Fans of a number of classic TV series are going to be pleased today. It
was announced late yesterday that producer Stephen J. Cannell has struck
an exclusive distribution deal with Anchor Bay Entertainment to release
a number of his classic shows on DVD. Starting in mid-September, The Bay
will release 21 Jump Street,
followed by Silk Stalkings in
early October. Two more series are expected to start being released
before the end of the year, with another two due in early 2005 - these
include Hunter, The
Commish, Renegade and
The Greatest American Hero. Anchor
Bay is already hard at work producing special features for the sets, so
look for them to be loaded with cast and crew interviews, audio
commentaries and "making-of" featurettes. You can read more on
We've got a little more info on the HD-DVD/Blu-ray Disc format war
that's shaping up today, specifically an update on Warner Bros' position
on the whole thing. Rather than remaining loyal to Lieberfarb, the
studio is reportedly hedging their bets. A Bits
reader sent us
link to a story over at the L.A. Daily News on Tuesday's
panel discussion, in which it's revealed that the Hollywood studios -
including Warner - aren't yet committing to either format. In fact, you
might be comforted to know that the studios are lobbying hard for a
single format behind-the-scenes. That's good, because frankly it seems
that only the studios have the power to stop a format war. Here's an
interesting section from the story:
"Warner remains firmly on the fence,"
said Warner Home Video President Jim Cardwell, adding that his studio
would probably embrace "whichever one is most likely to succeed. We
don't want to back a loser."
But Cardwell said any kind of format war would be "suicidal"
for the industry. In the war between VHS and Betamax, the two competing
standards were released into the marketplace at the same time. It was
essentially left up to consumers to decide the winner between the
superior quality Betamax or the less expensive VHS format. It was VHS
that eventually won, leaving Betamax buyers with an ultimately useless
MGM Home Entertainment President David Bishop urged some kind of truce
this time around.
"I encourage the parties to get together," he said. "We
can't go to market with two formats. ... It will be the death knell."
The executives all agreed that the new technology should debut in 2006
or 2007 and said among the most important elements are cost and
Bob Chapek, president of Disney's Buena Vista Home Video, used the
analogy of two powerful trains approaching each other in a high-stakes
game of chicken.
Asked Chapek: "Will the two trains recognize each other? Will they
stop before it's too late? Is there an option whereby both trains
accomplish their objectives without a disastrous collision?"
Good to know that there ARE some sane minds at the highest levels in
Hollywood, isn't it? I have to say, Bob Chapek's a good guy. I've spoken
to him on a couple of occasions. With any luck, these manufacturers will
actually listen to Chapek and the other studio heads and come to their
senses. Thanks to the Bits reader
who sent that in.
In other news today, we've got some more new street dates for you.
First up, Miramax will release Ella Enchanted
on disc on 8/24.
And how about a slew of new dates for more great Paramount titles too?
Check today's update of
Rumor Mill for those - they come from reliable industry
sources but the titles have yet to be announced officially by the
We have another sad bit of news to report today. Special effects
pioneer Donald Edmund Trumbull died on Monday at the age of 95. Trumbull
began his career in the film industry working as a rigger on Wizard
of Oz. He would go one to innovate new techniques in visual
effects motion control in such films as Star
Wars and Close Encounters,
twice winning the Academy scientific and technical achievement awards
for his efforts.
Speaking of Star Wars, Lucasfilm
and the Cartoon Network are getting back together to produce 5 new
animated, 12-minute Clone Wars
adventures. Reportedly, the events in these new longer episodes will
lead into the beginning of Episode III,
which hits theaters next summer. Says Cartoon Network spokeswoman Laurie
Goldberg: "What you'll be reading in the
scroll [for Episode III] is what you'll be seeing in the
cartoon." The new toons will hit the Network starting on
March 12th, 2004, just two months before the film debuts. It's suspected
that all the Clone Wars shorts
will eventually be released on DVD. You can read more on this
We'll leave you this week with a sneak peek at some of the cover art
you'll find in Warner's upcoming classic Alfred
Hitchcock Signature Collection, due on 9/7. Here's Dial
M for Murder, Suspicion
and the new Strangers on a Train: Special
Now then... we'll be back on Monday with a new Classic
Coming Attractions from Barrie, a review of one of the new
Walt Disney Treasures titles from
Adam (along with an interview on the title's creation), and more. On
Tuesday, we'll post Todd's next Weekly
Release Roundup. I might even try to bang out a few new DVD
reviews myself next week. You just never know...
