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page updated: 7/31/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 7/4/03 - 6/6/03)


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7/4/03

Well... it's the Fourth of July here is the States, so have a happy and safe holiday to all you U.S. readers. And for the rest of you... how about another Rumor Mill update? We've got word on possible street dates for a number of Universal, including The Hulk. There's also another Indy tidbit worth checking out, so don't miss it.

See you Monday!

7/3/03

Okay... still more announcements to get out of the way. First up, Warner has officially announced the DVD release of Dreamcatcher for 9/30 (SRP $19.96 SRP). Now, I made the mistake of seeing this film in the theaters... and let's just say I don't think I'll be seeing it again anytime soon. Not a good two hours. But, I'm sure there are fans out there. So the disc will include anamorphic widescreen video (a full frame version will also be available), Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, several production featurettes (DreamWriter: An interview with Stephen King, DreamMakers: A Journey Through the Production and DreamWeavers: The Visual Effects of Dreamcatcher), four deleted scenes and the original ending and the teaser trailer.

Warner also has announced the DVD release of Babylon 5: The Complete Third Season on 8/12 (SRP $99.98). The six-disc set will include the episodes in anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, an introduction from series creator J. Michael Straczynski, audio commentary on three key episodes by Straczynski and stars, the Behind the Mask: Creating the Aliens of Babylon 5 documentary, the Designing a Better Narn documentary, the Designing Tomorrow: The Look of Babylon 5 documentary and data and personnel files.

Warner's also announced the details of their ER: The Complete First Season box set (8/26 - SRP $59.98). All 25 episodes from the first season will be available on 4 discs, including the 90-minute pilot. Extras will include personal notes from series creator Michael Crichton, two new documentaries (one featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg and executive producers Michael Crichton and John Wells, the other featuring interviews with Anthony Edwards, George Clooney, Sherry Stringfield, Noah Wyle and Julianna Margulies), The First Year Intern Handbook (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.

Here's some cover art for you...

Babylon 5: The Complete Third SeasonER: The Complete First Season

New Line has released final packaging shots for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD Version. The set will be available on its own ($39.99), and in a special collector's box with a statue of Gollum included (SRP $79.92). Both are due on 11/18.

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD VersionThe Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD Version (Collector's Gift Set)

Paramount's Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - Special Collector's Edition is set to be announced in the next couple of weeks for release later this year. We thought we'd give you a peak at the cover art since it's started to leak around the Net. Here's also a look at Universal's Animal House: Double Secret Probation Edition (announced for 8/26 - $19.98) and their TBA Bruce Almighty.

Star Trek V: The Final Frontiel - Special Collector's EditionAnimal House: Double Secret Probation EditionBruce Almighty

Around the site today, we've finally updated all our CEA DVD Player Sales numbers with all the latest data. In fact, all the data points we track are now fully up to date. Just FYI.

Also today, we have a quick bit of information in The Rumor Mill today regarding the upcoming Indiana Jones discs. The information is tentative, but worth a look for fans.

Now then... in other news, Netflix has been awarded a patent that seems to offer protection for key parts of its DVD subscription service. What this means for their competition (particularly in terms of lawsuits), some of whom have sought to emulate the Netflix model, remains to be seen. You can read more on this here at CNN Money (and here as well). There's also another story on Netflix at Business 2.0 as well (subscription required).

Finally this morning, we have a bit of bad news on the HD-DVD front. Until last month, the DVD Forum (the standards body that sets all the specifications for the DVD format) had been set to continue developing Toshiba and NEC's blue-laser based Advanced Optical Disc proposal as the basis for eventual HD-DVD (AOD was the concept favored by the Forum's technical working groups for its backwards compatibility with existing DVD among other factors). Unfortunately, when the required motion to continue developing AOD was put to a vote in the Forum's Steering Committee (in mid-June), of the seventeen manufacturers that hold Committee votes, eleven companies voted against the AOD proposal or abstained from voting (you can read more here at Video Store). Here's the key... a majority of those companies who voted AOD down (or abstained) are members of the Blu-ray Disc group.

Blu-ray Disc is also blue-laser based format being developed by Sony, Matsushita and Philips (along with several other manufactures). This group hasn't even bothered to present Blu-ray Disc to the DVD Forum as the format of choice for HD-DVD. Instead, they're doing an end run around the Forum, advancing their proposal as the "next big thing". This means Blu-ray Disc is being positioned as a direct competitor for eventual HD-DVD. And since the group has now managed to kill momentum for Advanced Optical Disc within the Forum, the development of HD-DVD is effectively stalled.

