Well... director Steven Spielberg' is dropping more Indy
DVD hints again. This time,
suggested to Variety that the release of Indy
4 to theaters would be "synchronized" to the
release of the first three films on DVD. The article further mentions
2005 as the theatrical release year for Indy
4. So the idea seems to be that Raiders
hits DVD in 2003, Temple of Doom
arrives on disc in 2004 and Last Crusade
shows up in early 2005, just before the new film hits theaters. This
would be supported by
Spielberg comments about the first film arriving on DVD next year.
Keep your fingers crossed...
In other news today, there's word that Warner and the BBC will release
Coupling: Season One on DVD here
in R1 on 1/21 (SRP $24.98). The set will include all first season (or "series"
as you Brits say) episodes, plus behind-the-scenes cast and crew
interviews. Think of Coupling as
Friends with a lot more sex. 'Nuff
Docurama will release a pair of interesting titles on 1/28. First up is
BaadAsssss Cinema (SRP $24.95), a
terrific IFC documentary that explores 1970s blaxploitation films. Then
there's Smothered: The Great Smothers
Brothers Censorship Wars ($24.95), the subject of which
should be self-explanatory.
DreamWorks wants you to know that The Tuxedo
(2/25 - SRP $19.95) will feature anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby
Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, outtakes, deleted and extended scenes, and
other never-before-seen footage.
In other release news, Buena Vista will release Time
Out and Tangled on
1/14, with Tadpole and Ordinary
Decent Criminal following on 1/21. SRP for each is $29.99.
And finally today, we've got a look at Image Entertainment's March
release slate. On March 11th, look for John Carpenter's Assault
on Precinct 13 (remastered in anamorphic widescreen with
Dolby Digital 5.1 sound and audio commentary by the director), along
with Contraband, Wife
to be Sacrificed, Mee Pok Mon,
X2000: The Collected Shorts of Francois Ozon,
A Virgin Among the Living Dead,
The House with Laughing Windows,
Acoustic Alchemy: Sounds of St. Lucia,
Without Lying Down, DJ
Quik: Visualism, Kidsongs: Billy's
Birthday, Kidsongs: Meet the
Biggles, Kidsongs: Animal Fun Box
Set and Kidsongs: Sing-Along Fun
Box Set. On March 18th, they've got Rock
Masters: Billy Joel, Rock Masters:
Emmylou Harris, Rock Masters: Hall
& Oates, Joe Jackson: 25th
Anniversary Special, Goo Goo
Dolls: Live in Alaska, Rockthology
5, Rockthology 6, The
Man Who Came to Dinner and Roy
Orbison: Live at Austin City Limits. And following on March
25th are White Knuckle: Because,
White Knuckle: Props, Beginning
of the End, Grand Illusions: The
Story of Magic, Day of the
Nightmare/Scream of the Butterfly, The
Psycho Lover/Heat of Madness, Jamie
Foxx Unleashed: Lost, Stolen and Leaked!, The
Adventures of Dennis Da Menace: South Beach, M.O.P.:
Straight from the Projects, Gene
Autry Collection: South of the Border, Gene
Autry Collection: Rovin' Tumbleweeds, In
the Cold of the Night, Ninja
Academy, The Wind and
That's all she wrote for this holiday week. See you back here on Monday
with more. Have a great weekend!
So, for all those of you who celebrate it, how was your Christmas? As
you can imagine, news is a little slow around here this week. Not too
much happening in Hollywood over the holiday break. But we do have some
new stuff for you.
First of all, there are more follow-up stories about the termination of
Warren Lieberfarb from Warner.
Washington Post has a good article on this, which cites "a
clash over the direction of Warner's future" as the reason he was
let go. It seems Warner CEO Barry M. Meyer wasn't too keen on
Lieberfarb's rising star within the company.
Hollywood Reporter (via Yahoo) also ran a story on this,
claiming that the move may be the start of a bigger plan to restructure
Warner's home video division. You can also read
at Video Business. Strange and hard to believe, that a
studio would fire the man who almost single-handedly saved them
financially. We're now officially concerned for the future of DVD and
HD-DVD, without Lieberfarb's steady hand there to guide it.
In new announcements today, Criterion has revealed four new titles for
release in March. On 3/11, look for Robert Bresson's Les
Dames du Bois de Boulonge ($29.95 - spine #183). The disc
will include the film in its original B&W, 1.33:1 aspect ratio with
Dolby Digital 1.0 mono sound (featuring a new digital transfer with
restored picture and sound). Extras will include a stills gallery,
essays by François Truffaut and David Thomson and new and
improved English subtitle translation.
Also on 3/11, Criterion will release Lasse Hallström's My
Life as a Dog ($39.95 - spine #178). The film will be
presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio (16x9 enhanced) with Dolby
Digital 2.0 stereo audio, featuring a new digital transfer approved by
the director. Extras will include Shall We Go
to My Place or Your Place or Each Go Home (a 45-minute film
also by Hallström), a new video interview with the director,
reflections on the film by Kurt Vonnegut, the original theatrical
trailer and new and improved English subtitle translation.
