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page updated: 12/9/03



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 11/18/03 - 10/24/03)


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11/18/03

Morning folks! First up today, thanks to all of you who joined us for the live chat on IGN last night. We had a pretty good crowd given the short notice, and a good time was had by all as they say.

Now then... the big news for today. Paramount has officially announced the DVD release of Star Trek: Voyager for 2004, starting with Season One on February 24th. Additional seasons will follow every two months throughout the year until all seven are released. Season One will include all 15 first season episodes on 5 discs, in their original full frame format, with newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include the featurettes Braving the Unknown: Season One (includes new interviews on the creation of the series), Voyager Time Capsule: Kathryn Janeway (a new interview with Kate Mulgrew on taking the role), The First Captain: Genevieve Bujold (rare footage of the actress originally cast as Janeway), Cast Reflections: Season One (new interviews with cast and crew looking back), On Location with the Kazons (a tour of the desert locale set), Red Alert: Visual Effects Season One (behind the scenes effects highlights), Launching Voyager on the Web (a look at the first official website to promote a new Trek series), Real Science with Andre Bormanis (on how the writers try to get things accurate) and Lost Transmissions from the Delta Quadrant Easter eggs (additional interviews with the cast and crew). No SRP has been set, but look for it to be under $100. Here's a look at the cover art for Season One, and the whole series.

Star Trek: Voyager DVD packaging

In other news, Universal plans to release Focus Films' Lost in Translation on February 3rd (SRP $26.98). Extras will include the Found in Conversation featurette with Bill Murray and director Sofia Coppola, deleted scenes, and an extended scene ("Matthew's Best Hit TV").

Warner Bros. has announced the DVD release of the My Fair Lady: Special Edition on 2/3 (SRP $26.98). The 2-disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1, audio commentary (with art director Gene Allen and singer Marni Nixon, as well James C. Katz and our own Robert A. Harris, both restoration experts), the More Loverly Than Ever: The Making of My Fair Lady documentary, audio clips of director George Cukor at work, alternate vocal tracks for the songs Show Me and Wouldn't It be Loverly, a gallery of poster art and lobby cards, a vintage radio interview, additional behind-the scenes featurettes, galleries of production photos, documents and artwork, Rex Harrison's Golden Globe acceptance speech, Academy Awards excerpts, a discussion with Martin Scorsese and Andrew Lloyd Webber, trailers and more.

In other Warner DVD news, the studio will release Babylon 5: The Complete Fourth Season on 1/6, Friends: The Complete Sixth Season on 1/27, OZ: The Complete Third Season on 2/24, and Grand Hotel, The Great Ziegfeld, Mrs. Miniver, Gaslight, Goodbye Mr. Chips, the original 1935 Mutiny on the Bounty and The Thorn Birds miniseries all on 2/3.

Also newly announced by Columbia TriStar for 1/27 are Gang of Roses, The Secret Lives of Dentists, the Labyrinth: Collector's Edition box set, Trois (R-rated version), Dilbert: The Complete Series, Guilty as Charged and The Critic: The Entire Series.

For you samurai film fans, we've got an update from AnimEigo on their forthcoming Zatoichi and Lone Wolf and Cub DVDs. Let's start with Lone Wolf first. Look for Baby Cart to Hades to be available on the AnimEigo website on 12/29 (a wider retail release will happen a few weeks later). Baby Cart in Peril will follow on 1/12, with Baby Cart in the Land of Demons due on 1/30, and Baby White Heaven in Hell on 2/23. For you Zatoichi fans, look for Zatoichi the Outlaw on 11/24, Zatoichi at the Fire Festival on 12/19, Zatoichi at Large on 1/5, Zatoichi in Desperation on 3/8, Zatoichi's Conspiracy on 3/31, and Zatoichi Meets the One-Armed Swordsman on 4/19. Again, these are all dates for expected availability on the website. Also, just for kicks, look for Lady Snowblood on 1/19 and Lady Snowblood: Love Song of Vengeance on 2/9.

In the Rumor Mill today, we have word on a new Godfather DVD re-issue, Kill Bill, Volume One and a forthcoming Friday the 13th box set. I neglected to mention here yesterday that Monday's Rumor Mill post included new updates on upcoming DVD releases of Wizards, a new Time Bandits disc and a special edition of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

I don't know how this got past us, but Buena Vista quietly released the Frank and Ollie: Special Edition on DVD last month (SRP $29.99). The classic documentary profiles the work and friendship of two of Disney's greatest animators, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston. There's a ton of bonus footage and artwork included (more than 70 minutes worth), along with the documentary itself. Definitely don't miss it.

And just to soothe the savage cover beast, here's art for Lost in Translation, the Frank and Ollie: SE, the My Fair Lady: SE, Mutiny on the Bounty, Friends: The Complete Sixth Season and Gilligan's Island: The Complete First Season (due from Warner on 2/3). We'll be updating the main Upcoming DVD Cover Art section later this week.

Lost in TranslationFrank and Ollie: Special EditionMy Fair Lady: Special Edition

Mutiny on the BountyFriends: The Complete Sixth SeasonGilligan's Island: The Complete First Season

We've got more new DVD reviews, the wrap-up on Alien Quadrilogy and a new Robert Harris column on the way, so stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/17/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

Almost done now... I've just posted the review of Disc Seven of the Alien Quadrilogy, which holds both the original and new versions of Alien Resurrection. The final part of the review, covering Disc Eight, should be posted later tonight or tomorrow morning. We'll have some cool upcoming DVD news tomorrow as well, hot off the wire.

