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page updated: 2/16/04



My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/2/04 - 1/12/04)


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(EARLY UPDATE - 2/2/04 - 12:30 PM PST)

Well... it certainly was an interesting weekend, wasn't it? Any of you watch the Superbowl? Turned out to be a pretty awesome game, although for most of the first half it was a real snooze. Then, there was the half time show "accident" involving Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake and a little "overexposure". Accident my ass - that was planned from the get go. Jackson, you may be interested to know, has a new album coming out next month. Her new single was released today by her record company. Coincidence? I think not. Still, the way the NFL, CBS, MTV and Timberlake's people are spinning this today, it seems everyone's trying to shake off the responsibility for it. Can you say "plausible deniability"? Well, that's modern marketing for you. Just another day in 21st Century 'Merica. Yeah, boy.

Anyway, moving on. You know how sometimes you go to see a film expecting to get one thing, and you do get it, but then you find something else entirely that you didn't expect? Well, that's what happened to Matt and I this weekend when we caught a showing of Sony Pictures Classics' The Fog of War. It's sort of a pseudo-documentary involving confessional, hindsight-benefited interviews with former Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara about his experiences during the Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam. It's a pretty interesting film, and is probably guaranteed to stir up controversy. It's actually very interesting. First of all, it wanders off track a lot and takes itself far too seriously (almost comically so). It's also carefully constructed to show you only one perspective... McNamara's. In that sense, it reminds me an awful lot of a Michael Moore film. This is a guy (McNamara) who is approaching the end of his life, and is trying to come to grips with the decisions he made while serving his country. So the idea of the film is that he's offering little lessons that he's learned over the years in trying to understand what happened - eleven of them in fact. But what's most interesting here is not what McNamara says, but what he doesn't say. There are still some lessons he hasn't quite learned, or doesn't have the perspective (because of his close involvement) to be able to see yet, even after all these years. He was one of the best and brightest minds of his generation and yet, looking back, he seems pretty shocked by just how wrong he was about many things, and (in being so wrong) how close he and his contemporaries came to bringing the world to destruction. Maybe shocked isn't the right word. He seems terrified by it. So terrified, in fact, that there are some things he just can't talk about, one of them being his ultimate sense of responsibility or guilt for the consequences of his decisions. So the documentary, for all its self-importance and careful construction, gives you a window on this fear. Surprisingly, the film manages to succeed in spite of itself. If you get a chance to see it, whatever you think of the subject matter, I think you'll at least find it fascinating. Here's a link to the film's official website for more information.

Okay... on to DVD news. Bits reader Makoto in Tokyo e-mailed me this morning with a look at what might be the most interesting DVD packaging ever. It seems that 20th Century Fox is releasing the Alien Quadrilogy in Japan... packed in a replica of an alien warrior's head. No, I am NOT sh__ting you. Here's a picture and a link so you can see it yourself. I think Anchor Bay's foul-smelling, foam-fleshed Evil Dead: Book of the Dead edition may finally have been one-upped. Sure, it might not fit on your video shelf with all those other DVDs... but when it's this cool, who the hell cares?

Alien Quadrilogy packaging in Japan

In other news today, Variety on Friday featured an article on the upcoming work of screenwriter/director Frank Darabont. In the piece, he let it be known that he's finished his work on the Indiana Jones 4 script, and that a Shawshank Redemption: Special Edition is planned for September DVD release by Warner Bros. to celebrate the film's 10th anniversary. Darabont say's he'll be recording a new audio commentary track for the release. A brief snippet about the story is also available at here at Cinescape.

This is WAY in the rumor category, but it's worth noting that the DVD Soon Canadian retail website has posted a 6-disc Star Wars Trilogy: Collector's Giftset as coming from Fox on DVD on 10/19. We don't know if it means anything, and we would caution you greatly against putting much faith in it. But about a million readers have been e-mailing us links to this over the last few days, and many inform us that DVD Soon "was one of the first retail sites to post correct Indiana Jones DVD pre-order information." So, you know... take that for what you will.

Finally this morning, we've posted three new Contests giving you each a chance to win such titles as Buena Vista's Under the Tuscan Sun and Warner's Gilligan's Island: The Complete First Season. Get yer entries in quick, little buddy!

Stay tuned...

1/30/04

You Sergio Leone fans will be thrilled to learn that MGM has officially announced the DVD release of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Special Edition. The 2-disc DVD will street on 5/18 (SRP $29.98). The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen video, with English Dolby Digital 5.1 and Italian mono audio. The film will include some 18 minutes of new footage, which hadn't been added back into the film previously because only Italian audio was available. For the new release, actors Clint Eastwood and Eli Wallach have re-dubbed their original lines in English, with Simon Prescott standing in for the late Lee Van Cleef. Extras on the set will include audio commentary with film historian Richard Schickel, several documentaries (including Leone's West, The Leone Style, The Man Who Lost The Civil War and Il Maestro: Ennio Morricone and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), the Reconstructing The Good, the Bad and the Ugly featurette, a never-before-seen extended scene, trailers, Easter eggs and a gallery of poster artwork. An insert booklet and collectible postcards featuring more artwork will also be included in the case.

The good news isn't over yet, folks. Streeting on 5/25 from MGM is The Great Escape: Special Edition (SRP $29.98). The 2-disc release will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 and the original mono audio, audio commentary with the cast and crew, The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones documentary, 2 featurettes (The Great Escape: Heroes Underground and The Great Escape: The Untold Story), a trivia track, the theatrical trailer and a photo gallery.