Then on 3/25, Criterion will release Sam Peckinpah's Straw
Dogs ($39.95 - spine #182), in its original 1.85:1 aspect
ratio (16x9 enhanced) with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo audio. The film will
be presented with a new high-definition digital transfer of the
117-minute uncut version. Extras will include audio commentary by film
scholar Stephen Prince, footage of Dustin Hoffman on the set,
behind-the-scenes footage, video interviews with Susan George and Daniel
Melnick, original theatrical trailers and TV spots, an isolated music
and sound effects track and more.
Finally, 3/25 will also see the release of by
Brakhage: an Anthology ($39.95 - spine #184). The 2-disc set
will include 26 masterwork short films by exploratory filmmaker Stan
Brakhage, including The Act of Seeing with
One's Own Eyes, Black Ice,
Cats Cradle, Commingled
Containers, Crack Glass Eulogy,
The Dante Quartet, The
Dark Tower, Delicacies of Molten
Horror Synapse, Desistfilm,
Dog Star Man, Eye
Myth, For Marilyn, The
Garden of Earthly Delights, I...
Love Song, Mothlight,
The Stars are Beautiful, Stellar,
Study in Color and B&W, Night
Music, Rage Net, Glaze
of Cathexis, Wedlock House: An
Intercourse, Window Water Baby
Moving and The Wold Shadow.
Each will be presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio (color and B&W)
with Dolby Digital 1.0 mono audio. The films all feature new
high-definition digital transfers approved by Stan Brakhage. Additional
extras will include an interview with Brakhage and an essay by Brakhage
expert Fred Camper.
Here's a look at the DVD cover art for all four titles...
And around the site today, we've updated various charts and graphs,
DVD Player Sales data. But be aware, our addition of the
numbers CEA's provided isn't agreeing with CEA's math, so revisions may
Well... you're not going to believe this folks. But
was announced today that Warner Bros. CEO Barry Meyer is firing
the company's visionary Home Video president, Warren Lieberfarb. As
those of you who have been around since the beginning of DVD will
already know, Lieberfarb is the man who almost single-handedly
championed the DVD format to the Hollywood studios. And he was (aside
from us, of course) the most out-spoken critic of Circuit City's
now-defunct, pay-per-play Divx format as well. Thanks in large part to
Lieberfarb's energy and vision, the Hollywood studios are enjoying a
collective $12 billion winfall from DVD this year alone. In our opinion,
Meyer's decision to fire Lieberfarb is as foolish and short-sighted a
move as we've ever seen from a major studio... and it's a move that is
sure to have ramifications for the future of DVD.
The bottom line is, if you love watching movies on DVD, you have Warren
to thank for it. The industry owes him a big thank you for his efforts,
and we hope he lands an even better position in the new year... one that
will allow him to continue to shape the future of home entertainment.
All right... it seems a little trivial to post this now after such a
surprising and disappointing announcement. But, as they say, the show
must go on. So we've got a little holiday surprise for you. Think of it
as our little way of saying thank you to all those of you out there
around the world who read The Bits
day in and day out. We truly think of you all as part of our DVD family.
You read what we have to say each day, and send us e-mails with your
thoughts and feedback. It's no exaggeration to say that your loyalty and
support humbles and honors us. So here's... you guessed it... The
Digital Bits Holiday Card for 2002! Enjoy. ;-)
And here's a good upcoming DVD announcement for you -
has officially revealed the details on their upcoming Fritz Lang's
Metropolis DVD (street date 2/18,
SRP $29.95). The disc will feature the new German restoration of the
film (124 mins, B&W, 1.33:1 aspect ratio), along with a 43-minute
documentary on the making of Metropolis
by Enno Patalas, a Digital Restoration
featurette, photo galleries (featuring production stills, missing
scenes, architectural sketches and poster artwork), 13 cast and crew
biographies, a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound version of the newly
recorded orchestral score, audio commentary in English, German, French
and Spanish, and subtitles in English, German, French and Spanish.
Here's the final cover art...
Also, Star Trek: Nemesis director
Stuart Baird has
spilled a few details about the eventual DVD version of the film.
Look for some 30 minutes worth of deleted scenes if all goes well. The
flick is actually one of the best Trek
films yet, but it's done poorly at the box office, thanks to an
ill-advised release date just half a week before The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (click
here for details on that). And sadly, I'm afraid franchise
helmsmen Rick Berman and Brannon Braga have almost completely killed fan
passion for Star Trek. Even Enterprise,
the latest series that came out of the gate at warp speed with phasers
blazing, has become little more than clone/rehash of what's come before.
Berman and Braga have overstayed their time in the Captain's chair in
our humble opinion. Ah well...
With that, we're going to sign off until Thursday. Be safe, be happy
and our best to you and yours, now and always. Hee-Haw and Happy
(LATE UPDATE - 12/20/02 - 3:15 PM PST)
We're back with the latest Yellow Layer
Failure column from our own Robert Harris. This time around,
Robert talks about a whole host of topics ranging from the grain
structure of film, to the recent Walt Disney
Treasures titles, to film censorship. He even pokes a little
fun at that lawsuit against MGM over their widescreen DVDs that we
mentioned yesterday. As always, his two cents are well worth a read. So
Mickey, a Loveably Reluctant Dragon, Film Grain & Censorship.
