UPDATE - 9/4/02 - 6 PM PDT)
Okay... we've posted a trio of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon,
as expected. First up, Dan Kelly takes a look at HBO's recent
and the City: The Complete Third Season on disc. Next,
Graham's got his thoughts on Fox's
Like You. And finally, Todd and I check in with a tag-team
review of Fox's upcoming
The Complete First Season (street date 9/17).
I have to tell you... I originally started to watch 24
when it was broadcast on Fox earlier this year, but I stopped after
missing a couple of episodes. I kept taping the show however, figuring
I'd just watch them all at once when the season was done. So the finale
finally airs, and just as I'm getting ready to watch the tapes, Fox
announces that they're releasing the series on DVD! Well, the discs
finally showed up last week and I put one in. Before long, I was hooked.
I watched the ENTIRE first season, episode after episode, in about three
days. I swear, I haven't been that addicted to watching a TV series on
DVD since the first Sopranos box
came out! Make no mistake... 24 on
DVD is like serious drugs. And I'm completely addicted. Fox's plan in
releasing these episodes was to get people to tune in for the second
season. Well, it's worked. I'm DEFINITELY tuning in... ;-)
Last, but not least today, we've got word in
Rumor Mill that should make you Star
Trek fans happy. Live long and prosper.
(LATE UPDATE -
9/4/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)
We'll be back with more soon, but first I wanted to give you all an
update on the HD-DVD: One Format Only!
campaign. As of this afternoon, the following sites and organizations
have joined The Digital Bits in
the effort to promote the creation of a single, unified format for
The DVD Cyber Center
Home Theater Forum
In addition, a story on the campaign is expected to appear in an
upcoming issue of Video Store
magazine. And we expect to have an official website for the campaign
online in the next few days. In the meantime, ANYONE wishing to
participate in the campaign should read
temporary information page. All you have to do to join is:
1) Place one of the campaign logos prominently on your website and...
2) Link the logo back to the information page (eventually, all links
should go to the official campaign site)
Easy as pie. And I think I speak for all of us participating in this
effort when I say that we're thrilled to see such united support from
the online DVD community!
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/4/02 - 9:30 AM PDT)
Hey gang! Hope you all had a great long holiday weekend. We're back a
day later than expected, but for good reason. This weekend my wife,
Sarah, and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary by driving up to
the central coast of California. Just beautiful... and relaxing too!
Anyway, I wanted to let you know that we'll be back this afternoon with
a number of new DVD reviews. We've got enough completed to post several
a day for the rest of the week. So that's exactly what we'll be doing.
Check back later for the first batch.
I also wanted to address a sad note this morning. Word arrived this
filmmaker J. Lee Thompson passed away in Canada at the age of 88.
As many of you know, among the many films Thompson directed are The
Guns of Navarone, the original Cape
Fear and two of the Planet of the
Apes sequels (he once even owned the successful franchise).
In June of 2000, I had the great pleasure of interviewing J. Lee as part
coverage of Columbia TriStar's DVD release of Guns of Navarone.
And I must say, speaking with him was one of the great pleasures of my
work here at The Bits so far. He
was a true gentlemen... charming, intelligent and completely generous
and genuine. All of us here at The Digital
Bits will miss him.
the interview a read and spin a copy of Guns
in his honor.
Back later. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 8/30/02 - 3 PM PDT)
We've got no less than FOUR new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Our
own Brad Pilcher has checked in with a look at the new documentary
The First 24 Hours, as well as Disney's 2-disc
The Lost Empire - Collector's Edition. And Graham Greenlee has
reviews on Miramax's 2-disc Amélie
In other news today,
launched a page that explains the mission of the HD-DVD: One
Format Only! Campaign. The logo you see under the button bar
is now linked to this page. We're proud to welcome
Home Theater Forum to this effort.
We've also updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers and the VideoScan
DVD Sales chart above.
And finally today, we have word that ADV has set Farscape:
Season Two, Volume 3 for 10/15. Buena Vista will release Bad
Company on 11/12, with Reign of
Fire following on 11/19. And Paramount's Star
Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six is officially set for
With that, we consign another week to the annals of history. Have a
great Labor Day weekend and we'll see you back here on Tuesday!
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/30/02
- 11:45 AM PDT)
Thanks to everyone who sent in details on Disney's Lilo
and Stitch DVD. Unfortunately, there have been a LOT of
questions, so we went straight to Disney to confirm the following
information. Set to street on 12/3, this SINGLE-disc set (yes, that's
right - SINGLE-disc) will include anamorphic widescreen video (1.66:1
aspect ratio), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio along with deleted scenes
(presented in various states of completion), both new and old InterSTITCHals
(aka teaser trailers), a featurette with country star Wynonna, the
A-Teens music video for I Cant Help
Falling in Love with You, interactive games and the
interactive DisneyPedia: Hawaii
(featuring a behind the scenes look at the production and the island
settings). SRP is $24.99. I also know that a number of features created
for this disc, including director's commentary and the film's original "747"
ending, are NOT on this edition. So I'm STILL left wondering if a 2-disc
collector's edition isn't planned for 2003. I'll post more when I can
In other Buena Vista news, their Miramax division will be releasing
Peter Jackson's Heavenly Creatures
on 9/24 (SRP $19.99) in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital
2.0 audio. This is the 109-minute cut of the film.
Also on 9/24, you'll find the new Swingers:
Collector's Series DVD (SRP $19.99). The disc will include
anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, audio commentary
with director Doug Liman, "illustrated action" commentary with
actors Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, 5 deleted scenes, the Making
it in Hollywood documentary, concept art and storyboards and
the short film Swingblade.
