UPDATE - 4/21/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Hope you all had a nice holiday weekend! And just to keep the fun going
for one more day, we've got some great news for your DVD Easter basket
New Line Home Entertainment has officially announced the DVD release of
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers!
The 2-disc theatrical cut will street on August 26th (SRP $29.95) in
both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions. The set will include
audio in Dolby Digital 5.1, along with the On
the Set: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and Return
to Middle-earth documentaries, 8 featurettes on the people
and places in Middle-earth, a 10-minute behind-the-scenes sneak preview
of The Return of the King (due in
theaters on December 17th), Sean Astin's short film The
Long and Short of It, a documentary on the making of the
short film, the Gollum's Song
music video by Emiliana Torrini, previews of the Return
of the King video game and the Special
Extended DVD Edition of The Two
Towers and more.
That will be followed by... you guessed it... The
Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD Edition
on November 18th (SRP TBA). As with extended version of The
Fellowship of the Ring, this will be a massive 4-disc affair,
including a 40+ minute longer version of the film in anamorphic
widescreen video, with Dolby Digital and DTS audio. You'll also get
audio commentary and a massive bounty of extra features beyond what
you'll find on the 2-disc version.
Further details on these two editions should be announced shortly, and
we'll post the cover art here as soon as it comes in. In the meantime,
more at Video Store magazine.
Also today, just FYI, our friends over at the Home
Theater Forum will be holding a live chat with
representatives from Warner Home Video tomorrow night (Tuesday, April
22nd) at 5 PM PST.
here for details and instructions on how to participate. We'll
post a complete transcript of the chat on Wednesday morning, so be sure
to watch for that.
Not a bad way to start the new week, eh?
Okay... just two things for you today. First up, we've got a new
for all of you to check out. It's pretty easy (a three-part Easter
themed contest), and the prizes are great. There will be FIVE winners in
all. Three will win Artisan's Speed Racer,
Fox's Drumline, Family
Guy and Darkwolf, and
MGM's Evelyn on DVD! And two of
our winners will win those DVDs, PLUS Disney's Spirited
Away, Kiki's Delivery Service
and Castle in the Sky! You'll have
until 12:01 AM on Tuesday, April 22nd to enter. So
click here to
get started and good luck!
Now item Number 2... fans of Lord of the
Rings have been getting this graphic in their e-mail this
week. It seems that our friends at New Line are soon to officially
announce the DVD release of The Two Towers.
You can be sure we'll have the details on that as soon as they come in!
Have a great weekend, Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate... and
we'll see you back here on Monday!
We thought we'd get an early start on things today. We've got a bunch
of stuff for you this morning, so here goes...
First up, we have details on 20th Century Fox's Solaris
DVD. Due on 7/29 (SRP $27.98), the disc will feature anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with
producer James Cameron and director Steven Soderbergh, the HBO
First Look special, Steven Soderbergh's The
Making of Solaris special, production stills, the screenplay,
2 theatrical trailers and teaser trailers for Master
& Commander and Le Divorce.
Here's the close to final cover art...
Speaking of Fox, we've confirmed that the studio will NOT be replacing
the disc from The X-Files: The Complete Sixth
Season which contained the episode Triangle
(thought to be defective in terms of its poorer video quality).
Apparently, series creator Chris Carter wanted the quality to be lousy.
Here's the official statement from Fox and Ten Thirteen:
"Please note Ten Thirteen's response to
Consumer complaints about the quality of episode 6X03 TRIANGLE:
6X03 TRIANGLE was an experimental episode in which Creator Chris Carter
shot in low light (sometimes only 1 candle power in a given frame). Each
of the five acts were shot as one continuous take. Because of the low
light, the image appears grainy and is hard to see at times. Also note
that the aspect ratio varies for each of the five acts. This was
Both Fox and Ten Thirteen feel that this episode has been released in
the best quality possible for the DVD format and that the image you are
seeing is intentional."
Frankly, I'm as surprised as the rest of you. This looks to me like a
problem with the video master, because not only is the filmed footage of
poor quality, even the episode titles look like crap compared to those
on the rest of the set. It's much softer looking, almost like it was
transferred from an analog source tape. But hey... I guess if Chris says
that's the way it's supposed to be, there's not much to be done for it.