And finally this week, a last couple of new DVD announcements. Anchor
Bay has set 2/11 as the street date for its The
Man Who Fell to Earth: Special Edition. 20th Century Fox has
added Predator 2 and Q&A
to its 2/4 slate, with Angel: Season One
following on 2/11 and Lucas due on
3/11. And Warner will release Jane Doe
on 2/4 and Scooby-Doo and the Legend of the
Vampire on 3/4.
Now then... go catch a few movies, or spin a few discs, and have a
great weekend! See you Monday...
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/20/02 - 2:30 PM PST)
Okay... as promised, we've got four new DVD reviews for you this
afternoon. Adam Jahnke's given Image's
Boheme a spin, along with Disney's new
Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Black and White. Graham
Greenlee's checked in with a look at Warner's new
Director's Cut - Special Edition. And our own Robert Smentek's
got a retro review for you today... Paramount's
Warriors. Next week, we'll have reviews of more new and
upcoming titles, including Signs
and Minority Report, so be sure to
watch for those.
Back with Robert Harris' new column soon. Stay tuned...!
(LATE UPDATE -
12/19/02 - 1:30 PM PST)
Columbia TriStar has officially announced a great new batch of SuperBit
titles for March 4th. Look for The Dark
Crystal, Das Boot Director's Cut
(FINALLY!), From Here to Eternity,
Seven Years in Tibet, the original
Heavy Metal, Labyrinth
and Legends of the Fall. Also
announced for 3/4 are Best of The Muppet
Show: Harry Belafonte, Best of The
Muppet Show: Peter Sellers and Born
Free. And other newly announced Columbia TriStar titles
include Band of the Hand (1/28),
Bliss and Good
Times: The First Season (2/4), and Sasquatch
Here's a look at the cover art for all the new SuperBit titles, as well
as the final artwork for Fox's X-Men 1.5:
Special Edition (due on 2/11)...
Now then... there's BIG news today on the HDTV front. One of the major
obstacles to the widespread adoption of digital and high-definition
television has been the lack of a requirement by the FCC that cable
operators carry the digital signals. Cable is, after all, how 2/3rds of
Americans get their primary television signals. But something's happened
today that should help make this a moot issue. Electronics manufacturers
and U.S. cable operators have
an agreement to allow digital cable signals to be directly piped
into television sets without extra equipment. The deal would set
nationwide plug-and-play standards for cable systems,
ensuring that HDTV sets would be able to work with all cable operators
to receive digital signals without requiring pricey extra equipment,
like a digital converter box. This is VERY good news indeed. Be sure to
click the link above to read more.
In other DVD news, Fox has announced the DVD release of Futurama:
Volume 1 on 3/25 (SRP $38.98). The 3-disc set will include
audio commentary on all the episodes, deleted footage and more. In
addition, the studio will release The Family
Guy: Volume 1 on 4/15 (SRP $49.98). This will be a 4-disc set
with audio commentary on select episodes and other extras.
And finally today, Don May, Jr. of
Entertainment has informed us that they'll be releasing the Blue
Sunshine: Limited Special Edition on 4/15. For $27.98, you'll
get a new anamorphic widescreen transfer (1.78:1) supervised by director
Jeff Lieberman, a new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix, the original mono
soundtrack, audio commentary by Lieberman, the original short film The
Ringer (also directed by Lieberman), a still gallery, the
original theatrical trailer, liner notes, a restoration comparison, the
30-minute video interview Lieberman on
Lieberman and the never-before-released original soundtrack
CD. The set will be limited to 50,000 copies.
We'll be back tomorrow with some new DVD reviews and a new column from
our own Robert Harris. Stay tuned...!
(EARLY UPDATE -
12/19/02 - 10:30 AM PST)
A lot of people have asked us about the mis-framing problem with the
Back to the Future 2 & 3 DVDs.
What appears to have happened is that the widescreen matting has been
done in error, so that the image that appears on the disc is not
correctly framed as it should be. There's
thread over at the HTF with screen shots illustrating this, so
check it out if you're interested (note that the pictures show the R2
version, but the R1 transfer is the same). Here's the e-mail Universal
is sending people about this issue:
"Thank you for your email. Universal Studios
will exchange Back to the Future parts 2 and 3 for copies with the
updated framing in late February 2003. You may send the DVDs back now or
wait until February. Please send Back to the Future disks 2 and 3,
without the case, and a letter with the following information: Name,
Full Mailing Address, Daytime Phone Number, Reason for Return and Return
Address. Send to:
Back to the Future DVD Returns
PO Box 224468
Dallas, Texas 75260
Universal Studios Customer Service"
By the way, we also have a Canadian customer service number for people
to call: 866-532-2202. Thanks to Bits
readers Mark P. and Scott B. for sending that in.