Finally, Miramax will also debut The
Grifters: Collector's Series DVD (also 9/24, SRP $19.99) in
anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. Bonus features
include audio commentary with director Stephen Frears, screenwriter
Donald Westlake and actors John Cusack and Anjelica Huston, as well as
The Making of The Grifters
featurette, a featurette on novelist Jim Thompson and The
We also have details on the 11/26 release of Men
in Black II from Columbia TriStar (SLP $26.98). The 2-disc
special edition (available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen
versions) will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, , "intergalactic"
production featurettes, "alien creature" featurettes, an "alien
broadcast", an alternate ending, a blooper reel, audio commentary
with director Barry Sonnenfeld with optional "telestrator"
diagrams, theatrical trailers and one-sheets, filmographies, Will
Smith's Black Suits Comin (Nod Your
Head) music video, a multi-angle scene deconstruction, and
DVD ROM features (including an interactive game, screen saver, concept
designs, the MIB II script and
And Artisan's hard at work on a High Noon:
50th Anniversary DVD (street date 10/22), which will include
the film in a remastered transfer (aspect ratio 1.37:1), Dolby Digital
2.0 audio, audio commentary with Tim Zinnemann (the son of director Fred
Zinnemann), Johnathan Foreman (the son of co-writer Carl Foreman) and
Maria Cooper-Janis (the daughter of Gary Cooper) among others. Look also
for a new documentary, a featurette the trailer and more.
By the way, in case you hadn't heard (and you care) Major League
Baseball players and owners
reached an agreement that will avert a strike, which had been set
for today. As a fan, however, I can't help still being a pissed off that
there was even talk of a strike given the kind of money that's being
made here. Despite being a fan whose Minnesota Twins were almost
contracted before the season (and who are now leading their division and
headed for the playoffs), all this nonsense has almost complete killed
my interest. Good grief...
Anyway, back this afternoon with new DVD reviews. And don't forget that
our two Trivia Contests end
tonight - get your entries in quick!
(LATE UPDATE - 8/29/02 - 12:45 PM PDT)
Okay folks... as it was with Divx and anamorphic widescreen, it's time
early adopters, home theater buffs and DVD fans got active on the HD-DVD
front. So, just as we did with the campaign against Divx and in support
of anamorphic widescreen, we've created a logo for you to post on your
websites to show united support for a single HD-DVD format. The HD-DVD:
One Format Only! logo is now available (below) for both white
and black backgrounds. Use it freely, spread it widely and we don't care
about credit or a link - that's not what this is about.
The bottom line is that the power of the online DVD community has been
used before to benefit everyone, and it's time it was used again. The
industry needs to know how YOU feel... and that you WILL NOT tolerate a
In other site news this morning, I wanted to let all of you know that
we've got a number of new DVD reviews that we'll be posting tomorrow
morning. And we're still working on the transcript of our Comic-Con
DVD Producers Panel, so never fear. Since audience Q&A
was an extensive part of the discussion, the process of transcribing the
recording is VERY slow going. But rest assured, we'll get it up as soon
as we can.
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/29/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)
The industry wrangling over the shape of the next generation,
high-definition DVD format has been "kicked up a notch" today.
As many of you know,
in the industry (led by Warner Bros) have been pushing hard for a
red-laser based format, using discs of similar capacity to today's
existing DVD discs, and simply with higher compression to fit high
resolution video onto the discs. The idea is that these discs could take
advantage of existing manufacturing resources and thus be brought to
market faster. Then there is also the Blu-Ray format proposed by Sony
and Panasonic, which would take advantage of the finer wavelength of the
blue laser and a physical disc capable of storing much greater
Well, this morning, Toshiba (which was one of the leading companies
behind the development of current DVD) and NEC
announced that they have proposed a different spec to the DVD Forum
- one also based on the blue laser. According to Toshiba, its format
could be ready for launch as early as next year, and the players would
be backwards compatible with existing DVD discs. They also claim that
the new format could still use existing DVD manufacturing plants. And it
would also be ready for video recording (you can read more about this
What we're starting to see is the development of the kind of format war
that resulted in VHS vs.
now defunct Sony Betamax format, and the current confusion of
DVD-Audio vs. Sony's SACD, which has significantly hurt the move to
At The Digital Bits, we
absolutely back a blue-laser based HD-DVD format. In our opinion, if the
industry is going to launch an HD-DVD format, they should do it right,
rather than simply rushing an inferior red-laser based format to market.
But the industry also needs to get its ducks in a row. With current DVD
selling like gangbusters, ANY HD-DVD format is going to be a tough sell
to consumers who have just made the move from videotape to disc. The
success of a unified DVD format and the lack of interest in DVD-Audio
and SACD should be a warning. Whichever HD-DVD format is chosen, ONE
FORMAT NEEDS TO BE CHOSEN. If two competing HD formats are launched at
the same time, HD-DVD will be dead on arrival. Sony, for one, has never
shied away from going it alone by launching its own competing formats -
think Betamax, DAT and MiniDisc. We've got nothing against Sony or any
other manufacturer. But a format war absolutely CAN NOT HAPPEN. So our
advice to the industry is to sit down, talk it out and negotiate a
single, unified format like they did with standard DVD. Our advice to
Hollywood is to then get on board that unified format. And, most
importantly, our advice to all of our readers is this: get active, get
vocal and DEMAND that a single unified format be chosen. Let the DVD
Forum know that you simply won't tolerate a format war.
Let me state this bluntly: it's time the entertainment industry and the
electronics industry got their shit together. And it's time consumers
let them know it.
Back with more later...
Okay... back in action. As I rolled our of bed this morning, I swear I
could hear some crazed voice shouting, "It's alive... it's ALIVE!!"