Very disappointing nonetheless.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. has announced a great new slate of classic
films on DVD. On August 5th, look for The
Haunting, The House of Wax/Mystery
of the Wax Museum (unfortunately not in 3D), Of
Unknown Origin, The Omega Man
(finally), Soylent Green, Howard
Hawks' original The Thing from Another World
and Wait Until Dark. On August
17th, watch for Memoirs of an Invisible Man.
And finally, on September 2nd, look for a spate of new Clint Eastwood
titles, including City Heat, Honkytonk
Man, Pink Cadillac,
The Rookie, Tightrope,
Where Eagles Dare, White
Hunter, Black Heart. Here's the cover art for The
Thing from Another World, The
Omega Man and Where Eagles Dare...
Also today, Columbia TriStar has announced a series of new titles for
release on 7/8. Look for a Basic: Special
Edition, a Basic 3-pack
(including the Basic: SE, Formula
51 and A Few Good Men: SE),
Don't Raise the Bridge, Lower the River,
Fear of a Black Hat, Loose
Cannons and The Mouse that Roared.
In other news, we have tentative word that Universal has delayed their
expected DVD releases of Weird Science
and Sixteen Candles (which had
been due on 4/1) indefinitely. There's no official word as to why, but
we've heard rumors that there may be plans for more elaborate releases
in the future. We'll update you when we know more.
And finally today, our own Barrie Maxwell has turned in another
Coming Attractions column. This time around, Barrie reviews
four recent classic films on disc from Artisan -
Lady Takes a Chance,
of Barbary Coast and
He also introduces a new online database of upcoming classic titles.
And, as always, he runs down the latest classic title release news.
Don't miss it!
(LATE UPDATE -
4/16/03 - 10:45 AM PDT)
We've got very good news for you Alias
fans. I've just gotten official word from those in the know at Buena
Vista that the Alias: The Complete First
Season DVD box set (due on 9/2) WILL be presented in its
original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and will be enhanced for anamorphic
displays. So all you angry Jennifer Garner fans can stop e-mailing me
now. ;-) Here's a look at the final DVD cover art for the 6-disc set...
Now then... we've got news to make you fans of director Terry Gilliam
happy too (and who isn't a fan of Gilliam? Seriously?). As many of you
know, Gilliam recently set out to film The
Man Who Killed Don Quixote... and things went horribly bad. A
documentary crew on hand to document the production for TV and DVD ended
up catching an insider's view of a doomed production. The result is the
award-winning documentary Lost in La Mancha.
And now it's going to be released on DVD from A&E. The 2-disc set
(no kidding) is due on 6/24 (SRP $29.95). Look for interviews with cast
and crew, deleted scenes, video soundbites, storyboards and production
stills from The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,
Terry Gilliam interviews with Salman Rushdie and Elvis Mitchell,
behind-the-scenes featurettes, biographies, original theatrical trailers
and more. Very, very cool. Just FYI, that cover art is temp only. We'll
have final soon.
Finally this morning, thanks to all of you who politely reminded me
that Lady and the Tramp was the
first Disney animated film released in Cinemascope, and that Sleeping
Beauty was, in fact, the first to be released in 70mm Super
Technirama format. Darned if I trust Disney press releases again. I've
corrected the info below.
(EARLY UPDATE -
4/16/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We've got officially announced details for you on Disney's upcoming
The Lion King: Platinum Edition
today (street date: 10/7 - SRP $29.99). The 2-disc set will include two
different versions of the film, both in anamorphic widescreen - the
original theatrical version and a new special edition cut that includes
an all-new musical number, The Morning Report.
You'll get audio in Dolby Digital 5.1, presented in an "enhanced
home theater mix". The set will feature all-new 3D menu animation,
a look at the making of the new song, numerous interactive games
(including the first 2-player set top game on DVD), the all-new Circle
of Life music video, a sing-along track, 3 deleted and
abandoned scenes ("Bug Football", "Hakuna Matata"
and "Wharthog Rhapsody"), an abandoned concept for Can
You Feel the Love Tonight, audio commentary, a documentary on
the animal inspirations for the film (hosted by Roy Disney), several
behind-the-scenes featurettes on the Broadway stage show, featurette
looks at the animation process for the film, new interviews with Sir
Elton John and Tim Rice and much more.
