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page updated: 9/17/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/3/03 - 8/12/03)


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9/3/03

We're having a little difficulty accessing the Net today, so uploading has been tough. But we've got a little new upcoming DVD specs and cover art for you.

First up, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of their Whale Rider: Special Edition on October 28th (MAP $19.95). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by the filmmakers, deleted scenes, a "making of" featurette and a soundtrack showcase.

Buena Vista will release Alias: Season Two on December 2nd (SRP $69.99). Like the first season, this six disc set will feature anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentaries with the cast and crew, The Telling documentary on the making of the season finale, the Undercover: The Look of Alias featurette, more deleted scenes, another gag reel, the Alias parody seen on Monday Night Football, and a look at the making of the Alias video game.

And finally, New Line's Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd - Platinum Edition DVD will street on November 11th (SRP $27.95). Look for anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary, deleted scenes, documentaries, outtakes, the theatrical trailer, Easter eggs and more.

Here's the cover art for all three. Each title can be pre-ordered now at our retail sponsor, DVD Planet. Remember, by supporting them with your DVD dollars, you're supporting us here at The Bits too!

Whale Rider: Special EditionAlias: Season TwoDumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd - Platinum Edition

Also, early this morning we announced the winners of our three latest Trivia Contests. Congratulations to the winners and thanks to all who entered. We'll be starting more soon.

Now then... we'll be back tomorrow morning with a new column from Adam, as well as a pair of new DVD reviews from Rob Hale. See you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/2/03 - 4 PM PDT)

At long last... our review of 20th Century Fox's 2-disc X2: X-Men United - Special Edition is here (widescreen version of course)! And just to let you know, we've also got several more DVD reviews in the works for later this week, including Paramount's The Core, so be sure to stay tuned for them.

In a quick bit of upcoming DVD news, Paramount has officially revealed that the DVD version of its Laura Croft: Tomb Raider - The Cradle of Life will street on November 18th, along with a 2-pack of the sequel release plus the original film on disc. Details and cover art will follow shortly.

And as long as we're talkin' 'bout "the mountain", you may be surprised to learn that the DVD release rights for the South Park TV series may have passed from Warner Bros. to Paramount, now that Viacom has gained complete ownership of Comedy Central. That means that South Park: The Complete Third Season should now be a Paramount release later this year. We expect to have more details on what this means for the DVDs themselves, as well as official confirmation of the move, later in the week.

Watch for the winners of our Trivia Contests to be posted later today.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/2/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Morning folks! Hope you all had a great long holiday weekend. Sarah and I spent some time at the beach, had a nice dinner out, watched a couple of DVDs, and joined Mr. and Mrs. MusicTAP for an afternoon at a local Octoberfest-type event. All in all, not a bad way to spend the holiday.

We'll be back later this morning to announce the winners our three Trivia Contests... and yes, we'll also finally have that review of X2: X-Men United.

But first, we have some sad news to report. Actor Charles Bronson passed away this weekend, at the age of 81. You can read more here at CNN.com. Bronson will probably forever best be known for his role in the Death Wish films, but it's for his turn as the unnamed "harmonica man" in Sergio Leone's epic Once Upon a Time in the West that we'll always fondly remember him. We can think of no better way to honor him than by giving Paramount's forthcoming 2-disc special edition of that film a spin when it hits store shelves on November 18th. Just one MORE reason to look forward to it, I guess... as if we needed one. Get your pre-orders in quick.

Also this morning, we've been getting a HUGE volume of spam e-mail due to this Blaster virus. We're not infected, but judging by the sheer amount of spam we're getting, a LOT of our readers have been hit. We're talking hundreds per hour. So if you haven't already scanned your computer with your anti-virus software, and taken the appropriate measures, now's a good time to do so. You can learn more about the virus here at the Symantec website.

Back later this morning! Stay tuned...

8/29/03

Damn... it's taking me a LONG time to get through all the extras on this X2 DVD. There's a lot of material on Disc Two, and reviewing it all is taking more time than anticipated. Sarah and I celebrate our 13th anniversary this weekend, so I'm going to take my time with the review and post it right after the Labor Day holiday. Rest assured, we've got some other great reviews on the way as well. Thanks for your patience.

We do have four new SACD reviews up for you high-resolution audio fans over at our MusicTAP site: Simple Minds: Cry, Willem Jeths: Bella Figura, Tchaikovsky Chamber Music Society: The Seasons and Pete Whitman's Xtet: Where's When?.

We've also launched three new Trivia Contests, featuring great DVD prizes from Warner Bros., MGM and Universal. Don't miss 'em!

Just a quick heads-up on our new DVD book. McGraw is telling us that they expect the book to street in the first week of October. We're doing some last minute tweaks and corrections, and some graphics are still being assembled. We'll give you an exact street date as soon as it's off to the printers.

