UPDATE - 12/2/02 - 11 AM PST)
So did you all have a great long holiday weekend? Did you eat lots of
turkey and stuffing? Did you remember to check out The
Long Lost 3rd Annual The Bitsy Awards? We're already hard at
work on The 4th Annual Bitsys, so
rest assured they'll be posted in a timely manner early next year. And
you guys thought we forgot!
We've got an interesting report today in
Rumor Mill. Various sources around the Internet have been
posting this list that purports to be a look at Warner's tentative 2003
Region 2 DVD release slate. We know that enough of the titles on the
list ARE in fact in production, that despite it not coming from our
usual sources, we felt it was of interest enough to post here on The
Bits. So be sure to check it out, but be aware that this is
most definitely not confirmed.
In other news, I wanted to let you all know that
Home Theater Forum will be holding a live chat with 20th Century
Fox's Peter Staddon tonight - Monday December 2nd at 9 PM EST (8
PM CST, 6 PM PST). Peter's always good for lots of great upcoming DVD
information, so be sure to check it out. We'll have a complete
transcript of the chat tomorrow here at The
Bits if you miss it.
Also, we have word that a number of Star
Trek fan sites have created
online petition to try to convince Paramount to let director
William Shatner to go back and do his ultimate director's cut of Star
Trek V: The Final Frontier, with new special effects, etc...
Trek V is the only science fiction
movie I ever walked out of the theater on, so if any movie every badly
needed an overhaul, that's it.
Any of you kids enjoy Frank Herbert's Dune
as much as I did? Well, you'll be happy to know that the Sci-Fi
Channel's just launched a new website for the sequel miniseries, Children
of Dune. Although given their cancellation of Farscape,
I'm not too keen on Sci-Fi these days.
In other news today, The Criterion Collection has just announced a trio
of new DVDs for February release. On 2/11, look for I
Am Curious... (which contains 2-discs and both the Yellow
and Blue films). And on 2/25,
watch for The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum
and a re-issue of Jean Cocteau's Beauty and
the Beast (featuring a new high definition digital transfer
and other new features).
A couple of other upcoming DVD announcements today... DreamWorks will
release The Tuxedo on 2/25, the
same day as Road to Perdition.
Paramount has added The Four Feathers
and Lady Jane to its 2/18 slate.
And Universal will release American Me
on 1/7, with 8 Women and Possession
on 2/11 and Benny Goodman Story (55)/Glenn
Miller Story (53), Birth of the
Blues (41)/Blue Skies (48), Connecticut
Yankee in King Arthur's Court (49)/ Emperor Waltz (48), Rhythm
on the Range (36)/Rhythm on the River (40), Sweet
Charity, Thoroughly Modern Millie
and Zoot Suit all set for 3/4.
And speaking of Universal, don't for get that UMusic's U2:
The Best of 1990- 2000 streets on 12/10 (or today if you live
(LATE UPDATE - 11/29/02 - 12:30 PM PST)
You read that right... we've got new word from our sources on classic
Looney Tunes DVDs on the way from
Warner! You'll find that in
Rumor Mill, in our last update before the weekend (this is in
addition to our
Rumor Mill earlier report on this on 9/16). This time,
we've got at least a few possible titles and street dates.
Ya'll come back now, hear?
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/29/02 - 12:01 AM PST)
A funny thing happened on the way to The
Bitsy Awards this year. Back in March, we were gearing up to
post our irreverent look at 2001's year of DVD in review, but then IT
happened. Server troubles, swarm of locusts, tornadoes, volcanos, cats
and dogs shackin' up... it wasn't pretty. Now, if we were a
super-staffed, highly-funded corporate operation, no sweat. But as you
ought to know by now, The Bits is
your basic mom and pop DVD website (we don't bake as many pies as some,
but our rhubarb tastes better). Needless to say, when the jam hit the
fan... no Bitsys. But then a
couple of weeks ago, winged swine began diving past our office windows
and we took it as a sign. From above or below, we don't know, but it was
DEFINITELY a sign. So Todd and I called upon our own Adam Jahnke, and
his trusty Wayback Machine, to help us recall the state of DVD back in
good old ought-one. Now, the votes have been tabulated, the kids are
asleep and we're all wearing clean boxers. So... without further
ski-doo, we present...
Long Lost 3rd Annual Digital Bits Bitsy Awards!
And they all lived happily ever after... at least until Monday. ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/02 - 4 PM PST)
Okay... this is the last post we'll be making before the Thanksgiving
holiday tomorrow. But don't forget... we'll be back on Friday with The
Long Lost 3rd Annual Bitsy Awards, looking at the best discs
of 2001. And really, how could you resist something as goofy as that?
