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page updated: 4/15/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 4/4/03 - 3/17/03)


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(LATE UPDATE - 4/4/03 - 3 PM PST)

One last post this afternoon before we call it for the week. We've updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section to include some 30 new pieces of cover art. We've got all of the new Criterion titles, The Ben Stiller Show, all the new Fox Hong Kong action titles, The Pianist, Once Upon a Time in America (temp art), Bloody Sunday, new Farscape TV episode discs, Death and the Maiden, The Best of Arliss, Vampire Hunters, The Santa Clause 2, M*A*S*H: Season Four, The Quiet American and more. We've also updated the links so nearly all of the titles are available for preorder at DVD Planet (please do!).

And finally, we're getting a lot of conflicting information about Buena Vista's upcoming Alias: Season One (due on 9/2). All the studio PR material says the episodes will be full frame. And that's what our studio contacts are telling us. But Buena Vista's Customer Relations department is telling people (via e-mail) that they'll be widescreen. We believe Region 2 will get anamorphic widescreen, and given that the episodes were produced that way, Region 1 ought to get them in anamorphic widescreen as well. Heck, late seasons of X-Files are anamorphic on DVD, 24 is anamorphic. What's the deal? Another case of mid-level studio execs without a clue? Well... we're working with the studio to find out exactly what the scoop is, so as soon as we know, you'll know. But I can tell you this... if it turns out that the studio DOES plan to release Alias in full frame, many fans will be VERY pissed off judging by all the angry e-mails we've been getting.

Okay. That's it. Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/4/03 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've got a couple of cool things for you today. First up, the May edition of the UK's Empire magazine has some details on the upcoming Alien Quadrilogy direct from 20th Century Fox. Look for the 9-disc set to include new "extended" cuts of Alien, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection (Aliens will be the previous director's cut), along with audio commentaries, documentaries and lots more. Each film will get 2-disc treatment (a disc for the film and a disc of extras), along with a 9th bonus disc of just supplementary material (including the Alien Legacy documentary). The film discs will reportedly give you the choice of watching the theatrical version or the new extended cuts via seamless branching. According to Fox, the set is tentatively due for a late 2003 release. We'll post more details when Fox makes their official announcement.

In other news today, Criterion has officially revealed five new titles that they're got in the works for June. These include Ermanno Olmi's Il Posto and I Fidanzati, Alain Resnais' masterful Hiroshima Mon Amour and his devistating documentary look at the Holocaust, Night and Fog, and director Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. All are due on 6/24. Here's the cover art for each of them...

Il Posto (Criterion)I Fidanzati (Criterion)Hiroshima Mon Amour (Criterion)

Night and Fog (Criterion)Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (Criterion)The Pianist

Yes, that is the final cover for Universal's The Pianist, which is set to street on 5/27. And just 'cause we love you... here's a look at Warner's The Ben Stiller Show (6/3)...

The Ben Stiller Show (2-discs)

Remember... all of these titles can be preordered now at our software sponsor, DVD Planet. And when you do, you're helping to support the work we do here at The Digital Bits. Much appreciated as always!

Finally today, we're very pleased to bring you the first installment of our own Adam Jahnke's new regular column... The Bottom Shelf. As you know if you've been reading the site for any length of time, Adam's film knowledge and perspective fits in perfectly with our particular bent here at The Bits. We felt it was about time he got his own soap box. So check out his first entry of many to come, and enjoy!

We'll be back on Monday with new DVD and SACD reviews (no kidding) and more. See you then!

4/3/03

What do you know? We've got a few actual DVD reviews for you today! In the spirit of (slowly) getting back into the swing of things around here review-wise, we've got a look at four titles in all this morning. First up is my take on Universal Music's new Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live concert disc. Next, Jeff Kleist gives you his thoughts on Warner's Red Dwarf: The Original Series 1 & 2. And finally, we have a retro review of Buena Vista's Can't Buy Me Love from our own Graham Greenlee. We'll do our best to post more new reviews soon.

By the way, a quick ChubbChubbs update. As you know, the short is being released all by its lonesome on disc by Columbia TriStar on 4/11. But if you have the Men in Black 2 DVD, you already own it (look on Disc One, in the "Frank's Favorites" section). Thanks to Bits reader Jerry L. for that reminder.

Finally, we're getting word that Buena Vista's upcoming Alias: Season One DVD (street date: 9/2) will be widescreen after all (the press release indicated 4x3, much to the irritation of many fans). We're working to officially confirm with the studio whether it will be anamorphic as well, but I suspect it is. We'll let you know.

Stay tuned...

4/2/03

There's some potential bad news for DVD-Audio - probably not serious but certainly frustrating. The Warner-led DVD Forum supporting the DVD-Audio format against rival SACD has been trying to create a hybrid disc that would be compatible with all existing DVD-Video, DVD-Audio and CD players. As you may know, SACD discs can be made with a hybrid CD player to insure such backwards compatibility. But according to an article published in New Scientist, this attempt to make a viable DVD-audio hybrid disc has been "branded a failure" by Forum members. Work on the effort is reportedly continuing along other avenues.

In other cutting edge disc news, Sony is reportedly planning to begin selling Blu-Ray high-definition recorders in Japan next month. Sony's recorder will apparently be able to record 2 hours of high-definition content, and play current red-laser DVD discs using the DVD-R and DVD-RW formats (but apparently not those using the DVD-RAM or DVD+RW formats).

We've been talking a lot about online surveys in the last couple of weeks. It seems Sony Pictures Classics has a DVD survey as well, so be sure to head over there and provide your feedback.

According to the newswires, Best Buy is planning to sell its Musicland chain of stores due to declining CD sales. Click here for more on that.