It's worth noting here that Blu-ray Discs are contained in special cartridges, making them different than existing DVDs. There's no official word yet on whether Blu-ray players will be backwards compatible with existing DVDs. Toshiba and NEC are attempting to muster more support for AOD for another Committee vote scheduled for later this year. Like the Blu-ray camp, however, they've vowed to continue developing AOD no matter what happens in the Forum. So... the road to high-definition on disc just gets muddier and muddier.

More tomorrow. Stay tuned...

7/2/03

Yes... it's true. We are indeed back to business around here. And what do you know? July's already upon us! June sure seemed to pass in a blur... at least for us here at The Bits. So is the book done you may be wondering? Just about. About 95% is in the can, and there are just a few last things to wrap up. In the meantime, we're back to full operation around here, so that means we're back to our regular daily updates.

We've got a LOT of ground to cover over the next week or so, as we work to catch up on things around here. There's lot of news and new title announcements to report, we've got several new columns and then it'll be time to catch up on our review work. So bear with us as we get ourselves back up to speed.

Today, though, we're going to cover the best of the new DVD announcements. First of all, Universal has announced the DVD release of Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series as a 6-disc box set for release on 10/21 (SRP $119.98). All 24 episodes of the series are being presented in the original full frame video (digitally remastered for superior quality) and in their original broadcast order, with audio available in the original 2.0 mono as well as newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1. The set will include never-before-seen footage, along with new interviews with series creator Glen A. Larson and series stars' Richard Hatch, Terry Carter and Anne Lockhart.

As if that wasn't enough, Battlestar Galactica: The Original Feature Film is also being re-released on DVD the same day (SRP $19.98). It will also include a sneak preview of the new Sci-Fi mini-series retelling of the film's story. Sadly, it looks suspiciously like this will be the same non-anamorphic widescreen film transfer as before, but we've not yet been able to confirm this.

Columbia TriStar's got a bunch of great new DVDs on the way in September, including the Identity: Special Edition, an Identity 3-pack featuring Identity, Trapped and Memento, Endurance, the Boyz 'N the Hood: Anniversary Edition (2 discs), Ruby, The Best of Designing Women and Under Suspicion (all on 9/2) and Casey's Shadow, Wilder Napalm, The Debut, and a David Lean 3 pack that will include The Bridge on the River Kwai, Lawrence of Arabia and A Passage to India (all on 9/9). They also have a trio of great new Superbit releases on the way, including Léon: The Professional, Hook and Lawrence of Arabia (2-discs). Each will feature high bit rate anamorphic widescreen video and both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound. Our own Robert A. Harris, who originally restored Lawrence in the 1990s under the supervision of director David Lean, is personally involved in the transfer and remastering of the new Superbit version, so you can be sure it will be the very best presentation of the film yet released on DVD. We'll hear more from Robert on this in the coming weeks.

Lawrence of Arabia: SuperbitLéon: The Professional - SuperbitHook: Superbit

Paramount's busy in September too. On 9/2, look for Oswald: Welcome to the Big City, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: The Complete Second Season, MTV Cribs: Hip Hop, MTV Cribs: Rock and The Core. On 9/16, look for Milk Money, Losing Isaiah, Nobody's Fool and Regarding Henry. On 9/23, look for I Love Lucy: Season One - Volume Nine, The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, An Almost Perfect Affair, James Clavell's Shogun, Scrooge, Leap of Faith, Campus Man and I.Q.. And then on 9/30, look for Better Luck Tomorrow, Blue's Clues: Blue's First Holiday, Nicktoons: Christmas and Spongebob Squarepants: Christmas.

The Core will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $29.99 each). Extras on both will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director Jon Amiel, a featurette on the making of the film, a deconstruction of the visual effects and ten deleted/extended scenes with director commentary.

James Clavell's Shogun will feature the complete epic TV miniseries on 5 discs (SRP $89.99). The episodes will be presented in the original full frame video, with audio in remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 and the original 2.0 mono (restored). The set will also include the 79-minute documentary The Making of Shogun, three new historical featurettes on aspects of Japanese culture (including samurai, the tea ceremony and the geisha) and audio commentary by director Jerry London on seven select scenes.

Here's some Paramount cover art for you. Just FYI, Dragonslayer's a nice little something to look forward to (street date is TBA for October).

The CoreDragonslayerJames Clavell's Shogun

Moving on, 20th Century Fox is working on The Dancer Upstairs for 9/23, Bend it Like Beckham for 9/30 and Down with Love for 10/7.

They've also announced 24: Season Two for release on 9/23 (SRP $69.98). The 7-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, forty-four deleted scenes and alternate ending with optional commentary (no kidding), three featurettes (On the Button: The Destruction of CTU, The Making of an Episode: Production and The Making of an Episode: Post-Production), two multi-angle scenes studies and audio commentary on six episodes (one per disc). Additionally, all of the deleted scenes and alternate endings will be optionally viewable during the episodes they're taken from via seamless branching. Here's the cover art...