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/10/04 - 1 PM PDT)
Just a quick update with sad news.
legend Ray Charles passed away here in L.A. this morning at the
age of 73. There's obviously a lot of reasons to miss him, but from the
perspective of film fans, we'll always remember him fondly for his turn
in one of our all-time favorites... The Blues
Brothers. Can't help but think he's shakin' his tail feather
somewhere even now. Give the film a spin on disc this weekend and we
think you'll agree.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/10/04 -
12:01 AM PDT)
Mekka Lekka Hi-Mekka Hiney Ho!
If you know what that means, you're about to be a happy camper. Yes,
that's right... all 45 episodes of Pee-wee's
Playhouse (including 6 "lost" episodes) are coming
to DVD this fall from Image Entertainment, according to the
Reporter (via Yahoo). Word is they'll be released in 2 box
sets, and the Pee-wee's Playhouse Christmas
Special will be released separately as well. There will
reportedly be basic editions first, and then special "limited"
editions next year. Creator/star Paul Reubens will be involved, so look
for lots of cool extras on the later editions. We'll post more on this
as it becomes known. Here's the link to Image's
Moving on, if all those new cover scans in the
DVD Cover Art section aren't enough for you, here's three
more: Buena Vista's Alias: The Complete Third
Season (9/7) and Something Wicked
This Way Comes (8/3), as well as Universal's Funhouse
Meanwhile, you'd have thought you'd time-warped back to the early days
of the DVD format if you were in attendance at the DVD Lucky 7 industry
conference here in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Supporters of the opposing
Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD formats participated in a panel discussion on
the next generation of optical disc technology... and sparks flew. The
godfather of DVD himself, Warren Lieberfarb, spoke on behalf of the
HD-DVD camp and called Blu-ray "vaporware." Columbia TriStar's
Ben Feingold, weighing in on the Blu-ray side, countered that their
high-def format would be ready to launch by the end of 2005.
What's most interesting about all this early rhetoric (and some of you
may have been reading The Bits
long enough to remember) is that Lieberfarb and Feingold were once
staunch allies in the push to get the current DVD format adopted. So
what's changed? The companies that collect most of the licence fees for
current DVD (Toshiba and NEC) want to keep things the way they are with
the next generation format (HD-DVD is based on the current DVD spec).
Meanwhile, the companies that collect fewer licence fees with current
DVD (Sony, Phillips and Matsushita - Sony owns Columbia TriStar) want a
bigger slice of the pie. To get that bigger slice, they've gone out on
their own to create a completely separate format - Blu-ray Disc. What's
more, they've actively worked to obstruct progress on HD-DVD by voting
against it in the DVD Forum, which was an organization that was created
to avoid a format war with DVD in the first place. With late 2005/early
2006 looking ever more likely to see the rollout of both Blu-ray Disc
and HD-DVD, and with the opposing camps becoming ever more entrenched, a
next generation format war now seems almost unavoidable.
The real shame about all this, is that on the consumer end of things
(which is where these sorts of conflicts are ultimately going to be
resolved), I'm not convinced that anyone but the early adopters and
high-end home theater enthusiasts are going to even care about
high-definition optical discs... at least in the near term. Even if a
SINGLE high-definition disc format were launched, most consumers are so
heavily invested in current DVD that I just don't see them looking to
upgrade anytime soon. Sure, the penetration of HDTVs is finally starting
to pick up, but here's the problem... current DVDs look pretty damn
amazing on new widescreen HDTVs. Some current DVD players even have DVI
outputs that upscale the 480p video content on regular DVDs to near
high-definition resolutions. Back when most people were upgrading from
VHS to DVD, the quality improvement was obvious. But most consumers just
aren't going to appreciate the difference between a good DVD and a
It certainly helps that both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD players will all
likely be able to play your current DVD discs. Still, how many people
are going to want to re-buy all of their DVD movies in high-definition?