We thought we'd give you a better look at the different packaging options that Warner is considering for its upcoming Looney Tunes DVDs (TBA). Let's start with The Looney Tunes Golden Collection...

The Looney Tunes Golden Collection - package design #1The Looney Tunes Golden Collection - package design #2

Now here's The Looney Tunes Premier Collection...

The Looney Tunes Premier Collection - package design #1The Looney Tunes Premier Collection - package design #2

Here's a look at The Looney Tunes Hit Reality...

The Looney Tunes Hit Reality - package design #1The Looney Tunes Hit Reality - package design #2

And finally, here's the packaging under consideration for The Bugs Bunny "Carrot" Collection...

The Bugs Bunny "Carrot" Collection - package design #1The Bugs Bunny "Carrot" Collection - package design #2

All of these images come straight from Warner's online survey. Watch for official announcements soon.

Also, moving onto Disney's classic treasures, we've gotten more information on the upcoming Walt Disney Treasures DVDs for you today. You'll again find that in The Rumor Mill.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/1/03 - 6:30 PM PST)

It looks like there may finally be good news for you fans of actor/director Kenneth Branagh's film version of Hamlet. According to People.com's daily news e-mail, Branagh has confirmed with them that the 1996 film is being prepared for DVD release next spring by Warner Bros. Look for the title to include at least some extras. Thanks to the many Bits readers who sent this in.

In another brief Warner tidbit, the latest issue of American Cinematographer features an article on the restoration of Singin' in the Rain. According to the article, the next project on the restoration slate (currently underway) is the original classic The Adventures of Robin Hood. So you can reasonably expect a DVD release in late 2003 or 2004. Thanks to Ralph B. for that nifty find.

And finally today, we've posted the new Trivia Contest. Five winners will take home copies of MGM's West Side Story: Special Edition, Universal's Red Dragon and 20th Century Fox's The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, so be sure to check it out.

Back tomorrow...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/1/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

No April Fool's jokes for you today, folks. At least not from The Bits. The world's a silly enough place as it is, methinks. Instead, we've got a few great bits of news and a new interview we think you're really going to enjoy.

First up, Warner Bros has finally announced their Giant: Special Edition. The 2-disc set streets on 6/10 (SRP $26.99). The film has been fully restored and digitally remastered, and will be presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio, with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 (in English and French). Extras will include audio commentary (by filmmaker/Stevens family archivist George Stevens Jr., screenwriter Ivan Moffat and critic Stephen Farber), 3 new documentaries (George Stevens: The Filmmakers Who Knew Him, Memories of Giant and Return to Giant), the New York premiere TV special, Hollywood premiere and project kickoff newsreels, 2 Warner Bros. Presents featurettes, photo and document galleries, extensive production notes, director filmography and introduction by George Stevens Jr. and more.

Also today, Columbia TriStar has announced that they'll release The ChubbChubbs! on DVD on 4/11 (SLP $9.95). In case you didn't know, this is the CG animated short that was seen in front of Men in Black II in theaters. It also just won the Oscar for Best Short Film (Animated). The DVD will include the short film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and preview trailers.

Here's the cover art for The ChubbChubbs!, Columbia TriStar's Punch-Drunk Love: SuperBit Deluxe (6/24) and Disney's just announced Sleeping Beauty: Special Edition (9/9)...

The ChubbChubbs!Punch-Drunk Love: SuperBit DeluxeSleeping Beauty: Special Edition

Now for the big news today: Warner Bros is conducting an online survey in which they ask all kinds of market research questions about their upcoming Looney Tunes DVD releases! We don't know how long the survey will be up, and access seems to be limited. But if you can get in, the survey takes about 10 minutes. And this is your chance to weigh in on issues like extras and packaging. A number of interesting details are revealed in the survey, including the following potential release options:

The Looney Tunes Golden Collection (4 discs - $69.95), containing 60 of the best restored and remastered shorts, featuring the "best of favorite characters" and plenty of supplemental material.

The Looney Tunes Premier Collection (2 discs - $26.95), containing 28 of the best restored and remastered shorts, featuring the "best of favorite characters" and some supplemental material.

The Looney Tunes Hit Reality (1 disc - $19.95), containing 20 all new cartoons "featuring your favorite characters starring in spoofs of reality TV shows such as Survivor, Iron Chef, Fear Factor and more" with bonus material.

The Bugs Bunny Carrot Collection (1 disc - $19.95) containing 14 classic Bugs Bunny shorts.

Since Warner is looking for market research, let's give 'em some. Obviously, we'd prefer the Golden Collection option. The most important thing to us here at The Digital Bits is that EVERY SINGLE Looney Tunes short finds its way onto DVD for collectors at some point in the future, fully restored, uncut and uncensored. If released at a rate of 60 shorts per collection, it would take some 18-20 collections to get them all out. But hey... there's always hope. In any case, it's good to know that Warner is at least getting serious about releasing these shorts on DVD. Keep in mind that until these titles are officially announced, anything you've read here (or see in the survey) is tentative at best. While we wait for that, here's a look at one potential packaging design for the Golden Collection...

The Looney Tunes Golden Collection

More pictures (and lively discussion) about the Looney Tunes survey and DVDs are available in this thread over at the Home Theater Forum.

