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page updated: 6/18/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/5/03 - 5/9/03)


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6/5/03

Great news for Kurosawa fans! Criterion has just added the director's The Lower Depths to their August DVD release slate (8/19 - SRP $39.99)! The disc will include a new high-definition digital transfer (original aspect ratio 1.33:1), audio commentary featuring Kurosawa expert Donald Richie (author of A Hundred Years of Japanese Cinema), the original theatrical trailer, a new essay by Keiko McDonald (author of From Book to Screen: Modern Japanese Literature in Films) and Thomas Rimer (author of A Reader's Guide to Japanese Literature), cast biographies by Stephen Prince (author of The Warrior's Camera: The Cinema of Akira Kurosawa) and new and improved English subtitle translation by renowned Japanese-film translator Linda Hoaglund. Here's the cover art...

The Lower Depths (Criterion)

Led Zeppelin's apparently scored a hit with there recent Led Zeppelin DVD. According to Billboard, the title has set a record for highest debut-week and highest single-week sales for a music DVD.

Also, the DeCSS case came back into court here in California last week, with prosecutors arguing that free speech was not the main concern when engineer Andrew Bunner published the DVD decrypting code on his website.

In other news, Universal will be releasing the recent TV miniseries Helen of Troy (in anamorphic widescreen and full frame), Chris Rock's Head of State (also anamorphic widescreen and full frame) and Walk the Talk on 8/12. And we have more details on their American Pie: Beneath the Crust DVDs. Each film, American Pie and American Pie 2, will be re-released in both their rated and unrated, as well as their full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions. Each version will be a 2-pack, with a bonus disc of new supplemental materials - Beneath the Crust, Volume 1 will be attached to all versions of American Pie and Beneath the Crust, Volume 2 will be attached to all versions of American Pie 2. Confused yet? Don't worry, you're not alone. Who knows... maybe you CAN have too much pie after all.

Anyway, here's come cover art for the above mentioned titles, along with Universal Music's Roger Waters: The Wall - Live in Berlin (street date 6/24 - a CD and SACD will also be available that day):

Helen of Troy (widescreen)Head of State (widescreen)Roger Waters: The Wall - Live in Berlin

American Pie: Unrated (widescreen)/Beneath the Crust, Volume 1

American Pie 2: Unrated (widescreen)/Beneath the Crust, Volume 2

Stay tuned...

6/4/03

Columbia TriStar has announced a slate of new releases for 8/26. Look for Levity, Raising Victor Vargas, El Mariachi: Special Edition, Desperado: Special Edition, a 2-pack of the El Mariachi and Desperado SEs, Bingo, Mute Witness, Snowboard Academy, The Best of Ripley's Believe It or Not, The Devil Commands, The Story Teller Collection and John Denver and the Muppets: A Rocky Mountain Holiday.

Also today, we've got new information on Disney's upcoming The Lion King: Platinum Edition in The Rumor Mill today. There also word on a possible reason for the delay of Warner's The Iron Giant: Special Edition as well. And we even have tentative word on a street date for 24: Season Two. Definitely worth a look.

We have some new DVD cover art for you. Criterion's Indiscretion of an American Wife/Terminal Station (street date: TBA August), and New Line's Run Ronnie Run (9/16) and A Man Apart (9/2).

Indiscretion of an American Wife/Terminal Station (Criterion)Run Ronnie RunA Man Apart

It seems people are having a problem with the packaging on Artisan's T2: Extreme Edition DVD. The discs itself come in a standard keepcase, enclosed in a stamped metal outer sleeve. Unfortunately, a lot of folks say that the outer sleeve fits so tightly that when you try to remove the keepcase, the case's plastic artwork window (and sometimes even the cover art insert) gets badly torn. We recommend that 1) you take care when removing the outer cover and 2) store the disc on the shelf without it. It's cool and all, but it's not worth damaging your package over.

Finally this morning, just a quick reminder. Todd and I haven't been writing DVD reviews for the last couple of months while we've been working to finish the book, but we expect to be done with it at the end of the month. So we'll get back into the review swing of thing soon enough, and catch up on lots of great titles that have come out recently.

Stay tuned...

6/3/03

We've got another new column for you today, this one from Adam Jahnke. In his latest edition of The Bottom Shelf, he reviews a trio of interesting Sixties cultural movies on DVD - Criterion's I Am Curious - Blue and I Am Curious - Yellow, as well as Home Vision's La Vallée. See? We'll get back in the review swing of things yet.

We've kicked off a new Trivia Contest this morning - one that you Bond fans are going to like. Five winners will take home MGM's Die Another Day: Special Edition. And one of them, a grand prize winner, will also win a set of limited edition collector's cars from Corgi! You'll have until 12:01 AM PDT on Saturday, June 7th to enter. Our own in-house "Q" (aka Sarah) has cooked up another fun word search puzzle, so don't miss it!

Also today, we've updated a lot of the data charts (sales, rentals, etc) that we keep track of (you'll find them above). And we've posted the complete transcript of a live chat our friends over at The Home Theater Forum held with Anchor Bay Entertainment. There's lot's of interesting news about upcoming titles from the studio, so be sure to check it out.

We're also pleased to let you all know that our forthcoming book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD, is finally available from Amazon for the 30% discount we've been expecting. So how does $12.57 sound? Much cheaper than a single DVD! The discount that appears on the listing seems to come and go, but if you keep checking back, it should be there permanently soon. And all those of you who have already pre-ordered the book should get the discount when the book ships. Just FYI.