Also coming on 5/4 from MGM is Dead Like Me: The Complete First Season (4-discs, SRP $58.96), featuring audio commentary, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more.

Additional catalog titles streeting on 5/25 from MGM include Custer of the West (widescreen), Hell in the Pacific (wide), The Last Valley (wide), Too Late the Hero (16x9 wide), a movie-only version of the 181 minute cut of Dances with Wolves (4x3), Duel in the Sun (4x3), Guns of the Magnificent Seven (16x9 wide), Junior Bonner (wide), The Magnificent Seven Ride (16x9 wide), A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die (wide) and Shalako (wide), along with month-long re-promotes of about a gazillion previously released Westerns and war films.

Also coming from MGM in April are Casa de los Babys (4/13) and Recipe for Disaster (4/20).

Not done yet. Universal/DreamWorks has just announced House of Sand and Fog for release on 3/30 (SRP $26.99) in separate anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions. Special features will include audio commentary with the director, author and cast, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes featurettes.

Coming in April from Universal are 30 Years to Life, Gable and Lombard, Lorenzo's Oil, Lover Come Back, Pillow Talk, The Rock Hudson and Doris Day Romance Collection, Same Time, Next Year and Fried Green Tomatoes (all 4/6). In May, look for The Adventures of Ma and Pa Kettle: Volume 2, The Best of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello: Volume 2, K-9: The Patrol Pack and the On the Road with Bob Hope and Bing Crosby box set (all on 5/4), along with The Border, The Night of the Following Day, Nighthawks, Renegades and Shakedown (all on 5/11), and Battle Hymn, Gray Lady Down, No Man Is an Island, Slaughterhouse-Five, To Hell and Back and Wake Island (all on 5/25). Unfortunately, we don't know if these war and action catalog titles are anamorphic widescreen or full frame yet, but DAMN I hope they're widescreen. I've been dying for an anamorphic Nighthawks for a long time now.

Here's the cover art for MGM's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and The Great Escape, as well as Universal's 21 Grams (3/16 - which now features revised cover artwork), Nighthawks, Slaughterhouse-Five and House of Sand and Fog...

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: SEThe Great Escape: SE21 Grams

NighthawksSlaughterhouse-FiveHouse of Sand and Fog

I wanted to make an additional note on Buena Vista's City of God today. Many people have e-mailed to ask why we're showing a street date of June 8th, when other sources are reporting the title as streeting on February 17th. The reason is that the studio has pushed the title back due to the film's recent Academy Award nominations. The 6/8 date IS official from the studio.

By the way, we STILL have no follow-up statements from Buena Vista regarding their postponement of the Ed Wood: Special Edition. Interestingly, Amazon.ca is now showing an April 4th street date, but until we hear something from the studio, I wouldn't think much of it.

In other news today, we have an update about the upcoming Star Wars DVDs with little bit of new information. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill. It seems that another Lucasfilm marketing partner has let slip additional confirmation of the rumored late 2004 release.

Also today, Wired is running a story about Texas-area retailers dumping Disney's disposable EZ-D discs. Gee... didn't we all see that coming? Thanks to Bits reader Todd B. for sending the link.

And here's the big non-DVD related (sort of) news today: Pixar has reportedly chosen to end its distribution partnership with Disney. This would take affect after 2006, when the last of the movies it currently has in production with Disney are completed. You can read more on this at CNN/Money.

That's all for now. We've got more new DVD reviews coming next week, along with a MASSIVE Upcoming DVD Cover Art update (no kidding - maybe the biggest we've ever done) and more. So until then, enjoy the Superbowl and stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/29/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

We're back as promised with another new DVD review. Our own Adam Jahnke has given Fantoma and Zoetrope's new 2-disc DVD release of One from the Heart a spin. It's a long-lost Francis Ford Coppola film and an interesting release on disc. Definitely worth a look.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/29/04 - 11:15 AM PST)

Yessir, Warner has announced the DVD release of Gothika for March 23rd. Extras will include audio commentary by the filmmakers, the Behind Blue Eyes music video by Limp Bizkit, the theatrical trailer and more. Warner will also release HBO's And Starring Pancho Villa as Himself on May 11th.

In other news today, Buena Vista has announced that its City of God, which has been nominated for 4 Academy Awards, will street on DVD on June 8th (SRP $29.99). Video will be anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1), with audio in Brazilian Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1 (with English, French and Spanish subtitles). No word yet on extras.

Around the Net today, the USA Today has confirmed (in a recent interview with director Peter Jackson) what we'd heard before, which is that the theatrical edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King will street in May or June, while the extended version will arrive in November. Click here to read the full story. The most interesting thing here is that Jackson says he's finished editing the extended cut, which runs some 4 hours and 10 minutes (or 250 mins total). If accurate, that means the extended version is 49 minutes longer that the 201 minute theatrical cut. Nice. I am so there.

For you Trek fans today, we have a couple of photos from Tuesday's DVD signing event in Hollywood with Star Trek VI director Nicholas Meyer. Meyer reportedly addressed the crowd in addition to signing discs. Thanks to our friends at Paramount for sending these over. Don't forget, if you're in the San Francisco area, you can see Meyer on Saturday, January 31st at the Borders in San Rafael at 4PM (588 Francisco Blvd. West).

