing a real
upswing in the amount of viruses we're getting attached to e-mails from
some of you guys. Our anti-virus programs are catching them all just
fine, but you all should definitely update your own anti-virus software
and do a good scan of your systems. Better same that sorry.
Also, just FYI, our second discussion with Buena Vista (which has been
set for yesterday) got postponed, so we'll let you know when we get it
Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/19/02 -
2:30 PM PDT)
Okay, we're gonna wait on the DVD reviews in favor of a big review post
on Monday. Look for Friends: The Complete
First Season, The Deep End
and From Hell among others. In the
meantime, we've another
Mill update for you die-hard fans of Star
Trek on DVD. Here's a hint - start saving your money for
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/19/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)
Okay... we're really swamped today with e-mails, and we're doing a lot
of work behind the scenes to get our banner software running again and
to fix the broken search engines. We switched from a UNIX server to an
Windows 2000 server, and we're having to install new code because of
this. Plus, we're also investigating a few other stories
behind-the-scenes. So today's post isn't going to be huge. BUT... one
thing I wanted to mention is that we HAVE asked Buena Vista's Chris
Carey about the possibility of the studio using DVD's "pan &
scan on the fly" feature, which would allow a full frame viewing
option on DVDs of 1.85:1 films without having to include separate
transfers. The DVD player simply creates a full frame version
electronically from the anamorphic widescreen video file, and it is
PROVEN to work, even on the crappiest players. I expect an answer
sometime soon, so we'll have that for you as soon as it comes in. Also,
we'll be talking with the studio again on Monday on the marketing issues
of widescreen vs. full frame.
By the way, thanks to everyone who informed me that the word "skew"
should be properly transcribed "SKU". ;-)
In the meantime, we've got more upcoming DVDs to tell you about. Anchor
Bay is releasing Are You Being Served: The
Movie, Beast with a Gun,
Diamonds, Guns and Lipsticks, Shatter
and Toy Soldiers on 6/11. BCI
Eclipse/Brentwood is releasing 16 episodes of The
Andy Griffith Show, 20 episodes of The
Beverly Hillbillies and 8 episodes of Bonanza
the same day. Columbia TriStar has finally announced 1776,
Old Gringo and Teenage
Caveman for 7/2. They also have Devil's
Backbone, Outside the Law
and Perfect coming on 6/25. Elite
is releasing That Little Monster/The Visitant
on 7/30. First Run has Butterfly Kiss
and History Lessons coming on
6/11. Paramount has announced Star Trek: The
Next Generation - Season Three for 7/2, with Better
Off Dead, The Big Bus,
Black Sheep, Gung
Ho, It Came from Hollywood,
Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy,
Mean Machine and Top
Secret all due on 7/16. Showtime is releasing By
Dawn's Early Light on 7/9, along with They
Call Me Sir and Walter and Henry.
They also have My Louisiana Sky
coming on 6/11. Universal has announced (as we mentioned the other day)
A Beautiful Mind (both full frame
and widescreen) for 6/25. Universal Music will also release Tesla:
Time's Making Changes on 4/30 as well as Jimi
Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show on 5/14. And finally, Warner's
announced The Majestic for 6/18,
with Affair of the Necklace coming
on 6/25 and A Walk to Remember on
Now then... we're gonna make a rare Saturday post to kick off the next
Trivia Contest. And we may try to
slip in here this afternoon with a DVD review or two (don't get upset if
we don't, but we're working on it). In the meantime, have a great
weekend and we'll be back with more Monday!
As many of you are probably aware, there's been some controversy
recently over studios releasing select widescreen films (usually "children"
or "family" titles) in full frame aspect ratios on DVD only.