Speaking of "goofy", we've got a trio of new DVD reviews for
you today, starting with Adam Jahnke's looking at Buena Vista's
Disney Treasures: The Complete Goofy, which streets on 12/3.
We've also got Todd's review of A&E's recent
Cat and Minute Mouse: The Complete Series, as well as Dan
Kelly's take on Miramax's new
Importance of Being Earnest. Enjoy.
Now then... from everyone here at The
Digital Bits, we wish you all a happy and safe holiday, and a
safe trip for those of you who may be travelling over the weekend. We'll
see you back here on Friday. And remember... turkey makes you sleepy, so
no operating that heavy machinery after dinner.
(LATE UPDATE - 11/27/02 - 12:30 PM PST)
Hi everyone... we've got a trio of reviews coming in an hour or two, so
be sure to check back for that. Also, we've got a surprise for you on
Friday... The Long Lost 3rd Annual Bitsy
Awards! No kidding, we're setting the Wayback Machine for
2001 and running down the best discs of last year. And we'll be back in
February or March with The 4th Annual Bitsys
too. About time, huh?
In the meantime, we've got word for you on that Suncoast exclusive R2-D2
Beneath the Dome DVD. Suncoast stores are now taking
preorders for $6.99. Once it arrives in stores, the disc will retail for
$7.99. Street date is 12/26.
Also, we're getting a lot of e-mails from readers who purchased the
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Five
set from Best Buy, but didn't get the bonus disc that's supposed to come
in the packaging. Paramount's set up a hotline just for this problem.
Call 'em and they'll send you the disc: 1-800-308-3633
And we also wanted to let you all know that the Fox
Demo Disc #2 is now available in Best Buy stores. As with the
first edition, this new disc includes the DVD
for Beginners section that Todd and I wrote for the series
(you'll notice the Bits logo on
the back of the packaging). There are samples of special edition
features, a THX optimizer, previews of upcoming films and more. It's
free with the purchase of any Fox DVD at Best Buy stores while supplies
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/27/02 - 12:01 AM PST)
Anyone else enjoying the second season of 24
as much as Todd and I are here at The Bits?
Damn! Good stuff.
Universal has announced more new titles for early 2003. American
Me, Born in East L.A.
and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie
Newmar are all expected on 1/7. Harrison's
Flowers is set for 1/21, with Never
Again following in 1/28 and 8
Women and Possession
due on 2/11. That's in addition to Blue Crush
(1/14) and The Bourne Identity
Around the Net today,
a great article at Popular Science on a piece of
state-of-the-art software that's responsible for the amazing battle
sequences in Fellowship of the Ring
and the soon to be released Two Towers.
It's aptly named Massive, as you'll agree when you see the scale and
detail of the set piece battle scene in the next Lord
of the Rings installment. The article is well worth a read,
and the inner workings of the software are pretty incredible.
Speaking of The Two Towers, the
first review of the film has been published in HotDog
here to read it online, as scanned by a Rings
website. Looks like this sequel is gonna be even better than the
original. A bunch of us here at The Bits
are already planning to attend a Midnight screening. ;-)
Back with reviews later today. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 11/26/02 - 6:30 PM PST)
MGM has just revealed a whole slate of great new DVDs for March... and
MGM is now officially double-plus un-studio. Okay... not really. But
those of you who got the reference there are right in assuming that 1984
is among the titles that are on the way to DVD early next year. ;-)
On March 4th, look for 1984, A
Doll's House, Women in Love,
Mice and Men: Special Edition, Salam
Bombay!: Special Edition, Franco Zeffirelli's Othello,
C'est La Vie, Europa
Europa and Pauline at the Beach.
Also, an additional title has been announced for February 18th... All
or Nothing. Here's a look at the DVD cover art for 1984,
Salam Bombay! and Of
Mice and Men...
Back tomorrow with some new DVD reviews. See you then!
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/26/02
- 11:30 AM PST)
winners of our Trivia Contest, so congratulations to all
of them and thanks to everyone who entered. Our next contest will start
soon, so be sure to check back.
Also this morning, we wanted to update you on a number of great titles
Columbia TriStar is working on for December and early 2003. Here's a
list of some of the highlights...