Also today, we have new details on Disney's forthcoming Sleeping
Beauty: Special Edition (9/9 - $29.99). The 2-disc set will
feature both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video (presented at
2.35:1 - Sleeping Beauty was one
of the first Disney animated films released in 70mm Super Technirama),
with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The film has been restored frame-by-frame
using the same process that revitalized Snow
White for DVD. Extras include Once
Upon a Dream: The Making of Sleeping Beauty documentary, a 3D
virtual production art gallery, original story reels for 2 scenes, the
original Grand Canyon short that
accompanied the film during its theatrical release, a widescreen to full
screen comparison (very cool - a first for a Disney disc!), 8 production
featurettes (The Design, The
Music, The Restoration,
Four Artists Paint One Tree, Creating
the Backgrounds, Helene Stanley
Dance Reference, Live Action
Reference (Prince Phillip) and The
Peter Tchaikovsky Story), 3 theatrical trailers, interactive
games and more.
Whew! Now then... our own Adam Jahnke's checked in today with a new
entry in his The
Bottom Shelf column. This time around, in a piece called
Limey Side of Noir, Adam takes a look at a trio of new British
film noir titles recently released on DVD from Anchor Bay, including
is a City,
Frightened City. Be sure to check it out.
And finally this morning, Amazon is reporting that Fox's The
Simpsons: The Complete Third Season will street on 8/26.
Thanks to Bits reader Jeff A. for
(LATE UPDATE - 4/15/03 - 2:30 PM PDT)
We're pleased to be able post a new DVD review for you today. Our own
Jeff Kleist offers his thoughts on Disney's new 2-disc edition of Hayao
Away, the film that just won the Oscar for Best Animated
Feature. I can tell you personally that this is a film every Bits
reader should see at least once. It's a truly stunning work of animation
- a modern animated film that at long last lives up the legacy of
classic Walt Disney. Absolutely don't miss it.
And just FYI, we're working on reviews of the other new Miyazaki DVDs
as well, so watch for them soon. Stay tuned...!
(EARLY UPDATE -
4/15/03 - 11:15 AM PDT)
Morning all! We've done some archiving of The
Rumor Mill and the My Two Cents
column archives, so pages ought to be loading a little quicker around
Speaking of The
Rumor Mill, we've got a new post today with comments from
director Peter Jackson about his upcoming extended DVD cut of The
Two Towers. We've also got an update from Disney sources on
the next Platinum animated titles to expect from them. It's definitely
worth a read, so don't miss it.
We have official word from 20th Century Fox that their Daredevil
will find its way to DVD on July 29th, in both full frame and anamorphic
widescreen versions. Each will be a 2-disc set (SRP $29.99), including
audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 (along with French and Spanish
Dolby Surround). Additional features will include production audio
commentary by writer/director Mark Steven Johnson and producer Gary
Foster, 2 new documentaries (Beyond Hell's
Kitchen: Making Daredevil, with optional enhanced viewing
mode, and The Men Without Fear: The Art of
Daredevil), 6 multi-angle scene studies, an enhanced viewing
mode for the film, the HBO: First Look
special, the Shadow World
featurette (on Daredevil's unique vision), bios on the heroes and
villains, the Kingpin featurette,
Jennifer Garner's screen test, 3 music videos (Bring
Me to Life by Evanescence, Won't
Back Down by Fuel and For You
by The Calling), a still gallery, original theatrical trailers and the
full-length screenplay. Here's the cover art again...
And we have new details on Columbia TriStar's Tears
of the Sun: Special Edition as well (street date 6/10 - SRP
$27.94). The DVD will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital
5.1 audio, director's commentary, 8 deleted scenes, "writer's
observations", an on-screen "factoid track", the Journey
to Safety: Making Tears of the Sun featurette, the Voices
of Africa featurette, an interactive map of Africa and
Also today, we're hearing from sources that 20th Century Fox will now
NOT be offering a replacement disc for The
X-Files: Season Six. As many of you know, Fox at first say
they would be doing this. One of the discs in the set includes the
episode Triangle in markedly
inferior quality to the rest of the episodes on the set (I've seen this
myself, and there is absolutely no doubt that this is the case). We'd
been told there was a problem with the master used for the DVD. But
apparently, they went back to series creator Chris Carter, and Chris
sees no problem with it. We suspect there's a little more to this story
and we'll look into it.