One last thing today - Warner Bros. has revised the cover art for their upcoming Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines DVD. Here's a look:

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Now then... go see some movies and spend some quality time with family and friends. Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Tuesday! Peace out.

8/28/03

Afternoon, folks! You Disney animation fans will be thrilled to know that the studio has just revealed FOUR new 2-disc special editions set to be released next year. Look for Pocahontas: Special Edition, Alice in Wonderland: Special Edition, Mary Poppins: Special Edition and Lilo & Stitch: Special Edition in 2004. This is in addition to next year's Platinum title, which is currently expected to be Aladdin.

Now then... we're pleased as punch to be able to bring you a new installment of Barrie Maxwell's Classic Coming Attractions column today. In this column, Barrie begins a two-part look back at classic Hollywood musicals, runs down more new classic title announcements and even reviews no less than NINE discs, starting with Warner's Cole Porter Collection, which includes Kiss Me Kate, Les Girls, Broadway Melody of 1940, High Society and Silk Stockings. He also reviews Fox's recent Hello, Dolly!, All That Jazz and Simon & Garfunkel: The Concert in Central Park just to round things out. You definitely don't want to miss it.

We'll be back tonight with THREE new Trivia Contests, so be sure to check back then. And tomorrow, we'll check in with our review of Fox's upcoming X2: X-Men United - Special Edition DVD.

See you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/27/03 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Our own Adam Jahnke's checked in with a new edition of The Bottom Shelf. This time, Adam muses on The Point and Purpose of the DVD Review in Modern Society. More aptly (and simply) titled On Knowing One's Place, we think Adam's making an important point. In fact, he answers none other than this all-important question: What is the reason we review DVDs here at The Digital Bits? Here's a hint: It's probably not to take waveform measurements of a disc's soundtrack.

We'll be back tomorrow with a new Trivia Contest, and we expect to post a new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie as well. Stay tuned.

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/27/03 - 11:30 AM PDT)

We've got more cover artwork for you this morning. Here's a look at MGM's John Carpenter's Escape from New York: Special Edition (12/16) and To Live and Die in L.A.: Special Edition (12/2), as well as A&E's just released version of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (in stores now).

John Carpenter's Escape from New York: Special EditionTo Live and Die in L.A.: Special EditionNeverwhere

Also this morning, we have a rundown of the rest of MGM's December slate. Due on 12/2 are Darling, Odds Against Tomorrow, Lord Love a Duck, He Walked by Night, Crime of Passion, Once Upon a Crime, Buster, Car 54, Where Are You?, How to Get Ahead in Advertising, Real Men, Checking Out, Livin' Large and Cops and Robbers.

Thanks to all of you who e-mailed me with the name of that Bigfoot movie I was trying to think of yesterday. It is, in fact, Sasquatch, the Legend of Bigfoot. Now there's a goofy fun flick. And to add another, how about the classic Hangar 18 (starring Darren McGavin, Robert Vaughn and Gary Collins)? There's a good B-movie if ever there was one, and it ought to be on DVD. And after I mentioned Johnny Quest yesterday, a ton of people wondered where the rest of the classic Hanna-Barbara cartoons are - The Jetsons, The Flintstones, etc. Warner Bros... time to get busy!

Finally this morning, and speaking of Warner, the studio has sent word that they're planning on re-releasing Oliver Stone's JFK on 11/11 (MAP $19.95). This 2-disc JFK: Special Edition will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (the 205 minute cut). Also included will be the Beyond JFK feature-length documentary, 12 extended/deleted scenes and audio commentary with director Oliver Stone. We believe that this is basically the same disc as before, simply with the addition of the documentary.

Back with more later. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/26/03 - 1 PM PDT)

It's official. MGM has just announced the DVD release of John Carpenter's Escape from New York: Special Edition. The 2-disc set, due to street on 12/16 (SRP $29.98), will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and 2 feature-length audio commentaries, the 10-minute "bank robbery" opening scene (with commentary by John Carpenter and Kurt Russell), the Return to Escape from New York documentary (featuring new interviews), a featurette on the making of the John Carpenter's Snake Plissken Chronicles comic (along with a special edition issue of the comic itself), trailers, photo galleries and more. The packaging will be Digipak, enclosed in an embossed outer sleeve, with liner notes by Carpenter.

Oh, we're not done yet. How about a To Live and Die in L.A.: Special Edition on 12/2 (SRP $19.98)? You'll get anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary by director William Friedkin, a deleted scene and an alternate ending, the Counterfeit World: The Making of To Live and Die in L.A. documentary, a photo gallery, original theatrical trailers and more.