Even the diehard DVD fans are getting sick of having to buy the same
films again and again as better special editions are released. They've
been double and triple dipped to death already.
Oh, but it gets worse still. Just like some Hollywood studios supported
DVD early on, while others supported Circuit City's now-defunct Divx
variation, you can bet that Columbia TriStar is only going to release
their high-definition titles in Blu-ray Disc format, while Warner Bros.
will support only HD-DVD. The rest of the studios will be faced with the
prospect of having to chose one format or the other, release titles in
both, or wait until one or the other wins the war. Meanwhile, as prices
for both DVD hardware and software drop into the basement, profits
margins for the studios and manufacturers are going to start thinning
out. In fact, they've already thinned out for manufacturers, which is
why they're so desperate to launch the next-generation formats. And the
studios, having grown fat off the DVD gravy train, are going to start
getting desperate to re-sell the same films to consumers yet again in
So what does all this mean? Two competing high-definition disc formats
are going to be released into a consumer marketplace that isn't ready
yet for even one... and both are going to languish for a long time. Most
consumers won't care, and those that do will either be confused or
pissed off or both. Look at what's happened to the much-ballyhooed debut
of high-resolution audio. We have two formats (DVD-Audio and SACD - not
coincidentally from the very same two camps now fighting over
high-definition movie discs) and there aren't even enough consumers
interested yet for anyone to give a damn that there's a format war going
on, much less to crown a clear winner.
I'll tell you this right now: unless the HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc folks
pull their heads out of their asses and start talking about establishing
a single, unified format... the "next big thing" is going to
be an almost complete disaster for years to come.
You can read more of my thoughts on Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD
(based on a first look at the technology at the Consumer Electronics
Show back in January of this year). For more on Tuesday's panel "discussion,"
link at Video Business (subscription required) or
link at Yahoo.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/9/04 - 5:30 PM PDT)
We've got one more cool announcement for you today. Kevin Smith's
website has revealed that Miramax will release a 3-disc Clerks:
10th Anniversary Edition on 9/7 (SRP $34.99). The full extent
of the extras has yet to be revealed, but the set will include the
original "Sundance" version of Clerks
used to shop the film around to prospective studios. It will not,
unfortunately, include the original Clerks
TV pilot or the Lovely Tea Party
documentary (Tea Party will
reportedly be released at some point, but the TV pilot is tied up for
legal reasons). We'll post more details and artwork as they become
Now then... yes, it's true.
We've FINALLY finished the
DVD Cover Art update. We've added more than 150 new scans.
There's tons of new art, some of which you probably haven't seen before.
As always, you can click on each cover to pre-order that title at
and doing so helps support our work here at The
Bits. We appreciate it. Just FYI, we'll be adding more cover
art next week as well, so be sure to watch for it.
Enjoy the art and we'll see you tomorrow!
(LATE UPDATE - 6/9/04 -
1:30 PM PDT)
Still working on that art, but while that's going on, I thought you'd
like to know that Buena Vista and Touchstone have announced the DVD
release of The Alamo on 9/28 (SRP
$29.99). The film will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and
full frame versions, each with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will
include three featurettes (Walking in the
Footsteps of Heroes, Return of a
Legend: The Making of the Alamo and Deep
in the Heart of Texans), deleted scenes and more.
Plus, while I'm prepping all this art, I thought you might like a taste
of some of the new covers we've just gotten in. So here's Warner's Babylon
5: The Movies (8/17), along with a few of MGM's forthcoming
David Lean DVDs (due on 9/7)...
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/9/04 - 10:30 AM PDT)
A number of you have been asking us about Columbia TriStar's
forthcoming Three Stooges DVDs,
which were believed to offer only colorized versions of the shorts on
the discs. Good news - they'll actually offer BOTH the original B&W
as well as new color versions. They claim the colorization process
itself has been improved to be more realistic. And according to their
press release for the Stooges
"These DVDs will also feature CTHE's "ChromaChoice"
feature which allows viewers to toggle between the original black and
white version of a film and its colorized version in a seamless manner
using the DVD remote."