Nothing like a summer head cold to really throw you for a loop.
Anyway, this morning we've got word on the DVD release of Disney's Lilo
and Stitch. The disc will street on 12/5, unfortunately only
as a single-disc edition. There's no word yet on features, but we happen
to know that a lot of special edition material was produced for the
title. So the question is, will there be a more ultimate, 2-disc edition
Also in December, Disney is set to "disappear" several of
their animated DVD releases, placing them on moratorium on 12/31. These
include Peter Pan, Peter
Pan: Return to Never Land, The
Little Mermaid II, Beauty and the
Beast: Platinum Edition (less than 90 days after its initial
release) and Beauty and the Beast: The
In other news this morning, we've got details on the contents of
Warner's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood DVD, which streets on 11/5 (SRP $26.98). Look for
anamorphic widescreen or full frame video (your choice), Dolby Digital
5.1 audio, additional scenes not seen in theatres, two commentaries (one
with director/screenwriter Callie Khouri and actor Ashley Judd; the
other with Khouri, producers Bonnie Bruckheimer and Hunt Lowry,
executive producer Lisa Stewart, editor Andrew Marcus and composer
T-Bone Burnett), the Unlocking the Secrets of
the Ya-Ya Sisterhood documentary, an interactive scrapbook
and the Alison Krauss music video for Sitting
in the Window of My Room. So heads up guys - bring home a
copy of Ya-Ya for the wife or
girlfriend when you're out getting Spider-Man,
Babylon 5: Season One, Band
of Brothers and X-Files: Season
Six, and just MAYBE she'll look the other way when you also
buy Star Wars: Episode II, Lord
of the Rings, South Park: Season
One, Sports Night, Ice
Age and MIB II later in
the month! Anyone out there taking a second, part-time job just to buy
DVDs this holiday season? Seems to be becoming a yearly tradition for a
lot of readers. ;-)
Warner's Scooby-Doo: The Movie
streets on 10/11 (SRP also $26.98), and will include anamorphic
widescreen or full frame video (your choice), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio,
deleted scenes, 4 mini-featurettes, the Outkast music video, a
behind-the-scenes documentary, 2 audio commentaries from the cast and
the filmmakers, DVD-ROM games, a 2-player "Scooby arcade challenge",
hidden extras and more.
Also this morning, Criterion has announced a new batch of DVD releases.
Down by Law and The
Life and Death of Colonel Blimp are due on 10/22. And Contempt
and Solaris follow on 11/12. SRP
for each of these discs is $39.95.
Here's a look at the DVD cover art for Lilo
and Stitch and the Criterion titles. Titles with links can be
pre-ordered now at DVD Planet.
Finally this morning, our own Adam Jones was fortunate to attend a
screening of Quitting at Sony
Pictures last week. Here's what he has to say:
"Quitting is a remarkable film which
is to be released later this year by Sony Pictures Classics. It's a true
story that traces seven years of Jia Hongsheng, once a prominent Chinese
movie star who has succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction. Distraught
by Jia's current mental and physical state, his parents literally pack
up everything they own from the small town in Northeast China and travel
to Beijing to be with their son. The film explores Jia's spiritual
journey from his saddening downfall into a contemptible, rotten
individual, his inner conflict with himself and his parents and
eventually his redemption in rediscovering himself and the value of
Quitting is unique in its unorthodox approach to the material.
Instead of delving into the seedy, often surreal world of drugs, it
remains grounded on a human level by having the entire cast, including
the most minor roles, are all real people portraying themselves.
Director Zhang Yang isn't interested in scenes of people shooting up,
utilizing nifty camera tricks, or characters experiencing trippy
hallucinations. We've seen Trainspotting. We've seen Requiem
for a Dream. Yang wisely opts for the spiritual angle which in turn
keeps the subject fresh. All the actors, or I should say "people",
in the film are nothing short of extraordinary, courageously reliving a
dark period in their lives to play on film. It's real. It's unflinching.
It's damn good. Be sure to look for it at your local art house theater.
I guarantee you will be hearing about this film at the next Academy
Hey Gang... I wanted to make a quick post here just to let you all know
that I'm down with a bit of a head cold today, and so am taking the day
to rest up. But we'll be back tomorrow with our usual batch of news,
reviews and more.
Stay tuned... (which, if you all could HEAR me right now, would sound
something like this: "Sday tuuuud...")!
Well... the week begins anew. It's so far a slow news day, but we do
have a pretty interesting link for you.
New York Times online has a big article on DVD today, and how
it's quickly relegating VHS to the dust bin (we understand it's also on
the paper's front page). In order to read the online version, you have
to register for the online service, but it's free (you can also read it
here). And as it's a pretty extensive article, it's well worth a
look. Here's an interesting quote:
"Some recent hit films, like The Fast
and the Furious and Training Day, have earned more money
from their DVD releases than from their first-run theater engagements.
And for the first time, DVD sales have surpassed those of
videocassettes, even though DVD players are in only about a third of
American households, compared with a saturation of more than 90 percent
for videocassette players."
And here's another even more interesting quote from Martin Greenwald,
the president of Image Entertainment:
"The initial release of the motion picture
in movie theaters is becoming, to a large extent, little more than a
preview trailer for the subsequent purchase of the DVD."
Also today, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 121,965 players that
shipped to retailers here in Region 1 in the second week of August,
ending 8/9. All charts have been updated accordingly.