I also wanted to let everyone know this afternoon that we've got another great artist featured in our Artist of the Month program. All November long, we're profiling the work of painter Scott Moore. His stuff is really very cool, and we hope you'll take a moment to check it out. You can visit his own website here. It's all part of our effort to use some of the extra banner space we have here at The Bits to expose people to great creative talent of all kinds. So enjoy!

Just a reminder, don't forget our live chat with IGN tonight at 5 PM PST. Just enter a username, then for channel, use #DVD. Hope to see you there!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/17/03 - NOON PST)

Okay... I've just posted the review of Disc Nine of the Alien Quadrilogy, which includes all the bonus disc features, the conclusion to the review and a few photos of the packaging. I'm still working on Discs Seven and Eight, which hold Alien Resurrection - I'll have those posted soon.

Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/17/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Hope you all had a great weekend! We're closing in on being finished with our server move. Just a few little things to wrap up now, and it should all be done by the end of this week.

So we've got a little ground to cover this morning. First up, several Digital Bits staffers are going to be participating in another live, online chat with IGN tonight at 5 PM PST. Todd and I will be there, along with Matt Rowe and others. To participate, all you have to do click on this link in your browser. Or, if you use an IRC client, connect to the server chat1.ign.com and then join the #DVD channel. We'll answer your questions about upcoming DVD releases and more. Hope to see you there!

Just a quick update on our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD. We've been told by our publisher that the book is now in stores everywhere. Sure enough, when we took a little drive around to several Orange County, CA stores (Barnes & Noble, Borders and others), we found that most of the big stores had at least two copies on hand. So if you've been waiting to buy a copy until your local store had them in stock, now's the time. And, of course, it's still available on Amazon for only $12.57. We've been getting good reviews on the book (including this one at DVD Answers.com), and a lot of very kind e-mails from people who have found it useful. We're going to try to reply to everyone that's e-mailed us about it, so if you've sent an e-mail, we'll get back to you soon. We've also gotten a number of requests for Todd and I to autograph copies of the book. We're looking into ways to make this happen (probably for no charge other than the cost of return postage). We'll post here when we've got a plan for this worked out. Thanks again to everyone for all your support - we're really thrilled that you're enjoying the book!

Now then... time for some DVD news! We've got details on Buena Vista's new Ed Wood: Director's Cut, which is due on February 3rd (you can pre-order it here at Amazon.com). The disc will SRP for $29.99. We don't know if the actual cut of the film is any different - "director's cut" is how Buena Vista is currently referring to the title. Running time is 127 minutes, same as the theatrical release. Look for new anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary (with director Tim Burton, star Martin Landau, writers Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski, costume designer Colleen Atwood and cinematographer Stefan Czapsky), numerous deleted scenes (including Bill Murray singing Que Sera Sera with a Mariachi band), the Let's Shoot This F#*%@r! behind-the-scenes documentary (featuring Johnny Depp and director Tim Burton), The Theremin featurette on the use of the instrument in the score, the Making Bela featurette on how actor Martin Landau was transformed into Bela Lugosi by make-up artist Rick Baker, the When Carol Met Larry cross-dressing featurette, the Pie Plates Over Hollywood production design featurette, a music video for the film directed by Tim Burton and the original theatrical trailer.

In other DVD news, the EE Times has posted a fantastic status report on the current situation with the development of HD-DVD, including background on the rivalry between the Blu-ray and Advanced Optical Disc (AOD) camps. The DVD Forum's steering committee is set to meet in New York this week for a big vote on the next-generation optical-disk format. The spec that's to be voted on is based on Toshiba and NEC's blue-laser diode AOD proposal, featuring four "high efficiency" codecs (H.264, Windows Media 9, MPEG-2 or a hybrid of MPEG-2 and H.264). At stake here is whether the Blu-ray group of companies (including Sony, Philips, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung) can once again hijack the AOD vote to kill momentum for it within the Forum (the AOD proposal would be a director competitor for the Blu-ray format, which they're developing separately outside the Forum). This is a big deal - the outcome of this vote, and more importantly the rivalry overall, will determine which high-definition video disc format will one day replace current DVD. We'll post more news on this as it comes in this week. Thanks to Bits reader Tim K. for the link to this story. It's a great primer on the subject, so we recommend that you all give it a read if you're interested in "what's coming next".

In a bit of non-DVD news, you Farscape fans (like us) may finally have reason to rejoice. Word is that the Sci-Fi Channel has realized the error of their ways, and has commissioned the production of a 4-6 episode miniseries to wrap up the cancelled show. With a little luck, and good ratings, you never know what might happen. You can read more here at IGN.

Around the site today, we've got another pair of Contests started today that you guys are definitely going to want to enter. Why, you may be asking? Simple... we're giving away The West Wing: The Complete First Season and all three of the new James Bond DVD Collections! So what are you waiting for? ;-)

We'll be back this afternoon with more of our Alien Quadrilogy review. Stay tuned...

11/14/03

Okay... the site's almost back to normal. Our primary e-mail addresses are working well, and we'll have the other ones good to go over the weekend. The site's slow right now, but we're working to monitor and adjust our bandwidth, so things will get smoother and faster over the next few days. And then we can really get back up to speed.