Finally this morning, we're very pleased to be able to present a new special feature interview! Matt Rowe and the gang at MusicTAP, our very own affiliate site dedicated to high-resolution music, recently had the chance to talk with the legendary Bob Ludwig. Bob is a long-time audio recording and mastering engineer. He's been working in the industry since the 1960s, and is widely considered to be one of the best in the business. He's worked with just about everyone you can imagine, from The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix to The Foo Fighters and Beck. If you love music, you've definitely heard his work at some point or other. Matt's put together the complete text of an in-depth interview with they did with Bob, in which they discuss everything from his long and illustrious career and the mastering process, to the latest audio technology and even the new SACD and DVD-Audio formats. We think you'll really enjoy it, so be sure to check it out.

And all that's not too shabby for one morning! Just FYI, we've got a new Trivia Contest coming later today. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/31/03 - 3:30 PM PST)

We have official word this afternoon that Universal's The Pianist will street on May 27th. Both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions will be available ($SRP 26.98 each). Extras will include the Story of Survival featurette, the theatrical trailer, a soundtrack TV spot, cast and filmmaker bios and production notes.

We also have details on Warner's 2-disc The Mission: Special Edition ($26.99 - 5/13). The film will be featured at its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, anamorphic enhanced. Audio is presented in English Dolby Digital 5.1 (a French track will also be available, along with English, French and Spanish subtitles). Extras will include a feature length commentary by director Roland Joffé, the People on a Mission documentary, "film highlights" from the cast, director and writer and the theatrical trailer.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/31/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

Morning folks! Hope you all had a great weekend. We've got a few interesting things to cover this morning, so let's get started.

First up, we've gotten inside word on the latest with Disney's Walt Disney Treasures line of discs set for release later this year. Some good stuff, historically speaking, so be sure to check that out. You'll find it in The Rumor Mill today.

There's new word that Universal Music will begin to release DVD-Audio titles later in 2003. This would be in addition to their already impressive slate of SACD offerings. The company has officially announced that they expect to release some 20 titles on DVD-A before the year is out, with Dolby Digital as the default surround format (for compatibility with all existing DVD players) and with extras like video interviews, photos and more. There's no word yet on which titles will be chosen for DVD-A, but we'll update you when they release this information. In any case, this is good news for those who are interested in high-resolution audio but who fear a format war. Click here for the details direct from Uni Music.

Buena Vista's The Recruit will officially street on 5/27 (SRP $29.99). In addition to anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, you'll get deleted scenes (with optional filmmaker commentary), feature commentary from Colin Farrell and director Roger Donaldson, and a featurette look inside the CIA. The 2-disc Frida (6/10 - $29.99) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, feature commentary with director Julie Taymor, programs on the real-life Frida Kahlo and more. Jungle Book 2 will arrive on 6/10 as well (SRP $29.99), with extras including a behind-the-scenes featurette, deleted musical sequences, a set top game, music videos and more. Wes Craven's They (also 6/10) will include an alternate ending. Dracula II: Ascension arrives on 6/17 (features TBA). Air Bud Spikes Back will street on 6/24, along with The Pennsylvania Miners' Story. The 2-disc set of Gangs of New York (7/1, - $29.99) will include (among MANY other things) director's commentary from Martin Scorsese and the U2 music video for The Hands That Built America. Shanghai Knights (7/22) will feature deleted scenes, fight scene choreography, bonus footage and more. And Disney's straight to video sequel Stitch! is due on 8/26.

We also have some new upcoming DVD title announcements this morning. ADV Films will bow Mutant X: Season One, Vol. 1 on 6/24. A&E will release Century of Warfare, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Season One, Homicide: Life on the Streets: Complete First and Second Seasons and Supercar: The Complete Series on 5/27. Anchor Bay will debut the Manhunter: Restored Director's Cut on 7/8. Artisan's T2: Extreme Edition (due on 6/3) will be followed by Before We Ruled the Earth: Hunt or be Hunted, Before We Ruled the Earth: Mastering the Beasts, Cracker, Criminal Confessions, Family Reunion: The Movie, Frost: Portrait of a Vampire, Jack Reed: Death and Vengeance, Jack Reed: One of Our Own, Jailbait (aka: Lady Killer), Suicide Blonde, Topper/Topper Returns and Trial Watch, all on 6/17. BMG Music will release Justin Timberlake: Justified on 5/6 (buy that and your daughters will love you for it). Buena Vista will release Jungle Book 2 (on 6/10), The Advocate, Don't Drink the Water, Guilty as Sin, Lie Down with Dogs, The Minion, Month by the Lake, My Left Foot, Queen Margot, Renaissance Man and Tuesdays with Morrie (all on 7/1), Heaven (on 7/8), Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (on 7/15), Ararat and Felicity: Complete Second Season (on 7/22), Quiet American (on 7/29), Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, Camp Nowhere, Cemetery Club, Crossing the Bridge, Dead Tired, French Twist, Rowing with the Wind, Slam Dunk Ernest and Wedding Gift (all on 8/5), Alias: Season One (we're still working to confirm anamorphic or 4x3 on this one), The Big One, Children of the Revolution, Father Hood, Feast of July, Funny Bones, Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, It's Pat: The Movie, Mouth to Mouth, Rage in Harlem and Shades of Fear (all on 9/2) and the Sleeping Beauty: Special Edition (on 9/9). HBO will release The Best of Arliss, Volume 1 on 6/10, with Staying On following on 6/17. Lions Gate/Trimark will release Nemesis Game (on 6/10), Chinese Box: Signature Series, Dead Zone: Complete First Season, Happiness: Signature Series, Pipe Dream, Songcatcher: Signature Series and What's Cooking: Signature Series (all on 6/17), and Intacto (on 6/24). Rhino has The Best of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In set for 5/27. Sony will release Dr. Seuss: One Fish, Two Fish/Are You My Mother? and Dr. Seuss: Cat in the Hat Comes Back/Hop on Pop on 6/3. 20th Century-Fox will debut Paper Chase on 6/3, Just Married on 6/17, Brigham Young and M*A*S*H: Season Four on 7/15 and a slate of Hong Kong action titles (City Hunter, Hong Kong 1941, Magnificent Butcher, Maganificent Warriors and Naked Killer) on 7/22. Universal has added Jaws 3, Jaws 4: The Revenge and Midnight Run to its 6/3 slate, with Spliced (aka: The Wisher) following on 6/24. And new titles from Warner will include Doctor Who: Carnival of Monsters and Doctor Who: Resurrection of the Daleks (on 7/1) and Prehistoric America (on 7/15).