And finally this morning, we have more upcoming DVD announcements for
you. Artisan will release Derailed
on 10/15 and Don't Look Down, Shipment
and Wishmaster 4: Prophecy Fulfilled
on 10/22. BFS has Dangerous Lady
and Wives of Henry VIII set for
10/8. Columbia TriStar has added Mysterious
Island and Soul Assassin
to their 10/29 slate. Cramer Productions will release Boston
Red Sox: 100 Years of Baseball History on 9/24. Goodtimes has
announced The Sopranos: Unauthorized
for 9/24. Kino International will release The
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (silent - 1919), The
Golem (silent - 1920), Nosferatu
(silent - 1922) and Waxworks
(silent - 1924) all on 9/24. New Line's Lord
of the Rings: Special Extended Edition is officially set for
11/12. Pioneer's Silent Mobius: DVD
Collection #3 is due on 10/22, with Armitage
III following on 11/5. Rhino will release First
Works on 10/8 and Gigantor,
Simply Red: Live in London and
Wild Style on 10/22. Sony will
release the 1957 version of Dr. Seuss: How
the Grinch Stole Christmas on 9/24, along with Lamb
Chop's Chanukah and Passover Surprise, Madeline's
Christmas, Madeline's Winter
Vacation and Mr. Magoo's Christmas
Carol. 20th Century Fox's The Red
Curtain Trilogy is due on 9/10. Universal's Baretta:
Season One and Best of Beretta
street on 10/29, with Land Before Time II:
The Great Valley Adventure, Land
Before Time III: The Time of the Great Giving and Land
Before Time IV: Journey to Big Water following on 12/10.
Universal Music will release Brenda K. Starr:
All Time Greatest Hits and Tricky:
A Ruff Guide/Naked and Famous on 9/17, and Nanci
Griffith: Winter Marquee and Raffi:
Raffi in Concert on 9/24. VCI's Jungle
Jim (1936 serial), Return of the
Street Fighter, Sister Street
Fighter, Street Fighter
and Street Fighter's Last Revenge
all street on 9/24. And finally, Warner will release Magic
School Bus: The Holiday Special on 10/8, with dual full frame
and widescreen versions of Eight Legged
Freaks on 10/29.
Our friends over at the
Project have been posting screen shots from the international
version of the upcoming Black Hawk Down:
Special Edition DVD. The international version is a 2-disc
release with the following extras (this may not be a totally
comprehensive list): anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1), Digital
Digital 5.1 sound, audio commentary with director Ridley Scott and Jerry
Bruckheimer, audio commentary with author Mark Bowden & screenwriter
Ken Nolan, audio commentary with real Task Force Ranger veterans MSgt.
Matt Eversmann, Col. Tom Matthews (Ret.), Col. Danny McKnight (Ret.) and
Col. Lee Van Arsdale (Ret.), The Essence of
War: Making Black Hawk Down documentary, Designing
Mogadishu featurette, production design archive, storyboards,
Ridleygrams, Jerry Bruckheimer's BHD
photo album, photo galleries, title design explorations and 6 deleted
scenes plus a narrated opening and an alternate ending (with optional
audio commentary by Ridley Scott).
Keep in mind that the U.S. release (expected early in 2003 from
Columbia TriStar) will include ALL of the above, plus a THIRD disc of
extras (trailers and lots more) as well.
In other news, we've got new details for you on Buena Vista's effort to
exchange your defective Jackie Brown:
Collector's Edition DVDs. For the record, the problem is that
on the "trivia" text option, the subtitle stream loses sync
between Chapters 10 & 11. The studio is working on a solution and
expects to begin manufacturing fixed discs soon. Exchanges can be
arranged when the discs are ready by calling Buena Vista's customer
service department at 1-800-477-2811. Thanks to Bits
readers Jeff K. and Justin M. for reporting on their experiences with
BVHE on this.
Also this morning, our own Adam Jahnke just had the chance to view a
press screening of Godfrey Reggio's Naqoyqatsi.
Here's what he had to say about it:
"OK, this is gonna be short and sweet. If
you're a fan of Koyaanisqatsi and
Powaqqatsi (not to mention Anima
Mundi, the cute 'n' cuddly baby brother of the Qatsi
series), suffice it to say that Naqoyqatsi
is in every sense the movie you've been waiting 14 long years for. If
you think those are just elaborate typos instead of movie titles up
there, then you owe it to yourself to get on board and discover three of
the finest art films ever made.
Naqoyqatsi is a Hopi word that
roughly translates as "war as a way of life" (and, by the way,
it's pronounced nah koy kahtsee). With the first two movies in the Qatsi
series, Godfrey Reggio examined the ongoing struggle between man,
nature, and technology. With Naqoyqatsi,
it seems technology has won... but we're not evolving fast enough to
keep up with it. In an intentionally ironic move, Reggio has used
cutting-edge digital technology to create the film (and believe me, the
irony is not lost on me that you're reading this little review on a
computer right now). The result is a transcendent, spellbinding movie
unlike anything you've seen before, including the first two Qatsi
Philip Glass's score (which features cello solos by Yo-Yo Ma) ranks
with the best work he's ever done, whether for film, opera or insane
multimedia event. Quite simply, this is one of those rare films that
literally makes you look at the world around you in a whole new way.
It's easily one of the best movies I've seen this year and I encourage
each and every one of you to check it out. It's scheduled to open on
October 18 in selected cities. As David Letterman would say, I just pray
your city has been selected."
Here's a link to the film's
website with more information on potential screenings in your
area. And don't forget that Koyaanisqatsi
and Powaqqatsi are being released
on DVD by MGM on 9/17. Naqoyqatsi
will likely follow next year.
Around the Net today, our own Matt Rowe (also editor of MusicTAP)
sent over a link to a
great business article on MSN on the alleged woes of file sharing
and the REAL problems the music industry is facing - problems definitely
of their own making. Good reading.