We'll have the remainder of the Alien Quadrilogy review for you on Monday, and Todd's working on several new reviews for early next week as well. Also, you should know that we're going to be doing another live, online chat with IGN at 5 PM PDT on Monday, November 17th. So you can join Todd, Adam, Matt and myself as we talk about all the latest new and upcoming releases, including great titles on the way for next year as well. Click here for more information. We'll post complete instructions on how you can participate in the chat on Monday morning.

Updating stats and archiving is the order of the day here at The Bits today. So the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers, the Top Ten DVD Sales and Rental charts and other data points we track here have all been updated today to the latest numbers. On that note, according to the Consumer Electronics Association, more than 59 million DVD players have now shipped from manufacturers to retailers in the States since the debut of the format back in March of 1997.

We've also got some interesting new upcoming DVD cover art for you today. Here's a look at Buena Vista's Avalon (12/16), Cold Creek Manor (3/2) and Under the Tuscan Sun (2/3), New Line's Secondhand Lions: Platinum Edition (3/3), Columbia TriStar's Once Upon a Time in Mexico (1/20) and Fox's The Diary of Anne Frank (3/3).

AvalonSecondhand LionsUnder the Tuscan Sun

Once Upon a Time in MexicoCold Creek ManorThe Diary of Anne Frank

Now then, have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/13/03 - 4 PM PST)

We've just gotten official word that Disney's Walt Disney Treasures, Wave 3 has been delayed until May 18th, 2004. This includes The Chronological Donald, Volume 1 (1934-1941), Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume 2, Tomorrowland: Disney in Space and Beyond and Walt Disney On the Front Lines. We're told this has nothing to do with content issues - the delay is reportedly due to manufacturing capacity, or a lack thereof. With all the other big Disney titles being released, it's not possible to press enough copies of the WDT titles to meet demand by the originally scheduled release date. So just be aware. In the meantime, don't forget that you can catch up on the previously released Walt Disney Treasures titles at Costco right now if you act fast.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/13/03 - 1 PM PST)

Welcome to our new server! We're still working to get all the kinks out, and that will probably take a few more days. But we're slowly getting back to normal around here. Our e-mail is up again, but it's still a bit spotty, so be patient if you're trying to contact us.

In the meantime, just to keep you all entertained, we've got a new review from Rob Smentek of one of our absolute favorite films, given new life on DVD by Warner Bros... A Christmas Story: 20th Anniversary Special Edition. Finally, Warner's given this holiday classic a new anamorphic transfer and some nice extras including audio commentary and more. It's well worth adding to your collection. Enjoy the review.

We'll be back with our normal post tomorrow, including DVD release news, stat updates and more. See you then!

11/12/03

Well, with all the server work going on right now behind-the-scenes here at The Bits, and with our e-mail down at the moment, we're declaring today a "mental" health day for our staffers. So no post today beyond just this update. Even DVD reviewers need to be able to watch a disc once in a while without having to go to work when it stops spinning, you know? ;-)

With any luck, our e-mail should be working again soon. We'll post here and let you know. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy the rest of Alien Quadrilogy in preparation for posting the rest of my review later this week.

So thanks for your patience. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/11/03 - 4 PM PST)

As promised, our look at Disc Six of Fox's Alien Quadrilogy box set has now been posted. While it contains plenty of material that you're going to really enjoy, and much that you've never seen before, it's also in some ways the one weak spot of the set. I'll tell you why in the review, so do check it out. We'll continue with the last film, Alien Resurrection, soon.

Just to let you know, the server move continues smoothly this afternoon, although as expected, our e-mail is now down for a couple of days. So if you're trying to contact us, or enter the Contest, be sure to try back later this week.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/11/03 - NOON PST)

Okay... I just wanted to chime in here quickly to let you all know that the server move is going smoothly so far. No major problems to speak of yet.

It's going well enough, in fact, that I am currently working to finish the review of Disc Six of the Alien Quadrilogy box set, which contains the supplemental material for David Fincher's Alien³. It WILL be posted by the end of the day today, come hell or high water. So be sure to watch for that. I'll post here when the new part is up. Thanks again for your patience while we slide into our new virtual pad.

Back later... stay tuned.

11/10/03

Morning everyone. Well... the server move is underway. If the site looks a little wonky for the next few days, don't be surprised - banners not loading and so forth. You shouldn't notice much different other than that, and that our search engines will be down for a while until we get them going again. Our e-mail is also going to be down for a couple of days, so just be advised. As far as the new Contest (which gives you a chance to win Terminator 3 and more), just wait a day or two to send your entries in. If they get bounced back, try again later. We should have most of the bugs worked out by mid week. Once we're settled in, we'll get our site stats updated (like the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers) as well as the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. So thanks for your patience.

Now then... we've got a new DVD review to get you started this morning. Our own Rob Hale has given Fox's 28 Days Later a spin and he's got his thoughts on it posted for you.

Also this morning, we have a couple of quick title announcements for you. Columbia TriStar has just announced a batch of DVD releases for 1/20. Look for Fist of the Red Dragon, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, a 2-pack of Once Upon a Time in Mexico and the Desperado: Special Edition, Barney Miller: The Complete First Season, Black Gunn, Manny & Lo and Spellbound.

Also today, Buena Vista has revealed that Under the Tuscan Sun will arrive on DVD in February. And streeting on 3/2 will be American Dream, The Gnome-Mobile, Miracle of the White Stallions, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride and Picture Bride.

Finally this morning, New Line has announced the Secondhand Lions: Platinum Series DVD for release on February 3rd (SRP $27.95). The disc will include both full frame and anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio, filmmaker commentary, deleted scenes, three documentaries and more.