In other news, Criterion has officially announced the August DVD release of Vittorio De Sica's Indiscretion of an American Wife and Terminal Station (as a 2-disc set).

Also, we have information you fans of director Ridley Scott should heed ASAP. DreamWorks is going to soon re-issue Gladiator as a single-disc edition... meaning that the excellent DVD special edition is going to disappear from store shelves. So if you don't have it already, get a copy while you still can.

And finally today, a lot of you have been asking about the re-release of MGM's James Bond DVD Collections, now that Die Another Day is out on disc. We've spoken to MGM and have been told that the studio plans to make an announcement about this issue later this summer. Our best guess is that the sets will be available again, for a limited time, for the holidays. But we'll post the official details as soon as they become known.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/2/03 - 4 PM PDT)

Okay... as promised, we're back with more great stuff for you to enjoy this afternoon. Our own Robert A. Harris has checked in with another new edition of his Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings column. In this piece, Robert takes a look at Sergio Leone's classic Once Upon a Time in America, and reviews the new 2-disc DVD special edition from Warner.

And for you Western fans, our own Barrie Maxwell's new Classic Coming Attractions column features a look at Paramount's contribution to the genre over the years. As part of the piece, he also reviews no less than 8 new DVDs from the studio: Copper Canyon, The Lonely Man, Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Nevada Smith, Little Big Man, Rio Lobo, Big Jake and A Man Called Horse. So for those of you who have been complaining that we haven't posted many DVD reviews recently, that's a total of 9 new ones for you to check out today! And, as usual, Barrie runs down all the latest news about classic films that are on the way to DVD later this year.

Finally, before we sign off today, there's one other important bit of info we need to drop your way. Our software sponsor, DVD Planet, is going to be holding a special celebrity DVD signing event at their Orange County, CA store location later this month. The guest of honor will be none other than stop-motion/special effects legend Ray Harryhausen! The event will take place on June 24th, from 5-7 PM PDT, at the DVD Planet store (16672 Beach Blvd in Huntington Beach, CA). At least a couple Bits staffers will be on hand, and we expect a good time will be had by all. So if you're in the L.A./Orange County area, don't miss it!

Back tomorrow with more! Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/2/03 - 1 PM PDT)

This is just the first of a couple updates we're going to post today. Check back later this afternoon for a pair of new columns from Barrie Maxwell and Robert Harris.

In the meantime, we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest and revealed the answers. The next contest will start tomorrow, and will feature MGM's Die Another Day: SE. You don't want to miss that!

Now then, we have word on a number of new DVD announcements. A&E will release The Nazi Officer's Wife and New Avengers: Season One on 7/29. Anchor Bay has Fear No Evil due on 7/22, with Highlander: Season Two on 7/29. Columbia TriStar has Caught, Double Vision, Implicated and Nightstalker due on 8/5. First Run Features has set Seduction: The Cruel Woman (German) and The Trials of Henry Kissinger for release on 8/19. MGM has announced Brimstone and Treacle, Brother from Another Planet, Eureka, Images, Jump Tomorrow, Lianna, Oleanna, Return of the Secaucus 7, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Tough Guys Don't Dance all for 9/16, with the Fargo: Special Edition following on 9/30. Universal has announced Killing Emmett Young for 8/19, and Cheech and Chong's Next Movie, Eddie Izzard: Glorious, Fletch Lives, Ghost and Mr. Chicken, How to Frame a Figg, Into the Night, Love God?, More American Graffiti, The Reluctant Astronaut and The Shakiest Gun in the West on 9/2. Warner will release Casablanca, What a Girl Wants (full frame and widescreen) on 8/5 and E.R.: The Complete First Season on 8/26. Wellspring Media will release Dick Francis Mysteries: Twice Shy, Blood Sport and In the Frame on 6/3, Maryam, Short Eyes and This is Not a Love Song on 8/12, and Agatha Christie's The Pale Horse, Dark Habits, Ethics for a New Millennium: A Talk by the Dalai Lama, The Game is Over (French), In Search of Dracula, Kaaterskill Falls, Russian Ark (Russian), Terror is a Man (aka: Blood Creature), Terror of Frankenstein and What Have I Done to Deserve This (aka: Qué He Hecho yo Para Merecer Esto) on 9/9.

Back later with more... stay tuned...

5/30/03

Morning, disc-spinners! We've got some very interesting upcoming DVD information for you today. First up, on the Warner front, the good news: the studio has just announced the DVD release of E.R.: The Complete First Season. The 4-disc set will street on August 26, for an SRP of $59.98. All 25 episodes from the first season will be included, including the series' 90-minute pilot. How they're squeezing 25 episodes onto 4 discs I don't know, but there it is. Here's more info from the press release:

"The set will include "personal notes" from series creator and best-selling author Michael Crichton and two new documentaries produced exclusively for the DVD release. One concentrates on the pilot episode with interviews from Steven Spielberg and executive producers Michael Crichton and John Wells. The second highlights the entire first season, including interviews with the amazing ensemble cast of Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Sherry Stringfield, Noah Wyle and Julianna Margulies."