We've got two more pieces of upcoming DVD cover art for you today -
Columbia TriStar's Mad About You: The
Complete First Season and Warner's Eight
Legged Freaks (both due on 10/29). Both can be pre-ordered
now at DVD Planet.
And finally this morning, Wellspring has announced a few new upcoming
DVDs. Look for The Doe Boy, Girls
Can't Swim and a pair of Fassbinder titles, The
Marriage of Maria Braun and Katzelmacher,
all on 9/24.
(LATE UPDATE - 8/22/02 - 2 PM PDT)
The winners of the 5th Annual DVD Awards were announced last night at
Entertainment 2002 conference in Hollywood, in a special ceremony
hosted by film critic and historian Leonard Maltin. I was honored to
serve as a judge for these awards, so I'd like to extend my personal
congratulations to all the winners. And here they are...
Evil Dead: Book of the Dead,
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Best Menu Design
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century
Fox Home Entertainment
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs ,
Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century
Fox Home Entertainment
Best Video Presentation
Shrek, Dreamworks Home
Best Audio Presentation (Tie)
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century
Fox Home Entertainment
Pearl Harbor: Vista Series, Buena
Vista Home Entertainment
Ken Burns: Jazz, Warner Home Video
Best DVD-ROM Content
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone,
Warner Home Video
Best Music Release
U2 Live From Boston, Dreamchaser
Queen - A Night at the Opera, DTS
Best Special Edition
The Godfather Collection,
Paramount Home Entertainment
Best Standard Release
Legend of 1900, Image
Best of Show
Citizen Kane, Warner Home Video
Star Wars: Episode I, 20th Century
Fox Home Entertainment
Special Achievement Award
John Q: Infinifilm, New Line Home
You can find the complete list of nominees
Special thanks to Guido Henkel of DVD
Review for all his hard work in organizing these awards.
(LATE UPDATE - 8/22/02 - NOON PDT)
We've got another
Mill update for you this afternoon, with a rundown of MGM's
anticipated DVD release list for December. You Steve Irwin fans should
be happy, we've confirmed The Producers
and there are other great classic titles as well. Don't miss it!
Watch for our new Trivia Contest
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/22/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We've got some news today that is going to get you fans of classic
Universal TV shows excited. The studio has officially announced that it
is releasing Law & Order: The First
Season (6 discs, SRP $99.98, all 22 episodes with
introduction by producer Dick Wolf) on 10/15. Baretta:
Season One will follow on 10/29 (3 discs, SRP $39.98, all 13
episodes), as will The Best of Baretta
(SRP $19.98, includes the series pilot and 2 "bonus" episodes
featuring Sammy Davis Jr).
Better still, Universal is hurriedly working to bring eight of its
other classic series to disc as well. Slated for DVD release in the near
future (late 2002 and early 2003) are Battlestar
Galactica, Quantum Leap,
Earth: Final Conflict, Sliders,
Emergency, the original Dragnet,
Magnum P.I. and The
We're not done yet. Rhino will be delivering a Gigantor
boxed set on 10/22 (SRP $59.98, 4 discs, 26 uncut, black and white
episodes, interview with director/producer/writer Fred Ladd, director's
commentary, photo gallery and more), a Mystery
Science Theater 3000 boxed set on 11/12 (SRP $59.95,
featuring the films Catalina Caper,
The Creeping Terror, Bloodlust
and Skydivers with AND without
MST3K commentary, plus trailers),
and The Transformers: Season Two
boxed set also on 11/12 (SRP $59.95, 4 discs, 24 episodes plus extras
and special features).
We also have word of MORE great Rhino TV series DVDs that are in
production for 2003 in
Rumor Mill this morning, along with some Star
Trek news as well. Don't miss it!
Wanna better look at the 4-disc Lord of the
Rings: Fellowship of the Ring - Extended DVD Version due on
11/12? Here you go (click the pic to preorder now at DVD Planet)...
Anyone a fan of the The Chronicles of Narnia?
Home Vision and the BBC are releasing a 3-disc set (containing all 3
films, plus extras) on DVD on 8/27 ($69.95).
Finally this morning, we've got word that MGM will finally release the
1968 Gene Wilder/Mel Brooks classic The
Producers as a DVD special edition on 12/3 (SRP $24.98). And
Kino is reporting that its restored Metropolis
is expected on DVD on 2/18/03. How that for good news to go with your
(LATE UPDATE - 8/21/02 -
10 AM PDT)
Hey gang! We've got a quick survey for you R2 DVD fans. Fox in the UK
is trying to gauge the level of support for the release of Malcolm
in the Middle there. They've asked the
do a survey, and they need your help. So if you're a Region 2 DVD
fan, and you want Malcolm on disc,
get on over there and let Fox know.
And by the way... you fans of Glengarry Glen
Ross will be pleased to learn that Artisan is finally
delivering a special edition of the film on DVD on 11/19 (SRP $26.98).
No word on extras yet but we'll let you know.
By the way... those xXx temporary
tatoos I mentioned last night? Turns out they're already available when
you buy the CD soundtrack. They apparently fall out of the case when you
first open it! Funny! Thanks to Bits
reader Dennis S. for that tip. ;-)
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/21/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We've got more DVD reviews for you today. Matt Rowe's taken a look at
Inch Nails - Live: And All That Could Have Been, Graham
Greenlee's got reviews of
Curse of the Jade Scorpion and
Came a Spider, and we're hittin' ya with a pair of titles from
"Weird Al" connoisseur Jeff Kleist too...
