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page updated: 3/31/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 3/17/03 - 2/24/03)


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(EARLY UPDATE - 3/17/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Oh... you knew this was coming, didn't you. The Digital Bits is working with our friends at The Home Theater Forum, DVD File and MusicTAP, along with a growing list of other great DVD and movie websites, to kick off the Original Trilogy on DVD Campaign! The goal is quite simple... to convince director George Lucas to release the original theatrical versions of the Star Wars movies on DVD. There's nothing wrong with the upgraded special editions he's got planned, but we want the films as we remember them preserved on DVD too!

We implore all of you to click on over to the official campaign website at OriginalTrilogy.com to sign the online petition. You'll be asked to include your full name, city, state and country, along with your e-mail address. You'll then get an e-mail back asking you to confirm your signature - please do so. Remember to use your real names - not a screen name. This is very important for the petition to be taken seriously (obviously bogus names will be deleted). Our last campaign effort in 2000, a joint venture with DVD File, garnered more than 30,000 singatures in less than a month. The result... Lucasfilm began releasing the new Star Wars films on DVD. Now it's time to blow that effort out of the water!

So click here to sign the petition! Get everyone you know to sign the petition!

And if you have a website of your own, and you would like to join the effort, feel free to use the graphics below to link to the campaign (other sizes can be arranged through the campaign site).

Join the campaign!  Original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD!Join the campaign!  Original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD!Join the campaign!  Original Star Wars Trilogy on DVD!

Are you happy with the idea that our kids and grandkids could forever think that Greedo shoots first? Hell no! Everybody knows Han shoots first! So sign the petition and spread the word! Special thanks to Jay Sylvester, Hector Cruz and all the others who are doing a lot of hard work behind-the-scenes to make the campaign possible.

And on a completely different note, I just have to say this before I sign off for the evening. The Police reunite for the first time in 18 years to play three songs at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and VH1 cuts one of them from the broadcast? LAME.

Back with more later this morning...

3/14/03

Okay... we've got a few bits of DVD news for you today before we get back to work on a bevy of great stuff for next week.

First up, Video Store magazine is reporting that Matrix producer Joel Silver was behind the cancellation of Warner's planned Matrix: Special Edition DVD. It seems Sliver felt that the double-disc edition gave away too much information about the upcoming sequel, Matrix: Reloaded. Not to worry, though... a better DVD of the film is planned. Silver reportedly wants to do a better transfer of the film for the next DVD release.

Dear Ndugu...

New Line has revealed that their About Schmidt (one of my favorite films of recent memory) will arrive on June 3rd (SRP $27.95). The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital and DTS audio, deleted scenes, Woodmen Sequences short films on the opening sequence (featuring the Woodmen Tower in Omaha, Neb., showcasing perceptions of the film from director Alexander Payne's editorial staff) and theatrical trailers. Here's the cover art...

About SchmidtSpeed Racer: Limited Collector's Edition (Outer Cover)

I'm a little bummed that Schmidt won't have an audio commentary. Oh well. By the way, that other cover is the "real rubber tire" outer packaging for Artisan's upcoming Speed Racer: Limited Collector's Edition DVD (street date 4/22).

Also this morning, Columbia TriStar has added some new TV titles to their TV on DVD online poll. New potential choices include Action, The Critic, Donnie and Marie, The Nanny, Parker Lewis Can't Lose, Route 66, Square Pegs and Werewolf. We still want The Tick as a special edition. ;-)

And finally, 20th Century Fox has announced a trio of new high-definition D-VHS videotape titles for release on 4/15. Look for The Transporter, Die Hard and Courage Under Fire. Each tape will SRP for $34.98 each.

So that's it for today. Be sure to check back on Monday, and all next week, for new DVD and SACD reviews, new columns from our staff writers and a long-overdue update of our Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. Plus, you can be sure that there will be lots more new title announcements. And a new Trivia Contest will start tonight as well.

Don't forget that tonight brings the second-to-last episode of Farscape on Sci-Fi. Also on the cable network, Sunday features the start of the Frank Herbert's Children of Dune miniseries. And you fans of The Police, The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions and AC/DC will definitely want to tune in to VH-1 on Sunday night for the broadcast of The 2003 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. A preview of what to expect from the broadcast can be found here at Rolling Stone. Check you local listings for broadcast times in your area.

Have a great weekend!

3/13/03

Warner Bros. has officially announced a trio of new DVDs for release on 6/3. Look for Empire Records: Bootleg Cut - Special Fan Edition (SRP $24.98), along with Fame and Spirit of '76 ($19.98 each).

Empire Records will include sixteen minutes of new footage added back into the film, four additional deleted scenes, three music videos, the theatrical trailer, a new anamorphic widescreen digital transfer and remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Fame will include a "class reunion" audio commentary with Alan Parker, a "making of" featurette, the Fame Field Trip featurette tour of the school, the theatrical trailer and anamorphic widescreen video (no word yet on audio, but likely Dolby Digital 5.1). And finally, Spirit of '76 will feature audio commentary by director Lucas Reiner and Carl Reiner, a behind the scenes featurette, additional deleted scenes, the 1976 music video by Redd Kross, Easter eggs, the theatrical trailer and anamorphic widescreen video (again, no word yet on audio, but again likely Dolby Digital 5.1).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/12/03 - 1:30 PM PST)

Here's a couple more pieces of upcoming DVD cover artwork for you: Columbia TriStar's Adaptation: SuperBit (5/20), A&E's Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean (4/29) and HBO's Sex and the City: The Complete Fourth Season (also 5/20). All of them can be pre-ordered now from our software sponsor, DVD Planet.

