UPDATE - 12/30/03 - NOON PST)
Okay... we've just updated the
DVD Player Sales numbers for the first three weeks of December
(ending 12/12). Some 2,227,357 players were shipped from manufacturers
to retailers in the U.S. in that time, taking the Format to Date total
very close to 65 million units. There's still two weeks of numbers to
go, so you can expect that figure to climb. All charts have been updated
We've also updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's
DVD FAQ to its most recent version, dated 12/13.
In other news, there's word from our friends over at
that the classic Combat! might be
headed to disc in 2004, either from Buena Vista or Image Entertainment.
Speaking of Buena Vista, you'll be surprised to learn that a new and
completely hidden bonus feature has been discovered on their R1 DVD
release of Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky.
You can't access it from the menus at all, but there's a hidden video
file (a .VOB file) on the disc featuring a 20-minute Japanese TV
documentary on the making of the film. You can only access it via
DVD-ROM by searching through the individual VOB files. Unfortunately,
it's not subtitled, so our best guess is that it was originally intended
to be included on the disc as a regular feature, but was "dropped"
at the last minute for unknown reasons (so the menu links and subtitles
were left off). Very strange, but cool if you can speak Japanese I
suppose. Thanks to Bits reader
Chris M. for the information on this.
Also today, we got the cover artwork for Rhino's upcoming DVD release
of H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series,
which streets on 2/10. Thanks to Johnnie Y. for that.
Finally today, we're having some e-mail problems at the moment that we
wanted to make you aware of. My address is working fine, as is Todd's
and the Contest, but some of the
other staffers' mail is getting bounced. We hope to get this corrected
by the end of the week. Chalk it up to the gremlins you have to work out
when you settle into a new server.
Don't forget that the Bits Power Buy
for the Sharp XV-Z12000U DLP Front Projector ends tomorrow night, so be
sure to take advantage before then if you're interested (drop
us an e-mail for more details). The other power buy on the Pioneer
Elite 50" Pro-1110HD plasma display with the new DV-59AVi DVD
player will remain in effect until sometime in January, just FYI.
And that is officially all she wrote for 2003! Have a happy and safe
New Year and we'll see you back here on Friday (January 2nd)!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/30/03 - 12:01 AM PST)
As promised, we're back this morning with a massive update of our
DVD Cover Art section! We've got so much new art we can't even
list it all, including new covers on every page of the section - more
than 100 new scans in all! Just for fun, and so you have a better idea
what's coming farther down the line,
also added unofficial cover images of as-yet-unannounced titles
that are known to be in the works for DVD release later in 2004. As
always, all the titles can be preordered from
and doing so helps keep us going here at the Bits
(which we sincerely appreciate). Enjoy the cover art!
Also today, Matt's posted another SACD review over at TAP
- John Mayall & Friends'
for the Ride, newly released by Audio Fidelity.
Back to update the DVD stats later this afternoon. Stay tuned...
Afternoon, everyone! We sincerely hope you all had a great holiday.
Sarah and I had family visiting, so we watched a lot of movies and ate
way too much food, capped off by viewing the Minnesota Vikings' annual
end-of-season collapse. So you could say the holiday around here was
perfectly normal, I suppose. ;-)
First up today, we've got an update on the Seinfeld
DVD situation. It seems
Seinfeld spoke with DVD holdout Michael Richards over the weekend,
and got him to agree to participate in the production. Jason Alexander
and Julia Louis-Dreyfus are still on the outs, but there's hope that
will change before all is said and done. We'll keep you updated.
Now then... we've got a bunch of upcoming DVD release news for you
today. Let's start with Paramount. Look for Jimmy
Neutron: Jet Fusion, The Fairly
Odd Parents: Superhero Spectacle and The
Fighting Temptations on 2/3, The
Pentagon Papers, Dickie Roberts:
Former Child Star - Special Collector's Edition, Permanent
Record and We're No Angels
on 2/17, and Chappelle's Show Season One:
Uncensored DVD Box Set and Star
Trek: Voyager - Season One on 2/24.