12/3 - Happy Times
12/10 - Fat City, Innocence
12/17 - The Killer Meteors
12/31 - Eye See You, xXx
1/7 - Brother John, Educating
Rita, The Last Supper,
Secret Ballot, Mating
Habits of the Earthbound Human
1/14 - Dead Reckoning, Joe
1/21 - The Harder They Fall, Shampoo,
Traveller, Mad Love
1/28 - The Foreigner, The
Master of Disguise, Pennies from
2/4 - All in the Family: The Complete Second
Season, El Mariachi,
Formula 51, Good
Times: The First Season, Married...
with Children: The Most Outrageous Episodes! - Volume #1,
Sanford and Son: The Second Season
2/11 - Bliss, Swept
Away (2002), Wasabi
2/18 - Taboo, You
Can't Take it With You
Be aware that Paramount will be releasing C.S.I.:
Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete First Season in
mid-December (the official street date has yet to be announced). We'll
post more details when we can, but here's a look at the cover art for it
in the meantime, as well as Columbia TriStar's Formula
By the way, there's been a lot of question today around the Net about
whether DreamWorks' Road to Perdition
will feature audio commentary with director Sam Mendes. The
widely-reported press release indicates that there's only commentary on
the deleted scenes with Mendes, but sources at the studio have confirmed
with us today that there IS, full-length audio commentary on the feature
as well. And we hear it's a great track too. Good news indeed!
Back later with more. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 11/25/02 - 5 PM PST)
I don't know about you, but here's a DVD I'm really eager to give a
spin early next year - DreamWorks' Road to
Perdition (sure to be a leading Oscar contender) which
streets on February 25th. Detailed features have yet to be announced,
but confirmed specs include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital
and DTS 5.1 audio, never-before-released deleted scenes, audio
commentary by director Sam Mendes, a behind-the-scenes documentary and
much more. We'll post additional details as they come in from the
studio. In the meantime, here's a look at the final cover art...
Don't forget - our Trivia
Contest ends tonight at Midnight. Be sure to get your entries
(EARLY UPDATE -
11/25/02 - 11 AM PST)
Morning everyone! We've got big news today. HBO has officially
announced the DVD release of My Big Fat Greek
Wedding for February 11th (SRP $26.98). The DVD will include
anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio,
audio commentary (by director Joel Zwick, actress/writer Nia Vardalos
and actor John Corbett) and more.
Also today, 20th Century Fox has announced the DVD release of their
long awaited The Day the Earth Stood Still:
Special Edition for March 4th (SRP $19.98). The disc will
include the original B&W full frame video, Dolby Digital 2.0 audio,
audio commentary by director Robert Wise and Nicolas Meyer, MovieTone
News footage of the premiere, the Making
The Earth Stand Still documentary, a restoration comparison,
6 still galleries, trailers and more. Also due on 3/4 from Fox are Journey
to the Center of the Earth (1959) and Quest
Here's a look at the cover artwork for My
Big Fat Greek Wedding along with Miramax's The
Osbournes: The First Season (street date 3/4)...
This would normally go in The Rumor Mill,
but because it's so brief, we decided to post it here. All the usual
disclaimers apply. However, you'll be happy to know that we've confirmed
with our sources that work is well underway on Disney's The
Lion King: Platinum Edition, which will be released in
November of 2003. Also, a Sleeping Beauty:
Special Edition is currently in production for release early
in 2003 (you'll find promos for the latter title on the upcoming Lilo
and Stitch DVD, due 12/3).
Around the site today, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts to include the 377,512 players shipped
to retailers here in the States in the second week of November. That
ALREADY takes the month to a whopping 1,147,528 players, which means
that November is probably going to break records before its five weeks
Our friends over at The
Home Theater Forum has informed us that they'll be holding a
live chat tonight with director John Badham (Saturday
Night Fever, Wargames).
this link to participate. The chat will be held at 9 PM EST (8 PM
CST, 6 PM PST).
Elite Entertainment has let us know that their I
Spit on Your Grave: Millennium Edition will now street on
12/17, while The Ultimate Revenge 2-Pack
(containing I Spit on Your Grave
and Don't Mess with My Sister)
will arrive on 12/3.
Hollywood Reporter story over at Yahoo, that says word
from Comdex is that the "multiplicity" of recordable DVD
formats are only "a temporary impediment" to the growth of
DVD. Comdex, which is being held in Las Vegas this week, is the largest
computer industry trade show in the world.
here for news reports directed from the Comdex show floor.
also has a brief story on the pricey, 2-year restoration of
Paramount's Sunset Boulevard and
Roman Holiday and their impending
release to DVD.