So there you go. Both Three Stooges: Goofs
on the Loose and Three Stooges:
Stooged and Confoosed (due on 8/10) will offer this feature.
You can expect it to appear on future classic titles as well.
While we're talking Columbia TriStar, they've announced a couple of new
titles. Look for them to release Bon Voyage,
Past Midnight and a Candyman:
Special Edition on 8/17.
Back with more soon. And yes, I'm STILL working on that art. All 150
pieces of it. ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 6/8/04 - 5 PM PDT)
Another quick update while we continue to work on our cover art
Business is now reporting that New Line will release the
4-disc The Lord of the Rings: The Return of
the King - Special Extended DVD Edition in December. There's
no other details yet and no exact street date (although you can likely
expect it early in the month rather than later), but at least we finally
have a better idea on the timeframe for the release.
(LATE UPDATE - 6/8/04 - 1:45 PM PDT)
We're back with Todd's
Release Roundup. Some great titles reviewed in there today,
including Warner's Mystic River,
Miramax's City of God and Shout!
Factory's SCTV, so don't miss it.
Also this afternoon, we've gotten word that 20th Century Fox has
announced the rest of their Studio Classic titles for 2004. On 9/7, look
for Alexander's Ragtime Band
featuring commentary by film score restorationist Ray Fiola, 3 deleted
scenes, Alice Faye as seen on A&E's
Biography, Movietone news footage
and more. 10/5 will see The Three Faces of
Eve featuring commentary by film historian Aubrey Solomon,
the Movietone Academy Awards
newsreel and more. 11/2 will bring Three
Coins in the Fountain featuring commentary by Wesleyan
University Film Studies chair Jeanine Basinger, another Movietone
newsreel and more. Finally, on 12/7 you'll get How
to Steal a Million featuring commentary by Eli Wallach and
Catherine Wyler, the Audrey Hepburn: The
Fairest Lady episode of A&E's Biography
and (you guessed it) more.
Also, we have word that the 8/10 release of DreamWorks' Envy
has been postponed indefinitely (no idea why). We'll give you the new
date when we have it.
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/8/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Yeah, I know. I promised that the cover art update would go up
yesterday, and here it is Tuesday morning and it still isn't up.
I'm working on it, I'm working on it!!!
Seriously, given that I was gone a week, it turns out that there's a
LOT more art to go up than expected, so it's naturally taking more time
than anticipated to get it all formatted. In addition, I've found myself
working to follow up on a number of interesting DVD-related
rumors/stories, so that's been keeping me busy as well. The art WILL be
up as soon as I can get it all posted, so keep checking back.
In the meantime, you'll find one of those interesting DVD-related
rumors/stories in today's
Mill update. Here's a hint... it's a particularly big and
green rumor. Smells like an ogre. Looks like one too. Actually, there's
some Matrix-ey info in there too,
By the way, I've seen the Star Wars
DVD trailer. It talks all about the new features and has tons of film
footage, but there's really no new information given and none of the
changed/altered scenes are shown. It's basically just a promotional
piece. I have, however, heard through the grapevine that Lucasfilm, THX
and Lowry Digital have done some amazing restoration work on these films
for the DVD release. Word is they look absolutely stunning - as good as
you've ever seen them in fact.
Back later with Todd's column and yes... that art update. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 6/7/04 - 12:30 PM PDT)
That artwork update is on the way later this afternoon, but first we
wanted to catch you up on a few more new DVD announcements today.
To start with, New Line has officially announced the DVD release of
Elf for 11/16 (SRP $29.95). The
2-disc set will be an Infinifilm edition release, and will include the
film in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions on the same
disc. Audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include 2 audio
commentaries with director Jon Favreau and star Will Ferrell, deleted
scenes, a number of featurettes (Film School
for Kids, Tag Along with Will
Ferrell, How They Made the North
Pole and Kids on Christmas),
karaoke, a read-along option, an Infinifilm fact track, interactive
games, DVD-ROM extras and more! You can visit the
DVD website here.