Confirmed by Paramount to be coming in March are Sightings:
Heartland Ghost, Dora the
Explorer: Dora's Egg Hunt, Nick
Jr. Celebrates Spring, SpongeBob
SquarePants: SpongeBob Goes Prehistoric, Brother
Sun, Sister Moon, The Ten
Commandments: Special Collector's Edition (3/9), Resurrection
Blvd.: The Complete First Season, Beyond
Borders, The Singing Detective
and The School of Rock. We're
hearing 3/2 as the street date on School of
Rock, featuring audio commentary with Jack Black and director
Richard Linklater, commentary with the kids in the film, an interactive
Dewey Finn's History of Rock and
the featurettes Lessons Learned in School of
Rock, Jack Black's Pitch to Led
Zeppelin and Kids' Video Diary:
Toronto Film Festival Piece. We're also expecting C.S.I.:
The Complete Third Season in March (we're hearing 3/30 on
This is just FYI (consider this next paragraph Rumor
Mill worthy), but we've been told by sources that more Comedy
Central product is on the way from Paramount in 2004. For next summer,
look for Reno 911!: The Complete First Season,
The Joe Schmo Show: Uncensored,
The Comedy Central Roast of Dennis Leary
and That's My Bush!. And in the
fall, you'll get Strangers with Candy: The
Complete Third Season, Crank
Yankers: The Complete First Season and South
Park: The Complete Fourth Season. Plus, there's still a Top
Gun: Special Edition in the works as well.
Lion's Gate will release more TV product in March. Look for The
Dead Zone: Season Two on 3/16, with Shattered
Glass and Will & Grace: The
Complete Second Season following on 3/23.
Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of Starsky
and Hutch: The Complete First Season for 3/2, along with Hustle
and Heat, Doctor Faustus,
The Prisoner and The
Three Stooges: Stooges and the Law. On 3/9, they'll release
Red Water, Anne
Frank Remembered, The Slugger's
Wife and The Berenstain Bears:
Bears Team Up.
Buena Vista has some new catalog material on the way for 1/6, including
Ciao, Professore!, Get
Bruce!, I've Heard The Mermaids
Singing, The Innocent,
The Little Twins: The Magic of Giving,
The Lovers on the Bridge, Moondance,
Revenge of the Musketeers, Ridicule,
Strawberry & Chocolate, Talk
of Angels, Torrents of Spring
Warner Brothers has a massive slate of titles set for February (note
that some of these titles are by Warner's distributed labels, including
New Line, HBO, BBC, National Geographic and more). On 2/3, look for The
Adventures of Batman & Robin: Poison Ivy/The Penguin,
The Adventures of Batman & Robin: The
Joker/Fire & Ice, Batman
Beyond: School Dayz/Spellbound, Batman
Beyond: Tech Wars/Disappearing Inque, The
Best of Ground Force: Garden Rescues, The
Big Bounce (1969), Changing Rooms:
Trust Me, I'm a Designer, The
Chaplin Collection, Volume 2 (including The
Chaplin Revue, Monsieur Verdoux,
The Circus, City
Lights, The Kid, King
in New York/A Woman of Paris and Charlie:
The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin), Larceny,
Looney Tunes: Back in Action, The
Snow Queen, A Tale of Cinderella,
First Encounter/Beastly Battles/High Seas Hero, Doctor
Who, Episode 48: Seeds of Death and Doctor
Who, Episode 65: The Three Doctors. Then on 2/10, you'll get
Reflections on Ice, Undefeated
and What I Want My Words to Do to You.
Following on 2/17 are Absolutely Fabulous:
Series 5, Colosseum: A Gladiator's
Story, Colosseum: A Gladiator's
Story/Building the Great Pyramid (2-pack), Empires:
The Roman Empire in the First Century, The
Hitchhiker (HBO) and Kung Fu: The
Complete First Season. Finally, on 2/24, look for Chased
by Dinosaurs: 3 Walking with Dinosaurs Adventures.