Finally this morning, you may have heard that there's a new
self-destructing DVD disc in town.
here for this story over at CNN about promo discs for the new Bond
film Die Another Day that, 36
hours after being removed from their packaging, are no longer able to
play. A chemical reaction between the disc material and air turns the
disc surface cloudy, making it unreadable. Literal vaporware. But if
you're afraid of another Divx-like attempt to steal the hearts of
consumers away from standard DVD, don't worry. We expect it will get
ridden out on a rail by consumers, just like every other attempt at a
self-destructing disc format has. Funny thing about consumers... they
like to be actually able to KEEP the content they buy on DVD.
Back with more later, so stay tuned...
We've just posted new reviews of no less than FIVE DVD releases this
afternoon. First up is Adam Jahnke's take on New Line's
Hour 2: Infinifilm disc. Then, Jeff Kleist checks in with a
look at Anchor Bay's new
Season One box set. And finally, I've given a trio of
Spacecraft Films' new DVD releases an in-depth review, including
11: Men on the Moon,
14: Complete Downlink Edition and
15: Complete Downlink Edition. If you're a fan of space
exploration, you'll definitely want to get your hands on these hefty,
multi-disc sets ASAP. These new reviews push us past the 1,200 titles
reviewed mark here at The Digital Bits.
So hats off to everyone on staff here who's contributed to that goal.
Now then... we'll be back with a new Trivia
Contest soon, so be sure to watch for that. But I want to let
you all know that we're going to be dark here at The
Bits tomorrow, as we've got a LOT of behind-the-scenes work
that we've got to get caught up on around here. But we'll be back on
Monday with lots of news and more. Look for reviews of Sports
Night and Paramount's new special edition of The
Duellists next week as well.
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 11/20/02 - 5
This is just a quick post to let you all know that Warner's Fear
Dot Com is slated for release on 1/14. And according to
Showtime's Queer As Folk: Season Two
is expected to be released on DVD in February, with HBO's Six
Feet Under: The Complete First Season slated for release on
2/4 (thanks to Bits reader Dan S.
for the heads-up).
Also, I wanted to let you know that we'll be back with a new Trivia
Contest and new DVD reviews tomorrow morning, so be sure to
watch for that.
Slide on down to today's earlier post for details on The
Osbournes and Star Trek V,
as well as an official street date for DreamWorks' Road
to Perdition. Have a great evening!
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/20/02 - 11 AM PST)
We've got some reasonably big news for you today, DVD-wise. First up
comes word that MTV's 2-disc The Osbournes:
The Complete First Season will street on March 4th, in both
censored and uncensored versions, from Miramax (SRP $29.99). The set
will include all 10 first season episode, plus 4 never-before-seen
episodes, additional never-before-seen footage from all 10 broadcast
episodes, audio commentary for each episode, the Too
Oz for TV blooper reel, Top Ten
Moments for each family member, 4 interview featurettes with
The Osbournes (including Life on the Road,
Family Values, First
Season Stories and The Untold
Story of Michael the Security Guard), an Ozzy translator
subtitle feature, various set-top games and DVD-ROM material including
an episode guide, more games and weblinks.
Also today, IGN Film Force has
interview with Star Trek's William Shatner. Unfortunately,
in it Shatner reveals that Paramount decided against updating his Star
Trek V: The Final Frontier with new editing and special
effects. So the upcoming "collector's edition" will not be the
ultimate director's edition we were all hoping for. Thanks to Bits
reader Bill W. for sending that over.
A couple of new DVD announcents today. Buena Vista will release Full
Frontal on 2/11. Additional February titles from MGM will
include Igby Goes Down (2/4), Women
vs. Men (2/11) and All or Nothing
(2/18). And DreamWorks' Road to Perdition
will officially street on 2/11 as well.
On a sad note, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge
death of actor James Coburn yesterday. Coburn recently voiced a
character in Disney's Monsters, Inc.,
but he was better know as the title character in the Our
Man Flint series and for his work in such films as The
Great Escape and The Magnificent
Seven. He also won a best supporting actor Oscar for his role
And around the site this morning, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts to include the 770,016 players that
shipped to retailers in the first week of November (ending 11/1). That
pushes the DVD format-to-date total here in the States well past the 39
Back with more later. Stay tuned...
Gadzooks, I'm tired! As planned, Matt and I make our 120-mile (each
way) trek into the Mohave last night to watch the Leonids. The show
wasn't nearly as good as last year, but we did get a good solid hour of
celestial entertainment out of the deal, the peak coming at about 2:30
AM PST (click
here for details via Space.com). We had our cooler of beer, a
bucket of cold KFC, a couple of comfy lawn chairs. And nothing for miles
around but tumbleweeds, rattlesnakes, coyotes and the like. Good fun but
not for the faint of heart. And we didn't get back until like 7 AM. So
again for effect... gadzooks, I'm tired!