24: Season Two

Warner's got some great news too. They're releasing The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Adventures of Robin Hood and Yankee Doodle Dandy as 2-disc special editions on 9/30, as part of their Warner Legends promotion. Each will be available separately (SRP $26.99 each), and as part of a Warner Legends box set of all three (SRP $69.92). All three films have been restored using Warner's new "Ultra Restoration" process, which begins with scanning the original Technicolor 3-strip black and white "records" at high resolution (2K). The black and white records are then combined electronically to create the color images, which are also electronically re-registered, steadied and cleaned before the final DVDs are produced. The result, in theory, is an image that looks better than the original.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Special EditionThe Adventures of Robin Hood: Special EditionYankee Doodle Dandy: Special Edition

The Adventures of Robin Hood: Special Edition will include the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, along with Dolby Digital mono audio. Extras on Disc One will include audio commentary by author and film historian Rudy Behlmer, a music-only audio track showcasing the Oscar-winning score, Warner Night at the Movies 1938 (introduced by Leonard Maltin, which includes the theatrical trailer for Angels with Dirty Faces, a vintage newsreel, the original musical short subject Freddie Rich and His Orchestra and the vintage animated short Katnip Kollege) and an Errol Flynn trailer gallery with trailers for twelve of his most beloved films including Captain Blood, The Prince and the Pauper, Dodge City, The Sea Hawk, Dive Bomber and The Adventures of Robin Hood (both the 1938 version and 1942 reissue). Disc Two includes the hour-long Glorious Technicolor documentary (narrated by Angela Lansbury), the all-new 65th Anniversary documentary, Welcome to Sherwood: The Story of The Adventures of Robin Hood, the classic Looney Tunes shorts Rabbit Hood and Robin Hood Daffy, the vintage Warner Bros. short subjects Cavalcade of Archery (1945) and The Cruise of the Zaca (1952) with Errol Flynn, the Robin Hood Through the Ages featurette (on the various screen adaptations), the A Journey to Sherwood Forest featurette (with home movies and behind-the-scenes footage), outtakes, the Breakdowns of 1938 Warner Bros. Pictures blooper reel, audio of the May 11, 1938 National Radio Broadcast The Robin Hood Radio Show, audio of Erich Wolfgang Korngold piano sessions and still galleries of historical art, costume designs, scene concept drawings, cast & crew photos and publicity & poster materials.

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre: Special Edition will also include the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, along with Dolby Digital mono audio. Extras on Disc One will include audio commentary by author/Bogart biographer Eric Lax, Warner Night at the Movies 1948 (introduced by Leonard Maltin, which includes the theatrical trailer for Key Largo, a vintage newsreel, the original short subject So You Want to Be a Detective, and the Looney Tunes animated short Hot Cross Bunny) along with a Humphrey Bogart trailer gallery with trailers for twelve of his most beloved films including High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca, To Have and Have Not, The Big Sleep and The Treasure of Sierra Madre. Disc Two adds the feature-length 1989 documentary John Huston: The Man, the Movies, the Maverick, the all-new Discovering Treasure: The Story of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre documentary, the Looney Tunes animated short 8 Ball Bunny, audio of the scoring stage sessions for the film, audio of the April 18, 1949 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast and still galleries of storyboards, dressed set stills, cast & crew photos and publicity & poster materials.

And finally, the Yankee Doodle Dandy: Special Edition will also include the film in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, along with Dolby Digital mono audio. Extras on Disc One will include audio commentary by author and film historian Rudy Behlmer, Warner Night at the Movies 1942 (introduced by Leonard Maltin, which includes the theatrical trailer for Casablanca, a vintage newsreel, the original short subject Beyond the Line of Duty, the Looney Tunes animated short Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid) as well as a James Cagney trailer gallery with trailers for seven of his most beloved films including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Footlight Parade and Yankee Doodle Dandy. Disc Two adds the James Cagney: Top of the World biographical tribute documentary (hosted by Michael J. Fox), the all-new Let Freedom Sing!: The Story of Yankee Doodle Dandy production documentary, the Looney Tunes shorts Yankee Doodle Daffy and Yankee Doodle Bugs, the vintage wartime short You, John Jones starring James Cagney & Greer Garson, audio of outtakes and rehearsals, audio of the October 19, 1942 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theater Radio Show with film cast members and still galleries of sheet music, dressed set stills, scene concept drawings and publicity & poster materials.

Whew! Okay... I'd say that's enough for today. We've got a lot more coming tomorrow, so see you then!