For March, Warner and its affiliates have another big batch on the way,
starting with Going in Style, The
Late Show, Pope John Paul II:
Collector's Set, The Prisoner of
Second Avenue, Ripley's Game,
The Sunshine Boys and The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (New Line) on 3/2. On 3/9, you'll get
the Ancient Evidence Collection,
Ancient Evidence: Mysteries of Jesus,
Ancient Evidence: Mysteries of the Apostles,
Ancient Evidence: Mysteries of the Old
Testament, The Lost Prince,
Police Academy, Police
Academy 2, Police Academy 3,
Police Academy 4, Police
Academy 5, Police Academy 6
and yes... Police Academy 7.
Finally, on 3/16, look for Babylon 5: The
Complete Fifth Season.
Around the site, we've got more new
started for you today, thanks to our friends at Warner Bros. and MGM.
You'll have the chance to win one of 5 copies each of Warner's Babylon
5: The Complete Fourth Season and MGM's Jeepers
Creepers 2: Special Edition. Don't miss it!
We've also updated some of the stats we track today (see
above), and we'll have the rest updated tomorrow, including the
CEA DVD Player Sales charts and
Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ.
Finally today, our own Matt Rowe has posted a new DVD-Audio review over
at our MusicTAP
V from Rhino Records. Enjoy.
We'll be back tomorrow with a massive
DVD Cover Artwork update to close out 2003. See you then!
Happy holidays, everyone!
(LATE UPDATE - 12/23/03 - 2 PM PST)
Before we sign off for the Christmas holiday, we've got another new
Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. In this
edition, Barrie looks at great holiday films over the years, runs down
the latest classic DVD release news and reviews some 11 new classic
releases on DVD, including
of the Opera (1925),
of the Red Hot Lovers,
Looking Glass War,
Honeymooners: "Classic 39" Episodes,
Walked by Night and
Also today, we've got another new Bits Power
Buy for you. Pioneer Elite's new 50" Pro-1110HD plasma
display is garnering reviews as the very best of the HDTV bunch, and
it's going to be in extremely high demand. It features individual color
control, blacker blacks, a virtually silent fan, and HDMI inputs. Also,
as many of you know, Pioneer is releasing the most highly anticipated
new DVD player of the year, the DV-59AVi. This player features 14 Bit
Video DACs, iLink (1394 Firewire) for DVD-Audio and SACD as well as an
HDMI interface that will connect with any DVI-D input using a DVI-HDMI
cable. The result? The very finest picture quality and sound
reproduction available today. The Pro-1110HD is one of the very first
plasmas with the new HDMI input, so together they're the perfect match.
We've arranged a special Power Buy
discount on the Pioneer Pro-1110HD, with the new DV-59AVi DVD player,
just for you loyal Bits readers,
in conjunction with DocDVD's Discount Prescription program and
authorized dealers across the country. If you're interested, please
here to learn more. And just so you know, the Power
Buy on the Sharp XV-Z12000U DLP Front Projector will end on
New Year's Eve, December 31st, so if you want to take advantage of it,
now's the time.
That's all for now! We'll see you back here on Monday, December 29th!
From all of us at The Digital Bits,
a happy and safe holiday to you and yours!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/23/03
- 10 AM PST)
Yes... you read that right. Three of the cast of TV's Seinfeld
have declined to participate in the production of the DVD release of the
series, because they're not being offered a share in sales of the discs.
Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Michael Richards were offered
recording fees only, and so have jointly decided to boycott the
production. The DVD is being produced by Castle Rock for distribution by
Columbia TriStar, however due to complicated ownership of the show, Time
Warner, Columbia TriStar Television, Castle Rock, Jerry Seinfeld and
Larry David will all take profits from the DVD release. Frankly, we
can't blame these three for feeling a little put off. Complicated
ownership or not, the sales of old TV shows on DVD is arguably the
fastest growing segment of the market right now. A lot of other people
are going to make money on this... why shouldn't all of the featured
cast share in that? Reportedly, Jerry Seinfeld is hoping to talk with
them next year, to convince them to participate. You can bet, however,
they'll be a little skeptical given that Jerry's already got a nice
piece of the pie lined up. Here's a link to more on this
New York Times (requires registration). Seinfeld:
The Complete First Season is being tentatively planned for
release in December of 2004. There's no word on how this boycott will
affect that schedule, but we'd certainly hope that Castle Rock doesn't
decided to just push ahead without these three.