Adaptation: SuperBitMr. Bean: The Whole BeanSex and the City: The Complete Fourth Season

Be sure to check out our 11:30 AM post for more upcoming title news. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/12/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

We have some new upcoming DVD announcements for you this morning, so let's get started...

A&E will release a 3-disc Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean on 4/29. Anchor Bay will take advantage of the superhero phenom by releasing The Hulk Collection (including Incredible Hulk Returns and Trial of the Incredible Hulk) on 5/6. Capitol/EMI is releasing a reissue version of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars: The Movie on 4/1. HBO has announced Sex and the City: The Complete Fourth Season for release on 5/20. MGM will release Rocky V as a separate disc on 3/18. MPI has War and Remembrance: The Final Chapter set for 3/25, with Becket, First Steps on Mars and George Carlin: You Are All Diseased all set for 5/27. Sony Music will debut Tori Amos: A Sorta Fairytale on 3/25. Synapse's upcoming releases include Blue Sunshine on 4/15 and Flavia, The Heretic on 5/20. And Warner Music's Led Zappelin streets on 5/27.

And as always, Image Entertainment gets their own paragraph. Look for Car Man: An Auto-Erotic Thriller, Copenhagen, Kiss Me, Kate, Level13.net: Weird and Mysterious, Box of Disorder: Disorder/Disorder 2: Fat Tire Fury, White Knuckle Extreme: Road Fools 8, Rockthology #10: Hard and Heavy, Rockthology #9: Hard and Heavy and Synergy: Visions of Vibe (all on 5/13), Before Hollywood There Was Fort Lee, N. J.: Early Movie Making in New Jersey, Common Law Wife/Jennie, Wife/Child: Special Edition, Gene Autry Collection: Home on the Prairie, Gene Autry Collection: Melody Ranch, Hip-Hop VIPs, Killah Priest: A Day in the Life, Killarmy: A Day in the Life, Love Cult/Mundo Depravados: Special Edition, Mike Oldfield: The Art of Heaven Concert: Live in Berlin, Mondo Bizarro/Mondo Freudo: Special Edition, Phil Collins: Live and Loose in Paris, Sinderella and the Golden Bra/Goldilocks and the Three Bares, Glitch! and Straight from the Projects: Rappers That Live the Lyrics - C Murder (all 5/20), Driver 23/Atlas Moth, Keith Jarrett Trio 1996, Not Mozart and Word (on 5/27) and Chopin: The Four Ballades and Jim DeJulio Quintet (on 6/3).

Also today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the complete month of February (weeks ending 2/14 and 2/21 have been added). The total for the month is 743,488 units, taking the year-to-date total to 1,540,512, and the format grand total to a whopping 45,259,250. Not bad for a format that is, this month, exactly 6 years old.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/12/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

I thought we'd kick off your Wednesday morning right, with a little new upcoming DVD cover art. Here's Miramax's Gangs of New York and Criterion's Throne of Blood and Quai des Orfèvres. Have you ever seen anything cooler than that Throne cover? Damn!

Gangs of New YorkThrone of Blood (Criterion)Quai des Orfèvres (Criterion)

Both of those Criterion titles street on 5/27. By the way... we have official word from Miramax that Gangs of New York will street on 7/1, with Chicago set to follow on 8/19.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/11/03 - 3:30 PM PST)

As promised, we've got three new DVD reviews today. Dan Kelly weighs in on DreamWorks' Ringu, Adam Jahnke gives you his thoughts on Fox's The Shield: The Complete First Season and Matt Rowe takes a closer look Miramax's Cinema Paradiso: The New Version

Also this afternoon, we have word on the possible release time-frame for Warner's long-awaited Looney Tunes DVDs. You'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill, so don't miss it.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/11/03 - 9:30 AM PST)

The official Star Trek website has revealed the content of the seven deleted scenes that will be included on the May 20th release of Star Trek: Nemesis on DVD. These include Data and Picard discussing Riker and Troi's wedding, an alternate introduction to Shinzon, Worf and Picard discussing defensive preparations, Troi and Picard talking about Shinzon's motivations, Shinzon's second "mental rape" of Troi, a scene in Sickbay between Picard and Crusher and, finally, the film's original ending. There's no word on whether these will be anamorphic widescreen, but we can always hope. Visit the official site at the link above for more detailed descriptions of each scene.

In DVD release news today, Columbia TriStar has just announced its Black Hawk Down: Deluxe Edition. The 3-disc set will street on 6/3. Also set for that day are Eat a Bowl of Tea, S.W.A.T.: The First Season and The Whole Wide World.