6/30/03

Well... the book's almost done, folks! Things will officially be back to normal here at The Bits on Wednesday. So be sure to check back then, as we start working to catch up on lots of news, reviews and special features.

But we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing this weekend of actress Katharine Hepburn. The legendary actress starred in such films as The African Queen, Bringing Up Baby, The Philadelphia Story and On Golden Pond, among many others. She was 96.

Okay... see you on Wednesday with a nice long post (the first of many)!

6/25/03

We thought you might all enjoy a few pictures from last night's signing event with Ray Harryhausen at DVD Planet. There was a great turnout, and Ray was in top form, signing discs and posters, and chatting with his fans. A lot of people were clearly thrilled to meet him in person. Ray's a true gentlemen, and we don't have to tell you that he's a legend in the film industry. So, as they say, a good time was had by all. Anyway, enjoy the pics!

Ray signing discs and greeting fans.Ray signing discs and greeting fans.

Ray Harryhausen

DVD Planet's store in Huntington Beach, CA.

Just FYI, as some of you may know, Ray received his very own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame earlier this month. For more on that, along with pictures of the event, visit Bruce Crawford's Omaha Film Event website.

Stay tuned...

6/24/03

Just a quick update for all of you... don't forget that our software sponsor, DVD Planet, is going to be holding a special celebrity DVD signing event tonight at their Orange County, CA store location. The guest of honor will be none other than stop-motion/special effects legend Ray Harryhausen! The event will run from 5-7 PM PDT, at the DVD Planet store (16672 Beach Blvd in Huntington Beach, CA). If you're in the L.A./Orange County area, don't miss it!

Also today, we have some final details on Warner's upcoming Smallville: The Complete First Season DVD (9/23 - SRP $64.92). The six-disc set will include all 21 episodes from the first season, including the pilot, in anamorphic widescreen video. Extras will include audio commentary on the pilot episode by executive producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, and pilot director David Nutter. Another commentary with Gough and Millar is available on episode Metamorphosis. Also available will be deleted scenes from two episodes, a storyboard-to-screen featurette for the pilot, an interactive tour of Smallville and DVD-ROM weblinks.

And the Minneapolis Star Tribune has a great article up today on the difference between widescreen and full frame on DVD. The story includes quotes from our own Robert Harris, so don't miss it.

Stay tuned...

6/23/03

Well... just one more week until we wrap on the book and get things back to normal here at The Bits. Thanks again for everyone's patience. We've got lots of ground to cover in July, and you can bet we'll hit that ground running.

In the meantime, we've announced the winners in our Trivia Contest. Congrats to all of them.

And just FYI, Star Trek.com has posted a story about a featurette on Matt Jefferies (the art director on the original series) that's being created for release on the upcoming Star Trek: Generations - Special Edition, which is expected to be released on DVD sometime next year (2004 is the film's 10th anniversary, so it makes sense). You Trek fans will find the story well worth a read.

Stay tuned!

6/19/03

As you've probably guessed, we're a little swamped by book work and deadlines. We're going to try to post some things in the next couple of days, including that column. But if we don't... you'll know why. Almost done! And then things can get back to normal around here. We've got a stack of discs to review and we're dying to get to them. So hang in there.

In the meantime, here's a bit of information that would normally be in The Rumor Mill. In the interest of getting it posted at all, we're putting it here. But sources are telling us that Universal's 2 Fast 2 Furious will street on DVD on 9/30. You'll also likely get Fox's X2 in September as well, with Pixar and Disney's Finding Nemo tentatively following in November. We'll post more details when we have them.

By the way, our apologizes to Paramount. We had inadvertently listed one of their upcoming Yo MTV Cribs DVDs as Yo MTV Crips. And man... that's a WHOLE other title! Thanks to those of you who pointed that out. Got a good laugh over it around here. ;-)

And we're going to update the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers as soon as we can. We're waiting on some updated data. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

6/18/03

Okay... we've kicked off our new Trivia Contest this morning. Five lucky winners will have the chance to win 20th Century Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season, The Death of the Incredible Hulk, Song of Bernadette and Baywatch Hawaiian Wedding, along with MGM's Stargate: SG-1: Season Three. And you've got until 12:01 AM PDT on Sunday, June 22nd to enter. If you've ever seen an episode of Sesame Street, you'll get the idea of this contest right away. So be sure to check it out.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

6/17/03

Big TV on DVD news today! Warner Bros. is finally releasing Smallville on disc. Smallville: The Complete First Season will arrive on 9/23 ($64.92). There's no word yet on extras, but all the episodes will be released in anamorphic widescreen format.