Star Trek VI director Nicholas Meyer

Meyer addresses the audience

Interested in a pair of new high-resolution music reviews? Good... Matt's checked in with his take on the new SACD version of Deep Purple: Live on the BBC, and the new DVD-Audio version of Deep Purple: Machine Head.

And if you check back later this afternoon, we might just have a couple more new DVD reviews for you as well.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/28/04 - 2 PM PST)

Hi everyone. We just wanted to let you all know once again that our e-mail servers are seriously bogged down by this virus that's going around. The last time I checked my e-mail, it took two hours to download it all, and 98% of it was just this virus-triggered junk. So once again, let me suggest that you all update your anti-virus software, and scan your computers as soon as you can. And if you've been trying to get a hold of us in the last week or so, and we haven't responded... well, now you know why. You can read more about this virus here at CNN. Imagine - 10 years ago most of us hadn't even heard of e-mail, and now we have to deal with stuff like this. We truly live in strange and wondrous times.

Before we go, a few more announcements this afternoon. Warner will release Back to Bataan, Battleground and Flying Leathernecks on May 4th (SRP $19.97 each). On April 27th, look for Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, and the Hammer Horror Collection (a 6-disc set with the three titles we just mentioned, along with Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula and The Mummy). Also coming on June 1st are Dr. Who: The Curse of Fenric and Dr. Who: The Two Doctors.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/28/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

We got so busy updating all our stats here that Tuesday's last update became Wednesday's first! Happens like that sometimes.

Anyway, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales chart with the final numbers for December, ending the week of 12/26. Some 320,682 players were shipped that week, taking the monthly total to 3,027,083, and the final total for 2003 to 21,994,389. That puts the DVD format to date at some 65,713,127 players. Just in case you were wondering.

Speaking of charts, we've also updated all the DVD sales, rental and total titles currently available data that we normally track above. Just in case you were wondering about any of those numbers.

In other news today, Buena Vista has officially announced the DVD release of Haunted Mansion for 4/20 (in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions). Also newly announced by the studio is James Cameron's Ghosts of the Abyss documentary, which is due on 4/27.

Nothing new on the Ed Wood front today, except that a few early copies have already found their way onto eBay for absurd prices, and the disc is no longer even listed at Amazon.com.

There's new information coming in about the possible DVD release of another classic SciFi series by Universal later this year, along with a show about some guy everybody loves. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill today. Here's a clue on the SciFi show: beedeebeedeebeedee...

And speaking of SciFi, yes... we do know that there's no insert in the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Special Collector's Edition DVD. And yes, we do know that the disc art for Disc Two of the set is printed upside down, and that it's actually an image from Generations, not The Undiscovered Country. You have no idea how many e-mails we've gotten about those two issues, asking what we think. So what do we think about the disc art issue? Someone in QC obviously screwed the pooch. As to the insert question, like many studios these days, Paramount is no longer including inserts with their DVD releases. The feeling is they're a waste of money, given that most people never even look at them. Personally, I don't miss them all that much, but I know a lot of you do. What I do wish the studios would do more often is include nice liner notes booklets in the DVD cases, instead of just a sheet of paper with the cover artwork and a list of chapter stops. It's probably not necessary for all releases, but for good special editions, a nice liner notes booklet is like icing on the cake. And yes, people DO read them. Anyway, it's an issue that's sure to stir up dissent in the months ahead.

Finally this morning, we've kicked up another trio of new Contests for you, thanks to our friends at Buena Vista and Warner. You'll have the chance to win copies of Alice in Wonderland, Friends: Season Six, Grind and Billabong Odyssey. Get yer entries in quick!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/27/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

Yes, it's true... Rhino Home Video is going to be releasing The Land of the Lost: The Complete Series on DVD later in 2004. Like H.R. Pufnstuf: The Complete Series, which streets on 2/10, this is part of the 35th Anniversary Sid & Marty Krofft celebration. Good news for Gen-Xers out there.

Also today, Paramount has announced the DVD release of Fat Man & Little Boy, My Side of the Mountain and The Molly Maguires for April 27th.

And we've received word that the filmmakers have completed most of the extras for New Line's The Butterfly Effect, which will be released as an Infinifilm DVD later this year.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/27/04 - 10:45 AM PST)

Morning everyone! We're going to have multiple posts today, as we work to update stats and other items around the site. So be sure to check in later for more.

But first, we need to remind you all that director Nicholas Meyer will be signing copies of the Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country DVD tonight at the Borders bookstore in Westwood at 7:30PM (1360 Westwood Blvd.). So if you're in the L.A.-area and you're a Trek fan, that's the place to be.

Also, there's a very nasty e-mail virus spreading around the Internet today. It's got the Bits and MusicTAP e-mail servers pretty bogged down. We're each getting hundreds of junk e-mails per hour, and we know we're not alone. So we'd like to remind everyone to update your anti-virus software and be sure to scan your computers. And if by chance you're getting junk e-mails from our addresses, just know that it's not us sending them.

But the real reason we wanted to check in this morning, is to update you on the Oscar nominations that came in today. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was nominated for a whopping 11 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The big surprise of the morning is that actress Nicole Kidman wasn't nominated for Best Actress, and her film Cold Mountain didn't receive a Best Picture nom. The list of films that are in contention for the top Oscar are as follows: The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Lost in Translation (a surprise, but yes, it really is that good), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Mystic River and Seabiscuit. You can click here for the official list, and here for CNN's analysis. If I'm a betting man, my money's on Rings right now.