Other extras include The First Year Intern Handbook interactive feature (containing complete character profiles, 45 "patient" histories on the various guest stars and a medical terminology glossary), 2 commentary tracks on the pilot episode (one with Crichton and Wells and another from pilot director Rod Holcomb and key production crew), a featurette with the medical consultants and writers, a featurette about the post-production process, key production crew and director commentaries on the episodes Love's Labor Lost and Sleepless in Chicago, outtakes and unreleased scenes, and hidden bonus materials. Not a bad little set all in all.

Also, Warner will release What a Girl Wants on August 5th (SRP $27.95) in both widescreen and full frame versions.

Now for the bad news from Warner... the long-awaited special edition of The Iron Giant, which had been set for release on August 26th, has now been delayed until 2004. No specific reason has been given for the delay.

On the New Line front, the studio has announced the DVD release of Run Ronnie Run, also known as the Mr. Show movie. Look for that on September 16th (SRP $24.98). The disc will be in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include deleted scenes, the Three Times One Minus One music video, lots of hidden Easter eggs, and the theatrical trailer.

Also coming from New Line are A Man Apart (SRP $27.98) and Once Were Warriors ($19.98) - both street on September 2nd.

We've got MGM news too, and this is all good. First up, just FYI, the studio will release the Agent Cody Banks: Special Edition on August 5th, with the 2002 TV version of Carrie following on August 12th. Take or leave that, we're frying the small fish first here.

Better still, the studio has finally rescheduled their Bowling for Columbine: Special Edition for release on August 19th (SRP $26.98). The disc will include over 4 hours of bonus material, including a exclusive interview with director Michael Moore on his Oscar win and controversial acceptance speech, an introduction to the film by Moore, audio commentary by "the production office receptionist and interns" introduced by Moore, the Return to Denver/Littleton featurette, the Film Festival Scrapbook featurette, Marilyn Manson's Fight Song music video, a teacher's guide, an interview of Moore conducted by former White House Press Secretary Joe Lockhart at HBO's Comedy Arts Festival, The Charlie Rose Show interview with Moore, Mike's Action Guide and weblink, photo gallery, the theatrical trailer and more. Looks to us like the delay in the DVD release was for good reason. There's some interesting new stuff on this thing.

Moving on, MGM will release a long-overdue Fargo: Special Edition on September 30th (SRP $24.98). The film will appear in anamorphic widescreen with remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include the Minnesota Nice documentary, an interview with the Coen Brothers and Frances McDormand, a trivia track, audio commentary with D.P. Roger Deakins, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, hidden menus and "other surprises". Having actually grown up in Fargo, this film is a huge favorite of mine, so it's about time it got the treatment it deserves. Note that the release is timed to coincide with the theatrical debut of the Brothers' new film, Intolerable Cruelty.

September is also set to be a big month for fans of director John Sayles. MGM will release his Lianna, The Return of the Secaucus 7 and The Brother from Another Planet on September 16th (SRP $19.98 each).

Also on the way on September 16th are Brimstone & Treacle (starring Sting and featuring a soundtrack by The Police), Images, Jump Tomorrow, Eureka, Oleanna, Sunday Bloody Sunday, Tough Guys Don't Dance (SRP $19.98 each) and Prizzi's Honor, Article 99, The Hospital, Chattahoochee, The Boost, There Goes My Baby (SRP $14.95 each). On September 2nd, look for Hello Kitty Tells Fairy Tales, Hello Kitty Plays Pretend, the Hello Kitty box set, Stargate SG-1: Season Four (SRP $69.96) and The Outer Limits: The Original Series - Season Two (SRP $69.96).

Finally this morning, we've been given the heads-up on a batch of great 20th Century Fox TV DVD titles that are expected to announce soon for release before the end of 2003. Anyone interested in Lost in Space: The Complete First Season, 24: Season Two, The Family Guy, Volume Two, Dark Angel: Season Two, The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season, King of the Hill, Volume Two and M*A*S*H: Season Five? Well watch for them to be revealed soon. Classic Lost in Space on DVD? Danger Will Robinson! Danger, Danger!!

Here's cover art for a few of the titles mentioned above...

Fargo: Special EditionBrimstone & TreacleThe Outer Limits: The Original Series - Season Two

Stargate SG-1: Season FourAgent Cody Banks: Special EditionWhat a Girl Wants

Finally this morning, a lot of people have e-mailed me to point out the fact that Samsung's DVD player that up-converts standard definition DVD video to high definition DVD video has a feature that will not allow it to up-convert copyrighted material. Meaning that most movie titles will appear as 480p only. Although a few have rightly noted that the same effect can be achieved using a home theater PC.

Now then... don't forget that Disney and Pixar's Finding Nemo appears today in theaters. Be sure to take your little ones out for a good time at the movies this weekend. We'll be back on Monday with two new columns and more, so stay tuned!

5/29/03

It's amazing how some movies make more money in their home video release than they do in theaters - a sign of the times I suppose. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox's Antwone Fisher sold more than 1 million DVDs in its first week. On DVD and VHS combined, the title made some $26 million in its first week, which is $5 million more than its entire $21 million domestic box office gross. Paramount's Star Trek: Nemesis has also done well in its first week of release on DVD, selling more than 1.2 million copies on disc.