But I've got a new DVD review for you as promised... Warner's very long
Park: The Complete First Season. Was it worth the wait? Does
it meet expectations? And what's with those commentary CDs anyway?
You'll find out in the review, so be sure to check it out.
We'll be back tomorrow, after many, many hours of sleep. Stay tuned...
Morning everyone. Today is a slow news day DVD-wise. Todd's out with a
cold and I'm busy pouring through Warner's South
Park: The Complete First Season for a review that we'll post
tomorrow afternoon (including the audio commentary for each episode,
which is available on a separate CD set from Comedy Central). The DVDs
are available now, but it might take you a while to get the commentary
CDs, as you have to mail away for them. Believe it or not, having the
commentaries on a separate disc does actually work, in terms of sync
with the picture (although I'm not particularly happy that Warner
decided to dump them for "content" reasons). Anyway, I'll have
my review up tomorrow, along with a couple of other things as well.
In a quick bit of DVD-related news, Fox is reporting cracking sales of
their Star Wars: Episode II DVD -
some 4 million copies sold in the first 24 hours of availability. That's
not quite as good as the 7 million in the first day Columbia TriStar
claims for Spider-Man, or the 5
million Disney reported for Monsters, Inc..
But it's not too shabby either (click
here for more from Yahoo).
And in a non-DVD related note, before I sign off to get back to work on
South Park, I wanted to let all of
you know that tonight is the annual
meteor shower. Matt and I went out to the desert last year to see
it (you may remember my
report the next day), and we were COMPLETELY blown away - there
were so many shooting stars that you couldn't seem them all. Several a
second at times and we saw more than a thousand per hour the whole night
long. It was really extraordinary. I mention it today, because this is
the last year that the Leonids are predicted to be this good -
scientists are saying that there probably won't be another storm like
this in our generation. If you're interested, head on over to
this link at
Space.com, which has information on how to view the
Leonids (and what times to watch throughout the night and early morning)
calculated for locations all over the U.S. and around the world. So if
it's a clear night where you live, bundle up and head on out to try and
catch a glimpse of the action. I think you'll be glad you did. Matt and
I have been waiting for this all year, I can tell you. We're heading out
to the desert again this evening with a group of people to camp out the
whole night long and watch the festivities. So when you're out there, if
you happen to hear a bunch of guys "oooh"ing and "ahhh"ing
like idiots, that's probably us. ;-)
By the way, if you can't get outside tonight, you can watch the skies
all around the world live at
this link. Thanks to Bits
reader Joe C. for the reference. Enjoy!
Enjoy the show and we'll see you back here tomorrow afternoon!
(LATE UPDATE - 11/15/02 - 4 PM PST)
Todd and I figured we'd close out the week with a nifty one-two punch
of DVD reviews from the guys who started it all here at The
Bits. As you might expect, Todd's taking you to a place most
of you probably haven't gone before as moviegoers, with a review of Cult
La Muerte: Special Edition - a bit of classic Surrealist
cinema if ever there was one. And I'm riding shotgun today with a look
at a more recent and mainstream, but sadly overlooked, little B-movie
gem... Buena Vista's
of Fire. Both films are new to DVD and are available now.
So with that, we bid you adieu. We'll be back with lots more chocolaty
DVD goodness on Monday. Until then, don't do anything we wouldn't do.
And have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/15/02 - 12:01 AM PST)
You Trekkers have reason to be happy again in 2003. As expected,
Paramount's officially announced that the first season of Star
Trek: Deep Space Nine will arrive on DVD on 2/25, hot on the
warp trail of the last season of The Next
Generation. And subsequent seasons of the show will arrive
every other month throughout the rest of next year. Look for the
introductory 6-disc set to include all 20 first season episodes, along
with numerous special features. You'll get Deep
Space Nine: A Bold Beginning, Crew
Dossier: Kira Nerys, Michael
Westmore's Aliens: Season One, Secrets
of Quark's Bar, Alien Artifacts:
Season One, Deep Space Nine
Sketchbook, Deep Space Nine
Chronicles, Section 31 Hidden
Files and a photo gallery. Here's a first look at the cover
art for the set...