In other news, we're getting reports that a few retailers (who received their shipments early and have not yet gotten the recall notice) have already put their copies of the Ed Wood: Special Edition on store shelves, more than a week before what would have been the street date (2/3). Meanwhile, we're STILL waiting for an official statement about the cancellation from the studio, although they HAVE confirmed that the disc has been "postponed indefinitely". I hate to say it, but this is looking like it's going to be a major cluster f__k. We'll post as soon as we hear anything.

Now then, one last thing this morning. We've just kicked off a whole new series of Bits Power Buys. We have new discounts available on a whole range of home theater equipment just for you loyal readers of The Digital Bits. Click here for the details.

Back later. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/26/04 - 3 PM PST)

We're working on a couple of interesting things for you today, that we expect to post later this week (one of which is a big Upcoming DVD Cover Art update). So this afternoon's post is going to be brief. That said, we think you'll find this interesting.

This is something we didn't see coming but, in retrospect, probably shouldn't come as too much of a surprise (if it's indeed true). There are early and unofficial reports circulating in the media that the U.S. Department of Justice has begun a preliminary investigation of the Blu-ray Group (led by Sony). Apparently, the issue in question is whether or not Group members have acted together to deliberately impede the progress of the rival HD-DVD standard being developed by the DVD Forum. You may recall that the Blu-ray Group companies have been developing their high-definition optical disc format separately from the DVD Forum, but as many of Blu-ray Group are also Forum members, they've voted together on at least one occasion in such as way as to delay the development of the Forum's Advanced Optical Disc format (recently officially adopted as HD-DVD). The Justice Department has thus far declined to comment.

You can read more on this here, here and here. If this tells you nothing else, it should inform you that the road to high-definition movies on disc is going to be longer and more complicated than some in this industry would have you believe. Expect many bumps along the way. We'll keep our eye on this story and see how it develops.

Don't forget that Oscar nominations are announced tomorrow morning in Los Angeles. Click here for the details from the official Oscar site.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/26/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

Lord of the Rings: Return of the King did well at the Golden Globes last night, winning in the Best Picture - Drama, Best Director, Best Original Song and Best Original Score categories. Also taking wins last night were Lost in Translation (for Best Picture - Comedy, Best Screenplay and Best Actor - Comedy), Charlize Theron (for Best Actress - Drama in the film Monster), Sean Penn (Best Actor - Drama for Mystic River), etc. You can read the complete list of winners at the Golden Globes official website. There's also the usual summary at CNN.

A bit of DVD release news - Buena Vista has announced The Third Wheel for 4/20 (SRP $29.99).

Also, Columbia TriStar has announced the following titles for release on 4/6: Passionada, City of Joy, Sylvester, The Dresser, The Best of the Muppets Show: Diana Ross and Charlie's Angels: The Complete Second Season.

And Warner Bros has announced the release of the 3-disc Sex and the City: The Sixth Season - Part 1 for 5/18. No artwork or other details are as yet available.

Finally this morning, we have a look for you at Universal's new fit-on-your-shelf-easier packaging for Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series (which will be available on 2/10):

Battlestar Galactica: The Complete Epic Series

Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...

1/24/04

We have a quick update for you on the now delayed Ed Wood: Special Edition. We've been getting a LOT of e-mails from confused retailers, many of whom are telling us that they've already received their shipments of the disc from distributors. The disc had been scheduled for release on 2/3, and many Suncoast stores already have it in their back rooms. However, we HAVE confirmed with the studio that the disc has been indefinitely delayed, so we expect that the disc will get recalled soon and stores will have to return their shipments. No doubt some copies will escape and find their way to eBay. Many readers have noticed that the disc is no longer available on Amazon, and it has been removed from the studio's press site. We'll try to let you know why it was delayed as soon as possible, and we'll post any information pertaining to a new street date as soon as it comes in.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/23/04 - 2 PM PST)

Okay... one last update for you today. We've just posted Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column. This edition features a look at the films of actor Cary Grant, as well as a rundown of all the latest classic title announcements.

One more announcement today - 20th Century Fox will release the new Cheaper by the Dozen remake, starring Steve Martin, on April 6th. Just FYI.

And finally this afternoon, I'm sorry to have to report some very sad news. Bob Keeshan, TV's Captain Kangaroo himself, has passed away at the age of 76. You can read more here at CNN. Like Fred Rogers before him, Keeshan was a friend to kids the world over, and of course to the likes of Mr. Moose, Bunny Rabbit, old Grandfather Clock and Mr. Green Jeans. He'll be missed.

Back on Monday. Until then, stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/23/04 - 1 PM PST)

We've just posted 12 new classic film DVD reviews from Barrie Maxwell. Included are Kino Video's Applause and Love Me Tonight, 20th Century Fox's Born to Be Bad, I Was a Male War Bride, People Will Talk and Kiss Them for Me (Cary Grant classics all), Image Entertainment's Robinson Crusoe of Clipper Island, Milestone's The Edge of the World, Columbia TriStar's Adam Had Four Sons, Divorce American Style and Marooned, and finally my personal favorite John Ford westerns (also one of my all-time favorite films) just released on DVD by Fox... My Darling Clementine, staring Henry Fonda, Victor Mature and Walter Brennan. They're good titles all, so enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/23/04 - 11 AM PST)

Well, here's disappointing news. Buena Vista's Ed Wood: Special Edition (previously scheduled for release on 2/3) has been indefinitely delayed... again. We've been receiving a lot of e-mails from our retail sources over the last 12 hours, and we've just heard official word from the studio. We have no idea why this might be happening, or when the title might be re-slated for release, but you can be sure we'll update you with anything we hear.