There's more good news for Police fans. No, there's still no reunion tour planned, but it seems that the band's longtime manager, Miles Copeland (brother of drummer Stewart), is discussing with Universal Music the idea of releasing more DVDs in the next year or two. This would include The Police: Around the World rock-u-mentary, along with more concert material and behind-the-scenes footage taken early in the band's history. Click here for the complete story via Billboard.com. "We want to do a lot of DVD product," Copeland says. "Bring it on," I say.

Speaking of the Police, there are stories about last night's Rock Hall induction performance appearing around the Net for those who are interested (click here and here).

More music news today... it seems Atlantic is working on a 2-disc Led Zeppelin DVD showcasing performances by the band. There will also be a new 3-disc audio set. The DVD will street on May 27th (SRP $29.98). Click here for more, again from Billboard.com.

And finally this morning, the greatest fears of every Hollywood movie studio have just been realized - the Internet's speed record has officially been broken. Scientists have used fiber-optic cables to transfer 6.7 gigabytes of data (the equivalent of two DVD movies) across 6,800 miles in less than a minute. You can almost here the "Super Napster" business plans forming.

Back with those DVD reviews this afternoon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/10/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

We've announced the winners of our two Trivia Contests, so be sure to check that out if you entered. Congratulations to all ten winners!

The server seems to be a little slow this afternoon, so we're going to hold off and post those new DVD reviews tomorrow. We'll have three new DVD reviews, including DreamWorks' Ringu, Fox's The Shield: The Complete First Season and Miramax's Cinema Paradiso.

Also today, I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge one of my favorite bands, The Police, who will this evening be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Police are going in along with The Clash, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, AC/DC and The Righteous Brothers. The induction ceremony takes place in New York City tonight, and the event will be broadcast on VH1 on March 16th (be sure to check your local listings for showtimes in your area). The Police will be performing together at the induction ceremony for the first time in public since 1986, so if you're a fan, you definitely don't want to miss it. You can bet that Matt and I will be watching. And in honor of the event, we'll soon be posting reviews of the complete Police catalog on SACD, just released from Universal Music.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/10/03 - 10 AM PST)

Well, MGM's finally gone ahead and done it! They've revealed their 2-disc Die Another Day: Special Edition for release on June 3rd (SRP $29.98). The set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen or full frame (dual versions will be available), with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES. Extras include audio commentary with director Lee Tamahori and producer Michael G. Wilson, plus a second commentary with actors Pierce Brosnan and Rosamund Pike. There's a behind the scenes text and trivia commentary track as well, a trailer for the Bond: Special Edition catalog and DVD-ROM features. Over on Disc Two, look for the Inside Die Another Day documentary, multi-angle deconstructions including Scene Evolutions (storyboard to film comparisons), Inter-Action Sequences (multi-angle looks at key stunts), Title Design (a look at the effects for the opening sequence) and Digital Grading (before and after comparisons of digitally altered footage), an Equipment Briefing on each gadget used in the film, a comprehensive image gallery, trailers and TV spots, Madonna's Die Another Day music video, a featurette on the making of the Madonna video, a featurette on the making of the 007 Nightfire videogame, trailers of other MGM releases and more DVD-ROM features. Here's a look at the cover art:

Die Another Day: Special Edition

There's no word yet on the re-release of additional James Bond Collection DVDs, but you can bet you'll hear something soon, timed to coincide with Die Another Day. And you can find more on the DVD at the official Bond website.

By the way... yes, we know that the website lists an April 15th street date for Die Another Day. But MGM's U.S. official sell sheet for the title (from which the above details were obtained) specifically says June 3rd. And our sources have always indicated a June street date for the title. I would take the June 3rd date as gospel until MGM says otherwise.

Now then... on Saturday morning, we had the fun of attending the world premiere of Disney's Inspector Gadget 2 at the El Capitan theater in Hollywood. The film was screened in full DLP quality and looked surprisingly good for a straight-to-DVD release. As you can imagine, all the film's stars were there, along with lots of other celebrities, many of whom brought their kids to share in all the fun. Here's a look at couple pix that Sarah took...

Go-Go-Gadget DVD premiereGo-Go-Gadget DVD premiere
IG2 stars French Stewart, Elaine Hendrix, Caitlin Wachs and director Alex Zamm

I spoke with Buena Vista Home Entertainment president Bob Chapek at the event, who revealed that there are exciting things in store for DVD from the studio in 2003. Look for their forthcoming The Lion King: Platinum Edition to be on the cutting edge in terms of new features and interactivity. He also said that the studio is very pleased with the success of its Walt Disney Treasures line of discs. They've apparently sold so well (far beyond studio expectations) that you can expect the line not only to continue, but also to expand into new areas.

In a fun side note, actor Patrick Warburton was at the event with his family. Some of you may know him for his stint on the short-lived TV series The Tick. I had the chance to ask him about a possible DVD release of the series, and he told me that he'd be delighted to participate in audio commentaries and other features. So Columbia TriStar... we sincerely hope you're listening!

All right. We've got new DVD reviews coming for you today, so be sure to check back this afternoon! And we'll announce the winners of our Trivia Contest as well.

Stay tuned...