Robert Harris has checked in with a special column today in addition to
piece this week here at The Digital
Bits. This time around, he takes a look at Paramount's recent
efforts to save one of their dearest cinematic classics - a true piece
of studio history on film, which is about to be released on DVD. Here's
Also this morning, there's word that New Line will release its Simone:
Infinifilm Edition on 1/21. And Anchor Bay is kicking off its
much anticipated Wim Wenders series of DVDs on 1/7, with the release of
The American Friend, Lightning
Over Water and Notebook on Cities
and Clothes. We're hearing that Buena Vista's forthcoming
Cinema Paradiso DVD (due on 2/18)
will contain BOTH the original 1998 version as well as the longer 2002
re-release. Columbia TriStar has announced Dead
Reckoning for on 1/14. And Warner will release Bullit
and Above the Rim on 1/14, with
The Cardinal and King
of Kings following on 2/25 and Akira Kurosawa's Dreams,
Day for Night and A
Man and a Woman set for 3/18.
We'll be back with more later, so stay tuned...
You readers who use the Mozilla browser (a.k.a. Netscape for you not
tech-heads) have probably been noticing some funky formatting problems
here at The Bits for a few days.
Thankfully, I think we've got the bugs worked out, but let me know if
anything new crops up.
We're doing a lot of chart updating and other site maintainence work
around here today, but we've got a little more now, and we'll have some
reviews for you tomorrow.
In the meantime, we thought you might like a look at some new DVD cover
artwork... Fox's X-Men 1.5: Special
Collector's Edition (street date 2/11) and Kino's restored
re-release of Metropolis (due
tentatively on 2/18). Both are set to be 2-disc sets, with lots of bonus
material. The Metropolis art is
similar to the Region 2 release, but we're told it's not final.
I also wanted to point out a couple of interesting things around the
Internet today. First up, Todd's discovered this neat little website,
YMDB.com, which lets
you post a list of your top 20 favorite films and share that list with
others. Several of us here at The Bits
have posted our own personal lists, including
It's a fun little exercise and it's fascinating how hard it can be to
try and boil down your cinematic tastes into just 20 titles.
Also this afternoon,
has posted an interesting story on DVD and the future of classic
and art cinema. It's well worth a read.
Morning folks. Busy as I am these days, I finally managed to find a
moment to spin off a DVD review for you. You can now read my thoughts on
Sum of All Fears: Special Collector's Edition - the studio's
latest adaptation of a Tom Clancy novel, this time starring Ben Affleck
as Jack Ryan. It's fresh on store shelves and is well worth a look.
Never thought I'd be saying that, but there it is.
I've got a couple more reviews on the way for the next few days,
including my two cents on Buena Vista's forthcoming Reign
of Fire (which streets next week) and their just-released
Sports Night. We might even get
Todd to drop in with a disc review before the week is out. ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 11/12/02 - 5 PM PST)
I've received yet another interesting e-mail from the DVD Forum,
clarifying the situation we've been reporting on over the weekend re:
working out the final HD-DVD spec. It seems that the Sony group has
never officially proposed Blu-Ray to the DVD Forum. And apparently,
Forum Steering Committee members are talking about
incorrect article in Japan Today now, which seems to have
caused quite a stir. As before, we're working to try to sort out all the
details on this - we'll update you as necessary.
Meanwhile, as promised Robert Harris' new column is now available. In
this installment, Robert talks about an important classic film recently
released on DVD by Criterion, and the work of several great painters of
color and light throughout the history of the film medium. So enjoy
and Pressburger, Color and Light. And as always, you can
discuss the column over at the HTF when you're done (just click the link
at the end of the column).
(LATE UPDATE - 11/12/02 - 2 PM PST)
A couple of very interesting things have cropped up behind-the-scenes
here at The Bits requiring my
attention today. That means my new reviews will have to wait until
tomorrow morning. In the meantime though, we've just posted Adam
Jahnke's look at Disney's recent
Rock! Special 30th Anniversary Edition for you Gen-Xers out
there. We figure most of you are wading through the three and a half
hour version of Fellowship of the Ring
However, Matt and I have been working closely on finalizing our review
format for high-resolution audio discs. Each of the various formats has
their own unique characteristics and we've been trying to work out the
best format that will accommodate all of them effectively, and give you
all the information you're looking for about the individual discs. We
think we've got it locked down now, so with that in mind, we've gone
back and revised my
DTS 5.1 CD review, as well as Matt's
Ash DVD-Audio reviews. And we've posted our first SACD disc
review as well - Matt's take on Abkco brand new re-issue of
Rolling Stones: Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out. You might be interested
to know that these discs feature both CD audio compatible in all
existing CD players, as well as an SACD layer for high-resolution audio,
all for a remastered CD price - a very nice value for fans.