Smallville: The Complete First Season

We've got more word on upcoming Paramount DVDs due in September. This is confirmed by the studio. Look for The Core, Shogun, Nick Jr - Oswald: Welcome to the Big City, MTV Cribs: Hip Hop, MTV Cribs: Rock, Losing Isaiah, Milk Money, Regarding Henry, An Almost Perfect Affair, Campus Man, I.Q., Leap of Faith, Bang, Bang You're Dead, House of Fools, I Love Lucy: Season One - Volume 9, Scrooge, Nickelodeon: Christmas, SpongeBob SquarePants: Christmas and Blue's Clues: Blue's First Holiday.

Elite Entertainment is launching a third volume of its Drive-In discs on August 5th ($14.95 each). This one will include I Bury the Living and The Hand, with Distorto! sound (audio only sent to the left front speaker to recreate the drive-in speaker experience), along with film shorts and other drive-in related extras.

Also Universal has just announced the Animal House: Double Secret Probation Edition DVD for August 26th (SRP $19.98). The disc will include an original video segment directed and produced by filmmaker John Landis and co-produced by Matty Simmons, entitled Where Are They Now? This feature includes interviews with Kevin Bacon, Tim Matheson, James Widdoes, Bruce McGill, James Daughton, Karen Allen, DeWayne Jessie and Stephen Furst as the characters in the film, just 25 years later. Also included are pop-up facts and trivia and a "Greek Game". The disc will be available in anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions.

In other news, Anchor Bay will release The Cheerleader Collection (The Cheerleaders, Swinging Cheerleaders and Revenge of the Cheerleaders) and Halloween: 25th Anniversary Edition on 8/5. Artisan Entertainment has cancelled its release of Da Hip Hop Witch, which had been set for 6/17. BMG Music will release Phil Collins: A Life Less Ordinary on 6/17. Buena Vista has announced The Lizzie McGuire Movie for 8/12, along with Scorcher on 8/26, The Apple Dumpling Gang, The Brave Little Toaster, The Brave Little Toaster Goes to Mars, The Brave Little Toaster to the Rescue, Escape to Witch Mountain, Power Rangers: Ninja Storm, Episode #2 - Looming Thunder, Power Rangers: Ninja Storm, Episode #3 - Lightning Strikes and Return from Witch Mountain all on 9/2, and Holes on 9/23 (in both full frame and widescreen). Lions Gate/Trimark is releasing a whole slew of former Universal titles on 6/17, including Big Kahuna, Buffalo '66, Gods and Monsters: Special Edition and Shadow of the Vampire. They're also releasing But I'm a Cheerleader, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Jesus' Son and Love and Death on Long Island (also former Universal titles) on 7/22. And they have The House of a 1,000 Corpses and Will and Grace: Season One due on 8/12. MGM has added Article 99, The Boost, Chattahoochee, The Hospital, Prizzi's Honor and There Goes My Baby to its 9/16 slate. They also have Bullet Proof Monk: Special Edition due on 9/9. Sony Music will release The Clash: The Essential Clash and Spike and Mike's Sick and Twisted Festival of Animation - Full Frontal on 6/17. And 20th Century Fox will release Futurama: Volume Two on 8/12, NYPD Blue: Season Two on 8/19, Angel: Season Two on 9/2 and Family Guy: Volume Two on 9/9.

We'll be back in the morning with that stuff we intended for today. Stay tuned...

6/16/03

Two weeks 'til the book's done. We're gonna try to keep things updated this week with news and whatnot. So here's some news and whatnot. Pour coffee and enjoy...

20th Century Fox is releasing The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season on 8/26 (SRP $49.98). The set will include Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary for all the episodes, pop-up storyboard sketches for several episodes, multi-language clips, Butterfinger TV ads, Toyota TV ads, a baby translator feature, character poster, audio outtakes a jukebox feature and more. On 9/2, you'll also get The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror (SRP $14.98), which will include a video montage of Kang and Kodo's finest moments. And on 9/9, look for Family Guy, Volume 2 (SRP $49.98). Extras will include audio commentary for select episodes, an unaired episode with commentary (When You Wish Upon a Weinstein), 15 minutes of animatics, pilot pitch for the show and a series overview. Here's some cover art...