Now then... we've posted in update in
Rumor Mill today with news on a couple of interesting titles
in the works over at MGM for 2003. Don't miss it.
Buena Vista has announced a new spate of titles for April 2003. On 4/1,
look for Two Much, Scenes
From a Mall, Stella,
New York Stories, Life
With Mikey, My Father the Hero,
The Inkwell, An
Innocent Man, The Marrying Man,
Last Dance, Beyond
Silence, Four Days in September,
Tom & Viv and Best
of the Power Rangers.
Alan Parsons has confirmed the development of a DVD-Audio version of
Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon.
here for more on that.
In other news today, it seems that Blockbuster is having some financial
troubles because so many people are buying DVDs at discounters... rather
than renting or buying them at Blockbuster. You can read a couple of
stories on this
You fans of The Lord of the Rings: The Two
Towers will be happy to know that, even now, director Peter
Jackson is working to complete the extended edition of the film for the
as-yet-unannounced November 2003 4-disc DVD release. Look for about
another 30 minutes of new footage to be added back into the film. The
theatrical 2-disc DVD edition will likely appear in August.
And finally this morning, there's word that a DVD consumer, one Warren
Eallonardo, is suing MGM for releasing widescreen DVDs that he claims
are, in fact, nothing more than matted pan and scan transfers... meaning
that instead of providing more picture in the widescreen image, they
provide even less.
for more on this. Is there anything to this guy's claims? We consulted
our Magic 8-Ball which said: Very doubtful. Seriously, we don't believe
he knows what he's talking about. 'Nuff said.
(LATE UPDATE - 12/18/02 - 11:15 AM PST)
Guess it wouldn't be the holiday season without a problem on a major
studio DVD release. Universal's Back to the
Future Trilogy DVD set contains all three films on disc, as
you know. But what you may not know is that the widescreen versions of
Back to the Future 2 & 3 on
the set are mis-framed (badly or not depending on who you ask). But word
is Universal is going to be addressing the issue in the new year with
replacement discs for those who want them. The corrected discs will be
available in late February - call (888) 703-0010 for all the details.
I'm not even going to comment on the fact that Universal is knowingly
selling mis-produced discs to make its holiday sales numbers, hoping
that most of you will never notice the problem. The studio has decided,
in its wisdom, to stop providing review copies of its new titles to many
(if not all) review publications. So if you're wondering why there are
so few reviews of the set online and in print, it's 'cause Universal
apparently wants it that way. For our part here at The
Digital Bits, we will no longer be reviewing ANY Universal
DVD product until they change this policy.
Anyway, if you're a fan of Back to the
Future, and you haven't picked up the set yet, buyer beware.
(EARLY UPDATE -
12/18/02 - 10 AM PST)
Well... it's true what they're saying. The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, which opens today across
the country, is nothing short of absolutely amazing. Matt and I, along
with some friends (and thousands of other Rings
fans), attended midnight screenings of the film in the wee hours this
morning. And we're still trying to process all that we've seen. If you
thought The Fellowship of the Ring
was a stunning spectacle, let me just tell you that this continuation of
the story is epic on a scale the likes of which Cecil B. DeMille only
The completely CG-rendered character of Gollum steps into the spotlight
in this film, and he puts recent memories of Jar-Jar, Scooby-Doo and
even "YoDa Man" to shame - it's a stunning digital
performance, full of emotion and nuance. And your brain just simply
isn't prepared for the sight of 10,000 orcs advancing on the fortress of
Helm's Deep, or an army of tree-like Ents on the march in Isengard. To
be fair, some of this looks a little more digital than perhaps it
should, but the visuals are so jaw-dropping, you're not likely to care.
And those who disliked Fellowship
for its lack of a more satisfying (and complete) story arc are going to
find more to complain about here - this film is truly the "middle",
having neither a true beginning or ending. Instead, you're launched
straight into the action where the last film ended, and left hanging
with our heroes still headed into the jaws of certain peril. There's
also not as much character development of our established heroes
(although there are some good arcs for the new characters, including a
nifty scene involving Gollum wrestling with his conscience). But fans
already know to expect these slight short-comings, and shouldn't be put
off by them in the least. And for the rest of you... know that you're at
least in for one helluva ride.
Once again, Peter Jackson's given us a splendid and uncompromising
cinematic stocking-stuffer. The Lord of the
Rings: The Two Towers should leave you breathless and eager
for the final chapter, The Return of the King,
in late 2003. As for Matt and I... we're hoping New Line finds a way to
make The Hobbit with this cast but
soon, so we can keep the fun going in 2004 and beyond. In the meantime,
The Two Towers is a film that
absolutely demands multiple viewings. And we're already planning our
second trip to the theater this weekend.
Around the site today, we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts to include the 629,257 players shipped
to retailers in the 4th week of November, ending on the 22nd. That takes
the month to date to over 2.5 million units - a new monthly record. All
charts have been updated accordingly.
And we're very pleased today to introduce a new another columnist to
our ranks here at The Digital Bits...