Also today, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of the Whale Rider: Special Edition for 10/28 (SRP $26.95). Extras will include a behind-the-scenes featurette, audio commentary by the filmmakers, deleted scenes with optional commentary, a "soundtrack showcase" and more. It's a great film by the way - don't miss it.

And here's a big surprise. Blue Underground has officially announced that it will be releasing The Final Countdown on DVD on May 25th, 2004. The DVD release will reportedly include both THX approved anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and full frame video, taken from new high-definition transfers, along with newly remixed audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES. There will be a number of extra features to be announced. No kidding.

We'll have cover art as soon as it becomes available. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/26/03 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Okay... to kick things off today, we've got some more new cover art for you to check out. Here's Fox's The X-Files: The Complete Eighth Season (11/4 - just one more season of X-Files left to go), Criterion's Tokyo Story (10/14) and Warner's To Have and Have Not (11/4).

The X-Files: The Complete Eighth SeasonTokyo StoryTo Have and Have Not

Around the site this morning, we've updated all of the DVD hardware and software sales and rental data that we track regularly. The latest CEA DVD Player Sales numbers put the format at over 53 million here in the States. Just FYI.

We've also announced the winners of our latest Trivia Contest. Congrats to all and thanks to all of you who entered. Another one will start in the next few days, so be sure to stay tuned.

In other news, A&E has announced the DVD release of JFK, Mail Call: The Best of Season #1, The Men Who Killed Kennedy: 40th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, Persuaders: Season One and Profiler: Season 2 for 11/25. BMG Music will release Alan Jackson: Greatest Video Hits #2, Brooks and Dunn: Red Dirt Road, Dokken: Japan Live '95 and KISS: Symphony on 9/9, with Allman Brothers Band: Live at the Beacon Street Theatre, Jane's Addiction: 3 Days and Sammy Hagar: Long Road to Cabo on 9/23 and INXS: Live Baby Live on 10/7. Buena Vista has announced Alias: Season Two on 12/2. Dreamworks has set Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas for release on 11/18. Lions Gate will release Miami Tail and Saved by the Bell: Seasons One and Two on 9/2, with Stevie following on 9/9 and Best of Resfest Shorts #3, Counterstrike and Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist on 9/23. Paramount has announced House of Fools and SpongeBob SquarePants: The Complete First Season for 10/28, with Cool World and Fairytale: A True Story following on 11/11, and the Once Upon a Time in the West: Special Collector's Edition on 11/18. 20th Century Fox has officially announced King of the Hill: Season Two for 11/11, X2: X-Men United for 11/25, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Complete 5th Season and M*A*S*H: TV Season 5 on 12/9. And finally, Warner has set Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines for release on 11/11 and The West Wing: The Complete First Season for 11/18.

Speaking of DVD titles, I was thinking the other day about funky little off-beat titles that ought to be on DVD, but aren't yet. Now that The Final Countdown is going to find its way to disc (see 1 PM post), how about The Last Chase (starring Lee Majors and Burgess Meredith), Wizards (the animated title from Ralph Bakshi), Robinson Crusoe on Mars (you know the one), Stowaway to the Moon (where that kid hides in an Apollo moon rocket and ends up saving the mission), The Man Who Saw Tomorrow (that completely cheesy and bogus Nostradamus flick narrated by Orson Welles), The Double McGuffin (by Joe Camp - the guy who did all the Benji flicks) and for the life of me I can't remember the title, but that quasi-documentary where all those scientists go in search of Bigfoot, and they're camping in the woods one night and a whole group of Bigfeet go storming through their camp. It was like an episode of In Search of, only better. Anyone remember the name of that one? Good stuff all. Well, okay... not necessarily good, but stuff that I really loved as a kid. And for God's sake, somebody PLEASE release the entire classic Johnny Quest animated series on DVD.

And finally this morning, some of us here at The Bits had the pleasure of attending a special outdoor DVD release party last night, in honor of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The event, sponsored by New Line and The Tree People, was held in Franklin Canyon Park, in the middle of the Hollywood Hills. Several hundred people gathered for food, fun and to view a screening of The Two Towers under the stars. Here's a few pictures from the night.

LOTR party

LOTR partyLOTR party

Stay tuned...

8/25/03

Morning, folks! We've got some interesting news for you fans of BBC programming on DVD. At last week's DVD Entertainment 2003 conference, reps from both Warner and Acorn Media revealed their upcoming plans for BBC DVD releases. Here's what to expect in the near future:

Warner Bros. - The Office: Season 1 & 2, Coupling: Season 2, MI-5

Acorn Media - Tipping the Velvet

Also, HBO revealed a number of new TV series releases on the way, including Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Wire, Real Sex, Taxi Cab Confessions, American Splendor and Elephant. Warner also confirmed that The Ben Stiller Show is currently in production for release later this year, with Ben Stiller and the cast members working on many new features.