Finally this morning, we have word that both Microsoft and Apple are
interested in buying Vivendi's on-the-block Universal Music division (click
here for more on that). And there's also news that Fox News Corp
has purchased the DirecTV satellite service (click
here for that). What all of this means for UniMusic consumers and
DirecTV subscribers, we'll have to wait and see. But you can be sure
that these dealings will have other implications.
By the way, a LOT of those titles we mentioned last week are now
available for pre-order at our software sponsor, DVD
and scroll through the page of last week's daily columns to see the
cover art for all the titles (just click the covers to go to the Planet
pre-order page). We'd appreciate it if you did. ;-)
Back with more this afternoon...
(LATE UPDATE -
4/14/03 - 4:30 PM PDT)
We've got more new DVD cover art for you - a look at Warner's new The
Chaplin Collection, Volume One (street date 7/1), which
includes 2-disc special editions of The Gold
Rush, The Great Dictator,
Limelight and Modern
Times. The individual titles will be available separately, as
well as in the box set.
We're also very pleased to be able to bring you the latest column from
our own Robert A. Harris. This time around, Robert addresses the
subjects of the VistaVision process, Warner's new Cole
Porter Collection, Miramax's Three
Colors Trilogy and other interesting odds and ends. So here's
Picture High Fidelity and More. Enjoy!
We'll be back tomorrow with a trio of new DVD reviews, another new
column and more. See you then!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/14/03 -
12:30 PM PDT)
We've got a bunch of stuff for you today. First of all, some new
upcoming DVD announcements.
ADV Films will release Farscape: Season 3,
Volume 3 on 7/1, with Andromeda:
Season 2, Volume 3 following on 7/15. Ardustry Home
Entertainment has The Apocalypse,
The Boy's Club, Bram
Stoker's The Mummy, Breeders,
Dark Planet, Fetishes,
Strip Search and Sweet
Evil (all former Simitar titles) set for 6/3. Blue
Underground will release Emanuelle in America
on 6/24. Columbia TriStar has added Tears of
the Sun to its 6/10 slate, with Breakaway
following on 6/17. Dreamworks will release Biker
Boyz and Old School on
6/10 (in both full frame and widescreen versions - Old
School will also have an unrated version). Kino has added
Sebastiane to its 5/13 slate and
Dead or Alive to 5/27. On 5/13,
Madacy will release Dick Tracy
(15-chapter serial), yet another Flash Gordon
Conquers the Universe (12-chapter serial), The
New Adventures of Tarzan (12-chapter serial), The
Painted Stallion (12-chapter serial) and Zorro's
Fighting Legion (12-chapter serial). Paramount has added Soul
Food: Season 1 (5-disc set) to its 6/24 slate, with Flight
of the Intruder, How to Lose a Guy
in 10 Days (full frame and widescreen) and I
Love Lucy: Season 1, Volumes 7 & 8 following on 7/1. 20th
Century-Fox will officially release Anastasia
on 7/1, Inn of the Sixth Happiness
on 8/5 and Titanic (1953 version)
on 9/2. And Universal has added Deliver Us
from Eva (full frame and widescreen) to its 6/17 slate.
Those of you who loved Roman Polanski's The
Pianist will be happy to learn that a 3-disc version Limited
Edition of the film will be released in Region 1... but to
Canadian consumers only. It will be a 2-DVD special edition, along with
a 3rd disc - the CD soundtrack. That's a much more elaborate version
than we'll get here in the States from Universal (which will be only a
single disc). The title streets on 5/27 in Canada, and demand is sure to
be high. So
here to pre-order the title from ThunderDVD.com
if you're interested.
Now then... with all the so-called "HD-DVD news" that's been
flying around lately, we thought it was time for an update on the status
of the HD-DVD format. A lot of people have been wondering what's
happening with HD-DVD. And after my trip to NAB last week, and some Q&A
with several industry insiders, the answer is not much... despite recent
reports in the news to the contrary.