3/7/03

How's about some new DVD reviews for you this morning? Good? Good, 'cause we've got 'em. We're pleased to welcome back a veteran reviewer who's been away for a while - our own Dan Kelly. Dan checks back in today with a look at DreamWorks' new DVD release of The Ring (widescreen version of course). And Adam Jahnke's got a review of Anchor Bay's recent The Amazing Howard Hughes, so be sure to check that out as well.

Speaking of Adam... gotta tell ya, the boy's been awfully busy of late. And we've got the proof right here. Here's Adam himself to explain...

"Ahoy there! As you may or may not know, for the past few years, whenever I wasn't cranking out reviews for The Bill ‘N’ Todd Show, I was slaving away at Troma Entertainment, helping to produce such timeless entertainments as Troma's Edge TV and Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (both of which are now available on DVD... check ‘em out, you'll be glad you did). Because you cannot work at Troma unless you're capable of doing at least 15 things simultaneously, Troma president Lloyd Kaufman and I have also cranked out a book: Make Your Own Damn Movie!, which will be published by St. Martin's Press and in stores April 5.

Make Your Own Damn Movie!

If you're familiar with Lloyd's first book, All I Need to Know About Filmmaking I Learned from The Toxic Avenger, you'll have a pretty good idea of what to expect in this one. Make Your Own Damn Movie! is for anybody who's ever wanted to direct their own independent movie but aren't sure how to get it off the ground. Lloyd and I (with insight from Citizen Toxie co-writer/producer Trent Haaga) show you how Troma does it every step of the way. From fund-raising to script writing to production to post-production to marketing and distribution. If nothing else, you'll come away thinking, "Hell, if these idiots can make a movie, anybody can!"

So whether you're an aspiring filmmaker, a Troma fan, somebody who thinks this Jahnke character writes halfway decent movie reviews, or just a rich dude with $15 burning a hole in your pocket, check out Make Your Own Damn Movie!. I think you'll get a laugh or two and who knows, you might just learn something before you're done.

Thanks to Bill and Todd for letting me get in this bit of shameless self-promotion. We now return you to your regularly scheduled editorial, already in progress."


Our pleasure, Adam. By the way, if you're interested, you can pre-order the book now at Amazon by clicking on the cover art. Adam kicks serious you-know-what for us around here, so we hope you'll all consider checking out his new literary adventure. ;-)

Finally this morning, you Dune fans will be might be interested in reading one of the first reviews of Sci-Fi's new Children of Dune miniseries, which debuts on March 16th. GenreOnline reviewer Mark Rivera says it's well worth a watch. Don't forget that the program will appear on DVD from Artisan on 5/20.

And that's all she wrote for another week. Have a great weekend and we'll see you all back here on Monday. Peace.

(LATE UPDATE - 3/6/03 - 3 PM PST)

Well... we've finally heard back from Warner Brothers. The Matrix: Special Edition, which had been set for release on 4/29, has been officially cancelled. Here's the studio's statement:

"Warner Home Video will not be releasing the previously announced The Matrix Special Edition double-disc DVD. In a shift in strategy to broaden The Matrix fan base prior to the May 15 theatrical release of the highly anticipated sequel The Matrix Reloaded, Warner Home Video will reprice The Matrix DVD to $19.99 SRP on April 29.

Also on April 29, WHV will reprice the two-pack of The Matrix and The Matrix Revisited - the complete, behind-the-scenes two-hour companion to The Matrix phenomenon - to a new low price of $34.99 SRP."


There's no official reason given as to why this SE was cancelled. Consider this next bit Rumor Mill-category information, but we've been hearing word that the Wachowski Brothers themselves decided to pull the plug, opting instead to revisit the title as a completely new special edition from the ground up at some point in the future. If we can confirm anything else with regard to this title, we'll let you know.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/6/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

As promised today, we're very pleased to offer to you Adam's Jahnke's in-depth review of all three films in Krzysztof Kieslowski's masterful Three Colors trilogy - Blue, White and Red. We've been waiting for nearly six long years here at The Digital Bits to have these films released on DVD, and we're pleased to say that it's been well worth the time. Now I can finally lay my laserdisc copies to rest before. If you haven't seen these three films yet, I think Adam's review will be just the convincer you need to take the plunge. You'll be very glad you did.

In DVD news, Columbia TriStar has announced a new slate of DVDs for release on 5/27. Look for a 2-disc Charlie's Angels: SuperBit Deluxe, along with The Best of Charlie's Angels, Charlie's Angels: The Complete First Season (5 discs), Mississippi Masala, Bad Boys: Special Edition, a Lou Diamond Philips 3-pack (including La Bamba, Bats, The Big Hit), The Mothman Prophecies: Special Edition (2 discs), Love Liza and a National Security: Special Edition. Classic Charlie's Angels on DVD?! It was only a matter of time.

Buena Vista has revealed a couple new titles as well. Look for Unstrung Heroes, A Stranger Among Us, Super Mario Bros., Where the Heart Is, 3 Ninja, The Truce, Cry the Beloved Country, A La Mode and The Horseman on the Roof all on 6/3. And here's a little something to get you Chicago fans excited (watch for the disc to be announced soon, along with Gangs of New York)...