And around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 265,813 players that shipped to U.S. retailers in the week ending March 14th. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Now then... you may have noticed that we've been posting fewer DVD reviews lately. That's not the start of a trend, but it does mean we've been very busy behind-the-scenes here at The Bits working on something that we're pretty excited about. We'll be sharing it with all of you soon. And we'll be getting back to our usual review output soon too, so hang in there. ;-)

Back later with more. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/28/03 - 5 PM PST)

Okay folks... we're done! The Upcoming DVD Cover Art section has now been completely updated, with more than 350 new pieces of cover art. We guarantee that there's stuff you've never seen before, from darned near every studio. And EVERY page of the section has been updated with new covers. Please don't forget that when you order your discs through our software sponsor, DVD Planet, you're doing us a big favor here at The Digital Bits. They support us, so please support them with your continued business. You have our sincere thanks for going so. ;-)

Now then... have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday (after about 40 hours of sleep)! Whew!

(LATE UPDATE - 3/28/03 - 2 PM PST)

Hey everyone. Work continues on the Upcoming DVD Cover Art update. About half of it is posted now, and the rest is in progress. There are literally TONS of great new covers, so be sure to check them out. And remember, when you pre-order titles with DVD Planet through the links we provide, you're doing a LOT to help support our work here at The Digital Bits. So please order titles with them whenever you can, through our links, and tell them we sent you. MUCH appreciated!

In the meantime, however, we've got a great update in The Rumor Mill for you fans on TV shows on DVD. We've got Fox's TV DVD slate for the rest of 2003 (and even into early 2004)! Interested in 24: Season Two? How about Lost in Space? The be sure to check it out.

Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/28/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Just a quick note. The Upcoming DVD Cover Art update will be going on throughout the day today, so be sure to check back for it. It's taken longer than we expected to post (it always does), but there's a good reason - we've got more than 350 pieces of new cover art to prepare and link! There's some great art in the update, so watch for it later this morning and early this afternoon.

Stay tuned...

3/27/03

Morning all! You asked for it, so it's on the way. We're working to post a new Upcoming DVD Cover Art update today. But there's a LOT of new art to post, so it may not be up until late this afternoon or early evening. Be sure to watch for that.

In the meantime, we have word from Miramax on a few more new DVDs. Look for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind on July 15th (SRP $29.99) and The Quiet American on July 29th (also $29.99).

And we have official details on the Children of Dune DVD from Artisan. The 2-disc set streets on May 20th (SRP $26.98) and will include the complete 3-part miniseries in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include a video trailer, the Sci-Fi Channel TV ad gallery and a visual effects comparison featurette. No doubt if it sells well, there will be a special edition in 2004.

Here's the final cover art for Children of Dune, along with Warner's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Special Edition (6/10) and Columbia TriStar's Talk to Her (5/27).

Children of DuneRobin Hood: Prince of Thieves - Special EditionTalk to Her

Also, be aware that the street date for Columbia TriStar's The Crime of Padre Amaro has been moved from April 1 to April 22. Just FYI.

Watch for that art update later today. Stay tuned...

3/26/03

We've got official word from Paramount that The Hours: Special Collector's Edition will be released on June 24th (MAP $19.95). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, newly-recorded audio commentary with Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore and Meryl Streep, an additional commentary by director Stephen Daldry and novelist Michael Cunningham, five featurettes (Filmmakers Introduction, Three Women, The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf, The Music of The Hours and The Lives of Mrs. Dalloway) and the theatrical trailer. A separate full frame version will also be available.

A trio of dramas will street from Paramount on June 10th: Is Paris Burning?, Murphy's War and The Desperate Hours. A trio of comedies will also arrive on that day: The Brady Bunch Movie, A Very Brady Sequel and Grease 2. These will be followed by two more on June 24th: Beautician and the Beast and Robert Altman's Popeye. All are anamorphic widescreen and feature 5.1 sound (except Murphy's War and The Desperate Hours which are mono). And the recently-released Narc will make its way to DVD from the studio on June 17th (again in separate full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound).

In other new release news, you'll be pleased to know that Warner has two more 2-disc special editions set for release on June 10th. The Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves: Special Edition (SRP $29.99) will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a 5.1 music only track, audio commentary (with Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, writer/producers Pen Densham and John Watson, and composer Michael Kamen), the Robin Hood: The Man, The Myth, The Legend featurette, one on one interviews with the cast, the Bryan Adams' (Everthing I Do) I Do It for You music video, a 3D "interactive loop" (Weapons of the Time), a gallery of publicity photos and more. You'll also get some 20 minutes of previously unseen footage.

Also on June 10th, watch for Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America: Special Edition (SRP $26.99), which will include the nearly 4-hour international edition in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by film critic/historian Richard Schickel and the Revealing Once Upon a Time: Sergio Leone documentary. Additional features are TBA.

We'll have cover art on these titles when it becomes available. Stay tuned...

3/25/03

Just wanted to quickly correct a mistake I made in yesterday's post. I incorrectly said that the Giant: SE would be in its original full-frame aspect ratio. It will actually be in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Just FYI.