In other news, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Adam Sandler's Eight Crazy Nights: Special Edition (as a 2-disc set) for 11/4. Other titles streeting that same day are The Pact of Silence, Micki & Maude, Platinum Blonde and Real Shlemiel.

And Warner Bros. has announced the DVD release of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Special Edition for 10/7 (SRP $19.98). This will be a single disc special edition.

Here's some new cover art for you today, including two of the above mention titles in addition to Criterion's Le Cercle Rouge and Schizopolis (both 10/4), Disney's Walt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two (12/2) and Warner's High Sierra (11/4). All can be pre-ordered now from DVD Planet. Enjoy!

Le Cercle RougeSchizopolisWalt Disney Treasures: Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two

High SierraEight Crazy Nights: Special EditionNational Lampoon's Christmas Vacation: Special Edition

If you're interested in high resolution audio, over at our MusicTAP site, Matt Rowe has posted a massive list of all the leading requests from readers for eventual release on the DVD-Audio and SACD formats. There's some good stuff being requested, so do check it out.

And don't forget - we've kicked off a new Trivia Contest over the weekend, but it's a quick one. It ends tomorrow morning at 12:01 AM. So get your entries in FAST!

We've got an exciting week of DVD coverage on the way for you, including two new columns, DVD reviews and more. Stay tuned...

8/22/03

In a special panel discussion yesterday afternoon at the DVD Entertainment 2003 conference in L.A. (entitled The Battle Over the Next Generation), a panel of industry representatives extolled the virtues of moving from current DVD to a high-definition disc based format. In particular, proponents of the various concepts vying for the HD crown (including Advanced Optical Disc, Blu-ray and Pixonics pHD) discussed the advantages of their own particular proposal of choice.

Here's the bad news: It's a little too early to tell for sure, and there are industry forces that are trying to prevent it, but there's a real chance we might be headed for an AOD/Blu-ray format war. That said, here's the good news: EVERYONE on the panel (including representatives of leading hardware manufacturers on both sides AOD/Blu-ray divide, and even one of the major Hollywood studios) expressed confidence that whichever format ultimately gains the high-definition advantage, backwards compatibility with existing DVD software is considered a given in order to make the transition easier for consumers. So if you've been concerned about HD-DVD or Blu-ray (or whatever comes next) making your existing DVD movie collection obsolete, you can now rest easy. The new disc players (whatever format they may be) should all be able to play current DVDs in addition to next-generation HD software.

Also of note is the fact that some in the industry believe that the transition to the next generation format needs to happen earlier, rather than later, in order to ensure that prepackaged media remains the option of choice for HD consumers, instead of Video On Demand (VOD). Fascinating stuff and you can be sure we'll be talking a lot more about these issues in the months ahead.

Stay tuned...

8/21/03

Last night, in a special ceremony in L.A. hosted by Leonard Maltin, The 6th Annual DVD Awards were officially announced. Interestingly, more than 40,000 votes were recorded in the Viewer's Choice category. The winners are as follows...

Best Restoration

Singin' in the Rain: Special Edition (Warner Bros.)

Best DVD Audio

Queen: The Game (DTS Entertainment)

Best SACD

Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (Sony Music)

Best DVD-ROM Support

Terminator 2: Judgment Day - Extreme DVD (Artisan)

Best Bonus Game Feature

Monsters, Inc. (Disney)

Best Audio Presentation

Minority Report (DreamWorks)

Best Authoring

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)

Best Menu Design

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? - Vista Series (Touchstone)

Best Video Presentation

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)

Best DVD-Video Music

Miles Davis Live in Munich (Pioneer)

Best Educational/Documentary Title

Lost in La Mancha (New Video/Docurama)

Best Standard Release

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Warner Bros.)

Best Special Edition

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)

Best in Show (chosen from all finalists)

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition (New Line)

Viewer's Choice (chosen from all finalists)

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Warner Bros.)

Congratulations to all the winners!

Also today, we have a first look at the cover art for three of the upcoming Walt Disney Treasures titles (coincidently hosted by Leonard Maltin) - The Chronological Donald, Volume One, Walt Disney: On the Front Lines and Tomorrowland.

The Chronological Donald, Volume OneWalt Disney: On the Front LinesTomorrowland

All street on 12/2. We're still waiting on art for Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two.

And with that, we're off for the conference again for one last set of sessions. Just FYI, we've updated our Two Towers DVD review with more information on which of the features is anamorphic and which isn't. We also have more information on the bonus offers that come in the packaging (a lot of people were asking about it). Be aware that our package held no rebates for the upcoming sets.

We'll be back later with a new Trivia Contest, and tomorrow with another new review. Stay tuned...

8/20/03

So you want reviews, do you? Then how about a look at New Line's 2-disc version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers?