Some new DVD information for you today. Warner will release The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960) on 8/26. Friends: The Complete Fourth Season is due on 7/15. Justice League: Paradise Lost follows on 7/22. Ken Burns' America: Brooklyn Bridge arrives on 9/30. Of Unknown Origin streets on 8/5. Warner and the BBC will debut The Weather on 7/29 and Yes, Prime Minister: The Complete Collection on 8/26. And just when you thought we were safe from 'reality', New Line debuts The Real Cancun on 7/1. You know... it's almost hard to believe there was no script and no real actors in that film.

In other release news, Columbia TriStar has announced All the Real Girls, Out for a Kill, Cover Girl, Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles - The Zephyr Campaign, See No Evil and The Three Stooges: Stooges in History for release on 8/19. They also have He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, Children of the Night and Die Die My Darling due on 8/12. Look also for new SuperBit versions of John Carpenter's Vampires, Starship Troopers, The One and The Quick and the Dead on 8/5, along with Caught, Implicated, Double Vision and Nightstalker.

And here's an interesting press release for you. Samsung is going to be launching a new DVD player, the DVD-HD593, that will take a 480 interlaced, standard definition video signal - like one you'd find on a regular DVD disc - and up-convert it to HD resolution at 720 progressive or 1080 interlaced for viewing on an HDTV. We should note here that Samsung already has a professional level player, the DVD-HD1000, that does the same thing. And they also have an additional consumer player, the 931, that will do this via the DVI connection. This is a nice 'in-between' step until full HD-DVD is ready for primetime. Now, clearly the video signal isn't going to look as good as it would if it were truly mastered in high-definition. But still, this is an intriguing idea and we're very much looking forward to seeing this player in action here at The Bits. It's definitely an idea worth keeping your eye on.

Stay tuned...

5/28/03

Well here's an interesting twist on the videogame console wars. Sony has just introduced an upgraded version of their PS2, dubbed the PSX, which comes with a built-in DVD recorder, a TV tuner and 120 gig hard drive. It's also designed to let you download movies and other multimedia content from the Internet. It's expected to street next year in the States after a Japanese rollout before the end of 2003. The idea is to make the PSX the centerpiece of your home entertainment system. You can read more here and here via CNN.

In other news today, Warner Bros. is going to be releasing a new 2-disc Casablanca: Special Edition on August 5th. The film has been completely digitally remastered from the original elements using the same techniques brought to bear on Citizen Kane and Singin' in the Rain. In addition, a bevy of new bonus features will be included, among them 10 minutes of newly discovered deleted scenes and outtakes, audio commentary with Roger Ebert and film historian Rudy Behlmer, a new introduction by Lauren Bacall, original trailers for the film, the You Must Remember This: The Making of Casablanca documentary, the Bacall on Bogart documentary, The Children Remember featurette, the Carrotblanca Looney Tunes cartoon homage, the premiere episode from Warner's 1955 Casablanca TV series, production notes and history, photo galleries, press materials, studio correspondence and more. The set will also include audio of rare scoring sessions from the film, as well as the Screen Guild Players radio production featuring the film's stars. SRP will be $26.99.

Just FYI, we've been hearing rumors that this release could be timed to coincide with additional Bogart titles that are expected to be released on DVD later this year by Warner Bros, including The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.

Speaking of Warner, is anyone out there interested in potential cover artwork for The Matrix: Reloaded DVD? The studio has apparently run a brief online survey asking fans to pick the cover art they prefer. Here are a few of the possibilities under consideration. There's no date announced yet for the DVD, but you can expect it to be in stores prior to the theatrical release of The Matrix: Revolutions in November.

The Matrix: Reloaded DVD art - Option #1The Matrix: Reloaded DVD art - Option #2The Matrix: Reloaded DVD art - Option #3

Whichever art is finally chosen, clicking on the links provided will take you to a page at our retail sponsor, DVD Planet, where you can sign up to be notified when the titles is available for pre-order. Thanks to Bits reader Jeremy H. for the heads-up on this.

Finally this morning, you fans of TV's Wiseguy will be pleased to know that StudioWorks Entertainment will be relasing the entire series on DVD, with the first season set to debut on August 26th. Additional seasons will arrive about every three months after that.

We have more interesting info. on the way for you tomorrow, so stay tuned...

5/27/03

Hey everyone! Hope you all had a great long holiday weekend. We, of course, completely forgot about the long weekend, thus the post today rather than yesterday as expected. Sometimes, you work so hard you forget what day it is. ;-)

Let's run down the news. Does this drive anyone else crazy? Best Buy has conjured up another DVD exclusive bonus disc offer, this time with Warner Home Video. If you preorder South Park: The Complete Second Season with Best Buy, you'll receive an exclusive bonus disc that contains the complete, unaired version of the episode Cartman Gets an Anal Probe. Why in the heck can't this stuff just be on the original DVD in the first place? Thanks to Bits reader Johnnie Y. for bringing this to our attention.