Barrie Maxwell. Here he is to introduce himself:
"I'm a freelance writer living in Toronto,
Ontario, Canada, who has had a lifelong love affair with the movies. My
earliest recollections are watching the old serials and B westerns when
they were first available on television, and eagerly collecting the
issues of such magazines as Screen Thrills Illustrated and later
Films in Review. Somehow, through numerous late-night viewings,
local film societies, and university film screenings, I managed to
satisfy my desire to see many of the great and not-so-great films of
Hollywood's Golden Age. And despite the sometimes fine films of the
intervening years, I've never lost my affection for and appreciation of
the artistry and craft that went into those films of an earlier age.
I've been immersed in home theatre for some 15 years, beginning with
VHS and then graduating to laserdisc in the early 1990s. I was an early
advocate of DVD, although it was hard to let go of the shiny big discs
at first. Since mid-2000, I've written a regular column on classic films
on DVD, called Precedents, over at
Verdict, where I've also contributed over 200 reviews.
Beginning with today's article on the prospects for classic film
releases on DVD in 2003, I'm looking forward to keeping you up-to-date
in this area on an ongoing basis here at The Digital Bits. I
know that the idea of having one source to go to that focuses just on
classic film releases appeals to me; I hope it does to you. Please feel
free to contact me with any relevant news on classic releases that
should be included."
Barrie's new regular column here at The Bits
Coming Attractions, the first edition of which is now
available for your DVD reading pleasure. And be sure to drop Barrie an
e-mail at email@example.com
to give him a big Bits hello.
Welcome aboard, Barrie!
(LATE UPDATE -
12/17/02 - 11:45 AM PST)
Here's some interesting news today for you... director Steven Spielberg
was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal
last week about Minority Report,
Indy 4 and his new film, Catch
Me If You Can. During the discussion, he mentioned the
possibility of Raiders on DVD -
here's the relevant passage:
Q. "E.T." is finally out on DVD after a
long wait. Fans of Indiana Jones are hoping "Raiders of the Lost
Ark" won't be far behind, but Paramount is mum. Can you fill us in?
A. We're aiming for next fall. George Lucas and I are having an
argument with Paramount. Paramount wants to come out with all three
[Indiana Jones] movies in one package. George [writer and producer of "Raiders"]
and I want to come out with one film at a time and then come out with
all three movies, and maybe even the fourth one, in one package later.
(Paramount says there is no argument and discussions are ongoing.)
Interesting no? Format aside, it looks like there's a real possibility
that Indiana Jones will be brandishing his whip on your TV screens
before 2003 is out.
Now, let's catch up on some other news. Artisan has officially
announced the DVD release of their Stargate:
Ultimate Edition for 2/18 (SRP $19.95). Look for both the
theatrical and extended versions of the film, for the first time in
anamorphic widescreen, with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1
ES. You'll also get audio commentary with Roland Emmerich and Dean
Devlin, 2 featurettes (The Making of Stargate
and Is There a Stargate?),
trailers, photo galleries and more.
And Anchor Bay is releasing The Complete
Musketeers on 2/4 (SRP $34.95), which will include both Ilya
Salkind's 1973 The Three Musketeers
as well as his sequel, The Four Musketeers.
The 2-disc set will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame,
as well as a whole mess of extra features. Good news indeed!
In other upcoming release news, ADV Films will release Farscape:
Season 2, Volume 5 on 2/25, with Zone
of the Enders: Dolores #3 - Prelude to War on 3/11. Artisan
Entertainment will release American Heart,
Murder 2: Closing Camp, Insignificance,
Last Summer in the Hamptons, Play'd:
A Hip-Hop Story, Stargate:
Ultimate Edition, Summer of Fear,
Swirl and Trouble
Bound, all on 2/18. Buena Vista has set Beauty
and the Beast: Belle's Magical World for 2/25. Columbia
TriStar will release I'll Do Anything,
Three Stooges: Stop, Look and Laugh
and You Can't Take It With You on
2/18. HBO will debut Unchained Memories:
Reading from the Slave Narratives on 2/11. New Line has set
Sleeping Dictionary for 2/18, with
Knockaround Guys following on
2/25. Paramount will debut Bang the Drum
Slowly, Fear Strikes Out
and Talent for the Game on 3/4.
Rhino has Walking Tall II and Walking
Tall: The Final Chapter due on 1/14. Also on 1/14, SlingShot
Entertainment will release Jane Goodall's
Wild Chimpanzees and Seasons: IMAX.
And finally, 20th Century Fox will release Bushwhacked,
Far From Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog
and My Friend Flicka on 3/11.
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/17/02 - 9:30 AM PST)
Funny story before we get back on the DVD train today. Last Wednesday
night, right before I left for not-so-chilly North Dakota, Sarah and I
went to see the Peter Gabriel concert in L.A.. First up, it was a great
show. Peter and his band really sounded great, and I'm now even more
excited for those SACDs next year (including UP
on 1/14). And Gabriel's theatrical production design was as good as
ever. But almost as interesting as the show itself, was the
people-watching. Sitting in just our section of the crowd alone was
Helen Hunt, Brooke Shields, Weird Al Yankovic, Ridley Scott, Hans
Zimmer, Peter Buck from R.E.M., Erin Brockovich and many other
celebrities that I'm sure I'm forgetting. All in all, a pretty
fascinating evening of entertainment.