Yeah, we thought that might get your blood pumping. ;-)

Also today, we have specs on Fox's X2: X-Men United DVD. Set to street on 11/25 (SRP $29.98) in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions, look for the 2 disc set to include Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, audio commentary with Brian Singer and Tom Sigel, a second commentary with Lauren Schuler Donner, Ralph Winter, Michael Dougherty, Dan Harris and David Hayter, 11 deleted scenes, The Second Uncanny Issue of X-Men making of documentary, 11 featurettes (including The Secret Orgin of X-Men, Nightcrawler Reborn, Evolution in the Details: Designing X2, United Colors of X, Wolverine Deathstrike Fight Rehearsal, Introducing the INCREDIBLE NIGHTCRAWLER!, Nightcrawler Stunt Rehearsal, Nightcrawler Time-lapse, FX2: Visual Effects, Requiem for Mutants: The Score of X2 and X2 Global Webcast Highlights), 3 theatrical trailers, a stills gallery and more. Sounds like a nice little package.

And the good news doesn't stop there. Warner Home Video has just announced the 11/18 DVD release of The West Wing: The Complete First Season (SRP $59.98). The 4-disc set will include all 22 first season episode of the series in their original full frame (1.33:1) aspect ratio, with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 surround. Special features will include audio commentaries from series creator Aaron Sorkin and director Tommy Schlamme on five key episodes, including the Pilot, What Kind of Day Has It Been, Take This Sabbath Day, In Excelsis Deo (which features additional commentary from co-executive producer and director Alex Graves) and Celestial Navigation (with additional commentary by co-executive producer and director Chris Misiano), cast and crew interviews, 2 behind-the-scenes documentaries (The Primaries and The West Wing Inauguration), behind-the-scenes footage from the first season (including Capital Beat and Sheet Music), deleted scenes, the Gag Order outtakes and bloopers reel, the Off the Record featurette (outtakes from various cast and producer interviews) and more. We'll post cover art as soon as its available. Good news for fans of TV on DVD!

One additional note on West Wing. Recent episodes of this show have been shot in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, so with any luck, future seasons on DVD will be anamorphic as well.

In other news, it seems there's a bit of a delay on Criterion's forthcoming DVD release of Kurosawa's The Lower Depths (which had been set to street yesterday). We'll post more when we have it.

Also, we invite all of you to take another look at our Artist of the Month - M. Jason Reed. He's really a talented fellow, and he's done some major updating to his own website. Just as a reminder, this isn't a paid advertising thing. We're just using the extra banner space we have each month to give some hard working artists a little well deserved exposure. So please check out his stuff! Thanks!

And finally... yes, we've posted the winners of the Trivia Contest. Congrats to all!

Now then, we're off to the DVD Entertainment 2003 conference in L.A., which runs today and tomorrow. So we'll be back tomorrow morning to announce the winners of the DVD Awards. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 8/19/03 - 5 PM PDT)

Sorry for our delay in getting the contest winners posted. We're unfortunately having a bit of a situation. It seems some unsavory Internet Spammer has harvested all our digitalbits.com e-mail address off the website and is using them to bombard both us and others with junk e-mails. So if you've received something that looks bogus that looks like its coming from The Bits (even WE are receiving them from our own addresses) just know that it isn't us. We aren't hit with any kind of virus and the server is clean as well. Unfortunately, there's nothing we can do about it. It's just the cost of being a well known website apparently. It's possible this is related to a nasty worm virus that's going around right now, so if you have a PC running Windows, it's probably a good time to make sure you have all the latest security updates from Microsoft, and that you check to make sure your anti-virus software is working and up to date.

Anyway, we'll get those contest winners listed soon, and we'll have a review tomorrow as well. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/19/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

As promised, we've got cover art for you for 20th Century Fox's X2: X-Men United and The X-Men Collection, which will include both X2 and the recent X-Men 1.5 DVDs in one package. We'll have specs and official details later this morning.

X2: X-Men UnitedThe X-Men Collection

We'll also be back to announce the winners of our Trivia Contest later, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/18/03 - 4:30 PM PDT)

We've gotten confirmation from a number of reliable retail sources that Fox's X2: X-Men United will street on November 25th, just in time for Thanksgiving.

And we have even MORE details on Warner's T3 DVD for you (street date 11/11). The disc will feature two audio commentaries with director Jonathan Mostow and stars Arnold Schwarzenegger, Nick Stahl, Claire Danes and Kristanna Loken, an introduction by Arnold Schwarzenegger, "revealing new footage", an on-set gag reel, the T3 Visual Effects Lab ("four interactive effects labs that let viewers build their own rip-roaring action scene"), the Skynet Database ("integrated profiles that contain original written material and behind the scenes profiles mixed with visual effects to create a stylized dossier"), the Terminator Timeline, the HBO First Look documentary, a featurette on the making of the video game, galleries of storyboards, "Dressed to Kill" costume and production designs and poster artwork, something called "Toys in Action", trailers (including alternate and international trailers), the video game trailer for Atari's Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines, a PC game trailer, and DVD-ROM material (including a PC game demo and a weblink).