Chicago

Also, Warner Bros. has announced the DVD release of This Boy's Life on 5/13. Ken Burns' America: The Congress and Ken Burns' America: The Shakers have also been set for release, both on 6/3. Anyone out there remember Scooby-Doo Meets the Harlem Globetrotters? You'll get that on 5/6. And speaking of Warner, we're investigating rumors that they've pulled their forthcoming Matrix: Special Edition indefinitely. We'll let you know when we confirm anything either way with the studio.

Around the Net today, Business 2.0 has a story on a new trend in movie-going... the haute theater experience. It seems there's a daring entrepreneur who thinks there are people out there willing to spend $14 a ticket to see movies in luxurious comfort. Personally, I'd pay a few bucks extra if my local theater would nix the 30-plus minutes worth of TV commercials they force you to sit through before the film starts and enforce a 'no cell phones' rule.

$14?! Heck... I'd almost rather just stay home and spin discs in my own private theater. Anyone else out there feel the same?

By the way... just when you thought you'd never have to hear about that Norwegian kid who cracked DVD's DeCSS encryption scheme again, a Norwegian appeals court goes and approves an appeal on his acquittal. So now, get ready for a retrial... and at least another year or two of 'DVD Jon' news. Doh!

And finally this morning, we've got some great news in The Rumor Mill for you Right Stuff fans. "Hey Ridley... ya got any Beeman's?" DAMN, it's gonna be a good year for DVDs!

Stay tuned...

3/5/03

We've got another new DVD review for you today... Jeff Kleist's take on 20th Century Fox's newly released M*A*S*H: Season Three set. And tomorrow, look for Adam Jahnke's review of Miramax and Buena Vista's long-awaited DVD release of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy (Blue, White and Red).

Two new Trivia Contests have also gotten underway this morning - FIVE lucky winners will take home MGM's Salaam Bombay on DVD, and another FIVE winners will receive a copy of Buena Vista's Tuck Everlasting. You've got until Monday to enter, and it couldn't be easier to do so. Good luck!

And in a brief bit of DVD news this morning, the Trek Today website has obtained details on some of the seven deleted scenes (twenty minutes worth in all) that will be included on the Star Trek: Nemesis DVD (set to street on 5/20).

Stay tuned...

3/4/03

Today's a bit slow news-wise, and we're working on some other things behind-the-scenes here at The Bits that you'll all get to see in the future, including new reviews and special features.

But we do have word in The Rumor Mill today on possible street dates for Fox's upcoming Daredevil: Special Edition and Solaris. Definitely worth a look.

And we've also got some new upcoming DVD cover artwork for you as well. Here's DreamWorks' Catch Me if You Can (5/6).

Catch Me if You Can

Also this afternoon, we have word from Children of Dune writer and producer John Harrison, that the upcoming DVD version from Artisan (due 5/20) will probably not be a special edition release. More when the studio announces official specs.

And there's word from CNN that Sony has sold the first BluRay high-definition optical disc recorder in Japan, although the story incorrectly calls it a DVD recorder. Keep in mind, BluRay and DVD are NOT the same format. Nor is BluRay HD-DVD. The official DVD Forum has said that it will announce the final spec for true HD-DVD in March.

We expect to launch a pair of new Trivia Contests this evening as well, so be sure to check back. Stay tuned!

3/3/03

Morning folks! Pour yourself a nice hot cup o' jo, cause we've got some ground to cover this morning. First up today, there's news that DreamWorks will release Steven Spielberg's Catch Me if You Can on 5/6, as a 2-disc special edition, in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. There's no commentary naturally (can't give away all those filmmaking magic tricks we've already known about for years), but you can expect a boat-load of documentaries and featurettes.

Next, there's great news for you Dune fans. Artisan has already set Sci-Fi's upcoming Frank Herbert's Children of Dune miniseries for DVD release on 5/20. No word yet on features, other than anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital audio, but here's the cover art. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing this...

Frank Herbert's Children of Dune

Next, we have word of some great new Criterion titles on the way. The company will release Derek Jarman's Jubilee (SRP $39.95), Henri-Georges Clouzot's Quai des Orfèvres ($29.95) and Volker Schlöndorff’s Coup de grâce ($29.95), all on 5/27. Best of all, look for Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood that same day ($39.95). Throne of Blood will include audio commentary by Japanese-film expert Michael Jeck, a new essay by Stephen Prince (author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa), the original theatrical trailer, two alternative subtitle translations (a new version from renowned Japanese-film translator Linda Hoagland and Kurosawa expert Donald Richie's subtitles utilizing Jacobean diction), plus notes on the subtitling by Hoagland and Richie. Can it get any better?

Jubilee (Criterion)Coup de grâce (Criterion)Zatoichi 5: On the Road

Zatoichi 5: Zatoichi and the Chest of GoldZatoichi 7: Zatoichi's Flashing SwordZatoichi 8: Fight, Zatoichi, Fight

What do you know? It can get better! Nothing like a Zatoichi chaser for your Kurosawa main course! Let me tell you, if you're a fan of classic films, you haven't lived until you've watched a few Zatoichi flicks. Great stuff! Zatoichi 4 is available now, as are the first four films in the series. The other titles shown above all street from Criterion/Home Vision on 4/29.