Back later this afternoon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/7/03 - 11 AM PST)

Okay... some of you may have noticed how slow our site's been this week. With all of the major reviews we've been posting, we're getting extremely high traffic... and that's unfortunately more than our existing server/bandwidth combination can handle. The bad news is that, in the interest of keeping the site from crashing altogether, we're going to hold off on posting more Quadrilogy today. But the good news is that we're going to be moving servers starting this weekend. It might take a few days to get everything moved and all the bugs worked out, but probably by mid next week, The Bits will be back to its fast, streamlined self.

During the move, there will likely be some mail glitches, so if you're trying to contact us, please try again later. But once we get through this, things will be a lot better all around. So thanks for your patience.

We'll post more Quadrilogy on Monday, along with an additional review or two. We've also got a new Robert Harris column coming next week and much more, so be sure to check back then. In the meantime, have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/7/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Anyone up for a few Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves? I sure hope so... 'cause here's our review of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD Edition, as promised.

Now you go and enjoy that while I try to catch a few hours of sleep and rest my weary fingers. ;-)

Back later this afternoon!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/6/03 - 2 PM PST)

Okay... we're delaying the review of Alien Quad Disc Six until tomorrow afternoon. I know a lot of you are waiting for it, but with all the hubbub over the Star Wars news today, we need a little extra time to get it finished. And there's another reason for the delay as well... we're working feverishly to finish our look at the OTHER major 4th Qtr DVD release.

Check back at Midnight (PST) for our in-depth review of New Line's 4-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD Edition. No kidding.

See you then!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/6/03 - 11 AM PST)

Remember that meeting we told you about last month, in which Lucasfilm reps were going to be meeting with their retail partners to lay out their marketing strategy through the release of Episode III? Well, it was yesterday. And the good news is, it confirmed what we suspected... the Star Wars Trilogy is coming to DVD in 2004. You can read more in The Rumor Mill today. How do you like them apples?

All right Disney fans... you'd better listen up to this one. If you haven't been able to find all of the out of print Walt Disney Treasures titles yet, here's another chance for you. Costco is apparently selling The Ultimate Disney Treasure Chest for $125, containing all seven of the previous titles, including Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Silly Symphonies, Davy Crockett, Disneyland USA, Mickey Mouse in Black & White, Behind the Scenes at the Walt Disney Studio and The Complete Goofy. These are each 2-disc sets, sans the outer numbered metal tins they were originally packaged in. This is not a title that appears on Buena Vista sell sheets, so it could be a Costco exclusive. We also can't find it anywhere online. You'll find a shot of the package below. Our advice is to see if you can't get your hands on a copy before the eBay sharks buy them all up. Thanks to Bits reader Johnnie Y. for that information.

The Ultimate Disney DVD Treasure Chest

In other news today, Columbia TriStar has announced the release of several new titles for 1/13. Look for Stark Raving Mad, Annie: Special Anniversary Edition, It Should Happen to You, The New Adventures of Spider-Man: Season One - Special Edition (2 discs) and The Three Stooges: Stooges at Work.

Our friends over at TVShowsonDVD.com have posted an ad that Paramount's apparently been running in Playboy and other magazines promoting the release of complete season sets of the original Star Trek series for 2004, so it looks like it's official now.

Buena Vista has announced the DVD release of Mamoru Oshii's Avalon for 12/16. Mark Hamill's Comic Book: The Movie will street on 1/27. And The Lion King 1½ is headed to DVD on 2/10.

We've got a new DVD review for you from Todd this morning... Manga's Ninja Scroll: 10th Anniversary Edition. And we'll be back later today with still more Quadrilogy, specifically a look at Disc Six, containing all of the bonus material for Alien³.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 11/5/03 - 4 PM PST)

We've got a little more of our Alien Quadrilogy review for you this afternoon, specifically a look at Disc Five, which contains the original Theatrical Cut of David Fincher's Alien³, along with a newly created Special Edition version. We'll look more closely at the extras for the film on Disc Six tomorrow.

We'll have another new DVD review on Thursday as well, with still another following on Friday.

And before we sign off today, a quick bit of news. Disney and Pixar's Finding Nemo DVD has apparently set a new sales record for the format. A whopping 8 million copies of the film were sold on DVD and VHS on the title's first day of release (about 80% of that number was reportedly DVD). You can read more here via CNN Money.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/5/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Imagine that! We've got more new reviews for you today!

First up, Todd and I have been waiting for this DVD release for a LONG time... so Paramount's kindly given us permission to post an early review. At long last, the Once Upon a Time in the West: Special Collector's Edition is here! The 2-disc set streets on 11/18. This is a truly great flick - not only is it the definitive example of the Spaghetti Western format, it's arguably the best Western ever made (at least in our humble opinions). Don't miss it.

Also this morning, we've got another new DVD-Audio review for you from Matt and his crew over at our MusicTAP site... the Reprise release of The Rat Pack's Live at the Villa Venice. They've also reviewed a new SACD as well... John Lee Hooker's Boogie Chillen' from Audio Fidelity.

And we have a couple of quick bits of info in The Rumor Mill this morning, specifically possible street dates for Ed Wood and Return of the King. Interested? We thought so - do check it out.