In better news today, Koch Vision is going to be releasing a Popeye: 75th Anniversary Collector's Edition on 4/6 (SRP $29.98). The 3-disc set will reportedly contain more than 8 hours worth of classic cartoons featuring the spinach eating sailor. We don't know how complete this collection will be, or what other extras might be included, but we'll post more details (and cover art) as they come in.

Also this morning, we have new details on just announced MGM DVD releases for April. First up, the studio will re-release The Alamo on April 6th, in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, with the John Wayne's Alamo documentary and the theatrical trailer. SRP is $14.95. We don't know if the video has been remastered or if it's the same transfer from the previous DVD release. Also on 4/6, look for Lightning the White Stallion, Little Monsters, Me and the Kid, Red Riding Hood, Sword of Valiant: Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Ring of Bright Water and Jack the Giant Killer. On April 20th, watch for The Playboys, Crisscross, Fool for Love, Wish You Were Here, Man of La Mancha, Follow That Dream, I Could Go on Singing and Billie. Also, to catch you up on a new MGM March title, look for Stay Hungry (Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first American film) on 3/23.

Finally this morning, speaking of Ar-nuld, here's a look at the cover artwork for Artisan's forthcoming The Running Man: Special Edition (street date 3/16)...

The Running Man: Special Edition

Back later with Barry's new column. Stay tuned...

1/22/04

Wow... when we said a few months that Warner was getting ready to get more serious about their classic animated product, we were more right than even we suspected at the time. We know about The Flintstones, and we know Jonny Quest and The Jetsons are on the way, but here's a surprise: Warner has announced the release of Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! - The Complete First and Second Seasons for 3/16. The 4-disc set will SRP for $64.92. VERY nice. No need to deal with any more of those lame "best of"/compilation discs!

Warner has also announced the DVD release of the following titles, all for 5/4: Campion: Dancers in Mourning, Campion: Flowers for the Judge, Campion: Mystery Mile, Campion: Sweet Danger, Campion: The Complete Second Season, Elephant (HBO), Gilmore Girls: The Complete First Season (6 discs), Monarch of the Glen: Series 2 and Monarch of the Glen: The Complete Series 1 & 2 (2-pack).

Here's a look at the cover art for Scooby-Doo and The Waltons: The Complete First Season (which was announced yesterday for 5/11)...

Scooby-Doo: Where Are You! - The Complete First and Second SeasonsThe Waltons: The Complete First SeasonSomething's Gotta Give

Yep... there's nothing like The Waltons coming to DVD to make your mom happy. Trust me, mine's been waiting for this for years!

Of course, another DVD to make mom happy was just announced by Columbia TriStar for 3/30 - Something's Gotta Give. The disc will carry an SLP of $28.95, and will include audio commentaries with director and cast, a "karaoke" deleted scene, the Hamptons House Set Tour featurette (with Amanda Peet), cast and crew filmographies and trailers.

By the way, for those of you who are still a little fuzzy on the basic differences between standard analog TV and digital HDTV, the Technology Review website has a nice little animated primer that's worth checking out. It's a good way to introduce family and friends to the technology.

Okay... if all goes according to plan, we're hoping to post Barrie Maxwell's new Classic Coming Attractions column tomorrow, which will include a number of new DVD reviews. Then, with any luck, we've got a huge Upcoming DVD Cover Art section update planned for Monday or Tuesday. Plus, we've got lots more new DVD reviews coming next week as well.

See you back here tomorrow. Until then... 'nite John Boy.

1/21/04

Fan of Star Trek? Live in California? Good news then! Our friends at Paramount have let us know that director Nicholas Meyer will be signing copies of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country on DVD next week. On Tuesday, January 27th, Meyer will be at the Borders bookstore in Westwood at 7:30PM (1360 Westwood Blvd.). Then on Saturday, January 31st, Meyer will be in the San Francisco area at the Borders in San Rafael at 4PM (588 Francisco Blvd. West).

Moving on to more new announcement news today, we've learned that Warner Bros. will be releasing Gus Van Zant's Elephant on May 4th (SRP $27.95), as well as The Waltons: The Complete First Season on May 11th (SRP $49.98). Also today, we have word that Lion's Gate will release Saved by the Bell: Seasons 3 & 4 and The Cooler (staring William H. Macy and Alec Baldwin) on April 27th.

Finally today, two new Zatoichi films are now available on DVD exclusively from the Animeigo website - Zatoichi at Large and Zatoichi and The Festival of Fire. They'll be available from Amazon and other DVD retailers in a few months. While we're at it, we figured you'd like a look at the final cover art for Columbia TriStar's new Panic Room: Special Edition (3/30) and Mona Lisa Smile (3/9 - it seems the art from yesterday was temp only), as well as Fox's Futurama: Volume 3 (3/9) and Kino's upcoming version of The Three Musketeers (1921, starring Douglas Fairbanks - 2/3). Enjoy!