HBO has announced Mr. Show: The Complete
Fourth Season for release on 9/21 (SRP $34.98). The 2-disc
set will include all of the episodes from the show's final season, along
with 10 audio commentary tracks with Bob Odenkirk and David Cross,
deleted scenes, a music-only track and outtakes.
Warner Bros. has finally officially revealed that they'll street a
9-film DVD box set, The Alfred Hitchcock
Signature Collection, on 9/7 (SRP $99.92). The set will
include 7 new titles (Dial M for Murder,
Foreign Correspondent, Suspicion,
The Wrong Man, Stage
Fright, I Confess and
Mr. and Mrs. Smith) which will
also be available separately for $19.97 each. The set will also include
a 2-disc Strangers on a Train: Special
Edition ($26.99 separately) and the previously released North
by Northwest: Special Edition. All will feature documentaries
and other extras.
MGM will release Walking Tall on
DVD on 9/28 (SRP $27.98). Extras will include deleted scenes, bloopers,
an alternate ending, the Fight the Good Fight
stunts featurette, audio commentary by The Rock, another with the
director and crew, and a photo gallery.
And Miramax will release Kevin Smith's Jersey
Girl on 9/14, in anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby
Digital 5.1 audio, and featuring audio commentary Smith and star Ben
Affleck, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes featurettes and more (SRP
We've also got word in
Rumor Mill today on what 20th Century Fox plans to do with the
second season of Lost in Space on
DVD. Don't miss it.
Here's cover art for Elf, Mr.
Show and Universal's The Munsters:
The Complete First Season (8/24)...
By the way, we've also kicked off THREE new
today, giving each of you a chance to win copies of Universal's
One and Shout! Factory's
1, as well as a cool
King Arthur-themed package of prizes from The History Channel.
The first two contests will run until Noon PDT on Friday, June 11th,
while the King Arthur contest will
run for two weeks until Noon PDT on Friday, June 18th. Good luck!
Back with the rest of that cover art later this afternoon. Stay
(EARLY UPDATE -
6/7/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Yeah... you guys are gonna love this (note the sarcasm in my type).
Wars.com just made the trailer for the forthcoming Star
Wars Trilogy DVDs available online... BUT they've made it an
exclusive to subscribers to their Hyperspace service. Lovely. We
obviously haven't seen the trailer yet, so we can't tell you what's on
it. We've been told by a few readers, however, that none of the newly
enhanced/altered footage is included.
It's been something of a strange weekend here in the States. I was
watching some of the D-Day anniversary coverage on TV on Saturday, when
they broke in with the sad (but not unexpected) news of
death of actor-turned-President Ronald Reagan at his home here in
California. He's been out of the public eye for almost a decade now,
sadly fighting a battle against Alzheimer's disease, but he has been
(and will continue to be) missed. The staff of The
Bits would like to take this opportunity to doff our caps one
last time for the Gipper.
By the way... saw a couple of movies this weekend. Believe it or not,
the new Harry Potter flick is
actually worth your time. In the hands of a real director, Alfonso
Cuaron, Prisoner of Azkaban
finally manages to capture some of the dark humor and whimsy that fans
love about the books. It's worth seeing.
NOT, however, worth your time is that meteorological crap-fest better
known as The Day After Tomorrow.
I'm not even going to get into it with you here, because I've already
lost 124 minutes of my life to this flick, and I'll be damned if I give
it another 5. Avoid it like the plague. Why the hell can't someone in
Hollywood write a smart script for one of these disaster flicks? You'd
think... ah, screw it.
Our TAP crew has a new SACD
review for you to enjoy this morning... Albert King and Stevie Ray
We'll be back later with that Upcoming DVD
Cover Art update, so get the coffee perking and grab your
(LATE UPDATE - 6/4/04 - 3:30 PM PDT)
We've got one last post for you today. As expected, we've checked in
with Barrie Maxwell's latest
Reviews Roundup. In this edition, Barrie reviews the new Marx
Brothers Collection on DVD from Warner, which includes A
Night at the Opera, A Day at the
Races and A Night in Casablanca
(all of which are also available separately), as well as Room
Service, At the Circus,
Go West and The
Big Store (which are exclusive to the box set). Barrie also
checks out Direct Cinema Limited's newly-released The
Marx Brothers in a Nutshell documentary on disc. Don't miss
Just to let you know, we have another Classic
Coming Attractions column from Barrie set for early next
week, along with Todd's Weekly Release
Roundup and that big artwork update we mentioned earlier.