But what constitutes a family film? Certainly you could call Warner's
Willy Wonka a family film, but the
idea that Warner tried to release it in full frame only recently gave a
lot of DVD fans the plain old willies. The studio rational is that as
DVD has gotten more mainstream, average consumers don't like the black
bars. But avid DVD fans (ourselves included) believe that all films
should be released on DVD in their original theatrical aspect ratios. So
what's the solution? This morning we had the chance to speak with Chris
Carey, who is the Senior Vice President of Worldwide DVD Production and
Technical Operations for Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Chris was kind
enough to discuss the widescreen vs. full frame issue with us from a
here's the transcript of our conversation. Next week, we'll speak
with another BVHE representative from a marketing standpoint on the same
issue. Keep in mind, our goal with these interviews is simply to let the
studio explain their side of the issue and let them address your most
often voiced concerns. You should already know where we at The
Bits stand. We'll let you decide how you feel about it.
(LATE UPDATE - 4/17/02 - 6:15 PM PDT)
Just FYI, we've got late word for you today on the subject of that Star
Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Collector's Edition delay we
mentioned earlier. You'll find it in
Rumor Mill, and I think it works out to be pretty cool news
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/17/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)
We've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today, with more expected
to follow tomorrow. You'll find my two cents on A&E's terrific
as well as Adam's take on Fox's recent
Five Star Collection and their
TV Season One. All of these titles are currently available.
In other news today,
National Film Preservation Foundation has announced a $200,000 grant
to produce three DVDs of rarely seen films (set to debut in 2004).
Included in the Save the Silents
DVD anthology will be rare features (such as Cecil B. DeMille's The
Girl of the Golden West), newsreels (among them footage of
the 1906 San Francisco earthquake), documentaries, animation,
kinetoscope loops, one-reelers, serial episodes, technical tests and
exhibitor reels. Each DVD will run up to three hours and will include
new musical accompaniments and scholarly notes. According to foundation
member Leonard Maltin, fewer than 20% of all silent pictures survive. He
views the DVD project "as a milestone in that it will allow the
archives to give the world an easy glimpse of what does remain."
And finally, we've got word today that Paramount's Star
Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Collector's Edition is being
delayed from its expected originally expected June release time-frame.
Please note that the date was tentative anyway and the title was as yet
unannounced by the studio, so don't start complaining to Paramount. Rest
easy - it's still coming... there's just no date set. We'll update you
when there's something official to report.
Howdy, gang. We've got some more upcoming DVD information for you
today, and we'll start with details on Universal's OFFICIAL A
Beautiful Mind: Awards Edition DVD (as opposed to that April
Fool's version we told you about recently). The 2-disc set will street
on June 25th for an SRP of $29.98. Look for it to include anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio, audio commentary with
director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, deleted scenes with
director's commentary, the A Beautiful
Partnership featurette, a look at the development of the
screenplay, The Nash Theory of Equilibrium,
Nash accepting the Nobel Prize in economics, The
Process of Age Progression featurette, storyboards to final
feature comparison, Creation of the Special
Effects featurette, a look at the scoring of the film, the
Inside A Beautiful Mind
documentary, an Academy Awards featurette, the theatrical trailer, a
soundtrack prom and DVD-ROM features including "Total Axess",
production notes and cast and filmmakers biographies. Thanks to Bits
reader Joe V. for the heads-up. We'll have art for you soon.
Also today, looks like in my rush to list all those new, forthcoming
Buena Vista live action titles, I left a couple out. Add Babes
in Toyland and Where the Toys Come
From to the September 3rd slate. And just to let you all
know, we've requested a complete list of which titles are anamorphic
widescreen and which may be released in full frame. We'll post that as
soon as it becomes available. We'll also be speaking with Buena Vista in
the next few days on the widescreen issue, so stay tuned.
And we've got word today that Stuart Gordon & Jeffrey Combs will
attend a signing event at Dave's Video: The Laser Place here in L.A. on
Saturday, May 4th from 1-3 PM. They'll be signing copies of Elite's Re-Animator:
Millennium Edition. The usual rules apply - they'll sign two
items per person, one of which is must be a copy of Re-Animator
purchased at Dave's. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a
charity of the guests' choice. Dave's Video is located at 12144 Ventura
Blvd. in Studio City, CA.