All right... around the site this morning, we've updated various charts
and graphs with the latest DVD sales and rental data. And we've
announced the winners of our
Contest. You'll find them all on the contest page, along with
the solution to the word search puzzle. Congratulations to all the
winners and thanks to all 1,913 people who entered!
Now then, we'll be back with several more updates throughout the
morning and afternoon to get caught up on all the latest news and
what-not. So stay tuned...
Okay... we've got a LOT of ground to cover today. First up, we're very
pleased to bring you a new regular column here at The
Digital Bits, entitled
Buttered Popcorn for the Movie Lover's Soul by Bob Banka.
Here's Bob to introduce himself to all of you...
"I'm a 40 year-old school teacher living in
South Jersey. I grew up watching movies for seventy-five cents a ticket
at Fort Dix Army Base and McGuire Air Force Base. I miss those days.
Movies were inexpensive, lightweight entertainment... a great way to
spend an evening or Saturday afternoon. Later, I learned that movies can
be so much more than that. They can be art. They can say something to an
audience - make us think, feel, reflect. They can teach us about
ourselves and others. Unfortunately, these days, most big Hollywood
films do little more that fight for the coveted weekend lead at the box
I've been a home theater enthusiast for about 12 years, from a mad
devotion to laser discs and a 32" tube television to my current,
full blown home theater with projector and 100" screen. I jumped
into DVD with both feet when they first started hitting the shelves. I
suppose I've written about five or six hundred DVD reviews to date, for
Jeff McNeal's The
Big Picture. After a near year long hiatus from writing
online, I'm once again writing the occasional review there. And I'm very
pleased to have the opportunity to write articles on film, home theater
and the movie-going experience here at The
We're just as pleased to have Bob join us here. And in this first
edition of his column, Bob talks about a growing problem among rational,
intelligent movie-goers everywhere... the dreaded
(and yes, it's just as scary as it sounds). So be sure to check it out
and don't forget to drop
Bob an e-mail to welcome him aboard!
Also this morning, we've got
complete transcript of a live chat with DVD producer Van Ling
which was held on Monday night at
Home Theater Forum. Some interesting information in there, so
don't miss it.
Around the site today, we've updated Jim Taylor's
DVD FAQ to its most recent version, dated November 13th.
And we've updated the
DVD Player Sales charts with the sales numbers for the week
ending November 15th. Some 767,345 players shipped to retailers here in
the U.S. during the third week of November, bringing the month-to-date
total to 1,914,873 (with still two weeks left to go). And that takes the
DVD format-to-date total for the U.S. to a whopping 40,263,363 players.
Our friends at ShowOff
Displays are offering all of you a special "buy one, get one
half off" coupon good for their DVD Marquees and Sound System
Signs. All you have to do is e-mail them at
with the word "coupon" in the subject line. You'll get an
auto-response e-mail with the coupon code to use with your order.
And finally today, we're kicking off our big
Trivia Contest. TEN lucky winners will have the chance to take
home great prizes, including new DVDs from Fox, DreamWorks and MGM, and
home theater accessories from CinemaWise, CD/DVD Playright and ShowOff
Displays! And this time, Sarah's cooked up a fun, holiday-themed word
search puzzle for you to solve! You've got until 12:01 AM PST on
Tuesday, December 17th to enter, so get those entries in and good luck!
Now then... your erstwhile editor is off on an early Christmas journey
to frosty North Dakota this weekend, to spend a little time with family
and friends. So we'll be dark Thursday, Friday and Monday. But we'll be
back on Tuesday morning with lots of news and more. We've got NEW disc
reviews in the pipeline (no kidding!), along with new columns and lots
more gleaming DVD fun.
So we'll see you back here on Tuesday. Deck the halls!
(LATE UPDATE - 12/9/02 - 2 PM PST)
We've got a couple of new DVD reviews for you this afternoon. Adam
Jahnke's taken a look at Artisan's recent
Dogs: Ten Years - Special Edition, as well as Disney's new
Disney Treasures: Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio.
Both titles are well worth a look.
got a follow-up story on that kid in Norway who wrote the DeCSS
software that defeats DVD's CSS encryption scheme. Jon Lech Johansen
appeared in court today and denied that he actually cracked the code
interesting story over at
Hill Media, a site dedicated to reporting on inside issues at
Disney, on the company's Lilo & Stitch
DVD, as well as the company's reported shift on releasing 2-disc special
edition titles. We can't confirm most of the information in this (or
Jim's other) articles, but we have heard from our sources that Disney IS
shifting away from 2-disc SEs as much as possible to maximize DVD
profits. And the article is an interesting read in any case. I don't
know what's more irritating - Disney CEO Michael Eisner's reported edict
against DVD special editions... or the fact that he had the gaul to
appear during the Anaheim Angels World Series award ceremony wearing a
Mickey Mouse T-shirt.