Of course, we'll be back with more of our epic-length Alien Quadrilogy review later this afternoon... carpel tunnel syndrome permitting that is. ;-)

By the way, we've updated the Quad review with Easter egg information for all the supplement discs. For the record, there are two featurette Easter eggs and four of DVD production credits.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/4/03 - 3 PM PST)

Our look at Fox's 9-disc Alien Quadrilogy box set continues this afternoon with a review of Discs Three and Four of the set... James Cameron's Aliens. We'll be back tomorrow with still more Quadrilogy, and reviews of another pair of great new DVDs as well.

Enjoy and stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/4/03 - 9 AM PST)

Morning, everyone! This is just a quick post to let you all know that we'll be back later this afternoon with much more of our Alien Quadrilogy review, so don't miss it. And we'll be back tomorrow with two more great new DVD reviews as well. Plus, one of these days, we'll update all our DVD sales stats too. And yes... next week we'll get a long overdue Upcoming DVD Cover Art update done. But first, more Quadrilogy, so check back this afternoon!

See you then!

(LATE UPDATE - 11/3/03 - NOON PST)

We're back as promised... and we've got a surprise for you! Today we begin our look at Fox's 9-disc Alien Quadrilogy, with an in-depth review of the first two discs in the box set! Discs One and Two contain the film versions of Ridley Scott's original Alien, and all of the extras compiled for that first film in the series. Over the next few days, we'll add to the review until the complete Quadrilogy has been reviewed top to bottom (we need the extra time to get through everything in the set - there's a LOT of material here). Be advised, however, that the complete technical specs for all nine discs are available in the review right now, so you can get a better look at everything that's coming your way on December 2nd. The box set carries an SRP of $99.98, but you'll be able to find it on sale for around $70 at many retailers. You can read the studio's press release announcing the title here (text format - be aware that the release contains a few errors - for exact disc details consult our review text). There's also a news story on the release over at Yahoo. We should also let you know that separate 2-disc versions of each of the films in this box set will be released on DVD on January 6th (for $26.98 each - the 9th bonus disc will only be available in this set).

Thanks to our friends at 20th Century Fox for allowing us a first look at these DVDs. And don't forget, you'll find extensive coverage of the making of the box set in our new book, The Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD.

Keep checking back over the next couple of days for new Quadrilogy review updates. As you can probably tell, the site's been a little slow today, so please be patient.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 11/3/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Welcome back from the weekend, folks! We've got big news for you today. 20th Century Fox is set to announce their 9-disc Alien Quadrilogy box set later this morning. The 12/2 street date has leaked everywhere online, from Amazon.com to Fox's own online store. Trust us... this is the real deal.

We're going to have a LOT more on this release at Noon today (PDT), including complete specs and details, so you're DEFINITELY going to want to check back then. 'Nuff said.

Alien Quadrilogy

Also this morning, we have a new Contest going that gives you all a chance to win copies of Warner's Friends: The Complete Fifth Season on DVD. Get your entries in.

Our guys at MusicTAP have another great SACD review up for you to check out this morning as well... Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks. Don't miss it.

See you back here at Noon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 10/31/03 - 3 PM PDT)

Okay... we've just posted Barrie Maxwell's latest column, featuring a look at some recent Halloween-themed, Midnite Movie DVDs from MGM. Included are reviews of The Haunted Place/Tower of London, Comedy of Terrors/The Raven, The Tomb of Ligeia/An Evening of Edgar Allan Poe and Countess Dracula/The Vampire Lovers.

Have a happy and save Halloween, enjoy the weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/31/03 - 1 PM PDT)

Happy Halloween, everyone! We've got some ground to cover today, so let's get started.

MGM has officially announced their February DVD slate. Look for the Rain Man: Special Edition (SRP $19.98), several Ingmar Bergman titles (all of them special editions - $24.98 each) including Hour of the Wolf, The Passion of Anna, Persona, The Serpent's Egg and Shame, new world film titles including La Chamade (Heartbeat), Cyrano de Bergerac, The Mystery of Rampo and Together ($19.98 each), and more catalog action titles including Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold, Death Wish 2, Death Wish 3, Death Wish 4: The Crackdown, Flesh + Blood, King Solomon's Mines, Roadhouse 66 and X-15 (all $14.95 each). There's also a release of That Championship Season in honor of March Madness. Note that the Bergman titles will also be available in a giftset for $112.96. Here's the cover art for Rain Man (street date 2/3), Out of Time (1/6) and Uptown Girls (12/30)...

Rain Man: SEOut of Time: SEUptown Girls

Just FYI, Rain Man will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, a deleted scene, an original featurette, audio commentaries with director Barry Levinson and screenwriters Ronald Bass and Barry Morrow, a photo gallery and more.

Warner Bros. has just announced the DVD release of Blow Up, The Damned and Death in Venice for February 17th, with Doctor Who: The Three Doctors and Doctor Who: The Seeds of Death set to follow on March 2nd.

You Kids in the Hall fans should be sure to check out the Kid's official site. After you register, you can participate in an online survey and help determine the extras that are going on the forthcoming Kids in the Hall: Season One DVD release.

Also today, we've got word in the Rumor Mill about more possible releases from Warner in early 2004. It seems Warner has leaked information about titles they're working on for R2, and you know R1 releases can't be too far behind. There's also word on some great Paramount catalog titles in the works for early 2004. Don't miss it.

We'll be back in a while with more, so stay tuned...

10/30/03

Afternoon, folks. I'm sorry this post is so brief, but I'm feeling a little under the weather today. With all these wildfires burning around the area, my allergies have turned into a pretty good head cold. But while we don't have much today, a lot of us are working on some great new DVD reviews, so watch for those next week.