As many of you know, Sony and its consortium of Blu-Ray advocates
(Sony, Hitachi, LG Electronics, Matsushita Electric Industrial
(Panasonic), Philips Electronics, Pioneer Electronics, Samsung
Electronics, Sharp and Thomson Multimedia)
debuted the first Blu-Ray high-definition disc recorders in Japan
already. The first model went on sale in Japan on 4/10, priced at
about $3,800 U.S. dollars. The Blu-Ray system uses blue lasers and a new
cartridge-based physical disc format to encode as much as 27GB of data
per disc (at about $30 per disc). That's the equivalent of 2 hours of HD
video recording time (via MPEG-2, like existing DVD), or 4 hours of
standard definition video. I've heard that at least some Blu-Ray players
will be able to play existing DVDs, but I have no official confirmation
of this. A professional data storage media version of Blu-Ray
also be available later this year. There are no announced plans
yet to bring Blu-Ray video recorders to market here in the States, other
than vague "later in 2003" pronouncements. And there is no
software licensing yet in place, which means no studios have agreed to
release pre-recorded movies on the format - critical to ANY new consumer
video format's success.
But there's an important distinction to be made here. Blu-Ray is NOT
HD-DVD, despite the fact that MANY news reports recently have called it
that (including a new article by Lee Gomes in The
Wall Street Journal). Current DVD and future HD-DVD is the
sole responsibility of the DVD Forum, which crafted the existing DVD
spec. The various Forum members are hard at work on the spec for the
future HD-DVD format, and I've been told that it will likely be based on
blue-laser technology (and not just a more compressed video with red
laser, as was favored by the Warner group). I've also been told that
HD-DVD players will be backwards compatible to existing DVD, and
probably CD and VCD as well (like current DVD players). But an official
spokesperson for the Forum told me last week that they do not expect to
have a final Version 1.0 of the HD-DVD spec ready until sometime in 2004
at the earliest.
The bottom line is that true HD-DVD is still at least a year away, and
probably more. The studios aren't eager to cannibalize a thriving
standard DVD market, which has revitalized the home video industry, and
there are many issues of copy protection that need to be addressed to
everyone's satisfaction. That doesn't mean that HD material isn't
available right now - you can watch movies on Showtime and HBO HD
channels today, along with material broadcast by the major TV networks.
For those of you who are dying to watch HD-quality movies on your
computer, Artisan has been experimenting with exactly that on their
recent Standing in the Shadows of Motown
and the upcoming T2: Extreme Edition
DVDs (both titles include 1080p versions of the film playable via
Microsoft's Windows Media 9 software). I can tell you that I've checked
out Motown personally. But while
it's cool, it's still not likely to make me watch a whole movie on my
PC. And there's always D-VHS, which Artisan also supports, for those who
absolutely can't wait for pre-recorded HD content in their home
But my feeling is that the vast majority of Americans CAN wait. In his
WSJ article, Lee Gomes makes this
"I have a feeling, though, that HD-DVDs will
catch on faster than people think. Americans will put up with all sorts
of major and minor inconveniences in life. But television that's less
than picture perfect? Never!"
Apparently he's never to an electronics showroom, filled wall-to-wall
with new TVs (even Digital and HD ones) where the contrast is set high
enough to cause burn-in and the picture is badly red-shifted because
consumers "think that means a good picture". People want good
looking TV, sure. But Americans have been living with regular old NTSC
television for a half-century. And NTSC is known joking to engineers as
"Never Twice the Same Color" for a reason.
Our advice here at The Digital Bits:
Don't start selling your existing DVD collections just yet. ;-)
Finally, here's a last little treat to whet your whistle for this
post... cover art for Fox's TBA Daredevil
2-disc set. We'll have official details on the title soon I'm sure, but
it will be available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen
versions. And rumor is an even more elaborate director's cut edition
will street in the 4th Qtr.
Back with more later this afternoon. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 4/11/03 -
5:30 PM PDT)
You late afternoon/early evening readers are in for a treat. We've got
three last pieces of new upcoming DVD cover art for you to close out the
week, including Fox's The Simpsons: The
Complete Third Season (TBA) and Universal's Old
School: Unrated and Out of Control (6/10). But...