In the news,
got a story on 321 Studios, the company that's recently published
DVD copying software, and the controversy the company has caused in the
entertainment industry. It's worth a read.
Back soon with Robert Harris' column. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
11/12/02 - 10 AM PST)
Interesting. So I received an e-mail early this morning from an
official with the DVD Forum in Japan, letting me know that the story
reported in the Japan Times last
week is in error. The Forum is not adopting the Toshiba/NEC spec
proposal as the final HD-DVD format spec. What's actually happening is
that they're crafting a new spec, built on the blue laser concept,
that's based on the various spec proposals they've received. So the
final spec could incorporate aspects of each of them. The question is,
how much of the Toshiba/NEC proposal is being adopted as opposed to how
much of the Sony BluRay proposal is being accepted... and is it enough
of a compromise on both sides to keep the Sony group from walking and
launching BluRay on their own. Maybe it's time to stress once more how
important it is for the industry to adopt
a SINGLE format for
HD-DVD supported by ALL of the industry players.
This certainly is fascinating. I'm working to learn more, so hopefully
they'll be something to report soon.
In the meantime, got your Episode II
and Lord of the Rings DVDs yet?
What are you waiting for? The two biggest DVDs of the year hit stores
today kids. Get 'em while they're still fresh! ;-)
Back in a few hours to announce the contest winners and lots more. Stay
(LATE UPDATE - 11/11/02 - 2 PM PST)
We've got some good news for you fans of Fox's TV releases. We've just
Rumor Mill with word on The X-Files,
The Simpsons, M*A*S*H,
Blue and even... wait for it... Millennium.
There's even word in there about NBC's Will &
Grace coming to DVD. Don't miss it.
We've also posted a pair of retro DVD reviews for you from Graham...
Cousin Vinny and a last MGM Woody Allen review,
Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.
In other news, Artisan's
a website for their upcoming Glengarry
Glen Ross DVD. And
World has an interesting story on the brewing battle over
For those of you rushing out to buy Episode
II and Lord of the Rings
tomorrow, be aware that Toys R Us is advertising Episode
II for $9.99. Buyers beware though... there's no word on how
many widescreen copies they'll have in stock or how long they'll last.
Several retailers will be open at Midnight to sell these titles, so
check with stores in your area if you just can't wait.
How many of you sharp-eared film fans caught a remixed version of the
main theme from Once Upon a Time in the West
during the end credits of last night's Sopranos?
Loved that! And yes... word is that flick's coming next year from
Paramount. We'll keep you up to date.
We're going to wait and post Robert Harris' latest column tomorrow,
along with reviews of a few new and forthcoming DVDs... including one or
two by yours truly for a change. And don't forget that our latest
ends tonight at Midnight.
See you tomorrow!
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/11/02 - 10:30 AM PST)
Morning all! Time to start a new week... and some of you probably have
the day off, given the Veterans Day holiday. Enjoy it if you do. And the
rest of you, get a fresh cup of coffee and pull up a chair.
First up, Bits reader Daniel W.
clipping from page 12 of Friday's Japan
Today newspaper. It's the longer version of the article on
the DVD Forum choosing Toshiba's blue-laser spec for HD-DVD. There are
more details in the hardcopy piece, including word that the forum will
finalize the details of the Toshiba-NEC format by May 2003, and that
both Toshiba and the Sony group will begin marketing their products to
consumers next year. Which sadly means that once again, we have a format
war on our hands. HD-DVD vs. Blu-Ray. Guess it's not enough that
high-resolution audio is stalled out before really even getting out of
the garage because of two competing formats and fear of piracy (see
this recent story on CNN.com - even some hardcore audiophiles are
thumbing their noses at the two formats because of watermarking and the
lack of fully-digital outputs). First it was Beta vs. VHS. Then it was
Mini-Disc vs. DAT. Then it was SACD vs. DVD-Audio. And now Sony's trying
their own thing again. I'm all for the best quality and all, but there
has to be a point where the industry finally gets its s#@t together.
With SACD and DVD-A, some record companies are releasing titles in one
format and some are releasing titles in the other... but few companies
are fully committing to either. And hardware that will play both formats
is rare and expensive. So too, I suspect, will it be for HD-DVD and
Blu-Ray for the next few years. You'll have the Warner group going with
HD-DVD, Columbia TriStar will go with Blu-Ray and the D-VHS crowd (Fox,
Universal, etc) will just keep doing their thing. And the packaged
high-definition movie business will languish... which maybe, given
Hollywood's digital piracy concerns, is what they want anyway. Bottom
line... don't start selling off your DVD discs any time soon.