We have some other upcoming title news today. A&E will release their miniseries version of Napoleon (starring Christian Clavier and John Malkovich) on 4/29. The entire, unedited, 8-hour miniseries will be included on two discs, with a third disc of bonus material including the 2-hour documentary Napoleon and Wellington, the 50-minute Biography episode Napoleon Bonaparte: The Glory of France, the Making of Napoleon featurette, cast & crew bios and more. SRP will be $49.95.

Sanctuary will release the Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary documentary on DVD on 5/20. It will be in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital stereo audio. Extras will include performance footage, interviews and more.

Paramount has set The Brady Bunch Movie, A Very Brady Sequel and Grease 2 for DVD release on June 10th.

Columbia TriStar will release The Mothman Prophecies: Special Edition on May 27th (SRP $27.95 SRP). The release will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and all-new bonus features such as 5 deleted scenes, director's commentary and several behind-the-scenes featurettes. Also on May 27th, the studio will release Mississippi Masala (SRP $19.95) with anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital Surround audio. And on June 3rd, the studio will release director Wayne Wang's Eat a Bowl of Tea ($24.95).

We also have final details and artwork on Columbia TriStar's 3-disc Black Hawk Down: Deluxe Edition (street date 6/3, SRP $39.95). Disc One will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Ridley Scott and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, a second audio commentary with U.S. Special Forces Veterans of the real battle, a third audio commentary with author Mark Bowden and screenwriter Ken Nolan, and filmographies.

Disc Two will include The Essense of Combat: Making Black Hawk Down documentary (including Getting it Right, Crash Course, Battlefield: Morocco, Hymn to the Fallen, Digital Warriors and After Action Report), 8 deleted and alternate scenes with optional commentary, a production design archive, storyboards with optional commentary, "Ridleygrams" with optional commentary, Jerry Bruckheimer’s Black Hawk Down photo album, opening title explorations and photo galleries.

Disc Three will include The History Channel Presents: The True Story of Black Hawk Down documentary, the PBS Presents: Frontline: Ambush in Mogadishu feature, and interactive mission map/timeline, Target Building Insertion (a multi-angle sequence with optional commentary), BAFTA Q&A Forums (with Ridley Scott, Jerry Bruckheimer, Josh Hartnett, Ewen McGregor, Jason Isaaca, Mark Bowden and Tom Matthews), Motion Pictures Editor's Guild - Pietro Scalia, American Cinematheque - Jerry Bruckheimer and Ridley Scott, the Gortoz A Ran - J'Attends music video performed by Denez Prigent & Lisa Gerrard, theatrical poster explorations and theatrical trailers.

Here's the final cover artwork (it's available for preorder now at DVD Planet, as are many of the titles we mentioned yesterday):

Black Hawk Down: Deluxe Edition

And on June 17th, Columbia TriStar will release Breakaway, Me Without You and Tsui Hark's Vampire Hunters.

We've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the first two weeks of March (ending February 28th and March 7th). The two week total sits at some 508,536 units shipped to retailers. And the year to date total is already well over 2 million units. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Stay tuned...

3/24/03

Hope you all enjoyed the Oscars yesterday. Click here for a complete list of all the winners. Is anyone else blown away by Roman Polanski taking home Best Director? And hats off to the Academy for recognizing Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away as Best Animated Feature.

There's great news for you fans of foreign film on DVD today. MGM has just announced their slate of DVDs for July, and it includes some great titles. On July 1st, the studio will release a long-awaited Wings of Desire: Special Edition ($24.98 SRP)! The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with director Wim Wenders (pronounced Vim Venders) and actor Peter Falk, deleted scenes with audio commentary by Wenders, the Angels Among Us documentary, an interactive map and more. Also on July 1st, the studio will release their La Femme Nikita: Special Edition ($26.98 SRP). Extras will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, The Sound of Nikita featurette, the Revealed: The Making of La Femme Nikita documentary, the Programming Nikita interactive map, stills and poster galleries and the theatrical trailer.

Also on July 1st, look for Akira Kurosawa's Rhapsody in August (you can NEVER have too much Kurosawa on DVD), along with Never on Sunday, The Night of the Shooting Stars, Flight of the Innocent, Prisoner of the Mountains and To Live (SRP $19.98 each). On July 15th, look for The Billy Wilder DVD Collection ($129.96) featuring the Some Like it Hot: Special Edition, The Apartment, The Fortune Cookie, Irma La Dolce, Witness for the Prosecution and (for the first time on DVD) Avanti!, Kiss Me Stupid, One, Two, Three and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (all of these new titles will also be available separately). Finally, July 15th will also see the release of several new action titles from MGM ($14.95 each) including Catch the Heat, Revenge of the Ninja, Rage of Honor, Eve of Destruction, Juggernaut, Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins..., White Lightning and Gator. And that's a whole lotta great catalog DVDs!

Just FYI, MGM will also release the Dark Blue: Special Edition on June 24th (SRP $26.98), featuring anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, director's commentary and more.

Here's the cover art for the Wings of Desire: Special Edition, the La Femme Nikita: Special Edition and a better look at the final art for The Lion King: Platinum Edition (street date: October 7th). And yes, we do have a big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update coming this week, so be sure to check back for it.