Remember that Norwegian kid who cracked DVD's CSS encryption scheme a
few years ago? Well, DVD Jon (alias Jon Johansen) has finally been
cleared of wrong-doing by an appeals court in Oslo. The MPAA and DVD
Copy Control Association (DVDCCA) had filed a lawsuit against him in
2000, but they lost. They then appealed, but now the appeal has been
rejected as well. You can read
on this at Video Store.
Here's something to give you a good laugh this morning: there's
great story on a rather disappointing Hanukkah gift over at The
Onion. I think many of you DVD fanatics out there will be able
to relate. Hats off to our own Brad Pilcher for spotting this. ;-)
Back with more later. Stay tuned!
Morning, everyone! I'll bet you all had a great weekend. Probably a lot
of last minute shopping for the holiday season, movie going and the
like. Sarah and I have family in town, so that's always nice. We hope
your holiday is a happy one!
We've just gotten word that 20th Century Fox is planning to release a
Raquel Welch Collection DVD Box Set
on 3/9. Titles include Bandolero,
Myra Breckinridge, Mother,
Jugs and Speed, One Million Years
B.C. and the previously released Fathom.
Each will also be available separately (SRP $14.98). Myra
Breckinridge will include Raquel Welch audio commentary among
other extras, while One Million Years B.C.
will include a 5-minute restoration comparison. All the new titles will
be in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and
mono audio. Here's the cover art for One
Million Years B.C.. Not bad for your father's caveman
Also coming from Fox in March will be The
Commitments: Collector's Edition on 3/16. Look for the film
in anamorphic widescreen (1.85), audio in Dolby Digital 5.1, commentary
by director Alan Parker, the 22-minute The
Making of The Commitments featurette, the 45-minute The
Commitments: Looking Back documentary, a "making of"
featurette, the Dublin Soul: The Working
Class & Changing Face of Dublin featurette, the Treat
Her Right music video (with introduction by Alan Parker and
Robert Arkins), 2 original songs by cast members: Before
the Next Tear Drop Falls (Andrew Strong) and Taking
on the World (Robert Arkins), 6 TV spots, 4 radio spots, the
theatrical trailer, and a still gallery. In case you're interested, set
for 3/30 from Fox is Hangman's Curse.
Universal is now showing slightly different cover artwork for their
Schindler's List DVD (3/9). Be
advised that the studio is now reporting these extras: the Voices
From the List and The Shoah
Foundation Story with Steven Spielberg featurettes, cast and
filmmakers bios and something called About
Oskar Schindler (a featurette or text essay). There may also
be trailers and the like. The art on the left is the standard,
widescreen edition. The art in the middle is the gift set.
And yes, Universal has also announced The
Rundown for release on 3/23, available in both anamorphic
widescreen and full frame versions. Audio is Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras
will include commentary by director Peter Berg and The Rock, another
commentary by producers Kevin Misher and Marc Abraham, several
featurettes (Rumble in the Jungle,
The Amazon, Hawaii Style, Appetite
for Destruction, The Rundown
Uncensored, Running Down the Town
and Walken's World), deleted
scenes, DVD-ROM features and cast and filmmakers bios. SRP is $26.98.
While we're showing you cover art, we thought you might like a look at
MGM's forthcoming Stargate SG-1: Season Six
and Spacecamp (both 3/2).
Finally today, we have a new
for you that gives you a chance to win copies of Warner's National
Geographic: Beyond the Movie - The Return of the King on DVD.