So have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
(EARLY UPDATE - 6/4/04 - 1:30 PM PDT)
As promised, we've updated all of the DVD sales and rental stats we
track here at The Bits (see
above), including the
DVD Player Sales numbers (now up to date through the week
ending 5/14, which brings the format total to date in the States to well
past 70 million players). We've also updated our mirror copy of Jim
DVD FAQ to its latest version (dated 5/26).
We've got some good news in
Rumor Mill today for you fans of the long-awaited holiday
title, Elf. We've also got a brief
note on a short lived (but much loved) TV series possibly coming to DVD
as well. Don't miss it.
In terms of new announcements today, New Line has revealed that they'll
release a Guyver: Director's Cut
on 8/17, along with Guyver 2: Dark Hero
Fox will release Bill Cosby: Himself
and Johnson Family Vacation on
And Paramount has announced the release of The
Prince & Me for 8/10.
A lot of people have asked us which version of Highlander
2 will be released on DVD on 7/20 by Lions Gate. We're
looking into this, but if it helps, we know for sure that the running
time for the feature on Disc One is 109 minutes, with an R rating. The
theatrical running time was 91 minutes, so this would seem to be the
director's cut (a.k.a. The Renegade Version).
Keep in mind, however, that this version will feature over 100 new
effects shots, so it's something of a "new" version of The
Renegade Version... if that makes sense. If we learn
otherwise, we'll let you know.
A lot of people have also asked us why Universal is releasing later
seasons of the various Law & Order
TV series on DVD on 9/7, while skipping earlier seasons (for example,
the second season of Criminal Intent,
seasons two through four of Special Victims
Unit, and seasons three through thirteen of the original Law
& Order). The plain and simple answer is that we have
absolutely no idea, and it makes little sense to us, unless perhaps the
studio wants to get episodes out on disc while they're still fresh in
the minds of fans. In any case, we do expect that the missing seasons
will be released as well... eventually.
Here's some more upcoming DVD cover art to hold you over until our BIG
artwork update on Monday. Take a look at Disney's Home
on the Range (9/14), the movie-only version of Warner's THX-1138
(not the 2-disc set - also 9/14) and The
Whole Ten Yards (7/27)...
Back later with Barrie's column. Stay tuned...
Okay... we're back from our vacation! Sarah and I took advantage of the
time to spend a few days in New York City. I haven't been there in
years, so it was a lot of fun. We ate too much great food at places in
Hell's Kitchen, Little Italy and Chinatown, we visited Soho and the
Village, we spent an afternoon at the American Museum of Natural
History, etc. We found time to drop by CBGBs, and we even caught a
showing of The Control Room at the
Film Forum at
NYU (LOVE that place). Wish I'd had the time to take in a few of those
Ingmar Bergman film festival screenings, but what can you do? Anyway, it
was a great time.
Now, however, it's back to business. Let's catch you up on a few of the
titles that have been announced while we were away. First up, Miramax
has revealed that the Coen Brothers' The
Ladykillers will be released on DVD on 9/14 (SRP $29.99). The
disc will feature anamorphic widescreen video (1.85:1) and Dolby Digital
5.1 audio. Extras will include outtakes (The
Slap Reel), deleted music scenes (Gospel
of the Ladykillers), a featurette (Danny
Ferrington: The Man Behind the Band) and a DVD-ROM script
reader (The Ladykillers Script Scanner).
Disney has set 9/14 as the street date for the animated Home
on the Range (SRP $29.99). Look for deleted scenes, a "making
of" featurette, a couple of interactive games and a music video.