...the best of the lot, as I'm sure you'll agree, is the art for
Warner's long awaited The Iron Giant: Special
Edition. The disc is set to street on 8/26 (SRP $19.98), with
anamorphic widescreen video, English and French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio
and all-new special edition materials. We expect to have specific
details next week. Cool cover, no? ;-)
Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/11/03 - NOON PDT)
Good news for all you fans of Sergei Bondarchuk's original 1968 Russian
version of War and Peace. Image
Entertainment has finally received the finished discs from RUSCICO. It's
the real deal this time - I have a copy of the 5-disc set in front of me
as I write this. The set contains the 431-minute original version of the
film, in anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1), with Dolby Digital 5.1
audio in Russian, English and French. There are some 14 sets of
subtitles available. The film is presented on Discs 1-4, with Disc 5
containing most of the bonus material. This includes cast & crew
interviews, an interview with the president of Mosfilm Studio, a video
featurette on the director, a documentary about Tolstoy, a look at the
making of the film and a photo album. Additional material on Discs 1-4
includes text essays, set sketches and additional cast & crew
photos. Now that the set is finally put to bed, Image is setting a
street date of 6/3. SRP will be $79.99. We'll post a review as soon as
(LATE UPDATE -
4/10/03 - 3 PM PDT)
We're very pleased to give you a look at the cover artwork for Warner's
upcoming Once Upon a Time in America: Special
Edition 2-disc set today (street date 6/10). Also, we've got
a look at Buena Vista's 25th Hour
(5/10) and AnimEigo's Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo
(5/13, presented uncut and in anamorphic widescreen)...
For those of you wondering why AnimEigo is releasing Zatoichi films,
when Home Vision has so many on the way, you should that
has the DVD rights to seven of the twenty-six total films in the
series (and will be releasing them in 2003): Zatoichi
Meets Yojimbo, Zatoichi the Outlaw,
Zatoichi and the Fire Festival,
Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman,
Zatoichi at Large, Zatoichi
in Desperation and Zatoichi's
Conspiracy (aka Zatoichi at the
Blood Festival). Note that these are the Americanized titles.
Home Vision has so far released The Tale of
Zatoichi, The Tale of Zatoichi
Continues, New Tale of Zatoichi,
The Fugitive and On
the Road, with Zatoichi and the
Chest of Gold, Zatoichi's Flashing
Sword and Fight, Zatoichi, Fight
all due on 5/15. Nine more titles in the series will be released by Home
Vision over the next year or two, for a total of seventeen from the
company (based on what has been shown on IFC recently, Todd and I
believe these are Adventures of Zatoichi,
The Blind Swordsman's Revenge,
Zatoichi and the Doomed Man, Zatoichi
and the Chess Expert, Zatoichi's
Cane Sword, Zatoichi Challenged,
Zatoichi and the Fugitives, Zatoichi's
Vengeance and Samaritan Zatoichi
- again Americanized titles). The U.S. DVD release status of the
remaining two films, Zatoichi's Pilgrimage
and 1989's Zatoichi (the last film
in the series), as well as the 100 or so Zatoichi
TV series episodes, is unknown.
For the record, in case you were wondering, the character of Zatoichi
is a blind masseur (played by the late Shintarô Katsu), with
little stature in the feudal hierarchy of Japanese society in the 1800s.
He wanders the land with his infamous cane walking stick (which hides
his sword), always mindful of the opportunity to make a little money,
either as a masseur or by gambling. But when trouble finds him (and
trouble ALWAYS finds him), Zatoichi reveals himself to be an incredibly
skilled swordsman, capable of besting even the most experienced samurai.
What makes him so likable is his self-deprecating humor and his strict
code of honor. He may be blind, but he misses nothing. He's quick to
defend those in need and he's an expert in human nature. You can sort of
think of the Zatoichi films has the Japanese equivalent of the John
Wayne westerns, or even the Indiana Jones films, in terms of their
popularity. As we mentioned above, twenty-six films in the series were
made between 1962 and 1989 (all starring Katsu) and there was a popular
TV series in Japan as well (the series ran from 1974-1979). They're an
absolute blast to watch. We dare you to watch just one and not get
So there's you're little primer on Zatoichi on DVD. Didn't plan to
write one today, but what the hell? Sometimes you've just got to go with
it. And as we've said many times here at The
Bits, you can NEVER have too much Zatoichi on DVD. ;-)
Finally today, there's word from
official Bob and David website that HBO will release Mr.
Show: The Complete Third Season on DVD in early August.
According to the site: "It will include the
usual ANNOYING AUDIO COMMENTARY with the full cast and writers
blathering endlessly, apologizing, celebrating their own minor
achievements. And there will be EXTRAS. One being the appearance of
David Cross as "hot college comic" Brad Stein at the HBO Aspen
fest, where he is interrupted by a professional heckler. Should be fun."