Back tomorrow...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/18/03 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay, we've got two more things for you this morning, both follow-ups on stories from our 7 AM post. First of all, Warner's T3 DVD will officially include audio commentary with director Jonathan Mostow (and cast members), deleted scenes, documentaries, featurettes, Easter eggs, a gag reel, a video introduction, a photo gallery, trailers and assorted DVD-ROM features. Here's the cover art (expect widescreen and full frame versions)...

Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Also, Bits reader Steve K. forwarded us an interview with Pixar's Andrew Stanton from MovieMaker magazine, which places the recent news about Disney's defunct 2-D animation department in sharp relief. As Steve noted in his e-mail to us, Disney's animation problems seem to stem from stagnation due to mismanagement and a lack of good storytelling, whereas the Pixar folks seem to have a pretty good handle on things. Maybe Disney would do well to emulate them.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/18/03 - 7 AM PDT)

Warner has just announced the DVD release of their Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines for November 11th. The 2-disc set will be packaged in an Amaray keep case (SRP $29.95) and will contain the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (a full frame version will also be available). We expect to have full details on the extras, as well as cover artwork, very soon.

In other news, numerous reliable retail sources are reporting that 20th Century Fox has a November street date planned for its DVD release of X2: X-Men United. We should have official confirmation in the next day or two, along with cover art and full specs. According to our sources, extras on the 2-disc set will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, numerous behind-the-scenes featurettes and a multi-angle sequence among other features. Word is the film will also be available in a specially priced 2-pack with X-Men 1.5.

You fans of Trek Parker and Matt Stone's Orgasmo will be thrilled to learn that the film's official website is now reporting that the title will finally hit DVD in December here in Region 1 as a fully-loaded special edition.

We've gotten official word from Buena Vista that their new wave of Walt Disney Treasures titles (due on 12/2) will include four titles - Walt Disney on the Front Lines, The Chronological Donald, Mickey Mouse in Living Color 2 and Walt Disney's Tomorrowland. We expect to have more details on these soon as well.

And, speaking of Disney, here's some news that will absolutely break your hearts if you love classic animation like we do. According to the Mouse Planet website, Disney is shutting down their traditional 2-D animation department in favor of computer animation work. This news has also been reported by Jerry Beck's excellent Cartoon Research website. It's a shame that Disney of all studios would make this move. Anyone who thinks traditional hand-drawn animation is dead as an art form should watch a Miyazaki movie for a rude awakening. Of course, it's probably not as cost efficient and profitable as computer rendered animation, which would explain why it's happening. Truly sad news.

Finally this morning, in the interest of getting more Trivia Contests posted this month, we've moved up the close date of the current contest to tomorrow morning at 12:01 AM PDT. So be sure to get your entries in quick!

Stay tuned...

8/15/03

We've got some interesting news for you fans of the Hulk. Universal has just announced the DVD release of The Incredible Hulk: The Television Series Ultimate Collection on 10/21. This 6-disc set includes 18 episodes of the series rated by fans as their favorites. SRP will be $69.98.

Fans of ex-Police front man Sting also have something to be happy about. His new CD, Sacred Love, streets on 9/30. Dying to have the title on SACD? No problem - the title will be a hybrid SACD with both an SACD and a CD layer. There's also a new Sting DVD, called Inside, due on 10/7. And Universal has announced that it will release Sting's Brand New Day on DVD-Audio format on 9/23. Be sure to visit our MusicTAP site for all the latest DVD-Audio, SACD and music DVD release information.

Columbia TriStar has announced its 10/21 release slate. In addition to Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (in both PG-13/full frame and Unrated/widescreen versions), look for a 2-pack of Charlie's Angels: Superbit and Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (Unrated widescreen), Respiro, The Wubbulous World of Dr Seuss - Cat's Playhouse, The Forever Knight Trilogy - Part 1 (5 discs), Jolson Sings Again, The Jolson Story, The Marrying Kind and You'll Never Get Rich.

Also today, Buena Vista has officially announced its first two "waves" of EZ-D 48-hour disposable DVD releases (which will be available in 4 test markets). Look for 25th Hour, Equilibrium, Frida, Heaven, The Hot Chick, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Recruit and Signs on 9/9, and Dracula II: Ascension, Paid in Full, The Quiet American, Shanghai Knights, Sweet Home Alabama and They on 10/7. For the record, open them on the day you buy them and you'll be throwing them away on 9/11 and 10/9 respectively. How much do you wanna bet that unsuspecting consumers buy them (attracted by the super-low price) and then Disney starts getting complaints a few days later ("Yeah, my new DVD doesn't work for some reason. Can I exchange it?").