Wings of Desire: Special EditionLa Femme Nikita: Special EditionThe Lion King: Platinum Edition

Hey... we're not done yet. Anyone interested in Warner's The Right Stuff: Special Edition? Okay, 'cause here's the deal. The 2-disc set streets on June 10th (SRP $26.99). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1), with Dolby Digital 5.0 audio. There will be audio commentary (with director Philip Kaufman, producers Irwin Winkler and Robert Chartoff, cinematographer Caleb Deschanel and cast members Jeff Goldblum, Veronica Cartwright, Scott Glenn, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and Barbara Hershey), 13 deleted scenes (including Trudy's Dream, Chimp and Center Fuse, Milkshake Connecting, Second Convolution, Specimen Request, Glen Gets Out of Centerfuge, Astronauts Walk Down Hall, Gus and Trudy at Motel, Dayroom Liaison Man Speech, Blood/Mission Control, New Congress Lift, NASA Man "Socks" and Trudy Wakes), and some 50 minutes worth of documentary material introduced by author Tom Wolfe, including interviews with Ed Harris, Scott Glenn, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Quaid, three of the real Mercury Seven astronauts (Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper and Wally Schirra) and test pilot Chuck Yeager. VERY cool!

That same day, Warner will also release their long-awaited Giant: Special Edition. It will also be a 2-disc set (SRP $26.99), with the original 1.66:1 aspect ratio video and Dolby Digital mono audio. No word on extras yet.

Here's a first-look at the cover artwork for The Right Stuff and Giant, along with New Line's DVD release of Werner Herzog's Invincible (street date: 6/3). Enjoy!

The Right Stuff: Special EditionGiant: Special EditionInvincible

Now that's a helluva good way to start off a new week, wouldn't you say? We'll be back to announce the Trivia Contest winners later this morning. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/21/03 - 10:45 AM PST)

Just a quick update to let you all know that Bob Banka's latest Hot Buttered Popcorn for the Movie Lover's Soul column is now available here at The Bits. In this edition, Bob discusses... well, best just to give you the title: Black and White and Subtitles, Oh My! Enjoy. ;-)

Have a great weekend, stay safe, enjoy the Oscars (just for fun, my money's on Chicago, Scorsese, Kidman, Brody, Streep and Cooper) and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/21/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column for you today, as expected. In this edition, Barrie looks at forty years of Oscar history, and runs down the latest announcements of classic films coming to disc. So be sure to check that out. And watch for Bob Banka's latest column later this morning as well.

Universal is apparently planning to release its first sampling of TV's The Incredible Hulk on DVD on 6/3. The Incredible Hulk: Original Television Premiere (SRP $19.98) will include the 2-hour pilot, along with the episode Married. Look for The Guru and Biker Boys to be announced soon by the studio as well.

And Warner Bros has announced that they'll be releasing the first four (in a series of ten) two-disc Chaplin Collection DVDs on July 1st: The Gold Rush, The Great Dictator, Limelight and Modern Times (SRP $29.95 each). Four more films in the series will follow in the fall (titles TBA). Details on these first titles are as follows:

The Gold Rush will include both the 1942 re-release and the original silent version (with the cut footage reinstated and Chaplin's original score, newly reorchestrated in Dolby Digital 5.1 by Neil Brand). Extras will include the Chaplin Today - The Gold Rush: MK2TV retrospective documentary, an introduction by Chaplin biographer David Robinson, theatrical trailers from around the world, galleries of film posters and photos, an interview with Lita Grey Chaplin (his wife at the time of the film) and the original "scenario" written by Chaplin prior to filming (The Lucky Strike - A Play in Two Scenes).

Special features on The Great Dictator will include The Tramp and the Dictator: Acclaimed Turner Classic Movies documentary, rare color home movies shot on the set by Chaplin's half brother Sydney, a deleted scene from Chaplin's short film Sunnyside (1918 - which inspired his creation of the Jewish barber character), a Hitler/Mussolini excerpt from Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux, Chaplin's original story notes, drafts of scripts and production records documenting his creation of the film's impassioned final sequence, the soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, a poster gallery and a 1933 Fox Movietone newsreel about Adolf Hitler.

Limelight will feature the Chaplin Today - Limelight: MK2TV documentary, a featurette on the seven other Chaplin family members in Limelight, 1952 and 1959 home movies of Chaplin's children and Chaplin in London, deleted scenes cut after the premiere (including "One-armed Man" scene), an introduction to the film by Chaplin biographer David Robinson, theatrical trailers from around the world, galleries of posters and photos, the soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, and audio-only track of the film's score, sections of Chaplin's working text for the novel on which the film is based, a six-minute excerpt of the unfinished 1919 film, The Professor (which mirrors the Limelight fleas and flophouse scenes) and a production summary.

And finally, Modern Times will include the Chaplin Today - Modern Times: Insightful documentary, an introduction to the film by Chaplin biographer David Robinson, alternate scene (including the complete version of the nonsense song Chaplin sings in the cafe scene), the soundtrack remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1, never-before-available original story notes, shooting log and production reports for the "feeding machine" sequence, a "video reminiscence" by musical arranger/composer David Raksin, theatrical trailers from around the world, galleries of film posters and photos and extensive production notes.

Each of the above sets will feature the film in full frame (1.37:1) aspect ratio, with English and French audio (dubbed in Québécois) and subtitles in English, French and Spanish.

Don't forget that The 75th Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday night. Also... you Farscape fans will want to tune in tonight to Sci-Fi for the series' final episode. And then, if you're like a lot of us here at The Bits, you'll stop watching Sci-Fi altogether in protest of the show's cancellation.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/20/03 - 2 PM PST)

We're pleased to present our own Brad Pilcher's latest Games People Play column. This time around, Brad looks at 989 Sports' World Tour Soccer 2003, THQ's Pride FC and the music of Sony's Amplitude.