Moving on, we're hearing that a lot of you have seen the new Star
Wars: Episode II DVD commercials, which feature a quote from
our review of the disc. Something to the effect of "This is the
best looking DVD we've ever seen." That's no exaggeration, folks.
Pick up the disc tomorrow and you'll see it for yourself. And be sure to
snatch a copy of The Lord of the Rings:
Extended Version too. You'll be VERY glad you did.
And finally this morning, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts to include the 712,707 players that
shipped to U.S. dealers in the final week of October (ending 10/25).
That takes the format-to-date total past the 38 million players mark.
All charts have been updated accordingly.
Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE -
11/8/02 - 12 PM PST)
Time to close out another week of DVD fun, this time with trio of new
disc reviews. Adam Jahnke's given MGM's recent DVD release of an older
Paul Verhoeven flick,
a spin. And Graham Greenlee's got a look at Disney's
Inc.: Collector's Edition and MGM's
We'll be back on Monday with a new Robert Harris column, new DVD
reviews and more. And check back over the weekend for the start of a new
And on a last note on this rainy Southern California afternoon, I want
to acknowledge something I'm very happy about.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has officially
its list of 2003 inductees: AC/DC, The Clash, Elvis Costello and
the Attractions, The Righteous Brothers... and my all-time favorite
band, The Police. Drummer
Copeland has confirmed that the band will re-unite for a 3-song
performance at the induction ceremony on March 10th. DDDAAAAAAMMMMMMM!
Have a great one!
(EARLY UPDATE - 11/8/02 - 11 AM PST)
Bits reader Trilidar L. spotted
story over at Japan Today this morning. According to the
brief news blurb, the DVD Forum has decided to adopt Toshiba's "next
generation" DVD spec as the basis for a future HD-DVD format. For
those who aren't familiar with this yet, here's the entry on the spec
from Jim Taylor's
"Toshiba "next-generation" DVD.
Modification of existing DVD physical format to allow about 15 GB per
layer using blue laser. Designed to improve data capacity while
theoretically being able to use existing replication equipment (Blu-ray
will require significant changes to production equipment). NEC also
backs this proposal."
Speaking for myself, I think this is the smartest way to go as far as
HD-DVD. But this could result in a rift with the Sony camp, which has
already promoted their own "Blu-Ray" disc format for HD
(backers of which include LG, Panasonic, Philips, Pioneer, Hitachi,
Samsung, Sharp and Thomson).
We're waiting for official confirmation on this story from the DVD
Forum. We'll post here when we learn more. In the meantime, check back
soon for new DVD reviews...
Well... it took a little longer than expected, but we've just completed
our update of the
DVD Cover Artwork section. This is by far our biggest update
of the section yet, with very close to 200 new cover scans added in one
shot. And each title can be ordered with just the click of your mouse
from our software sponsor, DVD
Planet. Keep in mind that when you order from DVD Planet, you're
doing an awful lot to help support our work here at The
Bits. So please give them a try if you're thinking of buying
some of these new titles. And if you like their service, keep sending
your business their way - we'd sure appreciate it.
Among the new cover scans we've just posted, you'll find all the new
Criterion titles, Artisan's upcoming Stargate:
Ultimate Edition, all the new SuperBit titles and xXx
from Columbia TriStar, TONS of new titles from MGM and Image,
Universal's Blue Crush, The
Bourne Identity and Undercover
Brother, Akira Kurosawa's Dreams
from Warner, Krzysztof Kieslowski's long-awaited Three
Colors Trilogy from Miramax and MUCH, much more. So enjoy and
thanks for your patience.
(LATE UPDATE - 11/6/02 - 4:30 PM PST)
We're STILL working to get all that artwork formatted, so thanks for
being patient. We've got over 100 new covers to post, with more coming
in all afternoon. Watch for it soon.
In the meantime, Artisan has just announced the DVD release of their
long-awaited Glengarry Glen Ross: 10th
Anniversary Special Edition. The 2-disc set will street on
11/19 (SRP $26.98). Features will include newly re-mastered anamorphic
widescreen and full-screen video, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1 & 2.0
audio, English and Spanish subtitles, the A.B.C.
(Always Be Closing) documentary tracing the psychological
intersection of fictional and real-life salesmen, a tribute to Jack
Lemmon, new interviews with the cast and filmmakers, new audio
commentary by director James Foley and more. Looks like this will be
well worth the wait.
Also, Universal has announced the release of 2 more high-definition
D-VHS titles. Watch for Spy Game
and The Bone Collector on 11/19
(SRP $44.98 each).