Back Monday with new DVD reviews. See you then!

8/14/03

At long last, Paramount has OFFICIALLY announced the DVD release of Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West: Special Collector's Edition for 11/18 (SRP $19.99). The 2-disc set is now confirmed to contain the 165 minute version of the film, in restored anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and a cleaned-up mono mix as well, audio commentary (featuring directors John Carpenter, John Milius and Alex Cox, film historians Sir. Christopher Fraying and Dr. Sheldon Hall, plus additional comments from cast and crew members), the documentaries An Opera of Violence, The Wages of Sin and Something to Do with Death (that include exclusive interviews with Claudia Cardinale, Gabriele Ferzetti, Bernardo Bertolucci and cinematographer Tonino Delli Colli with contributions from John Carpenter, John Millius, Alex Cox, Sir Christopher Frayling and Dr. Sheldon Hall), The Railroad: Revolutionizing the West featurette, a location gallery, a production gallery, cast profiles and a theatrical trailer. Also, we have officially confirmed that the disc WILL feature the same cover art as the international release. Here's a look at that, along the cover art for Young Sherlock Holmes and Hud (both TBA for December - Amazon is reporting a 12/2 street for both, but that's not official):

Once Upon a Time in the West: Special Collector's EditionYoung Sherlock HolmesHud

And yes, you CAN pre-order Once Upon a Time in the West right now at DVD Planet. Have we mentioned we're excited for this title? Damn, this is gonna be an awesome (and expensive) 4th Qtr for DVD fans...

Stay tuned...

8/13/03

We're doing the final proofing and approvals on our new DVD book today (boy, this book thing is a lot of work!), so we're pretty busy with that. But we've kicked off a new Trivia Contest today, giving you all a chance to take home EIGHT great new DVDs from 20th Century Fox, Buena Vista and MGM, so don't miss it.

Also today, we have a sneak peek at the final cover artwork for Columbia TriStar's Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - Unrated Widescreen Special Edition (street date: 10/21). We'll post the rated edition art when it's available.

Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - Unrated Widescreen Special Edition

And finally today, Wired has a great article up today on a big phone protest by environmentalists, scheduled to take place today, targeted against Disney and CEO Michael Eisner. The reason? Said environmentalists are none too happy with the studio's plan to market disposable DVD movie discs. These special DVD discs, called EZ-Ds, will be made available in four test markets in September. After you open the air-tight package, you have 48 hours to watch the disc, after which time it become unreadable. We think it's a silly and unnecessary idea, much like the Divx pay-per-view format was before it. But hey - when you're a massive media corporation, I guess you try anything that might make another buck or two. You go, environmentalists!

Stay tuned...

8/12/03

Last week, at a special press event in L.A., we got the chance to take a sneak peek at Buena Vista's upcoming 2-disc DVD releases of Sleeping Beauty and The Lion King. A number of Disney reps were on hand, along with DVD production personnel and a pair of special guests (Lion King producer Don Hahn and Mary Costa, the original voice of Princess Aurora in Sleeping Beauty) were on hand to answer questions. They're pictured here, talking to Disney's Head of DVD Production Andy Siditsky (on the right).

Don Hahn (left), Mary Costa (right) and Andy Siditsky (far right).

In special presentations, Disney execs previewed some of the extra features of both discs, and the assembled press got the chance to see some of the work that was involved in creating them. In the same process that was used for Snow White before it, Sleeping Beauty was restored frame by frame, with the original cell animation and background art used as a reference for correct color timing. It's no exaggeration to say that the film looks and sounds better now than it did even in its original theatrical release in 1959. The disc will feature elaborately animated menu screens that mimic the multi-plane animation style of the film. Fans of the film, and classic animation in general, will appreciate the fact that the 2-disc set will include the most comprehensive collection of artwork of Sleeping Beauty artwork ever assembled in one place. This is found elaborate 3D galleries, which can be accessed in separate adult-friendly and kid-friendly themes. The film is presented in BOTH anamorphic widescreen (2.35:1) and full frame, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and MANY other features as well, including interactive games, original story reels and much more.

Parents with children will appreciate the fact that both Sleeping Beauty and The Lion King include a new Disney feature called the Disney Art Project. Think of this as a sort of audio/video instructional program that shows you how to make fun little art projects out of simple household materials (for example, a paper and cardboard dragon). The whole idea is to create an opportunity for kids and their parents to spend time together doing fun, creative projects.