The Simpsons: The Complete Third SeasonThe Simpsons: Treehouse of HorrorFamily Guy, Volume 2

In other news, Artisan Entertainment has announced 29 Palms, Bride of the Re-Animator, Fourth Angel, Fright Night: Part II, I’ve Been Waiting for You, Junior, Killing Mr. Griffin, Lair of the White Worm, Repossessed, Rodentz, The Spring, Wes Craven's Invitation to Hell and When Thugs Cry, all for 8/18. Buena Vista has added Sounder to its 6/24 slate. Columbia TriStar will release Whole Wide World on 7/29, and Die! Die! My Darling, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not and The Once Upon a Time in China Trilogy all on 8/12. MPI Home Video will release Dark Shadows: Volume 7 on 8/26. New Line has added The Ballad of Little Joe, A Man Apart and Once Were Warriors to its 9/2 slate, with Run Ronnie Run following on 9/16. Paramount will release The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius - Sea of Trouble, MTV Video Music Awards: Hip Hop and MTV Video Music Awards: Rock, all on 8/5. Showtime has Mule Skinner Blues set for 8/26. Synapse Films will debut Brutes and Savages: The Uncivilized Version on 8/26. 20th Century Fox has added The Good Thief to its 8/19 slate, with Chasing Papi following on 8/26 and Home Alone 4 due on 9/2. Universal will release Mobsters on 9/30. And Warner Home Video has set Baby Genius: Favorite Nursery Rhymes, Baby Genius: Four Seasons, Baby Genius: Underwater Adventures, Double Double Toil and Trouble, Nightmare Room: Camp Nowhere, Nightmare Room: Scareful What You Wish For, Roger and Me and Tom and Jerry: Hijink and Shrieks for release on 8/19, with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn following on 8/26 and Scooby-Doo and the Monster of Mexico due on 9/30.

Image Entertainment gets their own paragraph. Look for Prison of the Dead, Speck, Talisman and Virgins of Sherwood Forest (all on 6/24), Frank Sinatra: They Were Very Good Years (7/22), Playboy Exposed: Hard Hat Honeys, Playboy TV: Sexy Urban Legends 2 - Seeing is Believing and Playboy: Girls of Reality TV (all on 8/5), Boogeyman 2 (aka Revenge of the Boogeyman), Borodin Quartet: Concert Master Class, The Devil Came from Akasava, The Flesh Trilogy (Touch of Her Flesh, Curse of Her Flesh, Kiss of Her Flesh), L'aventure C'est L'aventure, La Boone Annee, Treasures of the Hermitage, Via Dolorosa, Calamari: Looking Up, Dale Spalding: Downtown, Ian Whitcomb: Turned On Alley and Wild, Wild World of Jane Mansfield/Labryrinth of Sex (all on 8/12), I'm Going Home, Rediscovering Dave Brubeck, Sideshow: Alive on the Inside, Sideshow: The New Sideshow and Thunderbox: Fistful of Dollars (all on 8/19), and Boombox, Nasty's World, Poetic Silence, Props 47, Broadway Theatre Archive: Andersonville Trial, Cher: Farewell Tour, Fall of the Louse of Usher and Hands of Blood (all on 8/26).

We'll have a new Trivia Contest for you tomorrow, along with updated CEA player sales numbers and a new column too, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/12/03 - 1 PM PDT)

We wanted to chime in here with a quick late update to address a couple of things this afternoon.

First of all, the good news. The USA Today has a story up with details on some of the cool new scenes that will be included in the 4-disc version of The Two Towers due on November 18th. If you're a Rings fan like us, November just can't come fast enough.

And now the bad. We wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of newsman David Brinkley and actor Gregory Peck today. Brinkley was an old-school journalist, from a time when journalism still had standards and wasn't driven by ratings. "Could your nail polish kill you? Find out at 11!" And Gregory Peck... well, what more needs to be said about the man who breathed life into Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird? Both men were icons and will be sorely missed.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/12/03 - 1 AM PDT)

Yeah, yeah... I know I said we'd be taking the rest of the week off. But sometimes you just can't walk away completely, you know? The job becomes an all-consuming passion and all that. So we've got a post today.

First up, we've got another Rumor Mill update this morning with news on a title I've been waiting forever for, The English Patient: Special Edition. Plus we have word on more Trek SEs and even another cool Universal title that's reportedly on the way.

Second, Criterion has just announced the DVD release of The Ingmar Bergman Trilogy box set for 8/19 (SRP $79.98). The set will include Through a Glass Darkly, Winter Light and The Silence. Each film will feature new high-definition digital transfers, optional English dubbed tracks, new English subtitle translation, original theatrical trailers and poster art and video discussions of each film by Bergman biographer Peter Cowie. All are B&W in their original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, with Swedish mono audio. You've just gotta love those folks at Criterion. I mean, you've just gotta. It's a rule, I think.

Third, for those of you who may just be wading into the bewildering world of HDTV, we'd like to direct your attention to a good report on the subject over at CNN Money. It's a quick and dirty primer on the subject, that talks about prices, options and available programming. We agree by the way... HDTV is well worth a look and there's never been a better time to do so. Those anamorphic widescreen DVDs sure do look awesome on a big, wide HDTV. MMmmm, mmmm, mmmm... that's a good cracker!