Zatoichi at LargeZatoichi and The Festival of FirePanic Room: Special Edition

Mona Lisa SmileFuturama: Volume 3The Three Mustekeers (1921)

Stay tuned...

1/20/04

We've got a couple of things for you today. First up, how about a little new DVD cover artwork? Here's a look at Universal's 21 Grams (3/16), Columbia TriStar's Mona Lisa Smile (3/9) and Warner's A Room with a View: Special Edition (formerly from Image, now remastered and due on 4/6)...

21 GramsMona Lisa SmileA Room with a View: Special Edition

Just FYI, you can now pre-order those Universal Monster Legacy Collections from Amazon. Just click on the cover art below.

And Adam Jahnke's checked in with another The Bottom Shelf column. In this edition, Adam reviews 6 DVDs, including Buena Vista's Bringing Down the House, Lions Gate's Cronos: 10th Anniversary Special Edition, HBO's Live from Baghdad, Home Vision's Michelangelo: Self-Portrait and a pair of Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation DVDs - Unprotected! and Full Frontal. Talk about your potpourri. Enjoy!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/19/04 - 1:30 PM PST)

We've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today from our own Rob Hale. Rob's taken a look at three by filmmaker David Cronenberg - The Brood, Naked Lunch and Spider. Enjoy!

Also, we've kicked off another pair of new Contests for you today. The first gives you a chance to take home one of 3 sets of Paramount's Shogun and South Park: The Complete Third Season, and the other gives you a shot at 5 copies of Buena Vista's Open Range. Both will run until Saturday, January 24th.

In DVD release news, Universal has announced the DVD release of three new titles. Look for 21 Grams on March 16th, Honey on March 23rd and 30 Years to Life on April 6th.

Columbia TriStar has announced the release of its Mona Lisa Smile for March 9th.

Finally today, 20th Century Fox will release The Grapes of Wrath on on April 6th.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/19/04 - 12:01 AM PST)

This is just a quick post to get the week kicked off right. First of all, my condolences to Colts fans and especially to you Eagles fans. As a life-long Vikings supporter, I feel your pain.

How about a little good news? As expected, Columbia TriStar has officially announced the DVD release of their Panic Room: Special Edition for 3/30. This 3-disc set will SRP for $39.95. We'll have cover artwork and more details on the bonus material as soon as it comes in. Now if only we could get a nice Criterion special edition of Fincher's The Game, we'd be in business. I never in a million years imagined we'd get an SE of Alien³ before one of The Game. Go figure.

For those of you craving for reviews, Matt's turned in his thoughts on the new SACD version of Elton John's Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. I've got a copy of that myself, and I can tell you it's a great disc. The industry is definitely starting to get the hang of this high-resolution audio thing. These SACD and DVD-Audio discs just keep sounding better and better.

One last thing this morning. Judging by the amount of e-mail we got about those new Universal Monster Legacy Collections, there are a lot of excited fans out there. So here's a good look at the cover artwork for you (remember, all the titles street on 4/27)...

Dracula: The Legacy CollectionFrankenstein: The Legacy CollectionThe Wolf Man: The Legacy Collection

The Monster Legacy Gift Set

We've got lots of stuff coming this week, including new columns, tons of cover art, new reviews and more, so stay tuned!

1/18/04

Now's your chance Trek fans. We've been telling Paramount for years that it's time they released Star Trek: The Animated Series on DVD. Hell... it's only 22 episodes, each only like 20 minutes long. They ought to be able to bang that out pretty quickly, right? But for whatever reason, every time we ask about it, the reaction seems to be, "Yeah, but why would anyone really want it?"

The answer to that, of course, is because it's Star Trek. Animated or not, silly or not, there are a couple of real gems in those 22 episodes. You've got the entire original cast doing the voices, you've got follow-ups to classic Original Series episodes, you've got episodes written by the likes of Trek staples D. C. Fontana and David Gerrold. Heck, SciFi author Larry Niven even penned one of these bad boys.

So why, you might ask, am I raising the subject now? Simple. Star Trek.com is actually making an attempt to gauge fan interest in seeing The Animated Series on DVD. Click to this page at the site, and slide way down to the very bottom. It's not like they're actually going out of their way or anything, but there at the bottom in small print is this question:

Would you like to see the Animated Adventures on DVD? Let us know at editor@startrek.com.

Hell, yeah! Asking Star Trek fans if they want The Animated Series on DVD is like asking Cookie Monster if he wants the last Nutter Butter in the bag. This year is the 30th anniversary of The Animated Series. If you want 'em on DVD, you'd better tell Paramount quick before they get bored and forget the series even exists. E-mail that mysterious editor person and tell 'em what's what. Then go watch football or something and try not to freeze your patoo off.

See you back here tomorrow morning. ;-)

(LATE UPDATE - 1/16/04 - 3 PM PST)

Yeah, there's just nothing like a couple of new DVD reviews to close out the week. So here's a pair of them for you. Todd's checked out one of our favorite films on disc, in the form of Criterion's new release of Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru (now available in stores). I've chimed in as well today with a look at Paramount's forthcoming Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - Special Collector's Edition (which streets on January 27th). We hope you enjoy them... both the reviews and the discs.

Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/16/04 - 10:30 AM PST)

Boy, it's a great week for DVD announcements! Here's one of those cases where we don't mind saying that we told you so! Remember earlier this week (and last year) how we posted in The Rumor Millstone that the folks at Warner were working hard on releasing full seasons of their classic animated TV shows? Well, sure enough... the studio has just officially announced the DVD release of The Flintstones: Season One for 3/16! Would we kid you? The 4-disc set will SRP for $64.92 and will feature all the episodes in their original full frame aspect ratio with Dolby Digital mono audio. And since we're your DVD friends here at The Bits, here's a nice look at the cover art for the release... ;-)

The Flintstones: Season One

Watch for The Jetsons: Season One and Jonny Quest: The Complete Series later in 2004!

Back with those new DVD reviews in a little while. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/15/04 - 3 PM PST)

We've got some great news for you fans of Universal's Classic Monsters series. The studio has today announced a number of new titles including several new Monster-themed releases.

On April 6th, look for Gable and Lombard, Lorenzo's Oil, Lover Come Back, Same Time, Next Year, a new digitally remastered version of Pillow Talk, and a Hudson/Day Romance Collection (which will include Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers). All titles are $14.95 except the collection which will street for $29.98.

Now here's the really great news! On April 27th, you'll get the Dracula: The Legacy Collection, a 2-disc set which will include Dracula (1931), Dracula: Original Spanish Version and Dracula's Daughter on Disc One, with Son of Dracula and House of Dracula on Disc Two.

Also streeting on that day will be the Frankenstein: The Legacy Collection, another 2-disc set including Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein on Disc One, with Ghost of Frankenstein and House of Frankenstein on Disc Two.

Not done yet - you'll also see the 2-disc The Wolf Man: The Legacy Collection on 4/27, which will include The Wolf Man and Werewolf of London on Disc One, and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman and She-Wolf of London on Disc Two. The SRP on each of these collections will be $26.98.

Finally, 4/27 will also see the release of The Monster Legacy Gift Set 6-disc set (SRP $79.98), which will include all three of the above Legacy collection discs, along with collectible Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man figurines in a boxed set.

Universal Monster Legacy sets

We'll have full DVD cover art soon for all of these new Monster sets, but the small thumbnails above should do in the meantime. We don't know if the previously released titles are going to have the same extras as before, but we'll post any additional details regarding bonus material when it comes in. We do know that the packaging for these releases will be Digipaks with outer boxes, and that all of the films will be in their original full frame aspect ratios with audio in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. All of this is timed to coincide with the release of Van Helsing to theaters.

Stay tuned!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/15/04 - NOON PST)

Afternoon everyone. Today's post is going to be a brief one, because I've got a dentist's appointment this afternoon (no, I'm most definitely not looking forward to it). But we do have a couple of interesting links for you today in the meantime.

First of all, that recording of Todd and I on the Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn show is now online at this link at the show's website. It's in MP3 format, so you should all be able to listen to it without problem. Hope you enjoy it. Be sure to let us know what you think. Our thanks to the show's producer, Donya Khalili, for making it available so quickly.

Also today, there are a couple of interesting stories up online. First up is a tech story from Reuters (via Yahoo) on HP and Dell announcing their support for Sony's Blu-ray Disc format. You may remember we talked about that in our report on Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD from CES last week. There's also an interesting story at PCWorld on a soon to be released product, the Bravo D3 Home HD DVD Media Player, that will play high-definition video content on standard DVDs via the Windows Media 9 codec.

Now then, we'll be back tomorrow with more new DVD reviews, including Criterion's just released special edition of Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. See you then.

Stay tuned...

1/14/04

Afternoon, folks, and a pretty good one too, if I do say so myself! In case you haven't heard, we're going back to the Moon. Living as we do in the 21st Century, I would say it's about damn time.

We've got a couple of cool things for you to enjoy today, DVD-wise. First up, we've got the complete transcript of a live chat our friends over at the Home Theater Forum held Monday night with Peter Staddon of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Included in the chat are the revelations that Chris Carter's Millennium and Harsh Realm are on their way to DVD later this year, along with (possibly) Space Above and Beyond. Also expected in 2004, in time for the theatrical release of Alien vs. Predator, is the long-awaited Predator: Special Edition. The long-delayed 300 Spartans will finally make its way to DVD as well, around the time Troy hits theaters. And if luck holds, we might even see an anamorphic widescreen re-release of Fox's awesome special edition of James Cameron's The Abyss in 2004 or 2005. Peter's long been a great friend to the DVD format, so be sure to give the transcript a read. As always, thanks to Ron, Parker and the gang at HTF for letting us post it.

Also today, we've got another new DVD review for you from Todd. Seriously, no kidding - two reviews in as many days from Todd! Today, he takes a look at New Line's newly-released Freddy vs. Jason: Platinum Series DVD. Don't miss it.

We've got an early look for you at the DVD cover art for Miramax's Kill Bill, Volume 1, which was announced yesterday for 4/13. Kill Bill, Volume 2 is expected to hit theaters on 4/16, just FYI.

Kill Bill, Volume 1

Finally, Todd and I had a great time yesterday on Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn. For over an hour we talked about the latest developments in DVD technology, the future of the format, the surprising success of cult movies on DVD, the effects of digital piracy on the film industry and even some of the titles to look forward to in 2004. We even managed to take a listener call or two. Barry, as it turns out, is a big fan of DVD, and a longtime Bits reader. He definitely knows this format. Anyway, the hour was a lot of fun. For those of you who missed it, a recording of the broadcast will be available on the Culture Shocks website in the next few days, that you'll be able to listen to online via Windows Media Player. We'll post a link to it as soon as it's available. Our thanks to Barry and his staff for having us on.