Here's the cover art for that...
That's all for now. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/10/03 - 11:45 AM PDT)
Morning, folks. We're doing some housekeeping today. We've updated
several of the data charts we keep related to DVD (above),
including the top sale and rental titles, the
DVD Player Sales numbers for the 4th week of last month, the
number of DVD titles in release, etc.
And there's an interesting bit of HDTV news today.
out of the NAB show we attended earlier this week, is that there's
little headway in the impasse between broadcasters and cable operators
over the issue of cable carrying local broadcast HD signals.
Broadcasters want to charge cable operators a fee for allowing them to
carry these local signals and deliver them to their customers. The
broadcasters feel that they've had to spend a lot of money to upgrade
their equipment in order to broadcast these signals, and so these
signals have a certain financial value. Cable operators want none of
this, of course, and are upset because they've had to invest capital to
upgrade their equipment as well. In addition, cable operators don't want
to have to carry both the analog and digital signals for local
broadcasters, which would eat into their existing channel capacity.
Now... you and I might say, "So what? You mean cable operators
can't give up a few of the 300+ crap channels they carry so I can get
high def?" But as much as many of us can't stand having to pay for
the Home Shopping Network, Trinity Broadcasting and other vacuous cable
offerings (and forgive me if you're a devoted viewer of either), the
reality is that cable operators make a lot of money from those sort of
channels - money they make in the form of payments from the producers of
those channels and that they're not likely not give up to carry another
free channel for a local broadcaster. This is a HUGE problem and has
ground the adoption of high-definition almost to a halt. The reality is
that the vast majority of you U.S. consumers reading this can go out
right now, buy a Digital TV and tuner, and get beautiful high-definition
signals today with the use of a small, over-the-air antenna. BUT... the
vast majority of U.S. consumers don't use an antenna - more than 70% of
all households in the States get their TV signals from cable operators.
And until cable operators start offering digital and HD signals, a lot
of consumers feel that there's little reason to upgrade their TVs. On
the other hand, if you ask your local cable operator why they aren't
offering digital and HD signals (no so-called "digital cable"
but true Digital TV compatible signals), they'll tell you it's because
consumers don't seem to care - very few of them have Digital TVs. In
other words, you have a classic chicken and egg situation. And until
some kind of agreement is reached between broadcasters and cable
operators... or the FCC forces one... the Digital TV rollout is going to
continue at a snail's pace.
Anyway... one last interesting bit of info for you: we've got a look at
MGM's tentative DVD release schedule for the rest of 2003. You'll find
that in The
Rumor Mill today, along with a little more word on Fox's
recently cancelled Firefly heading
(LATE UPDATE - 4/9/03 - 2
We've got word on several new DVDs just announced for release by
Paramount. On 7/1, look for Flight of the
Intruder, How to Lose a Guy in 10
Days (in both widescreen and full frame versions), and I
Love Lucy: Season One, Volumes 7 & 8.
Also Matt's sent word of new details on Warner's upcoming Led
Zeppelin DVD (street date 5/27). This comes from a music
industry source who was able to see some of the material on the set at a
recent screening (thanks to that person for the info):
"The selected performances I saw were from
Royal Albert Hall (1970), which consisted mostly of early blues-ier
material, including a part of Dazed and Confused (rumor has it the full
DVD version is around 25 min long); Madison Square Garden - 1973
(alternate and outtakes from the Song Remains the Same movie, including
a SMOKING version of The Ocean (how this got left out of the movie is
beyond me), and Misty Mountain Hop); Earl's Court - 1975 - superb
version of Going to California with Jones on mandolin and Page on
acoustic (no Bonham) as well as a great In My Time of Dying; and
Knebworth 1979 (incl. Nobody's Fault but Mine and Kashmir). There was
some other footage from venues I couldn't identify (incl. a bootleg
video w/ prof. quality-audio Immigrant Song). Picture quality ranges
from good on the older stuff to completely professionally shot on the
stuff from MSG-forward, incorporates some bootleg footage and good still
images to fill in space where footage was unavailable due to technical
limitations of the time (it works to good effect - the editing on this
is well-done); sound quality is excellent. I have no details on any
extras, menus, sound options, packaging, etc. as they showed us a
preview copy of just performances. The bottom line (and I'm not just
shilling for my company's product here): There are going to be many
Zeppelin fans who are going to be VERY happy come the end of May when
this comes out. I walked out of that screening genuinely excited about
getting a copy of this and watching it on my home system, and the people
I spoke with agreed with me."