Finally, just for kicks and to round things out today, there's another quirky story at CNN on all those raunchy flicks that Bollywood's churning out these days. I mean REALLY... 17 kisses and a string of bikini-clad girls? What's the Indian film industry coming to anyway? You've just gotta love Bollywood. Seriously, you've just gotta. Think that's a rule too.

See... now if this website were a Bollywood flick, this the part where the entire staff of The Digital Bits would leap onto your computer screen for the elaborate song and dance number.






Yeah... we'll just be skipping the song and dance number, I think.

See you Monday. If not sooner. ;-)

6/11/03

Okay, folks... as most of you have probably noticed, our content's gone down a little bit around here while Todd and I have been busy writing this book. We're not thrilled about it, but since we don't have the massive staff and resources of the New York Times or the Washington Post, it's unavoidable. Remember... we're yer Mom & Pop DVD website. The good news is that we're nearly done! Just another couple of weeks or so and The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD is in the can. The bad news is that, since we're into crunch time, we're going to take the rest of this week off to get book work done. You guys are shelling our your hard-earned cash for our snappy tome, so we want to deliver the best book we can to all of you. But when we're done, by the end of June, we'll kick right back into full website mode. We've got lots of reviews and cool special feature stories lined-up to help you forget that we were ever away. So once again, we appreciate your patience in the meantime.

In the meantime, we've updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list to indicate new titles that are in production for eventual DVD release, as well as the release of Warner's Giant.

Over at our MusicTAP site, Matt's got a bunch of new high-resolution audio reviews for you to check out, including The Kinks: Everybody's In Showbiz, The Kinks: Low Budget, Miles Davis: Steamin', Muddy Waters: Folk Singer, Sonny Rollins: Plus 4, Various Artists: Got Swing!, The Byrds: Greatest Hits, Ritchie Valens: Greatest Hits and The Zombies: Greatest Hits (all on SACD format), as well as Fleetwood Mac: Say You Will, Queen: The Game and Jean Martinon and the Orchestre de Paris - Ravel: Boléro (all DVD-Audio Discs). By the way, Matt's also got some great SACD release news regarding Bob Dylan and more, so be sure to check it out his posts of the last few days.

We've added a new hardware and tech supply sponsor here at The Bits. Shop4Tech is a great place to buy supplies like blank CD and DVD media and burners, empty CD and DVD cases, toner and printer ink cartridges, computer cables, memory and other computer parts and accessories - you name it. They have great prices and service, so be sure to check 'em out. And don't forget to tell them The Bits sent you. Much appreciated!

Finally today, we have a new Rumor Mill post with a number of great upcoming titles from 20th Century Fox and Paramount, as well as a tentative street date for Warner's The Matrix: Reloaded. And we even have details on a new DVD Universal special edition featuring the Python boys (that's Monty to you mister)! Definitely don't miss it.

If anything big or interesting happens between now and Monday, we'll drop in here with a quick post. Otherwise, we'll be back on Monday with our usual update. So thanks again for your patience and stay tuned!

6/10/03

As most of you know, Warner's DVD special editions of The Right Stuff and Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in America hit stores today. We were fortunate to attend Warner's gala screening of The Right Stuff last night at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. There was a reception with the film's director, Philip Kaufman, and much of the cast and crew, as well as a panel discussion with them all following the film presentation. But two of the guests of honor were truly special, so we thought we'd share with all of you a couple of great pictures that Sarah took of them. Those of you who are fans of The Right Stuff will immediately recognize how cool these shots are.

The first image is none other than General Chuck Yeager, the famed Air Force test pilot, with the filming model of the X-1 rocket plane in which he broke the sound barrier in 1947.

Chuck Yeager

The second picture we have for you this morning is Mercury Astronaut Gordon Cooper, posing alongside the full-sized replica of the Freedom 7 spacecraft used in the making of the film. Talk about your right stuff!

Gordon Cooper

As you can probably imagine, the event was a blast. And if these images don't get you in the mood to watch the DVD, I don't know what will. Both The Right Stuff and Once Upon a Time in America deserve a place in any respectable film fan's collection, so be sure to pick up your copies ASAP.

Stay tuned...

6/9/03

Morning, folks! Hope you all had a great weekend. I spent mine working on the book, of course, which was relaxing if you can believe that. Then Sarah and I took in the Peter Gabriel concert last night. I just can't pass up a chance to see him whenever he comes around. Let me also say that if you're a high-resolution audio aficionado, Universal Music's recent SACD releases of the ENTIRE Peter Gabriel catalog (including his latest album, Up) are well worth a spin. I'll be reviewing them all here at The Bits... as soon as Todd and I finish this book!