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/9/02 - 10:15 AM PST)
Morning everyone. Hope you all had a great weekend. We're going to be
checking in today with more updated throughout the day, but first I
wanted to jump in here with word that Columbia TriStar will be holding a
live, online event on December 15th, with Tobey Maguire and JK Simmons,
through the Spider-Man DVD-ROM
Online Theatre. Fans with the DVD and a PC DVD-ROM drive with a good
Internet connection can participate. The event starts on Sunday,
December 15th, at 7:30 PM EST. You'll be able to watch the film live
with a streamed online audio commentary in Windows Media featuring
Maguire and Simmons. The commentary portion of the event will start at
8:00 PM EST, and is only available to those who have the Spider-Man
DVD in their PC-ROM drive at that time. You can log on to the event
through the Countdown to Spider-Man 2
link on Disc One of the DVD.
Now then, we've updated
Rumor Mill again with retailer confirmation of a number of
upcoming DVD titles for the first half of 2003. Interested in Red
Dragon, Smallville, new
seasons of South Park and Friends
and more? Don't miss it!
Back later. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE -
12/6/02 - 2 PM PST)
Just wanted to drop in with one last quick post this week to give you
all a look at the (still tentative) DVD cover art for the Star
Trek IV: The Voyage Home - Special Collector's Edition. It
has yet to be finalized, so we'll post the revised art if it changes.
We've added it to the
DVD Cover Art section as well.
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/6/02 - 12:01 AM PST)
Paramount has officially announced the DVD release of the Star
Trek IV: The Voyage Home - Special Collector's Edition for
3/4! The two disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen
video, with audio in English Dolby Digital 5.1 and English and French
Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Disc One of the set will also include audio
commentary by director Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, as well as
another text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda. Disc Two will
include several new production featurettes (Time
Travel: The Art of the Possible, The
Language of Whales, A Vulcan
Primer, Kirk's Women,
Future's Past: A Look Back, On
Location, Dailies Deconstruction,
Below-the-Line: Sound Design, From
Outer Space to the Ocean, The Bird
of Prey, Roddenberry Scrapbook
and Featured Artist: Mark Lenard),
as well as original interviews with Leonard Nimoy, William Shatner and
DeForest Kelley, a storyboard and production photo gallery and the
film's theatrical trailer. We'll post cover artwork as soon as it
Also we've added a few more pieces of
DVD Cover Art this morning. New for today are Stingray,
The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again,
Six Feet Under: The Complete First Season,
Queer As Folk: The Complete Second Season,
Tuck Everlasting, a few new Wim
Wenders films from Anchor Bay and several more. There are 20 new cover
scans in all.
And around the Net today,
got a story on the continuing success of DVD. Of note in the story
is that fact that Fox's Ice Age
DVD pulled in nearly three times as much money in its first week of
release as the film made in its first week of theatrical release. No
wonder DVD is the disc that saved Hollywood. There's
piece up at Yahoo on the impending DVD release of Minority
Report. And the
Today has a story on DVD, featuring basic buying tips for
those in the market for their first player this holiday season.
We're working to get some of those reviews we've been promising up as
soon as possible, so bear with us in the meantime.
Morning all! We've got some good news for you fans of Peter Gabriel and
The Police. Our own Matt Rowe got a great scoop from insiders at
Universal Music. The company plans to release Peter Gabriel's Up
on SACD on 1/14. In addition, they're planning 3 additional TBA catalog
titles from Gabriel later in 2003 (no word on which ones yet, but my
money's on Us, So
and Security/PG4). Even better
news is that the company will release the ENTIRE Police catalog on SACD
in 2003 in honor of the band's 25th anniversary. This will include Outlandos
d'Amour, Regatta de Blanc,
Zenyatta Mondatta, Ghost
in the Machine, Synchronicity,
Every Breath You Take: The Classics
and Live. Note that there's no
word yet on possible DVD-Audio releases of these titles. Be sure to
check out Matt's MusicTAP
site for other SACD and DVD-Audio news.
Given all these great titles coming out on SACD (and to a lesser extent
DVD-Audio), if you're at all interested in high-resolution audio, our
recommendation here at The Bits is
to make sure your next DVD player a combo player that will play both
multi-channel SACD and DVD-Audio in addition to DVD-Video discs. Pioneer
has a new model, the DV-45A that carries an SRP of $700, along with the
DV-47Ai at $1,200. That's still far too pricey for most, but expect
those prices to drop substantially over the next year or two. Other
brands of combo players include Integra, Marantz and Onkyo, with at
least a few other manufacturers expected to follow soon. If you've got a
player that can handle it all, an audio format war is pretty much a moot
issue as a consumer. Something to think about. We'll have a lot more
coverage of high-resolution audio here at The
Bits in 2003.