We'll have that second column we mentioned earlier for you tomorrow... Bob Banka's latest Hot Buttered Popcorn for the Movie Lover's Soul. We'll also have a special Oscar-themed Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie Maxwell tomorrow. And our own Adam Jahnke will be kicking off his own new editorial column next week, so be sure to watch for that.

T2: Extreme

Finally this afternoon, we have details on Artisan's forthcoming T2: Extreme DVD (street date 6/3, SRP $29.98). The 2-disc set will come in a special 3D metal box package. The film itself has apparently been mastered from a brand-new 1080p, 24sf high-definition digital transfer, with frame-by-frame restoration done to ensure the best possible image quality. Naturally, it'll be presented in anamorphic widescreen on DVD, and is THX-certified. Audio will be available in Dolby Dolby 5.1 Surround EX and there will be a Dolby Headphone option included as well. Note that the film will be the 16-minute-longer special edition version.

The new extras were once again produced by Van Ling, as they were for the previous T2: Ultimate Edition DVD. These will include an all-new audio commentary track with James Cameron and William Wisher, an "extreme interactive mode" with with "graphic commentary" and rare behind-the-scenes footage, the all-new No Feat But What We Make documentary (on the role of T2 in the evolution of digital effects and modern filmmaking), the T2: On the Set retrospective montage (featuring rare production footage), the interactive Infiltration Unit Simulator and T2 FX Studio (which lets you morph your imported images into a T-1000 or a T-800 Terminator and gives you background on the FX technology, all via DVD-ROM) and the interactive Skynet Combat Chassis Designer game (which lets you build your own unique robots and test them on a simulated obstacle course).

My feeling about it is that while the new audio commentary, high-definition progressive transfer and the new documentary hold a certain amount of interest (and I'm always supportive of Dolby Headphone), the rest of this stuff is all the same kind of DVD-ROM interactive material that very few people will ever take the time to play around with. How many of you really played with all the stuff on the Harry Potter DVD? Seriously. Some of this is cool, but it's also studio overkill - another opportunity to resell you the same film on disc, timed to take advantage of the new film. So, like Fox's X-Men 1.5 Special Edition, while die-hard fans will probably snap it up... the rest of you should think twice before spending your money. That's just my two cents, anyway.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/20/03 - 11:45 AM PST)

Good morning, good afternoon, good evening and good night... depending on where you are, of course. Pick one. We're going to post a couple of new columns today, so be sure to check back soon for those.

In the meantime, we've got a couple of interesting bits of DVD news this morning. First up, Warner Home Video has announced the DVD release of Kangaroo Jack for 6/24. In other news, in light of the cancellation of The Matrix: Special Edition, Warner will reduce the price of its existing Matrix DVD to $19.99 on 4/22. The price of the The Matrix/The Matrix Revisited 2-pack will also be dropped to $34.99.

Also today, Warner has announced the DVD release of five classic Cole Porter musicals on DVD on 4/22: High Society, Kiss me Kate, Silk Stockings, Broadway Melody of 1940 and Les Girls. All five discs will include a new documentary on the making of the individual film hosted by such legendary musical stars such as Cyd Charisse, Celeste Holm and Ann Miller. SRP for each will be $19.98, with a gift set of all of them together retailing for $89.92.

Columbia TriStar has announced the release of Martin Lawrence's National Security on 5/27 (SLP $27.94). Extras will include director's commentary, deleted scenes and an alternate ending.

And according to our friends at VSDA, DVD weekly rental revenues have for the first time exceeded those of VHS: "For the week ending March 16, 2003, DVD rentals generated $80 million in revenue, and VHS rentals yielded $78 million, according to VSDA VidTrac. This is the first week ever that DVD rental revenues have exceeded VHS rental revenues, and occurred six years to the month after the launch of the DVD format in the U.S.." Not bad for just six years.

Finally this morning, The Original Trilogy campaign keeps rolling on. We're up to 15,000 signatures in less than a week. Keep them coming, folks!

Back soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/19/03 - 10:30 AM PST)

We've got another new piece of upcoming DVD cover artwork for you today... Miramax and Buena Vista's Frida. There's no official word yet on a street date, but we'll post the details as soon as they come in.

Frida

Now then... given world events of the last few days, and what's likely to come in the next few days, it's a little tough to go along as business as usual. DVD just doesn't quite seem so important right now. We get lots of e-mail every day here at The Digital Bits, and so we know we have a lot of readers in various countries around the world. We also have a number of U.S. military readers. So without getting into political issues, we just want to say this... whoever you are, wherever you are, and on whatever side on the conflict you might find yourself, please keep your heads down, try to stay safe and know that our thoughts are with you and your families.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 3/19/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got a cool surprise for you this morning. You Disney fans out there will be happy about this. We've got a sneak peek at the cover art work for Disney's 2-disc The Lion King: Platinum Edition DVD (which streets on October 7th - SRP $29.99), along with some early, unofficial details about the expected bonus material.

The Lion King: Platinum Edition

The set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), with audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. The transfer will be THX certified. You'll be able to view the original theatrical version of the film, plus an "extended" version which includes the newly-animated song Morning Report (originally created for the Broadway show). There will be a featurette on the making of the new song, 3 deleted scenes (Bug Football, Hakuna Matata and Warthog Rhapsody), an all-new music video, a sing-along track, 4 set-top games (The Lion King Personality Profile, Rafiki's Three Gourd Monty, Timon's Grab-A-Grub and Pumbaa's Sound Sensations), the Disney Animals featurette (on the animal inspirations for the characters, hosted by Roy Disney), the Storymaking Magic featurette (on the origin and influences behind the story of The Lion King), behind-the-scenes footage, character and computer design footage, African art inspiration footage, newly-recorded interviews with Elton John and Tim Rice, a "virtual safari" with tour guides Timon and Pumbaa, a behind-the-scenes look at the Broadway show (including an interview with Julie Taymor and interactive explorations of the masks, costumes, people and puppets from the show) and more.