By the way, we also caught a showing of Pixar's Finding Nemo this weekend, and I have to tell you, I think it might be their best film yet. It's very funny and definitely worth seeing when you get the opportunity.

We've got some interesting info that's found its way to us from a few different sources this last week about Warner's The Matrix: Reloaded, as well as word on Universal's Schindler's List coming to DVD. You'll find it in The Rumor Mill this morning, so don't miss it.

In other news, you fans of TV shows on disc (and particularly my mother) will be pleased to learn that the first two seasons of Little House on the Prairie are set to be released by Goldhill Video on July 8th. Each set will SRP for $49.98 each. If someone starts cranking out box sets of The Waltons on disc, Mom'll pass out from the sheer excitement of it all. ;-)

Video Business has a great article on the latest on the race to develop the next-generation, high-definition optical disc format. It's available in the July 2nd issue and should also be online as well (note that registration is required). An interesting bit of new information in the story is that Columbia TriStar may begin releasing pre-recorded, high-definition software in Blu-Ray format next year, although no other studio has announced support for the format (nor is any other major studio likely to do so). We believe that most of the studios will end up backing the final HD-DVD format, the spec for which is due next year. We've said it before and we'll say it again... the industry would be foolish to launch any high-definition disc format before the market is ready for it. And consumers are too heavily invested in DVD to bite hard on a next-generation replacement for it. We love high-definition video as much as the next guy, but all things in good time.

And finally this morning, we've announced the winners of our James Bond Trivia Contest. Congratulations to them, and thanks to all 2,650 people who entered. We'll start another contest very soon, so be sure to watch for it.

Stay tuned...

6/6/03

Warner Bros. has announced that it will release director Michael Moore' acclaimed Roger & Me on 8/19, no doubt to coincide with MGM's release of Bowling for Columbine on DVD. The disc will include the film in its original full frame aspect ratio and mono audio, with audio commentary by Moore and a theatrical trailer.

Other newly announced titles include: NFL Fantasy Preview 2003-2004 (7/22), The Year Without a Santa Clause (8/16), Sonny (HBO via Warner), Cabaret (8/19), Crossfire Trail, Sudden Impact, Magnum Force, The Enforcer (9/2 - the last three are Clint Eastwood DVD Collection reissues), Ken Burns' America: Brooklyn Bridge (PBS via Warner), French & Saunders: The Ingenue Years, French & Saunders: Living in a Material World, Full Bottom: Not Another Half-Arsed DVD Set, Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Special (9/30 - the last four all BBC via Warner).

Here's some cover art for Roger & Me, Cabaret, Full Bottom: Not Another Half-Arsed DVD Set, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1960 - 8/26), Friends: The Complete Fourth Season (7/15) and New Line's Once Were Warriors (due 9/2):

Roger & MeCabaretFull Bottom: Not Another Half-Arsed DVD Set

The Adventures of Huckleberry FinnFriends: The Complete Fourth SeasonOnce Were Warriors

By the way, we mentioned yesterday that Criterion is releasing Akira Kurosawa's The Lower Depths on 8/19. Well, in the liner notes for their new Throne of Blood DVD, subtitle translator Linda Hoaglund mentions that Criterion has commissioned her to create new subtitle translations for Seven Samurai, Ikiru, Stray Dog, The Bad Sleep Well, Drunken Angel and I Live in Fear (a.k.a. Record of a Living Being) as well. Meaning that you can expect new Criterion DVD releases of all of those great Kurosawa films in the future.

And on a similar note, we wanted to mention that RUSCICO has created a nice anamorphic widescreen 2-disc DVD set of Kurosawa's Derzu Uzala. It's an all-region title, with lots of language and subtitle options, and is available in both PAL and NTSC versions. I ordered up a copy recently (for roughly $35 USD) and while it took about three months for it to be shipped from Russia, I'm glad I have it. To our knowledge, it's currently the only way to get this Kurosawa film in anamorphic widescreen in NTSC.

We should also remind all you Japanese cinema fans that AnimEigo has released Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo on DVD, and will release Zatoichi the Outlaw (aka The Blind Swordsman's Rescue) and Zatoichi Goes to the Fire Festival before the end of the year. They've also released the first two Lone Wolf and Cub DVDs, Sword of Vengeance and Baby Cart at the River Styx, with more on the way. You can never have too many samurai films on DVD, so be sure to check them out. Unfortunately, they're pretty tough to find in stores, so try DVD Planet: Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (the two Lone Wolf and Cub DVDs will be available in stores later this month).

That's it for now. Don't forget that our latest Trivia Contest ends at 12:01 AM PDT tomorrow morning, so get those entries in quick. Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday!


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