Now then... you want upcoming DVD cover artwork? We got your artwork
here! We've added more than 80 new cover scans in all, many fresh
from the studio art teams. Among the many new titles this time are Eye
See You, The Absent-Minded
Professor, The Computer Wore
Tennis Shoes, Educating Rita,
The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit,
The Moon-Spinners, Secret
Ballot, Blue Crush,
Fear Dot Com, Dead
Reckoning, all of Fox's Studio Classics first wave titles,
Harrison's Flowers, Shampoo,
The Harder They Fall, World
Traveller, Pennies from Heaven,
Free Willy: SE, all of the
forthcoming Criterion titles, Formula 51,
El Mariachi: SE, Driving
Miss Daisy: SE, X-Men 1.5: SE,
My Big Fat Greek Wedding, City
By the Sea, The Four Feathers,
You Can't Take it With You, Road
to Perdition, 1984,
Salaam Bombay!: SE, Star
Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season One, NYPD
Blue: Season One, Duel
and more. Remember... you can order each title from our software sponsor
Planet by clicking on the cover art. And that helps support
The Bits, which we appreciate.
We're working on those DVD reviews, and also a big Upcoming
DVD Cover Artwork update, which may be up tonight, but will
definitely be in tomorrow's post. In the meantime, however, we've got
some VERY cool news in today's
Mill post, including word on Steven
Spielberg's Taken, Paramount's Tom Clancy films and LOTS of
great possible 2003 titles from Fox (via
that chat from the Monday night). You DEFINITELY don't want to
I also want to let everyone know that Image's multi-disc release of
War and Peace (1965 - Russian) has
been delayed (it was originally to have been released yesterday). We'll
have a lot more details on this soon, but suffice it to say that the
reason for the delay is a good one, and the final release will be well
worth the wait.
As you might have noticed, we had a little server glitch this morning.
It was actually related to server upgrades and improvements that are
ongoing. The issue should be resolved now, but we're going to a little
more work behind the scenes to make sure things are kosher.
In the meantime though, we've got
complete transcript of that chat our friends at
Home Theater Forum held last night with 20th Century Fox's Peter
Staddon. Peter talked about a lot of upcoming Fox titles and hinted at
others, including several major titles and a whole mess of great TV
releases that are on the way for 2003. It's definitely worth a read.
Thanks to Ron, Parker and the guys at HTF for sending it over. And just
FYI, next Monday (12/10) they'll be chatting with DVD producer Van Ling
(Star Wars: Episode II), so don't
I also wanted to remind everyone out there who enjoys our work here at
The Digital Bits to PLEASE SUPPORT
OUR SPONSORS this holiday shopping season. Advertising online is pretty
scarce these days, and The Bits is
a VERY highly trafficked site... which means it isn't cheap to keep
going. At the same time, we don't want to have to make The
Bits a subscription service, or to assault you with those
annoying flash advertisements and pop-ups you see everywhere else online
these days. It's only through the support of our sponsors that we're
able to keep bringing you the latest in DVD news and information. So
please support DVD
and our other sponsors with your dollars. And be sure to tell 'em The
Bits sent you.
Back tomorrow with reviews and more. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 12/2/02
- 12:30 PM PST)
Great news! We've just heard from Buena Vista that Miramax's Krzysztof
Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy
DVDs (Blue, White
and Red - set for 3/4) will be
special editions! All three of the discs will feature anamorphic
widescreen video (1.85:1 aspect ratio), with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio in
English and the original French.
Bonus features on Red (aka Rouge)
will include several featurettes (Insights
into Trois Coleurs: Rouge, A
Discussion on Working With Kieslowski, A
Conversation with Irene Jacob on Kieslowski, Krzysztof
Kielowski's Cinema Lesson, Behind
the Scenes with Krzysztof Kieslowski and Red
at Cannes 1994), audio commentary with film scholar Annette
Insdorf (author of the book Double Lives,
Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski), an
interview with producer Marin Karmitz, actor Irene Jacob selected scenes
commentary, editor Jacques Witta interview/commentary, the original
theatrical trailers and a Kieslowski filmography.
Bonus features on White (aka Blanc)
will include more featurettes (A Look at
Blanc, A Discussion on
Kieslowski's Later Years, A
Conversation with Julie Delpy on Kieslowski, Krzysztof
Kieslowski's Cinema Lesson and Behind
the Scenes of White with Krzysztof Kieslowski), audio
commentary with Annette Insdorf, an interview with Marin Karmitz, actor
Julie Delpy selected scenes commentary/interview, original theatrical
trailers and a Kieslowski filmography.
And finally, bonus features on Blue
(aka Bleu) will include still more
featurettes (Reflections on Bleu,
A Discussion on Kieslowski's Early Years,
A Conversation with Juliette Binoche on
Kieslowski and Krzysztof
Kieslowski Cinema Lesson), audio commentary with Annette
Insdorf, Marin Karmitz interview/selected scenes commentary, actor
Juliette Binoche selected scenes commentary, Jacques Witta
interview/commentary, original theatrical trailers and the Kieslowski
Now... I'm officially REALLY looking forward to these discs. If only
Miramax would get around to doing a special edition of The
English Patient soon...