I'll be back in the morning with lots of news and our usual post. In the meantime, just to keep your review hunger sated, we've got another DVD-Audio review for you today from Matt.... Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery, now available from Rhino Records.

Thanks for your understanding and we'll see you back here tomorrow. ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 10/29/03 - 2 PM PDT)

Okie dokie... we're back as expected. Hope you all got a chance to see the Northern Lights last night (or the Southern, for you folks standing upside down on the bottom of planet Earth as it were). We got blasted by a huge solar flare last night, which reportedly triggered some pretty amazing auroral displays over the wee hours of the morning.

Anyway, New Line has just announced their Freddy vs. Jason: Platinum Series DVD release for January 13th (damn, and here I was, hoping for a Freddy vs. Jason: Infinifilm Edition - doh!). The 2-disc set will SRP for $29.95 and will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX audio, audio commentary with Ronny Yu, Robert Englund and Ken Kirzinger, the "jump to a death" menu option, deleted and extended scenes including the original opening and ending, behind-the-scenes documentaries, a visual effects exploration, storyboards and galleries, trailers and TV spots, a music video and, via DVD-ROM, script-to-screen and an interactive editing workshop. Sharp objects are most definitely NOT included, so remember to bring your own cutlery.

Also coming from New Line in January are B.A.P.S., Who's the Man?, Woo and Hangin' with the Homeboys (all on 1/13), followed by Overnight Delivery (on 1/20).

Universal's kicking up their catalog jams in early 2004 with a newly announced batch of titles, most re-issues of earlier DVDs (but you'll find one or two first-timers in there too). On 1/2, look for American Wedding, American Pie Revealed and the American Wedding Gift Set. On 1/13, you'll get Johnny English and the American Graffiti Drive-In Double Feature. Following on 1/20 are a big batch of catalog releases including An American Tail, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, An American Tail: The Mystery of the Night Monster, An American Tail: The Treasure of Manhattan Island, Biloxi Blues, Conan: The Complete Quest, Flipper, Judgment Night, Repo Man, the Smokey and the Bandit Pursuit Pack, Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot and Trespass. 2/10 will see The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle: Volume 1, the Airport Terminal Pack, The Best of Abbott & Costello: Volume 1 and the Imitation of Life: Two Movie Collection. Finally, on 3/2, you'll get The Dragonheart Franchise Collection, The Flintstones Franchise Collection, King Ralph, Mad Dog and Glory, Melvin and Howard and the Problem Child Tantrum Pack.

For you Star Trek fans, we've also got more details on the studio's upcoming Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Special Collector's Edition DVD, which streets on 1/27. The 2-disc set will include audio commentary with director Nicholas Meyer and writer Denny Martin Flinn, as well as a text commentary by Mike and Denise Okuda. You'll also find a series of documentary featurettes, including A Conversation with Nicholas Meyer, Klingons: Conjuring the Legend, Federation Operatives, Penny's Toy Box, Together Again and The Perils of Peacemaking. Rounding out the set, you'll find DeForest Kelley: A Tribute, additional interviews with the cast and crew, a storyboard gallery, trailers and TV spots and footage of Nicholas Meyer's presentation on the film at a 1991 convention.

Around the horn today, there's an interesting AP story up over at Excite on Warner's new Looney Tunes Golden Collection. It seems some folks out there aren't happy with the selection of shorts on the set. Warner's response? Chill out... you'll get the ones you want eventually. We can verify that it's taking the studio a long time to properly restore all 1,100 of their Looney Tunes shorts. The plan is to release a new collection of 60 every year, hopefully until they're all out. Of course, that means it will take 18 years to get them all on DVD. With any luck, the studio will pick up the pace a little as they go. We're guessing that if sales of this first batch are good, they'll get a LOT more enthusiastic about Looney Tunes on DVD in the future. Thanks to all you readers who sent this in.

There's also another story online at Wired on the decidedly lackluster sales of Disney's disposable, vacuum-packed, 48-hours-and-out EZ-D discs (thanks to Bits reader Johnnie Y. for the link). Surprise... nobody's buying 'em. We could've saved Disney some big bucks if they'd come to us with this idea first, but nnnnoooooooooo. They had to go and test it out on an unsuspecting public. Will mega monster media conglomerates never learn? Oh, the humanity!

All right... we wouldn't be The Bits if we didn't bring you some new upcoming DVD cover art on a regular basis. So here's a look at Criterion's Ikiru and The Rules of the Game (both due in January) and New Line's aforementioned Freddy vs. Jason: Platinum Series (1/13)...

Ikiru (Criterion)The Rules of the Game (Criterion)Freddy vs. Jason: Platinum Series

And last, but certainly not least, we're pleased today to bring you Jeff Kleist's in-depth review of Universal's new Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series on DVD. It's a surprisingly great box set... and there's not a bit of felgercarb anywhere to ruin the experience. Our advice is, don't miss it if you're a fan of the show.

Oh, fine... I lied. We've got ONE last item for you today. Matt's spoken now not only with the director of the Rush in Rio DVD, but also executive producer Allen Weinrib (who also happens to be Geddy Lee's brother). Matt has now posted the definitive and final skinny on what happened with that DVD to make it non-anamorphic and sans DTS sound. You'll find that over at our TAP music site.

Done. Whew! Stay tuned...