In other news this morning, ADV Films has announced the DVD release of Farscape 3.4 on 8/12. Anchor Bay will release Thomas and Friends: Thomas' Snowy Surprise on 9/23. BCI-Eclipse/Brentwood will release The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (4 episodes), The Andy Griffith Show #1 (4 episodes), The Andy Griffith Show #2 (4 episodes), Anthrax: Soldiers of Metal, The Beverly Hillbillies #1 (5 episodes), The Beverly Hillbillies #2 (5 episodes), Bon Jovi: Wild in the Streets, Bonanza (4 episodes), The Dick Van Dyke Show (8 episodes), Kiss: You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best, The Lone Ranger (17 episodes), The Lucy Show (4 episodes), Petticoat Junction (4 episodes), Poison: Nothing But a Good Time and Scorpions: Rock You Like a Hurricane all on 6/24. Columbia TriStar has announced Better Than Sex, I Love You to Death, Loving and Spider for 7/29. Paramount will release 10,000 Black Men Named George, Daisy Miller, The Hunted (full frame and widescreen versions), Paper Moon and Targets on 8/12. Red Distribution will street DIO: Evil or Divine on 7/1. Sony Music has added Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends: The Complete First Season to their 8/12 slate. And finally, Warner Home Video has added Cradle 2 the Grave (widescreen and full frame) to its 8/12 slate, with The Big Bounce, Are You Being Served: Volumes 7-13, You're Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley's Favorite Parties, You're Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley's Greatest Parties, You're Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley's School Dance Party and You're Invited to Mary-Kate and Ashley's Vacation Parties following on 9/2, All Creatures Great and Small: Series Three, All Creatures Great and Small: The Specials, Monarch of the Glen: Complete First Season, The Old Grey Whistle Test, Real Wheels: Mega Truck Adventures and Real Wheels: Rescue Adventures on 9/16.

Also today, we have new cover art this morning for Fox's Solaris (7/29) and M*A*S*H: The Complete Fourth Season (7/15), as well as Paramount's The Hunted (8/12).

Solaris: WidescreenM*A*S*H: The Complete Fourth SeasonThe Hunted

In case you haven't seen it yet, Paramount, Lucasfilm and Apple have made a trailer for The Adventures of Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Movie Collection available online via Quicktime. Click here to check it out.

And finally, we've kicked off a new Trivia Contest this morning which will give you all the chance to win NINE great DVDs from 20th Century Fox, MGM and DreamWorks! The contest is nice and easy too - all you have to do is guess the titles based on the visual clues we provide. There will be FIVE winners in all. You'll have until 12:01 AM PDT on Saturday, May 31st to enter.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 5/23/03 - 4 PM PDT)

This is just a quick update to let you all know that Universal Music has just announced the DVD and SACD release of Roger Waters' The Wall: Live in Berlin on 6/24 (a remastered CD will be released as well). Here's an excerpt from the release:

"All three formats feature a newly remastered stereo mix produced by Nick Griffiths, the original engineer. Each package also boasts new artwork, photos and liner notes. The SACD and CD formats contain two discs with the entire two-hour-plus concert. The SACD also offers a SACD Surround Sound layer and a SACD Stereo layer which are only compatible with SACD players. Both the DVD and SACD include a 5.1 Surround mix produced from the original multi-tracks by Griffiths.

Bonuses added to the complete concert DVD are a new 30-minute documentary on the event, footage never used during the concert of actor Rupert Everett portraying Pink, some of Gerald Scarfe's animation footage, set and character designs, and production stills "


Now then... have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/23/03 - 11 AM PDT)

Afternoon all. I just wanted to post a quick note to let you know that book work and visitors have keep me from making regular updates yesterday and today. But I'll be posting a new Trivia Contest over the weekend, along with more news and cover art on Monday. And next month, we'll be getting back into the review swing of things - we'll catch up on looking at a lot of great titles that have recently been released. So thanks for your patience. Have a great weekend!

5/21/03

It looks as though Criterion has a nice slate of titles in the offing for the remainder of 2003. Criterion's new Throne of Blood DVD includes a brochure for titles that have already been assigned catalog numbers for release as part of The Criterion Collection this year. Here's what to look forward to (catalog numbers are noted, as are the directors):

199 - Schizopolis (Steven Soderbergh)
202 - Indiscretion of an American Wife/Terminal Station (Vittorio De Sica)
203 - Fassbinder's BDR Trilogy box set including:
204 - The Marriage of Maria Braun (Rainer Werner Fassbinder)
205 - Lola ("")
206 - Veronika Voss ("")

In addition, we have a list of upcoming Universal and DreamWorks titles for the next few months (note that both studios are distributed by Universal - list includes new titles and reissues of existing discs at new price points). Here's a complete rundown...

7/1 - Spliced, The Babe, Baseball Triple Play, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Casual Sex?, Cold Comfort Farm, The Dream Team, Dudley Do-Right, Ed, Junior, Man's Favorite Sport?, Mr. Baseball, Strange Bedfellows and Twins

7/15 - The Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting

7/22 - Crazy Little Thing and The Life of David Gale

7/29 - American Pie & Beneath the Crust - Volume 1 and American Pie 2 & Beneath the Crust - Volume 2

8/12 - Backbeat, Blue Crush, The Bourne Identity, Dragonheart, Dragonheart: A New Beginning, Duel, Erin Brockovich, Ffolkes, For Love or Money, The Frighteners, Galaxy Quest, Gotcha!, Greedy, Hard to Hold, The Hard Way, The Jackal, Kuffs, The Last Castle, The Last Starfighter, Leave it to Beaver, Mask, Mercury Rising, The Mexican, The Night of the Following Day, Playing for Keeps, Ringu, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, The Shadow, Streets of Fire, Timecop, The Truth About Charlie, The Tuxedo, The Ugly American, Undercover Brother, Waterworld and Xanadu

8/19 - Back to School with Franklin and Killing Emmett Young

8/26 - Law & Order: Badge of Dishonor and Law & Order: Organized & Unsolved Crimes

9/2 - 12 Monkeys, An American Werewolf in London, Army of Darkness, The Birds, The Bone Collector, Bride of Chucky, Cape Fear (1991), Eddie Izzard: Glorious, The Emperor's Club, Empire, End of Days, Fear, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Haunting, How to Frame a Figg, The Love God?, Play Misty for Me, Psycho, Psycho (1998), Rear Window, Red Dragon, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Scorpion King, The Shakiest Gun in the West, Shocker, Vertigo, Videodrome and The Watcher

10/21 - Steven Spielberg Presents: Taken

Stay tuned...