Al Yankovic: Live! and
Al Yankovic: The Videos. Outta be something for everyone in
that buffet. Just add coffee, two sugars... and enjoy.
We also updated our authorized mirror copy of
Official DVD FAQ to its most recent version, dated 8/15.
Be sure to give Jim some love.
By the way... wanna see a fun little flick? Go see xXx.
Someone finally figured out that the only way to make the bone-tired
Bond formula work is to kick it in the ass, pump it full of adrenaline
and play it all off with a wink and a smile. It's damn good fun. Should
make a great movie only DVD from Columbia TriStar. And then a 2-disc
special edition. And then a 2-disc SuperBit edition. And then a
multi-disc boxed limited edition with exclusive collectible extra perks
(xXx temporary tatoos anyone?)
thrown in for good measure. And then a... ;-)
We're doing some housekeeping around The
Bits today, so posts will be minimal. But we do have word
that Warner is releasing Extremes and In
Betweens: Chuck Jones - A Life in Animation on 10/22 (and for
those of you waiting for classic Looney Tunes
on DVD, the studio IS working to restore the shorts for eventual DVD
release). Warner will also street Eight
Legged Freaks in both widescreen and full frame on 10/29.
There's word in
Rumor Mill today about Stargate
SG-1: Season Three, Lilo &
Stitch and The Lion King
coming to DVD, so be sure to check that out.
Around the Net today,
a report from Video Business that Fox is definitely
finding a welcoming market for TV series product on DVD. According to
Fox chairman Peter Chernin, "DVD sales of our TV shows is a $100
million business and growing."
Also today, those of you looking forward to Kino's theatrical and DVD
re-release of Fritz Lang's Metropolis
can check out an online trailer
official website. Issues of frame-rate aside, I'm REALLY looking
forward to seeing this on the big screen and DVD.
got a brief story on the continuing effort to fight piracy in
Asia. Officials in Thailand recently staged a public event where
thousands of pirated CD, CD-ROM and DVD discs were destroyed.
We've got a couple more pieces of Upcoming DVD Cover Art for you today
- Warner's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya
Sisterhood (11/5), Warner/BBC's The
Young Ones: Every Stoopid Episode (9/17), Warner's Extremes
and In Betweens: Chuck Jones - A Life in Animation (10/22)
and HBO's In Memoriam: New York City 9/11/01
(9/3). All of them can be preordered now from our sponsor,
And finally, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers to reflect the 318,359 players that
shipped to retailers here in the States in the week ending 8/2. All
charts have been updated accordingly.
(LATE UPDATE - 8/19/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)
As promised, we've just updated the
DVD Cover Artwork section with nearly 70 new pieces of cover
artwork from virtually all the major studios. We've also updated the
links so nearly all of the titles can be pre-ordered now from
You'll find The Sum of All Fears,
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron,
all the new Walt Disney Treasures
titles, Men in Black II - you name
it. Virtually every page of the section has been updated with new art,
so be sure to check it out.
(LATE UPDATE - 8/19/02 - 1 PM PDT)
We've got a look for you at the contents of Columbia TriStar's Spider-Man:
Limited Edition boxed set (street date 11/1). In addition to
the widescreen version of the DVD, you'll get an exclusive comic book,
Stan Lee's Mutant's Monsters & Marvels
DVD, a film cell, an art print and more. Here's a look at the package
The SRP is $49.99 and you can order it online now from our sponsor, DVD
Planet, by clicking on the picture above.
Also this afternoon, I wanted to recommend an excellent article on the
subject of digital technology in Hollywood filmmaking. I've long been a
subscriber of MIT's Technology Review
magazine (the ONLY magazine I simply can't do without every month -
how's that for an unpaid testimonial?). In this month's issue (September
2002), the cover story is Digital Cinema,
Take 2, by Michael A. Hiltzik. It's well worth a read, as
Michael looks behind the scenes at Kodak's Cinesite facility and
addresses the many ways digital processes are used in filmmaking today,
both in new film production and in film restoration. You can find the
magazine on newsstands now, or you can
the article itself online at
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/19/02 - 10:45 AM PDT)
We've got a couple of interesting tidbits this morning. Back
to the Future writer/producer Bob Gale has confirmed that the
U.S. version of the Back to the Future
Trilogy on DVD (due 12/17) will NOT feature DTS audio tracks.
The reason is that the removal of the tracks is allowing the inclusion
of as much as 30 minutes of additional bonus material per disc. And Gale
has indicated that, in sampling the Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, he
found little difference between the two. That's no a bad compromise in
our book, but we're sure some DTS fans will take exception. You can read
the complete details over at
link at BTTF.com.
In other news this morning,
BBC has an online story on DVD region coding and, specifically,
how the need for it is beginning to disappear. The article hints that
region coding could evaporate altogether, now that theatrical release
windows around the world are getting closer to their U.S. domestic
counterparts, and more and more people seem able to get around the
coding restriction with all-region DVD players.
And finally this morning, U.K. retailer
reporting a 12/9 street date for the R2 version of New Line's Austin
Powers: Goldmember. We'll have to watch out for an official
announcement in the coming weeks.
Back with cover art and more this afternoon...
So... to close out the week, we've got another four new DVD reviews for
you to peruse. Adam Jahnke takes a look at another recent 2-disc set
this afternoon (and one of my favorite recent films) - Criterion's
Royal Tenenbaums. Graham Greenlee's taken Columbia TriStar's
Princess and the Warrior out for a test drive. And Dan Kelly's
our anchor man today, having checked in with reviews of MGM's
Business of Strangers and Lion's Gate's
Cat's Meow (which streets on 8/20).