In other news today, we've gotten word from MGM that their Bowling for Columbine: Special Edition DVD will not street on 4/22 as originally announced. A new street date will be announced in the future. Also, they've informed us that Checking Out and How to Get Ahead in Advertising, which has been set for April release, have been cancelled. No further details are available at this time.

In today's Rumor Mill update, we have word that writer/director Lawrence Kasdan has let it slip what he knows about The Indiana Jones Trilogy being released on DVD. It's definitely worth a look.

We've got some more new upcoming DVD announcements for you today. ADV Films will release Andromeda: Season 2, Volume 2 on 6/3. Anchor Bay has announced Not for Publication, Not Quite Paradise, Railway Children and Tales of Beatrix Potter for 5/6, the Emmanuelle Collection (Emmanuelle, Emmanuelle 2 and Goodbye Emmanuelle) for 5/13, Breakthru Pilates Plus, Dead of Night/Queen of Spades and Strike it Rich for 5/20 and Road Games: Special Edition (for 6/10). Artisan Entertainment will release The Jeff Corwin Experience: Costa Rica/The Amazon on 4/22 and Children of Dune, Cloak and Dagger, Last Days of Frank and Jesse James, Menace (aka: White Boy), The Music Box, Return to Lonesome Dove, Separate but Equal and The Shaft (aka: Down) all on 5/20. Columbia TriStar will release People vs. Larry Flynt: Special Edition on 5/6, with Borderline, Commandoes Strike at Dawn, Hellcats of the Navy, Men in Black: SuperBit, Men in Black II: SuperBit, Talk to Her, Three Stooges Go Around the World in a Daze, War Lover and XXX: SuperBit all following on 5/13.

Not done yet. HBO Home Video has Real Women Have Curves set for 4/22. Lions Gate will release The Pilot's Wife on 5/6 and Gacy and The Long Ride Home on 5/13. Trimark (via Lion's Gate) will release Sabretooth on 5/13, Max on 5/20 and American Mullet, Edge City and Marines on 5/27. MGM has House on Carroll Street, Seven Hours to Judgment and Slam Dance all due on 6/3. Look for Dark Shadows, Set 5 on 4/29 and Dark Shadows, Set 6 on 6/24, both from MPI. Paramount will release Cheers: The Complete First Season, Frasier: The Complete First Season and MTV: Real World Las Vegas - Complete Season on 5/20 and Good Burger, Harriet the Spy and Jimmy Neutron: Confusion Fusion on 5/27. 20th Century-Fox has set Love is a Many Splendored Thing for 5/6, 300 Spartans, Barton Fink, The Big Trail, Brubaker, The Comancheros, Flight of the Phoenix, From the Terrace, The Hot Rock, The Long Hot Summer, Miller's Crossing, North to Alaska and The Undefeated for 5/20, The Song of Bernadette for 6/3, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Complete Fourth Season for 6/10 and King of the Hill: Season One on 6/24. And Universal will release McHale's Navy, Opportunity Knocks and Smoky and the Bandit 2 on 6/3.

And finally today, our own Barrie Maxwell has turned in another excellent Classic Coming Attractions column. This time around, Barrie looks at great films on disc from a pair of Hollywood screen legends, and runs down the latest news about classic films coming to DVD. So here's William Wyler, Buster Keaton & More Upcoming Classics. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

2/28/03

We've checked in with 20th Century Fox about that defective disc in The X-Files: The Complete Sixth Season (the one with the episode Triangle in less that optimal video quality). The fixed discs aren't available quite yet, but you can now call Fox's Consumer Hotline to get yourself added to a list to receive the fixed discs when they are finished. Call 1-888-223-2FOX. They'll take your name and number and mail you the disc in due course. Just FYI.

Now then... we're closing out the week today with a review of my absolute favorite film of 2002... DreamWorks' Road to Perdition. I've taken a look at both the DTS and Dolby Digital widescreen editions. And while the film itself is highly recommended, I'm afraid the DVDs leave a LOT to be desired. We didn't receive this disc for review purposes from the studio until after street date, and now I suspect I know why. That should give you a pretty good idea what's coming in my review...

Also today, we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest. Congratulations to the 5 of you who were able to win Road to Perdition for free. Be glad you don't have to spend the money.

And on that somewhat depressing note, we'll throw in the towel for another week. Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.

(LATE UPDATE - 2/27/03 - 12:30 PM PST)

Some sad news to report today I'm afraid. Mister Rogers, aka Fred Rogers, has passed away at the age of 74. That's such bummer that there's just not much else to say.

Except maybe, "Speedy delivery..."

(LATE UPDATE - 2/27/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

While we're dishing out cover art around here, let's throw up a look at Fox's The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season (5/13), as well as Rhino's re-release of Ramones: Around the World (due 4/8).

The X-Files: The Complete Seventh SeasonRamones Around the World

The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season will feature all 7th season episodes on 6 discs, in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio (SRP $149.98). Extras will include several deleted scenes, audio commentary (for the episodes First Person Shooter, All Things and Je Souhaite), The Truth About Season Seven featurette (30 mins), international clips, TV spots, 13 special effects featurettes with audio commentary, 2 X-Files Profiles featurettes (on A.D. Skinner and Samantha Mulder) and a PlayStation game preview.