5/20/03

You alien abduction fans will be pleased to know that DreamWorks has officially announced the DVD release of Steven Spielberg Presents: Taken miniseries - the one that debuted on the Sci-Fi Channel last year. The 6-disc set will street on October 21st (MAP $89.95). All 10 episodes of the miniseries will be included in anamorphic widescreen video, with audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1. The extras will appear on Disc Six - the bonus disc - and will include the The Cast of Taken, A New Reality: The Visual Effects Team, A Singular Vision: The Directors, Time Warp and Inside Taken featurettes, plus cast and crew bios and more. Here's a look at the DVD cover artwork for the box set. And while we're at it, how about a few other new titles as well?

Steven Spielberg Presents: TakenSpiderPiglet's Big Movie

Felicity: Season TwoLive from BaghdadThe Old Grey Whistle Test

That's Columbia TriStar's Spider (7/29), Buena Vista's Piglet's Big Movie (7/29) and Felicity: Season Two(7/22), HBO's Live from Baghdad (6/24) and The Old Grey Whistle Test from Warner and the BBC (9/16). A little something for everyone in that batch. I have to say, The Old Grey Whistle Test has me particularly excited. It includes more than three hours of classic performances by the likes of John Lennon, Elton John, Bob Marley, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Rory Gallagher, The Police, U2, REM and more. Very cool.

In addition, ADV will release Gene Roddenberry's Earth: Final Conflict - No Refuge and NOIR #5: Terminal Velocity on 8/5. Anchor Bay has added Hatred of a Minute, Tell Death Us Do Part and Who Done It? to its 7/8 slate. Columbia TriStar will release Big Trouble and Read My Lips on 7/22. MGM has announced Nicholas Nickleby for 7/22, XX/XY for 7/29 and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (animated), Agent Cody Banks, Globehunters: An Around the World in 80 Days Adventure (animated) and My Fair Madeline (animated) all for 8/5. And Warner will release Blue Collar Comedy Tour: The Movie on 6/3, National Geographic: 21 Days to Baghdad on 7/1, National Geographic: Asteroids - Deadly Impacts and National Geographic: Volcano - Nature's Inferno on 7/29, and The Kid Stays in the Picture on 8/19.

In other news, Sci-Fi Wire is reporting that Universal has plans to finally release the complete original Battlestar Galactica TV series on DVD this fall, to coincide with the debut of the new Sci-Fi miniseries version of the show and a videogame as well.

Our friends at Home Vision want you to know that IFC is going to be showing the first seven Zatoichi films throughout this month and into June. They're also holding an online sweepstakes that gives you the chance to win the Zatoichi films on DVD and more. Be sure to check out IFCTV.com for all the details. Just can't get enough of the blind swordsman!

For those of you interested in the technology of digital filmmaking, Star Wars.com has a great feature up on the new 24p high-definition digital video cameras they're going to be using on Episode III - even more advanced than the ones used for Episode II, with greater resolution.

And finally this morning, we're pleased to bring you a new edition of Robert Harris' regular Yellow Layer Failure, Vinegar Syndrome and Miscellaneous Musings column here at The Digital Bits. In this piece, Robert looks at the work of classic cinematographers, the history of CinemaScope films and the movies of John Wayne and Bob Hope. As always, it's well worth a read. So enjoy!

Stay tuned...

5/19/03

Morning folks! Welcome to a brand, spanking new week. Hope the weekend treated you all well. I myself picked up a touch of a cold, so today's post will be strictly news. But don't worry. Tomorrow we have a new column coming and maybe a little more as well.

In the meantime, we've announced the winners our our X-Files Trivia Contest. Congratulations to all of you who won, and thanks to everyone who entered. We have another new contest starting later this week, so be sure to stay tuned for that.

In news today, CNN has a brief story up on the whole Disney EZ-D format. Not much that's new, just another summary.

In other news, Pioneer has unveiled a DVD-ROM rewritable drive which is compatible not only with the DVD-R and DVD-RW formats (which the company has been a staunch backer of) but also the competing DVD+R and DVD+RW formats. Pioneer says it's making the move to "eliminate consumer confusion"... to which we here at The Bits say, "Bravo." Yet another reason we think Pioneer's a class act among consumer electronics manufacturers. And no, we aren't getting paid to say that.

Also according to CNN and the Wall Street Journal, there are rumors circulating that AOL Time Warner is in talks with German conglomerate Bertelsmann about a possible merger of the Warner Music and BMG/EMI music businesses.