Columbia TriStar has announced Good Bye,
Heaven is a Playground, The
Three Stooges: Goofs on the Loose, The
Three Stooges: Stooged and Confoosed (both Stooges titles
feature colorized episodes, although why I don't know) and Good
Times: The Complete Third Season, all for 8/10. Also coming
from the studio on 8/3 are Tiptoes,
13 Going on 30, Gidget:
The Complete Collection and Significant
Others: The Series.
Good Bye, Lenin! (SLP $29.98) will
include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio
commentary by director Wolfgang Becker, a second commentary featuring
the cast, 10 deleted scenes with director introduction, the uncut Aktulle
Kamera broadcasts, the Lenin
Learns to Fly VFX featurette, a "making of"
featurette and the theatrical trailer.
13 Going on 30 (SLP $28.95) will
feature the film in anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1
audio, with audio commentary by director Gary Winick and the producers,
18 deleted scenes, a blooper reel, 3 featurettes (I
Was a Teenage Geek, The Making of
a Team Dream and The Making of a
Teen Dream: Another Take), the 80's
Outfit Challenge game, the theatrical trailer, a video still
gallery and promo trailers for other titles.
In other news, MGM has announced the DVD release of National
Lampoon's Dorm Daze: Unrated Edition for 8/10. As we first
posted in The
Rumor Mill a few weeks ago, the studio has also officially
revealed that its September release slate will include Blithe
Spirit, Brief Encounter,
Great Expectations, In
Which We Serve, Madeleine,
Oliver Twist, The
Passionate Friends and This Happy
Breed (these will also be collectively available in The
David Lead DVD Collection box set - SRP $99.96), a Judgement
at Nuremberg: Special Edition, The
Burning Bed, Gotham,
Moving Target and The
Martian Chronicles. Street date for all these titles is 9/7.
Also, Lions Gate has revealed a Highlander
2: Special Edition for release on 7/20 (SRP $19.98). The
2-disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video (from a
24p HD master) and both Dolby Digital 5.1 EX and DTS 6.1 ES audio. The
film has been newly enhanced with over 100 new effects shots produced by
the film's original effects team. There is an alternate viewing mode (The
Deconstruction of Highlander 2) which will let you go behind
the scenes on the production of different scenes in the film, much like
the Follow the White Rabbit option
from the original Matrix DVD.
Other extras will include the Highlander 2:
Seduced by Argentina multi-part documentary, The
Redemption of Highlander 2 featurette (a look at the new
special effects), The Music of Highlander 2
featurette (hosted by composer Stewart Copeland, formerly of The
Police), The Fabric of Highlander 2
featurette (a look at the costume design), the Shadow
and Darkness: The Cinematography of Highlander 2 featurette
(hosted by director of photography Phil Meheux), the original Cannes
Film Festival presentation reel, deleted scenes and more. Sounds like a
pretty nice set.
Speaking of Lions Gate, you may be interested to know that
studio has reached an agreement with Miramax's Harvey and Bob
Weinstein to distribute Michael Moore's Fahrenheit
9/11 in theaters on June 25. IFC Films will also participate.
Look for Lions Gate to release the film on DVD in August or September.
Still not done with the DVD announcements today - 20th Century Fox has
revealed that they'll be releasing their next Studio Classics title,
Alexander's Ragtime Band, on DVD
on 9/7. The disc will include the original fill frame video with mono
audio, optional commentary by Ray Faiola, 3 deleted scenes, a 45-minute
biography of Alice Faye, a Fox Movietone newsreel, a trailer and a still
gallery. Fox has also announced that the 4th wave of their martial arts
series (due 9/7) will include Knockabout,
Battle Creek Brawl, Mr.
Vampire, The Postman Fights Back
and Iron Fisted Monk.