The Lion King features no less than four different ways to view the film: the original theatrical version and a new "special edition" version (which includes a new musical number), both in anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1). In addition, each of these versions can be played with the original 5.1 audio mix or a brand new Disney Enhanced Home Theater 5.1 mix. For both versions of the film, the original directors and animators returned to remove dust and dirt, add additional detail and to re-color time the entire film to achieve the best picture quality possible. In addition, the original sound engineer for the film returned to create the new home theater mix. The whole idea is to completely immerse the viewer in the sound field. The new mix is intentionally much more dynamic, aggressive and enveloping, with greater LFE reinforcement. We were able to demo several scenes in the new mix, and compare them to the original 5.1 mix. The difference is spectacular. You'll feel the thunderous sound during the stampede scene. And the film's distinctive opening cry, sung by Lebo M, has that much more power. It's really an impressive mix that will absolutely test your home theater. I'm guessing this mix will be a serious contender in the Best DVD - Audio category in next year's Bitsy Awards.

The new musical number that appears in the special edition, The Morning Report, was written by the original musical team of Elton John and Tim Rice, and was animated by the film's original creative team (it was actually written for the stage production of The Lion King). The DVD allows you to examine The Lion King via a number of differently themed "journeys" or paths. You can learn about the animals, the story, the stage production, the making of the film and the creation of the music. Each of these features extensive new interviews with virtually everyone involved, great behind-the-scenes stories and never-before-seen material. There are also deleted scenes, extensive art galleries and numerous documentary featurettes.

For the kids, there are lots of interactive games, including Timon and Pumba's Virtual Safari. Think of this as an animated version of the Indiana Jones or Jungle Cruise Disney theme park rides. You're in a jeep, guiding the tour with your remote control. You can take several different paths and various things happen along the way depending on where you go, requiring you to make different navigation choices. The whole thing is in 5.1 sound. Kids will really have fun with it.

Each of these DVDs promises to be quite extensive and looks to satisfy both the serious Disney animation fan and more casual family viewers. And you'll be happy to know that Disney execs once again reiterated the fact that all of the company's beloved, feature-length animated titles will be released on DVD by 2007 (Platinum titles will be released 2 per year starting in 2005 to make this happen).

Now then... moving on today, Video Store magazine has a story up on the first season of classic SCTV episodes coming to DVD in January. In addition, they have another interesting piece on the overcrowding of big titles in the upcoming 4th Quarter. Both are worth a quick read.

Finally today, anyone out there need a DVD player? We're selling one of the players we've used for the last three or four months here at The Bits' West Coast office. It's a Denon DVD-3800 progressive scan DVD-Video/Audio player, in practically brand new condition, obtained directly from Denon. Features include Silicon Image/DVDO PureProgressive decoding, 12 bit video D/A conversion, AL24 Processing Plus (for DVD-Audio), and a Burr-Brown 24 bit/192 kHz audio D/A converter (click here for a PDF file with all the details on the unit from the Denon catalog). It plays both DVD-Video and DVD-Audio titles, as well as music CDs, DVD-R/RW discs and CD-R/RW discs (including MP3 discs). We used it as our reference video player and to review DVD-Audio discs. But we've recently upgraded to a high-end combo unit that also plays SACD titles, so we've decided to offer it to our readers. The unit SRPs for over $1,000, and sells for about $950 online. We offering it for $800 plus shipping. If you're interested, contact Sarah at thedigitalbits@aol.com.

Denon DVD-3800 progressive scan DVD-Video/Audio player

We're also selling a number of laserdisc titles from our library, including the Disney's Alice in Wonderland: Exclusive Archive Collection box set (CAV edition), Kieslowski's Blue, White and Red, Boogie Nights: The Criterion Collection, Braveheart, Disney's Cinderella: Deluxe CAV Edition box set, Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Criterion Collection, The Cutting Edge, Doctor Zhivago, Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (Japanese edition), Forrest Gump: Deluxe Edition, Hail Columbia (IMAX), Raiders of the Lost Ark (widescreen edition), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (widescreen), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (widescreen), Lawrence of Arabia: The Criterion Collection, Disney's The Little Mermaid (CAV widescreen), Disney's The Little Mermaid (widescreen), Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live, The Shadow (DTS), Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Deluxe CAV Edition box set, Disney's Toy Story: Deluxe CAV Edition box set, West Side Story (DTS), Wind, and The X-Files: Fight the Future. We're selling them for $7.99 each ($14.99 each for the box sets) plus shipping (U.S. Priority Mail). If you're interested in more than one, we'll cut you a deal. And if you're in the L.A./O.C. area, we can arrange pick-up so you can save on the shipping. Again, e-mail Sarah if you're interested.

Okay - that's enough The Digital Bits shopping network for today. Back tomorrow with a new Trivia Contest and more. Stay tuned... ;-)


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