Billboard has a new story up (via Yahoo) about Artisan's upcoming Terminator 2: Extreme Edition DVD, which includes a Windows Media 9 high-definition version of the film that can be played on high-end computers via DVD-ROM. Keep in mind, this is NOT HD-DVD. But it's a cool idea nonetheless. We're looking forward to seeing the disc and we'll let you know what we think of this when we do.

Finally this morning, just FYI, our book is finally back up on Amazon.com, and we expect the 30% discount to be in place tomorrow. Also, there's a brief story up about the book at Video Store magazine for those who are interested.

Stay tuned...

5/16/03

Well... apparently the death of Divx just wasn't enough for some studios to get the hint. According to Reuters (via Yahoo), Disney is going to be launching a new disposable "rental" disc format this August, called EZ-D, using a process developed by Flexplay Technologies. You buy the disc at a rental store for a low price. When you open the package, a chemical reaction begins between the disc and oxygen in the air such that it becomes unreadable after 48 hours. Basically, the outer surface of the disc rusts and becomes cloudy so the laser can't read through it. Then you just throw it away. The idea is that it makes the rental process easy - you never have to return the disc. Of course, one suspects that all those discarded discs aren't exactly beneficial to the environment. In any case, never fear - Disney's commitment to standard DVD seems plenty firm. We really feel that this is absolutely nothing to worry about. And our guess is EZ-D will be a TRK-E.

One last thing today - a lot of people have been asking why our book has disappeared from Amazon. Apparently, when they first listed the book, they forgot to include the 30% off discount. They've corrected this and the listing is being recycled back into the system. We're told it should be back up on Tuesday, so our Amazon links will be back to normal by then. Don't worry - all those of you who have pre-ordered the book already WILL get the 30% discount. We should also note that the book is also available for pre-order from other book retailers as well.

Now then... have a great weekend everyone!


5/15/03


Well... Matrix: Reloaded certainly didn't live up to the hype, at least for most of us here at The Bits. Todd, Matt, Frankie, Brad and I all went out last night to first showings, and most (but not all) of us were less than impressed. The effects have certainly been given a lot of attention - they're a lot more advanced. But that isn't necessarily a good thing. While everyone was working on animating all those Agent Smiths, someone forgot to work on the story a little. And not all the effects are realistic looking - there are a few fight scenes with entirely CG characters. The whole coolness of wire-fu is that it's real people doing these amazing stunts. And when it isn't anymore, it's hard to stifle a yawn. To be fair, there are plenty of cool little moments. But they really don't add up to much. Did we really need a 10-minute rave scene in Zion? I found myself almost wishing the machines would destroy the place. The film definitely doesn't match the original... at least for us anyway. Lower your expectations and you'll probably enjoy it. But don't expect to leave the theater with that same blown-away feeling you had from the first Matrix film.

Stay tuned...

5/14/03

Okay... raise your hands if you're hauling your butts out to the theater tonight to see the first showing of The Matrix: Reloaded. Yep... just what I thought. Some of us are too. We're not proud of it, but there it is. ;-)

In news today, Variety's DVD Exclusive magazine has revealed (in an interview with comedian Jerry Seinfeld) that the Seinfeld TV series is currently being considered for DVD release by Columbia TriStar. Word is interviews and outtakes from the series may be included as extras.

Around the Net, Warner Bros is asking DVD fans on AOL's Movies area to choose which classic films they'd like to see released on disc in January of next year. Among the films up for the vote are The Actress, After the Thin Man, The Asphalt Jungle, The Blackboard Jungle, Days of Wine and Roses, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Executive Suite, For Me and My Gal and Night of the Iguana. The top 5 selections will be released in January. Reportedly, the studio plans to release more than 100 catalog titles before the end of 2003.

Also this morning, Toshiba and NEC have announced that they'll presenting their new blue-laser based Advanced Optical Disc format at the Optical Data Storage conference in Vancouver this week. The discs can hold up to 36GB of data, and the format is backwards compatible with existing DVD. You can read more on this via ZDNet.

Stay tuned...

5/13/03

How's about another new Trivia Contest for you today? We're giving away 5 copies of Fox's The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season on DVD this time, and Sarah's cooked up a fun word search puzzle. So get your thinking caps on and sharpen up those eyes. Eewww... there's an unpleasant mental image. ;-)

In other news, we have word from Variety's DVD Exclusive magazine that DVD editions of Tomb Raider 2: The Cradle of Life, Star Trek V: CE, Star Trek VI: CE and 24: The Complete Second Season are already in production. You can bet X2 is well under way as well. Also Paramount has announced a street date of August 12th for Peter Bogdanovich's Paper Moon, Targets and Daisy Miller. Each of the discs will feature new audio commentary by the director.

The same publication sites rumors that the 4th disc of Paramount's The Adventures of Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Movie Collection will feature a batch of deleted scenes from all three of the films, including an extended Cairo fight scene between Indy and the swordsman. And Lucasfilm is reportedly hard at work on DVDs of the Young Indiana Jones TV series for next year.

Stay tuned...

5/12/03

Morning folks! Hope you all had a darned fine weekend. We've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest this morning, so be sure to check it out if you entered. Better still, we've got another new contest that will kick off tomorrow morning, giving each of you the chance to take home a copy of Fox's The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season on DVD. Don't miss it!