Back later... brushfires and solar flares permitting. ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 10/29/03 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We'll have our normal post up later this morning, but I wanted to check in here with a quick update on something. After looking through my notes from the The Two Towers - Extended Edition screening, I realized that I'd omitted one or two new scenes from the list we posted yesterday. So if you're a fan, you might want to give it another look.

Matt's got a new DVD-Audio review for you to kick things off today... Led Zeppelin's How the West Was Won. We've also got a look at Universal's Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series on DVD coming later today, so be sure to watch for that.

10/28/03

Yes... it's true. Matt and I yesterday attended an all-day, marathon screening of New Line's forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers - Special Extended DVD Edition, which streets on November 18th. And let me tell you... you're going to be blown away.

This extended edition includes more than 43 minutes of new scenes and footage, added by director Peter Jackson just for this DVD release. As with the Fellowship extended cut, these new moments add tremendous depth and development to certain characters, give a greater sense of epic scope to the journey, provide wonderful new moments of humor and greatly enhance the intensity of the major battle scenes. Here's a detailed rundown of the new footage you can expect to see on this DVD:

A new opening scene, after Gandalf's fall in Moria, in which we see Sam and Frodo climbing down a rocky crevasse using the Elven rope (the title The Two Towers now appears at the start of this scene).

Sam and Frodo getting rained on in the mountains as Gollum watches from a cliff above them.

Gollum's good and bad selves fighting over whether or not to lead Sam and Frodo to Mordor.

The Orcs arguing about their orders, and Pippen asking them to give a wounded Merry some water.

More of Saruman the White overseeing the construction of his Orc army, including his ordering the destruction of Fangorn Forest to fuel his furnaces, as well as the Wildmen pledging allegiance to him.

More of the villages of Rohan being plundered by the Wildmen.

Éomer finding a mortally-wounded Théodred at the scene of a great battle with Saruman's Orcs.

More of Gríma Wormtongue banishing Éomer from Rohan.

More of the Orcs fighting over whether or not to eat Merry and Pippin, including the realization that they believe the two Hobbits are carrying the Ring.

Gollum complaining of his hunger in the Dead Marshes, eating a worm and playing on Frodo's knowledge of the Ring.

Leoglas talking about the trees in Fangorn Forest, and how Elves first raised them into intelligent creatures long ago.

More of Gandalf the White's return in Fangorn, in which he talks about what's happening in Edoras and how, because of Merry and Pippin's arrival in the forest, the Ents are going to wake up and fight.

Treebeard reciting Ent poetry to Merry and Pippin, which puts them to sleep.

Gandalf telling Aragorn about events to come on the way to Edoras: "Sauron fears what you may become." Gandalf says Sauron doesn't suspect that the plan is to destroy The Ring rather than use it.

Merry and Pippin drinking a potion in Fangorn that causes them to grow, then getting trapped in the roots of a tree until Treebeard saves them.

Treebeard telling Merry and Pippin why there are so few Ents left - they've lost the Ent wives.

Wormtongue spitting on Aragorn's outstretched hand before he escapes after being spared in Edoras.

Théodred's funeral at Edoras, with Éowyn singing in tribute of her cousin.

Aragorn calming a horse named Brego in the stables of Edoras with Elvish talk, as Éowyn watches.

Saruman grumbling about Gandalf's reappearance, then learning of Aragorn's existence from Wormtongue.

King Théoden promising that they'll return to Edoras before leading his people to Helm's Deep.

More of Faramir capturing Frodo and Sam.

Aragorn and Théoden talking about Éowyn on the road to Helm's Deep.

Aragorn and Éowyn talking about his great age over a bowl of bad stew.

Extended flashback moments of Aragorn and Arwen together in Rivendell.

More intense footage of the battle with the Warg Riders.

Éowyn checking on the meager food stores upon arrival at Helm's Deep.

More of Faramir telling Sam and Frodo of Boromir's death, and of finding the Horn of Gondor broken.

A major new flashback scene in which we see Boromir and Faramir after reclaiming Osgiliath for Gondor. We learn that their father, Denethor, disapproves of Faramir. Denethor tells Boromir about a meeting that's been called by Elrond in Rivendell. Denethor suspects that the Ring has been found. He sends Boromir to the meeting, with instructions to bring the Ring back to Gondor to save their people.

Faramir's men beating Gollum briefly before questioning.

Aragorn and Éowyn talking before the battle of Helm's Deep. Éowyn says she wants to fight at his side, and basically admits that she loves him.

More of the Ent council in the woods - it's already night, but the Ents have only just finished saying "Good morning" to each other.

Much more intense footage during the battle at Helm's Deep.

The trees of Fangorn Forest marching to Helm's Deep, to get revenge on the Orcs.

The Orcs fleeing Helm's Deep, only to be swallowed up by the trees which have blocked their escape.

A very funny moment between Legolas and Gimli in which they brag to each other about the number of Orcs they've each killed in the battle. The result? A tie (sort of).

Merry and Pippin discovering a pantry filled with food after the battle at Isengard.

And finally, Faramir leading Frodo and Sam out of Osgiliath. Sam tells Faramir that he's finally shown his quality - the very best. Faramir threatens Gollum as to what will happen if the Hobbits come to harm. As they depart for Mordor, Sam is kind to Gollum for the first time, telling him that Frodo only meant to save him by letting Faramir's men take him prisoner.