Good news indeed! While we're talking about these titles, how about
some cover art? Here's a look at Flight of
the Intruder and How to Lose a Guy
in 10 Days (widescreen), as well as the Led
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 4/9/03 -
12:01 AM PDT)
Morning all! Hope the switch back to Daylight time didn't mess anyone
up too bad. As you've probably guessed by now, we're back from NAB. So
it's time to catch you all up on the latest DVD news.
First up today, NBC has announced a major push to license more of its
vast library of TV titles to a variety of studios for release on DVD. As
part of this deal, Lions Gate will release Will
& Grace: Season One on 8/12, the Kingpin
miniseries on 7/22 and Saved by the Bell:
Seasons One & Two on 9/2. Lions Gate will also release
more Saturday Night Live product
on DVD in July, including a 5-disc 25th Anniversary set. Little
House on the Prairie: Season One will be delivered to retail
from a company called Imavision Direct. MGM will release NBC's It's
a Very Muppet Christmas Movie in October (unusual, given that
Columbia TriStar has the Henson contract). A&E is delivering Homicide:
Life on the Street: Seasons 1 & 2 on 5/27, along with
Profiler: Season One in June and
the complete, classic Victory at Sea
documentary series (release date TBA). NBC is also preparing to license
Providence: Season One in October
(through a company yet to be named).
In other news today, a LOT of readers have been reporting that
Universal is finally shipping those replacement discs for Back
to the Future II & III (properly framed). Many people
have e-mailed us to say they've finally gotten their copies.
here for details on the exact problem and how to go about getting
your discs replaced.
And while we're at it this morning, how's about some more new upcoming
DVD cover art? Here's A&E's Homicide:
Life on the Street: Seasons 1 & 2 (5/27), Columbia
TriStar's Tears of the Sun: Special Edition
(6/10), Buena Vista's Heaven
(6/17), Universal's Old School
(also 6/10 - available in both R and unrated versions), Warner's Empire
Records: Remix - Special Fan Edition (6/3) and Columbia
TriStar's Cowboy Bebop: The Movie - Special
And just a quick update - we're up to more than 25,000 signatures in
Trilogy on DVD Campaign. Not bad for just three weeks. If you
haven't yet signed the petition, please do so now! And get all your
friends to sign the petition as well. Every signature makes a
Back later with more. Stay tuned...
Hope you all had a great weekend! Today's post is going to cover both
Monday and Tuesday, because we're off to the
National Association of
Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Las Vegas. We're going to be
doing a little research into HDTV and DTV for future activities here at
In the meantime, we're very pleased to announce that The
Digital Bits and our MusicTAP
affiliate have established a new retail partnership with
Sounds. They're a great online retailer that specializes in
high resolution audio (particularly DVD-Audio and SACD) titles. All of
our audio reviews now feature a special purchase link at the
Sounds website. And as is the case with our
Planet partnership, by purchasing discs from
Sounds, you're helping to support our work here at The
Digital Bits. So we encourage you to give them a try (and
tell 'em The Bits sent you). And
please be sure to continue supporting
as well. Much appreciated!
Now then... in honor of our new audio partnership, we're very pleased
to bring you four new music reviews from our TAP
staffers! Up for your reading enjoyment today are reviews of
Dylan: Blonde on Blonde and
Hahn: Mendelssohn & Shostakovich - Violin Concertos (both
on SACD), as well as
Band: Music from the Big Pink (on DVD-Audio). And best of all,
we've also got a review of the fantastic new SACD release of
Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon! If you're new to SACD, this is
absolutely THE must-own disc on the format to date.
We've even got a pair of new DVD-Video reviews for you today: Adam
Jahnke's take on MGM's
Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course - Special Edition and
Graham Greenlee's thoughts on Warner's
Oleander (widescreen version). We'll have more new DVD-Video
reviews later this week.
Finally, we've announced the winners of our
so be sure to check that out if you entered. Congratulations to all of
you who won, and thanks to everyone who entered. We've got more great
contests on the way later this week as well.
That's all for now! We'll be back on Wednesday morning. See you then!