That runs until Saturday, so get your entries in fast Tolkein fans!
Don't forget, our brand new DVD book,
Digital Bits: Insider's Guide to DVD, is now available at your
local book stores and at Amazon.com. It's been getting great reviews, so
if you're looking for that perfect stocking stuffer for your favorite
DVD fanatic, look no further. ;-)
We'll be back tomorrow with a new column from our own Barrie Maxwell.
See you then!
(LATE UPDATE - 12/19/03 - 9 PM PST)
We've got an interesting bit of information in
Rumor Mill about New Line and the forthcoming Return
of the King: Extended Edition DVD. It comes from Ain't
it Cool News, so we can't vouch for the details, but it's
worth a look if you're a fan. If it's true, it's worth getting a little
steamed about. We'll look into this and post more when we know it.
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/19/03 - 11:30 AM PST)
We've had so many people e-mailing us about Zatoichi, after we posted
that primer last week, that we've decided to post reviews of all the
films now available on DVD. We've created a
The Blind Swordsman on DVD index page that we'll update
regularly, and Todd's posted reviews of 8 of the films released on DVD
thus far (the rest will follow shortly). So here's links to his reviews
Tale of Zatoichi,
Tale of Zatoichi Continues,
Tale of Zatoichi,
and the Doomed Man,
the Outlaw and
Meets Yojimbo. Enjoy!
Also today, we've got a little more information on the extras you can
expect to find on the Schindler's List
DVD we mentioned yesterday. Word is, more than 90 minutes of bonus
material will be included. Among the extras will be an introduction to
the film by director Steven Spielberg, and the featurettes Voices
from the List and Behind the Shoah
Foundation with Steven Spielberg. Look for more details to be
There's word that the folks at Lowry Digital are working to restore
George Lucas' THX-1138 for DVD
release next year. Apple.com
has posted a good article on the restoration Lowry did on the Indiana
Jones films for DVD. In a second piece called
the Veil, they reveal that they're now working on THX-1138
in conjunction with Lucas and Warner Bros.
We have details from Fantoma on their upcoming release of Francis Ford
Coppola's One from the Heart
(street date 1/27, SRP $29.95). The 2-disc set will feature the film in
its original full frame aspect ratio (from a new high-def transfer
supervised by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro), along with Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary by Coppola, an
isolated music-only track featuring Tom Waits score in Dolby Digital
5.1, 4 documentaries (The Dream Studio,
The Electronic Cinema, Tom
Waits and the Music of One from the Heart and The
Making of One from the Heart), previously unreleased demo
recordings and alternate takes of Tom Waits' music in CD quality 24-bit
PCM stereo, deleted and alternate scenes, videotaped rehearsals, a photo
gallery, rare footage from the Zoetrope vaults and more. Here's the
cover art for that, as well as New Line's The
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (due 3/2).
Finally today, we have official word that Warner is planning on
releasing the entire Police Academy
series on DVD on 3/9.
Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
(LATE UPDATE - 12/18/03 - 2:30 PM PST)
We're back this afternoon with a couple of interesting items for you.
First up, our own
Jahnke has just posted his interview with DVD producer Michael Gillis
of MogoMedia, the company that was recruited by MGM to produce the new
from New York: Special Edition. We think you'll enjoy the
Also today, Jeff Kleist has reviewed an interesting new music DVD from
Japan - T.M. Revolution's
Warp: The Visual Fields. T.M. Revolution has been a
contributor to the soundtracks of such anime projects as Gundam
Seed and Rurouni Kenshin,
so some of you may know his work already. The disc is cheap, and yet
pretty nice in terms of quality. It's just the kind of off-beat title
that we try to expose you to here at The Bits
every now and again. Enjoy!
Back tomorrow with more DVD reviews. Don't forget to check out
our earlier post if you missed it, with the
announcement of Universal's Schindler's List
DVD. See you tomorrow!