That's all for now! Have a great day and, as always, stay tuned...

1/13/04

Yes, it's true... Bill (that's me) and Todd are going to be on the radio later today. More on that in a minute. First, we've just gotten word from Buena Vista on the announcement of 5 new DVDs on the way in March and April. So here goes (and you Tarantino fans will want to stick around for this)...

Duplex (staring Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore) will street on 3/2 (SRP $29.99) with video in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and full frame, plus audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Bonus material will include deleted scenes and a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The Ransom: Special Edition is set to arrive on DVD on 3/23 (SRP $29.99), featuring anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras are expected to include audio commentary with director Ron Howard, deleted scenes, cast and filmmaker discussions, behind the scenes featurettes and more.

The Splash: 20th Anniversary Special Edition will also arrive on DVD on 3/23 (SRP $29.99), in anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1) with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include audio commentary with director Ron Howard and crew members, the Making a Splash featurette with the cast and crew, and audition tapes for Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah. Many of these extras will feature introductions Ron Howard and/or producer Brian Grazer.

The romantic comedy Hope Springs (staring Colin Firth, Minnie Driver and Heather Graham) is due on 4/6 (SRP $29.99) with anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1) and audio in Dolby Digital 5.1.

And we've saved the best for last! Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill, Volume 1 will street on 4/13 (SRP $29.99). The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video (2.35:1), both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, a Behind the Scenes with Quentin Tarantino documentary and additional extras TBA. Interestingly, this DVD release is just 3 days prior to the scheduled release of Kill Bill, Volume 2 into theaters. Our initial information is that this is NOT a special edition release, so it's possible that a more elaborate edition of both films is planned for a later date.

Here's a look at the cover art for Ransom and Splash, as well as Fox's Reefer Madness (4/20). We'll post Kill Bill art as soon as it's available.

Ransom: Special EditionSplash: 20th Anniversary Special EditionReefer Madness: Special Edition

Also today, Columbia TriStar has announced a few new titles, all streeting on 3/23. Look for Vampire Effect, For Keeps, Fresh Horses and Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla. Just FYI, on 3/16, look for Baby the Rain Must Fall, December, Mac, Wrong is Right and Married with Children: The Complete Second Season.

Around the site today, we've got a new DVD review from Todd of Synapse's recent Asian cult/zombie mayhem release on disc... Wild Zero. The disc is now available, and we think some of you out there might get a kick out of it.

We've posted early word on some exciting Warner classic animated TV series releases that our sources are telling us are currently in the works. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill this morning.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts to include the 479,044 players shipped to retailers here in the States in the week ending 12/19. One more week to go, and we'll have the final numbers for 2003. That last week aside, the format has now officially passed the 65 million stand-alone DVD players (and DVD/VCR players) mark here in the States.

You should also know that we've updated all the other DVD sales and rental numbers we keep track of here at the site (you'll find that above).

Now then... if any of you Bits faithful are interested, both Todd and I are going to be on the radio later today. We've been invited to appear on Culture Shocks with Barry Lynn. Barry's AM talk radio show broadcasts out of KCAA, 1050 AM here in Southern California, but is syndicated all across the country. You may know Barry from his appearances on Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, MSNBC's News with Brian Williams and CNN's Crossfire. It turns out Barry is a BIG fan of DVD, so he's asked us to join him for an hour to talk live about all the latest DVD news, upcoming releases and the like. We might also be taking listener calls, so feel free to listen in and participate. The show is broadcast from 2-3 PM PST (5-6 PM EST). You can tune in to your local station, or listen online at the show's website via Windows Media. We're really looking forward to it, so we hope you can join us. ;-)

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

(LATER UPDATE - 1/12/04 - NOON PST)

Yeah, we just can't seem to stop posting stuff today. Here's an early look at the DVD cover artwork for Blue Underground's The Final Countdown: Limited Edition (3/30), Warner's Meet Me in St. Louis: 60th Anniversary Special Edition (4/6), and Anchor Bay's Dawn of the Dead: Divimax Special Edition (3/9)...

The Final Countdown: Special EditionMeet Me in St. Louis: 60th Anniversary Special EditionDawn of the Dead: Divimax Special Edition

Also today, just FYI, our friends over at the Home Theater Forum are going to be holding a live chat tonight with Peter Staddon of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (at 6 PM PST). So if you have questions about upcoming Fox titles, now's your chance to ask them (click this link for more information). We'll post a transcript of the chat tomorrow.

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/12/04 - 9 AM PST)

Yep... it's official. As we mentioned in the Rumor Mill last month, Warner Bros. has just announced the DVD release of The Matrix Revolutions for 4/6 (SRP $29.95). The 2-disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video (aspect ratio 2.40:1), with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include the Revolutions Recalibrated documentary on the making of the film, the CG Revolution documentary on the film's visual effects, the Super Burly Brawl featurette on final Neo/Agent Smith showdown, the Before the Revolution "3-D Matrix timeline"), the Future Gamer: The Matrix Online featurette on the massively multi-player online game, the 3-D Evolution "multidimensional stills gallery", the theatrical trailer and DVD-ROM weblinks to The Matrix Online videogame test site and the film's official website. A full frame version of the DVD will also be available.

Here's a look at the cover art...

The Matrix Revolutions

Have a great day and stay tuned!


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