And while it's a slow news day, we've got word that actor Seth Green
has recorded an audio commentary for Fox's in-production Buffy
Season Four on DVD (click
here for the skinny via Video Store).
We do also have some newly announced DVDs to report today. A&E will
release Secret Agent (Danger Man): Sets 4 &
5 on 9/24. Anchor Bay will release Fear
in the Night, Mad Mission,
Mad Mission #2: Aces Go Places,
Mad Mission #3: Our Man from Bond Street,
Spontaneous Combustion and To
the Devil a Daughter on 10/8. BMG Music's Neil
Young: Rust Never Sleeps is due on 9/24. Buena Vista has
added The Grifters to its 9/24
slate. Classic Rock Productions will release Black
and Blue: Black Sabbath and Blue
Oyster Cult - Live on 10/8. As we've posted previously,
Columbia TriStar will debut Mad About You:
The Complete First Season on 10/29. Criterion/Home Vision
have added The Specialist, Zatoichi
#3: Blind Swordsman - New Tale of Zatoichi and Zatoichi
#4: Blind Swordsman - The Fugitive to their 10/22 slate.
Dreamworks will release full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions of
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
on 11/19 (November just gets more expensive). Goodtimes has Elvira's
Haunted Hills set for 10/1 (pun intended I suppose?). Kino
International will release Cosmos
on 9/24. Lion's Gate's Fangs is
due on 9/24 as well. MGM will release Pumpkin
on 11/5. Paramount has added The Day Reagan
Was Shot to its 10/29 releases, and Blues
Clues: Get to Know Joe and Spongebob
Squarpants: Sea Stories to 11/5. Pioneer will debut Genesis:
The Way We Walk on 9/24, with Ringo
and His All-Star Band following on 10/1 and Come
Together: A Night for John Lennon on 10/8. Universal will
release Caught in the Draft/Give Me a Sailor,
Demon Within (aka: The Sculptress),
Gen-Y Cops, Louisiana
Purchase/Never Say Die, Monsieur
Beaucaire/Where There's Life and Sorrowful
Jones/Paleface on 10/8. Universal Music will debut Scorpions:
A Crazy World on 8/20. And Warner Bros will release Divine
Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood in both full frame and
anamorphic widescreen on 11/5, with Main
Event, Nuts, Up
the Sandbox and What's Up Doc
following on 11/12.
Now then, we'll be back with lots more next week, including more new
reviews, an Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork
update and our Comic-Con DVD Producers Panel
coverage. And watch for a new Trivia Contest
to begin this weekend as well.
So have a great weekend and stay tuned...!
We've got four more DVD reviews for you today. Adam Jahnke's taken an
in-depth look at Universal's recent
Ultimate Edition, Dan Kelly's got some thoughts on Warner's
Swarm, Graham Greenlee's given Miramax's
& Leopold a spin for you and Jeff Kleist rounds things out
this afternoon with a look at Pioneer's
Enterprise: Special Edition.
In other news today, we've got word from Babylon
5 creator/executive producer J. Michael Straczynski that
Warner will be following the release of Season
One (set for 11/5) with Seasons
Two and Three next year
(reportedly in April and November of 2003, respectively). And Warner's
official website for the series on DVD as well.
Here's something that would normally go in The
Rumor Mill, but it's brief, so here it is (all the usual
disclaimers apply): Paramount's tentatively slated Ridley Scott's The
Duelists for December release.
And finally, my oldest friend on planet Earth -
Hovde (that's him up in the corner there) - sent me a link to one
of the funniest video game reviews I've ever read. It's Bill Simmons'
of EA's Madden 2003 football game over on ESPN. As a
couple of guys who first met in junior high in Fargo, North Dakota way
back in the very early 80s, and shared a common love of all things
football (and Minnesota Vikings football in particular), Dave and I have
had our share of videogame grudge matches. Simmons' review hits WAY too
close to home, as I'm sure a lot of you guys out there (and football
widows) will agree. It had me rolling - funny stuff.
(LATE UPDATE - 8/14/02 - 2 PM PDT)
Okay, we've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Jeff
Kleist looks at MGM's
and Graham Greenlee checks in with his take on Warner's recent
(widescreen edition of course), both recent releases on disc. And the
mysterious Donald V. Day's got a few things to say about Anchor Bay's
forthcoming DVD release of
Dark, which streets on 9/10. Enjoy!
(EARLY UPDATE - 8/14/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning all! We've got some good news in
Rumor Mill this morning that should make you fans of director
Akira Kurosawa, the original animated Speed
Racer, the 1939 Wuthering Heights
and Steven Spielberg's Minority Report
happy (not necessarily in that order).
Here's an interesting bit of news (from our own Matt Rowe) on the
file-sharing front. While the recording industry seems to think that
file-sharing is at the root of all their woes (read: declining record
market data collected by Forrester Research indicates otherwise.
Here's a quote:
"Based on surveys of 1,000 U.S. on-line
consumers, Forrester said it sees no evidence of decreased CD buying
among frequent digital music consumers and said the record labels could
restore industry growth by making it easier for people to find, copy,
and pay for music on their own terms."
Gee... haven't we been saying that for a while? It's no coincidence
that in the years prior to - and post - Napster, record sales declined,
while during the year that Napster was in operation, CD sales increased
markedly. Hhhmmmm... maybe people were file-sharing to sample music that
they later purchased legally. Maybe, via file-sharing, people discovered
music they wouldn't have otherwise and, again, purchased CDs
accordingly. Imagine that!
Somehow, we doubt the record industry will be impressed with this new
data. Can't wait to see what the
RIAA has to say about this... if they say anything at all. You can
almost hear the crickets chirping.