(EARLY UPDATE - 12/18/03
- 11:30 AM PST)
It's official folks! As we reported last week, Universal studios will
release Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List
on 3/9 (SRP $26.98). The single-disc set will be packaged in both
Digipak and keep case packaging (the disc will be DVD-18 - dual sided,
dual layered). Separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions
will be available, both with audio in English, French and Spanish Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio, as well as English DTS 5.1 audio (along with English
captions and French and Spanish subtitles). Extras are still TBA. There
will also be a gift set version available (SRP $79.98) that will include
the anamorphic widescreen version of the DVD along with a coffee table
book, the CD soundtrack, a senitype cell and a certificate of
authenticity. Reportedly, this title is being co-marketed with the DVD
release of the Steven Spielberg-produced TV miniseries Broken
Silence, although we have no details yet on that. Here's a
look at the cover art and the gift set.
Back with a review and interview later this afternoon. Stay tuned...
Well... Matt and I are back from our 12+ hour Trilogy
Tuesday experience, though it's probably going to take us a
couple of days to recover fully. That's a long time to sit in a theater
seat, but I'll you this... we'd do it again in a heartbeat. Simply put,
this was the best time either of us have ever had in a movie theater.
The experience of seeing the extended cuts of the first two films back
to back on the big screen with an enthusiastic audience, followed by the
conclusion, was truly amazing.
What I'm sure you all really want to know today, is what we think of
The Return of the King. Frankly,
I'm going to need to see it a few more times just to really get my brain
around it fully. But I will tell you that there's a reason almost every
review of this film has been through the roof - it is every bit that
good. My own expectations were very high, and I'm pleased to say that
not only were they met, they were blown away.
Nothing can really fully prepare you for what you're about to see when
you go into this film - not even the previous films in the series. If
you thought the battles in Two Towers
were epic, you've seen nothing yet. The scope of what you're going to
experience, the emotional heft to the character arcs and the attention
to even the tiniest onscreen detail is simply astonishing. Of special
note is Sean Astin, who steps to the fore in this film as the stalwart
Samwise in a performance that should earn him serious award
consideration. This is definitely the best film of the trilogy, and
there's simply no question whatsoever that The
Return of the King is the best film of the year. There isn't
even any room for argument, and I don't say that lightly. This film, and
this trilogy, is a monumental achievement of the cinema, not just for
2003 but for all time. Failure to recognize it as such would be beyond
shameful. If The Return of the King
doesn't win the Best Picture Oscar, the Motion Picture Academy will make
a mockery of itself. Peter Jackson has earned himself a place in the
ranks of the best directors ever to work in the medium.
I'm sure there will still be a few critics, who will list all the usual
complaints: the film is too long... it doesn't stand on its own... I
can't believe they cut this or that scene from the books... there's too
many endings. Anyone who says this film is too long needs to just move
along. Go watch Dances with Samurai
or something and leave this film to the big kids. Despite the fantasy
subject matter, this isn't a film you watch casually - the Rings
movies demand commitment and attention. They are, of course, not meant
to stand on their own individually. Those who would complain about
scenes that were cut need to give Jackson a little more credit. He's
earned a little leeway at this point. Trust that he isn't going to
disappoint you with this film, and know that much will be added back in
for the extended DVD next year anyway. And if there are a few more
endings that a normal film might have... well, I think the characters,
the fans and certainly the director have earned each and every one of
them. Just as Fellowship by
necessity took a while to start this trilogy, King
needs to take a little extra time to wind it all down.
There's a line that Theoden, the King of Rohan, says to Aragorn in The
Two Towers: "If this is to be our end, then I would have
them make such an end as to be worthy of remembrance." Without
question, Peter Jackson and his filmmaking fellowship have crafted a
worthy finale to their The Lord of the Rings
trilogy. It's absolutely not to be missed.
We're very pleased today to be able to bring you a review, from our own
Adam Jahnke, of MGM's new 2-disc
from New York: Special Edition - a disc we think you'll find
largely worthy of the long wait. Adam also interviewed the disc's
producer, and we'll bring that to you tomorrow morning.