So that's a rundown of all the new footage. As far as the bonus discs, we only stayed to watch Disc Three. But what we saw included incredibly in-depth documentaries on J.R.R. Tolkien's development of the story of The Two Towers, in the context of The Lord of the Rings as a whole, how the filmmakers struggled to adapt this second book and the changes they had to make in order for the story to work on-screen, and the incredible efforts of actor Andy Serkis, the team of special effects artists at Weta Digital and the writers to bring the character of Gollum to life. You might think you know how much work was involved in creating the first digital character to give a realistic dramatic performance on film, but it was even tougher than you can imagine.

Matt and I really had a blast watching this new cut of the film and some of the extra features on the upcoming DVD release. Believe me when I say that this 4-disc set promises to be another absolute home-run for Rings fans. It's definitely one of the must-have DVD releases of 2003, along with Indiana Jones and the upcoming Alien Quadrilogy. Watch for our in-depth review of Two Towers in the next couple of weeks.

In one other quick bit of upcoming DVD information today, Criterion has just announced the DVD release of Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru (Criterion catalog # 221) and Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game (216) for January 2003. Also expected in January are re-issues of Jacques Tati's M. Hulot's Holiday (110) and Mon Oncle (111), which had gone out of print for a time. Word is Laurence Olivier's Richard III (213), Robert Bresson's Diary of a Country Priest (222), Samuel Fuller's Pickup on South Street (224) and Barbet Schroeder's Maîtresse (223) are coming later in 2004, along with several more Kurosawa titles.

Back tomorrow with another new DVD review and more. Stay tuned!

10/27/03

So... did all you American readers remember to set your clocks back an hour on Saturday night? We've been busy this weekend here in La-la-land. Orange County's been buried in smoke and ash from all the brushfires burning around the area, so what better way to spend the weekend than with the windows shut tight and the air conditioning on, working on DVD reviews?

As a result, we're pleased to offer you our review of Warner's new Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines - Special Edition DVD, courtesy of yours truly. The 2-disc set streets on November 11th.

Also this morning, we've got another new SACD review from the MusicTAP crew... Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic. Do check it out.

Speaking of TAP, our own Matt Rowe had the chance to speak with the director of the Rush in Rio concert DVD on the phone last night, so he's got the full skinny on why the disc ended up being non-anamorphic and sans DTS audio. The gist is, blame the band. Click on over to TAP for the fill story.

We've just kicked off a pair of new Contests for you today. We're giving away copies of The Sopranos: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD, as well as a bunch of UglyDolls for the kids, in honor of Halloween. You've got until Saturday to enter, so good luck!

We're also pleased to present another new Classic Coming Attractions column from Barrie Maxwell today. This time around, Barrie takes a look at a great year for Hollywood filmmaking... 1939. As always, he's updated the database of classic titles on the way to DVD in the weeks and months ahead.

In a bit of DVD release news, Columbia TriStar has announced their Underworld: Special Edition for January 6th, in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions (SRP $28.95). Extras are TBA. Also streeting on that day from the studio are The Animal: Uncut Special Edition, The New Guy: Director's Cut, Adam Had Four Sons, Divorce American Style, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack.

Underworld: Special EditionBarenaked Ladies: Everything to Everyone  (DVD-Audio)

Finally today, I wanted to tell you about a very cool DVD-Audio package I got my hands on over the weekend. The Barenaked Ladies have released a helluva special edition of their new album, Everything to Everyone. Check this out... for an SRP of $24.98, you get a 2-disc set in Digipak packaging with a plastic slipcase. One disc contains the complete 14-track album in CD format. The other disc is a DVD-Audio version of the same 14 tracks in advanced resolution 5.1 and 2.0 (96KHz/24-bit), as well as Dolby Digital 5.1 for standard DVD players. The second disc also contains a bonus track in advanced resolution 5.1 96/24, plus an acoustic performance of 11 of the album tracks in advanced resolution 2.0 48/16, plus a 50-minute video of the very same acoustic performance (all 11 tracks) with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio, plus a few funny video clips of the band in the studio working on the album. Toss in a nice little lyrics booklet and you've got a pretty amazing package for Barenaked Ladies fans. It's a great album, and I'm really impressed by the quality and content. I wish more DVD-Audio releases gave you this much bang for your buck.

Okay, that's it for today. Matt and I are driving up to Hollywood this morning to a preview screening of the new Two Towers: Extended Cut. Yeah, I know... work, work, work, work. Someone's got to do it. We'll tell you all about the new footage Peter Jackson has created for the film in our post tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

10/24/03

You should know that 20th Century Fox has been quietly re-releasing some of its 2-disc DVD special editions and 5-Star editions. I happened to find myself at a Best Buy store the other day, and lo and behold, there on the shelf was a 2-disc ID4: Independence Day special edition (previously released as a 5-Star edition), in Digipak packaging. You'll also find The Abyss, Cast Away, Die Hard, Planet of the Apes (2003) and The Sound of Music available again in this format. For those of you new to the term, Digipak is the same cardboard and plastic format of packaging that used by Fox's 2-disc Moulin Rouge DVD. Given this new trend, it's reasonable to assume that other 2-disc Fox titles currently on moratorium will return to store shelves in this format in the weeks and months ahead.

Around the site today, Grey Cavitt of our MusicTAP affiliate has written a review of the new Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde SACD. Definitely worth a look.

We're almost done with our review or Terminator 3, so watch for that on Monday morning. We expect to post a new column from our own Barrie Maxwell on Monday as well. Finding Nemo and several other new DVD reviews will follow.

Have a great weekend!


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