Ramones Around the World will include 17 live performances (including an excerpt from their final performance), extra footage, a discography, an interview with Marky Ramone and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (SRP $19.99).

And here's some great news for you classic Disney and Disney animation fans: on 5/20, the studio will release The Aristocats: Gold Collection, Hercules: Gold Collection, The Rescuers Down Under: Gold Collection, Pete's Dragon: Gold Collection, The Rescuers and The Rookie. Several of these titles has been released before, but some are new to DVD.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/27/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

No Punch? Okay... well how's about some new upcoming DVD artwork? Here's 20th Century Fox's Dark Angel: The Complete First Season (5/20) and There's Something More About Mary: Special Edition (5/13) and Wellspring's Ran: Masterworks Edition (4/15). Enjoy!

Dark Angel: The Complete First SeasonThere's Something More About Mary: Special EditionRan: Masterworks Edition

Just FYI, we've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 2nd week of February (ending 2/7), which saw 79,778 players shipped to U.S. dealers. We had mistakenly included the week ending 1/31 in the January total, but CEA is saying that's actually February week 1. Don't ask us, we just work here. Anyway, that makes the February total so far 341,809. We've corrected all the charts accordingly.

And fans of Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant (which basically means all you chicks out there) will be pleased to know that Warner's Two Weeks Notice is set for DVD release on 4/29 (SRP $27.95) in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. Might as well hit ya'll up with the art on that too, as well as Artisan's Standing in the Shadows of Motown (4/22).

Two Weeks NoticeStanding in the Shadows of Motown

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/26/03 - 2 PM PST)

We've confirmed that Wellspring will finally release their Ran: Masterworks Edition on DVD on 4/15 (SRP $34.98). This is the same disc that was previously available only in the Kurosawa DVD Collection box set from Amazon. It features anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by Peter Grilli, audio commentary by Steven Prince), English subtitles, a restoration demo, the European trailer, the home video trailer, filmographies, production notes and weblinks.

Also today, we've learned that Artisan will debut Standing in the Shadows of Motown on 4/22 (SRP $22.98). The 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, DTS ES 6.1 audio, deleted scenes, audio commentary with the director and producer and numerous other extras.

Also set for DVD release if NBC's Kingpin: The Producer's Cut as a 3-disc set. It will be available later this year in stores, but can be purchased now at ShopNBC.com for $44.95 (plus $7.95 shipping - ouch!).

As promised today, we're pleased to present Robert Harris' latest column here at The Digital Bits. This time around, Robert discusses the DVD work of Acorn Media, as well as a couple of noteworthy new titles on disc from Paramount. So here's Acorns and Duellists. Enjoy!

Also, we've kicked off a new Trivia Contest that gives you a chance to win copies of DreamWorks' Road to Perdition. We'll run the contest until 12:01 AM on Friday, February 28th. The winner will be announced later that morning. Good luck!

And finally today, we have updates on a few big upcoming DVDs in The Rumor Mill today. Think Two Towers, Catch Me If You Can, Taken and the Black Hawk Down: SE.

Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/26/03 - NOON PST)

Another quick update. We have word that Columbia TriStar will release Beautiful Thing, Belle Epoque, Family Business, Adaptation: SuperBit, Avenging Angelo and Murder in Greenwich, all on 5/20.

Back with more soon...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/26/03 - 11 AM PST)

We've got a bunch of news and links for you this morning, and we'll be back in a couple of hours with Robert Harris' new column and a new Trivia Contest as well.

First up, the c.r.a.p.tv. website has an online trailer (.mov format) for the forthcoming Orgasmo: Special Edition DVD (reportedly due later this year from Universal). Thanks to everyone who sent that in.

A lot of people are upset about Fox's just announced Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season (6/10), which apparently will include the episode in full frame rather than their original widescreen format. We're looking into this and we'll let you know what we hear.

In the meantime, here's the cover art for the set, along with Cheers: The Complete First Season and Fraiser: The Complete First Season, both officially due from Paramount on 5/20.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth SeasonCheers: The Complete First SeasonFrasier: The Complete First Season

Both of those last two titles will be 4-disc sets. Cheers will include an interview with Ted Danson, 3 featurettes and a trivia game. Frasier will include audio commentary on the pilot episode, "celebrity voices" and 2 featurettes. There is no SRP, but expect them to be priced at about $40 each.

Speaking of Paramount, we have the final street dates for their Star Trek: Deep Space Nine DVDs. These vary just slightly from what we've reported previously: Season Two (4/1), Season Three (6/3), Season Four (8/5), Season Five (10/4), Season Six (11/4), Season Seven (12/2).

Also today, Bits reader Mike H. has informed us that NPR is doing a 3-part radio report on the rise of DVD. Part 1 is on the sales/rental challenges of DVD, while Part 2 talks about audio commentaries. Both are now available online. Part 3 of the report will be broadcast tomorrow and will be available then.

Back with more soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/25/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

We've announced the winners of our two Trivia Contests! Congratulations to all 15 winners and thanks to all 2,101 people who entered. Our next contest will start tomorrow, and you'll have the chance to win DreamWorks' Road to Perdition, so be sure to check back.