In the meantime this morning, we've got a whole mess of new DVD announcements for you. Anchor Bay has set Thomas and Friends: James and the Red Balloon for release on 7/22. Artisan Entertainment will deliver And God Spoke, Best of Bonanza #1, Blood on the Sun, Clifford the Big Red Dog: Look Out, Clifford the Big Red Dog: Big Fun, Colorz of Rage, Degree of Guilt, Double Life, Drop Dead Fred, Four Faces West, Guilty by Association, Hook'd Up (aka: Personals), Red Pony, Rio Diablo, Shanghai Surprise, Target (aka: The Piano Player) and Tons of Trouble (aka: Maiaika), also on 7/22. Buena Vista will deliver The Love Bug and The Rescuers on 5/20, with Piglet's Big Movie following on 7/29. Central Park Media is releasing Nightmare Campus #3 and Venus Fire on 7/8, Demon Beast Resurrection #1: Purgatory and Nightmare Campus #4 on 8/12, and Night Shift Nurses: RN's Nurses on 9/9. Columbia TriStar has Burnt by the Sun and Laurel Canyon set for 7/15, with Spun (R and Unrated versions) following on 7/22. Criterion/Home Vision has announced Honeymoon Killers, The Pornographers and Umberto D. for 7/22, Day of the Dolphin, I. M. Pei: First Person Singular/Museum of the Mountain, Mary Cassatt: A Brush with Independence and Vengo following on 7/29. Kino is working on American Film Theatre: Delicate Balance, American Film Theatre: Home Coming, American Film Theatre: In Celebration, American Film Theatre: Man in the Glass Booth and American Film Theatre: Three Sisters for 7/22, Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl for 8/8.

Moving on, Lions Gate is releasing Mary Higgens Clark's All Around the Town, Mary Higgens Clark's You Belong to Me and Robocop: Meltdown on 7/8, American Kickboxer 2, Blood of Heroes, Intimate Power (aka: The Favorite), Kickboxer, Kickboxer 2: The Road Back and Kickboxer 5: Redemption on 7/15, Shattered Image, Two Family House and Countryman on 7/22, and Last Minute (R and Unrated versions) on 7/29. MGM has set Carrie for 8/12, Clownhouse, Comedy of Terrors/The Raven, Countess Dracula/Vampire Lovers, The Ghoul, Ghoulies/Ghoulies 2, Haunted Palace/Tower of London, The Howling: Special Edition, I, Madman, Once Bitten, Poltergeist II: The Other Side/Poltergiest III, Raw Meat, Squirm, Tomb of Ligeia/Evening with Edgar Allan Poe and Troll/Troll 2 for 8/26. New Video has Full Frame: 7 Complete Documentary Shorts and Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision set for 5/27. Paramount has obviously announced The Adventures of Indiana Jones: The Complete DVD Movie Collection for 11/4. Red Distribution is releasing The Man Show: Complete Season One on 6/24. Rhino has Scourge of Worlds: A Dungeon and Dragons Adventure set for 6/10. Universal has announced Hitcher II: I've Been Waiting for You for 7/15, and Crazy Little Thing and The Life of David Gale (full frame and widescreen) for 7/22. And finally, Warner Home Video will debut Gods and Generals for 7/15, with 4th Tenor, Framed, The Gristle, Caillou: Caillou's Train Trip and Other Adventures, Caillou: Caillou's Treasure Hunt and Other Adventures, Sagwa: Feline Friends and Family and Sagwa: Great Purr-formances and Monte Walsh set for 7/29, Mucha Lucha: Heart of Lucha following on 8/19, and Kim, Yes, Prime Minister and Little Women (1949) on 8/26.

Stay tuned!

5/9/03

Continuing yesterday's topic of choice, Yahoo's got an interesting story up on the rush to develop an HD-DVD format by electronics manufacturers. It's titled High-Definition Discs Aim to Outshine DVDs, by Patrick Seitz, and it provides an interesting business perspective on the situation. It's also backs up much of Scott Hettrick's editorial this week, which we mentioned yesterday. Here's an interesting passage:

Publicly, consumer electronics executives say it's too soon to talk about a replacement for DVD products that are selling so well and only recently broke into the mainstream.

But analysts say hardware makers behind the scenes are eager to gain an edge in next-generation disc technology.

One reason is that low-cost producers, especially in China and South Korea (news - web sites), already have commoditized DVD gear, cutting profits for today's products. Also, consumer electronics makers want to get the royalties and licensing fees that come from having the winning standard for a new technology.


There's also an interesting note that Toshiba's intended replacement for current DVD is being called "Advanced Optical Disc", and it can be made on existing DVD replication equipment (whereas Sony's Blu-Ray requires retooling). Both are blue laser based formats. Reportedly, Pioneer, Philips and Matsushita would rather HD-DVD devices were not released until 2005. The piece is definitely worth a read.

In other news, you Pearl Jam fans need to get yourselves to one of their shows. The reason is that the band is apparently selling a new concert DVD (of the 12/6/02 Seattle Showbox gig) at dates on their current North American tour. Don't fret if you can't make it though... it's also available at the band's official website, just FYI.

Also today, TiVo is licensing a basic version of its service to DVD player manufacturers, which would allow players pause and replay live TV shows. Toshiba is the first manufacturer stepping up to the plate.

Remember, our Trivia Contest ends at 12:01 AM tonight, so get your entries in quick. The next contest will feature X-Files: Season Seven and other great titles on DVD, so be sure to check back.

Have a great weekend everyone!


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