This information comes from multiple retail sources, and so should not be considered official until Disney makes their grand announcement (watch for that soon).

Back later...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/18/03 - 5:30 PM PST)

Okay, folks... our e-mail is working again. If you've been trying to get in touch with us via e-mail in the last few days, and you've had your messages bouncing back, you should have no problem getting through now. Just wanted to let you all know.

(LATE UPDATE - 3/18/03 - 9:45 AM PST)

We've gotten word from New Line on a few new upcoming DVD releases. Werner Herzog's Invincible has been announced for release on June 3rd (SRP $26.98). The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound and a theatrical trailer. I have to say, I'm really looking forward to seeing that film. Seemed like it came and went in an instant in theaters.

Also coming from New Line on June 3rd are a pair of films from director Roman Polanski, Death and the Maiden and Bitter Moon. Each will retail for $19.98, and will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital audio (no word on 2.0 or 5.1), plus the theatrical trailer.

And on May 6th, look for two action flicks starring actor Pierce Brosnan, Detonator and Live Wire ($19.98 each). Each will include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, plus Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Live Wire will reportedly also include both the rated and unrated versions, plus a theatrical trailer.

Wanna be surprised? Okay... here's a DVD announcement you might not be expecting so soon. Columbia TriStar has announced the release of their Tears of the Sun: Special Edition for June 10th. No kidding... the same Tears of the Sun that's in theaters right now. Talk about quick to disc. Also in 6/10, look for Montana and Experiment in Terror from the studio.

Moving on, a quick Original Trilogy Campaign update. Our online petition went from about 3,000 signatures to over 9,000 signatures in just 24 hours. Traffic was so great, in fact, that the campaign website was tough to log onto at times yesterday. So those of you who didn't (or couldn't) sign on yesterday, please do so today. And encourage everyone you know to do so as well. It only takes a few moments and it makes a big difference. You can be sure Lucasfilm is already paying attention.

Here's what I would do if I had a say in it (I hope Lucasfilm's Jim Ward is listening). Though it's yet to be announced, everyone pretty much already knows Lucasfilm and Paramount are planning to release The Indiana Jones Trilogy later this year. So for next year, if I'm in charge of things in my reverse parallel universe, I put together a 4-disc Star Wars Trilogy: Vintage Edition box set. Discs 1-3 include the original theatrical versions of the films in anamorphic widescreen, along with the original trailers (you remember those: "The epic story of a boy, a girl and a galaxy!"). Then on Disc 4, you include that 2-hour From Star Wars to Jedi: The Making of a Saga documentary that used to air on PBS all the time. And if you really want to make people smile, tag on the original Star Wars Christmas Special too. Fans would go nuts. Lucas could tape a video introduction to the whole thing that says basically, "These are the films as you remember them. I was never really happy with them, but I know you love them, so here they are. But be sure to watch out for my super ultimate versions coming in 2006..." or whatever. Lucas always says he's too busy making the new films to work on the old ones for DVD. So other than recording a 5-minute intro and approving the transfers, he never even has to be involved. Let Van Ling bang together some cool menus and cover art with a retro feel, and there you go. And then, someday after Episode III has been released on DVD, we'll get the super ultimate versions on disc that he's planning. How hard is that?

Anyway, just my two cents on the subject. Sign that petition!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 3/17/03 - 11:45 AM PST)

Morning all. Just a quick note - the OriginalTrilogy.com website is deluged with traffic right now, so please be patient if you have trouble getting to it. And please don't give up - we need your signature! Just check back later in the afternoon or evening and you shouldn't have a problem getting in. Thanks.

Okay... we've got some more upcoming DVD announcements for you.

Classic Rock Productions will release Alice Cooper on 3/25. Criterion/Home Vision has announced the release of Israel: A Nation is Born, Louisiana Story and Man of Aran on 5/20, and Coup de Grace, Jubilee and Throne of Blood on 5/27. Delta Entertainment has The Beatles Diary due on 4/15. Elite Entertainment is working to release Strange Behavior on 5/6 and Horror on 5/27. MGM will release Defense of the Realm, Dennis the Menace: Cruise Control (animated), Die Another Day (full frame and anamorphic widescreen), Dinosaur Island (animated) and Groove Squad (animated), all on 6/3. Paramount has announced Blues Clues: Shapes and Colors, Dora the Explorer: The City of Lost Toys and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season Three on 6/3. Hey, Hey... Rhino will release The Monkees: Season One on 5/13. Showtime has Due East and Snow in August set for 6/10. 20th Century-Fox will debut Baywatch: Hawaiian Wedding on 5/13. Vanguard has Another Planet, Burning Down the House, The Distraction, Hot Cars, Fine Babes, Killer Flick, Mockingbird Don't Sing and Playa Azul all set for 5/27. Warner Home Video has South Park: Complete Second Season set for 6/3. And Wolfe Video will release By Hook or By Crook on 5/27.

We've kicked off another new Trivia Contest today, giving you all a chance to win copies of 20th Century Fox's NYPD Blue: Season One and Sordid Lives, so be sure to check it out.

And we're pleased to present a new column by our own Robert Harris. This time around, Robert takes a look at the films of 20th Century Fox. So check out his Finally, Fox: The Films of 20th Century Fox on DVD and enjoy!

Be aware that we have several new columns from our editorial staff set for this week, so be sure to check back for those.

Stay tuned...


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