In new upcoming DVD news, we've confirmed with A&E that they'll release Homicide: Life on the Street - The Complete First and Second Seasons on DVD on 5/27. Watch for an official announcement soon.

And that's all for today. We'll be back with a new Robert Harris column tomorrow. And just a reminder - you superhero fans might want to check out tonight's episode of Smallville, which features a nifty guest appearance by none other than Christopher Reeve. Plus you've got another great episode of 24 tonight too. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 2/25/03 - 11 AM PST)

We've got some fun news for you this morning. First up, Buffy. 20th Century Fox has just announced the DVD release of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season for 6/10 (SRP $59.98). The 6-disc set will include all the episodes plus audio commentary for 7 episodes, the scripts for 3 episodes, featurettes and more.

Also today, we have more details for you on Warner's The Ben Stiller Show DVD, which streets on 6/3. The 2-disc set will include all 12 episodes of the series, plus a previously unaired episode. And among the extras are 7 audio commentary tracks with the entire cast (including Ben Stiller and the writers), unaired sketches (with optional commentary), 10 outtakes, the A Brief History of The Ben Stiller Show featurette, the E! Behind the Scenes special, alternative versions of the pilot episode and the Melrose Heights special commentary Easter egg. SRP is $34.98. You fans of Mr. Show should find this right up your alley... ;-)

And finally this morning, we've done some asking around about MGM's Zulu (coming on 5/20). Given all the crappy, bargin-bin versions out there, a lot of you are concerned about the quality that MGM will be delivering. Well, rest easy. Here's the scoop, direct from MGM's tech services department:

"We created a brand new interpositive off of the Super Technirama original negative and completed the new high definition transfer, in cooperation with Paramount, at HTV. Despite searching for stereo audio, which is believed to have been created at some point, we were only able to find mono audio. This audio was provided by Paramount."

Too bad about the audio, but this tells us that MGM went the extra mile. Our hats off to 'em. Can't wait for this disc!

Watch for the contest winners to be announced very soon. Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/25/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Whaddya know? We've got more new DVD reviews for you today! Adam's turned in his thoughts on Buena Vista's new release of ESPN's Ultimate X: The Movie (now available). And I've put together an in-depth review of Paramount's new Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - Special Collector's Edition (due on 3/4).

We'll be back to announced the winners of our Trivia Contests later this morning. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/24/03 - 5 PM PST)

One last quick update this afternoon... here's the cover artwork for MGM's Zulu and The Battle of Britain (both due 5/20).

ZuluThe Battle of Britain

Don't forget... the Trivia Contests end tonight! Get your entries in fast!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/24/03 - 3:30 PM PST)

Three new reviews for you today! Adam Jahnke's given MGM's new Thelma & Louise: Special Edition a spin. I've posted a review of Kino new Fritz Lang's Metropolis: Restored Authorized Edition. And Matt Rowe's got his two cents on a new SACD release - The Who: My Generation from Universal Music. All three of these titles are now available in stores. Enjoy!

You'll be happy to learn that Warner Bros has officially announced the DVD release of South Park: The Complete Second Season for 6/2 (SRP $49.98). The 3-disc set will include all 18 second season episodes in the original full frame, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Extras will include documentary, interactive menus, music video and TV spot. Warner's spec list includes no mention of audio commentary tracks, so we're waiting for word from Comedy Central as to whether there will be separate audio commentary CDs as there were for Season One. Here's the cover art...

South Park: The Complete Second Season

Also today, we're putting out a request for online retail partners in the areas of DVD hardware and high-resolution audio software (DVD-Audio & SACD formats). As you're no doubt aware, we're doing a lot more high-rez audio reviews around here, and we'd like to be able to direct our readers to a good place to purchase the discs we look at. There aren't many good high-resolution audio retailers out there, so if you're one (and you're interested), give us an e-mail.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/24/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Hope y'all had a great weekend!

Here's some more new DVD announcements to start your Monday off right. Anchor Bay will release Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me, Girl Named Rosemarie and Xena: Warrior Princess - Season One, all on 4/29. Artisan has announced Jonah: A Veggie Tales Movie for 3/4, with James Cameron's Expedition: Bismarck following on 4/22. Columbia TriStar will release Darkness Falls on 4/29. Delta Entertainment is releasing Charlie Chaplin, Volumes 1-12 on 3/25 (these include nearly 60 original shorts in all, plus the documentary His Life and Work). MGM will release Rocky II, Rocky III and Rocky IV on 3/18 (previously, these were only available in the Rocky Collection box set). 20th Century Fox will release Antwone Fisher (full frame & widescreen) on 5/20, along with Master Spy: The Robert Hanssen Story. Universal has announced Far from Heaven for 4/1, Car Wash, Electric Horseman, The Unsaid and Emperor's Club for 5/6, and The Fast and the Furious: Tricked Out Edition for 6/3. And Warner Bros will release Hysterical Blindness on 4/15, with The Ben Stiller Show following on 6/3.

And while we're at it, here's a look at the DVD cover art for Universal's The Emperor's Club and Far from Heaven (mentioned above), as well as Paramount's Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season Four (TBA).

The Emperor's ClubFar from HeavenStar Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season Four


Back with more later. Stay tuned...


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