One quick note - a lot of you have asked about the rebate coupon that's
supposed to be included in the 2-disc Lord of
the Rings DVD, which gets you $5 off the 4-disc release in
November. Many people seem to be missing their coupons. Not to worry.
I'm told New Line is putting all the details on the offer on-line soon.
We'll be sure to post a link as soon as they send us one.
Back this afternoon with reviews. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 8/13/02 - 1:45 PM PDT)
We've got another DVD review for you today - Todd Doogan's look at
Brown: Collector's Edition. It's definitely not to be missed
if you're a Tarantino fan. And we've got more reviews on the way for
tomorrow and the rest of the week, including Todd's look at Artisan's
new Reservoir Dogs DVD.
Also, just for fun, we thought we'd give you a peek at the cover art
for Fox's 6-disc The X-Files: The Complete
Sixth Season, which streets on 11/5. Once again, look for
anamorphic widescreen video, audio commentary on select episodes,
deleted scenes and other supplemental material.
(EARLY UPDATE -
8/13/02 - 11:45 AM PDT)
Back in the late 70s and early 80s, Jack Valenti and the MPAA led the
political charge against the VCR, decreeing that it would mean The End
of the Film Industry. It was as if the sky were falling and Jack were
Chicken Little. Ultimately, he turned out to be more like the boy who
Here's a quick sampling of Jack's own words before Congress in 1982, so
you can see for yourself what he had to say...
"American films and television dominate the
screens of the world and that just didn't happen. It happened because of
the quality and caliber and the imagination and the way people construct
fragile imaginings that we call the American film. But now we are facing
a very new and a very troubling assault on our fiscal security, on our
very economic life and we are facing it from a thing called the video
cassette recorder and its necessary companion called the blank tape. And
it is like a great tidal wave just off the shore. This video cassette
recorder and the blank tape threaten profoundly the life-sustaining
protection, I guess you would call it, on which copyright owners depend,
on which film people depend, on which television people depend and it is
And here's more...
"Because unless the Congress recognizes the
rights of creative property owners as owners of private property, that
this property that we exhibit in theaters, once it leaves the
post-theatrical markets, it is going to be so eroded in value by the use
of these unlicensed machines, that the whole valuable asset is going to
be blighted. In the opinion of many of the people in this room and
outside of this room, blighted, beyond all recognition. It is a piece of
sardonic irony that this asset, which unlike steel or silicon chips or
motor cars or electronics of all kinds -- a piece of sardonic irony that
while the Japanese are unable to duplicate the American films by a flank
assault, they can destroy it by this video cassette recorder."
You see... blame the Japanese. And there's more...
"Now, these machines are advertised for one
purpose in life. Their only single mission, their primary mission is to
copy copyrighted material that belongs to other people. I don't have to
go into it. The ads are here. Here is Sony that tells you that you can
record one channel while watching another. You can program to record a
variety of shows on four different channels for up to 14 days in advance
if you like."
OH MY GOD - SAY IT ISN'T SO, JACK!
"Now, the question comes, well, all right,
what is wrong with the VCR. One of the Japanese lobbyists, Mr. Ferris,
has said that the VCR -- well, if I am saying something wrong, forgive
me. I don't know. He certainly is not MGM's lobbyist. That is for sure.
He has said that the VCR is the greatest friend that the American film
producer ever had. I say to you that the VCR is to the American film
producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the
woman home alone."
Wow. No shit - he actually said that before Congress (go
to this link and you can read the full transcript of Jack's
testimony, circa 1982). Of course, Congress wisely took such impassioned
ravings as... ahem... overkill. And since Jack wrote the book on what I
like to call the "copyright fire drill", the VCR went on to
almost single-handedly save the motion picture industry, by creating a
vast, voracious and untapped market for the consumption of films in the
comfort of home. Guess Mr. Ferris was right, Jack.
Now here we are, some twenty years later, and the RIAA and MPAA and
yes... even Jack Valenti... are sounding the same impassioned copyright
siren song. This isn't about copyright... it's about control. If the
entertainment industry had its way, we'd be living in a world where you
didn't own a copy of a movie or CD... you'd have to download it from
them and pay for every listen. So what is the entertainment industry
doing to keep that control? For one,
crafted a bill that's going through the House now, that would
allow them to legally hack into peoples' computers and cause disruptions
if they suspect that file sharing is going on. This in a time when
about cyber-warfare are at an all time high, for good reason.
Hollywood wants to be able to go to digital war, against some of its
most loyal consumer supporters, and get the government's blessing to do
so. This bill is a nightmare.
Now, we're all for the rights of copyright holders to protect their
works. But there's GOT to be a better solution than letting Hollywood
start legally exacting vigilante justice. And we're wondering if our
already log-jammed legal system would be negatively impacted by the fact
record industry is considering filing lawsuits against individual
on-line file-traders. Let's see... Napster had 50 million users.
Morpheus has 90 million registered users. Kazaa has 75 million. Message
to Hollywood and the record industry: It's time to get real, folks. In
the post-9/11 world, I think the Justice Department and American legal
system have better things to do.
There's a rational way to survive the era of digital file-sharing and
broadband distribution, just like there was a way to survive the VCR and
cassette recorder. And strong-arming everyone isn't it. In fact, as it
was with the VCR, I'll bet there's a way to make loads of money with
these same technologies that you're now decreeing as The End of the
Industry - money beyond your wildest dreams. Think about it! You've got
a pipeline that leads directly into the computers of your most fervent
consumers... and you want to hack and sue them?
It's time for consumers to get active on this.
to your elected officials, folks. Weigh in. Because the
entertainment industry is OFFICIALLY out of control.
That's just my two cents. Back with more later.