Criterion has announced two new titles for August release. Along with
David Cronenberg's Videodrome
(catalog #248), look for Federico Fellini's I
Vitelloni (#246) and Richard Linklater's Slacker
Finally today (in terms of DVD news at least), Universal has announced
the DVD release of The Apprentice: The
Complete First Season, The
Munsters: The Complete First Season and Night
Gallery: The Complete First Season (all for 8/24), along with
Columbo: The Complete First Season,
Law & Order: Criminal Intent - Season 3,
Law & Order: Season 14, Law
& Order: Special Victims Unit - Season 5 and Magnum
P.I.: The Complete First Season (all for 9/7). The studio
will also release the following titles on high-definition D-VHS format
on 6/29 - 2 Fast 2 Furious, Biker
Boyz, The Last Castle,
The Life of David Gale, Meet
the Parents, Out of Sight,
Red Dragon and The
Scorpion King. And as part of its distribution deal with
DreamWorks, the studio will release Envy
on DVD on 8/10.
Here's the cover art for Columbia TriStar's 13
Going on 30, Criterion's Videodrome
(August TBA), MGM's The Martian Chronicles,
Lions Gate's the Highlander 2: Special
Edition, a peak at the packaging for Paramount's TBA Star
Trek: The Original Series - Season 1 and what might be
revised cover art for Miramax's Kill Bill,
Volume 2 (street date 8/10 - this art more closely matches
the Volume 1 DVD and is currently
being used in ads in the video industry trade magazines)...
Okay... that's it for today. Tomorrow we'll update all of the DVD
format stats we track around the site, and we'll post a new Classic
Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell,
featuring tons of new disc reviews. Plus, I'm sure we've also missed a
few new and recent DVD announcements, so we'll cover those tomorrow as
well. And watch for a big (and long overdue) Upcoming
DVD Cover Art update on Monday.
By the way, if you've sent us an e-mail in the last 10 days, it's going
to take us a while to catch up on them all. I've been downloading my
mail for a couple of hours now, and I'm up to about 5,000 messages with
plenty more to go. So be patient. I will get to them all... eventually.
Morning, folks! We've just posted the latest
Reviews Roundup from our own Barrie Maxwell. In this column,
Barrie looks at 10 new and recent classic film DVD releases from
Columbia TriStar and Paramount.
And, just as we promised, we've also posted a new Bottom
Shelf column from Adam Jahnke...
from Blue Underground. In this piece, Adam reviews 7 titles
that have been released recently from... you guessed it... Blue
Underground. These include great spaghetti westerns and more. Don't miss
By the way, with the DVD reviews in those columns, that makes 32
individual titles we've covered in the last three days, and close to 90
for the month (see our
complete reviews index here). Expect a lot more when we return
from our break. We're going to review as many titles as possible as the
summer progresses, in both column, Roundup
and stand-alone formats.
In terms of DVD release news today, you'll be pleased to know that 20th
Century Fox has officially announced Chris Carter's Harsh
Realm: The Complete Series for 8/24 (SRP $39.98). The 3-disc
set will include all 9 episodes of the series in their original full
frame aspect ratio, with Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio. This includes
the 6 episodes that were never shown on Fox. The pilot episode will
feature audio commentary by Chris Carter and Dan Sackheim. Extras will
include the Inside the Harsh Realm
and Creating the Logo and Title
Sequence featurettes, TV spots for the pilot, as well as FX
premiere and review spots, and preview trailers for other Fox titles.
Fox has also announced the DVD release of Futurama:
Volume 4 for the same day (8/24 - SRP $49.98). The 4-disc set
will include (we believe) 18 episodes in full frame video with audio in
Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround. Extras will include audio commentaries (with
the cast and crew) and deleted scenes for almost every episode,
international clips, animatic videos and Easter eggs.
Here's a look at the cover art for Harsh
Realm and Futurama,
along with Universal's Connie and Carla
(street date 8/17), and early, black and white art for Disney's
forthcoming Miyazaki DVD releases (due on 8/31), including My
Neighbor Totoro, Nausicaa of the
Valley of the Wind and Porco Rosso.
We have one last bit of DVD news for you today.
has revealed that they'll be releasing a John
Cassavetes Box Set this fall. The box will include Shadows,
Woman Under the Influence, The
Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Opening
Night, all mastered with new high-definition transfers. The
set will also include Charles Kiselyak's 200-minute documentary, A
Constant Forge, as well as new interviews with Gena Rowlands,
Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara, Seymour Cassel, Lelia Goldoni and others.
Should be a great release.
Before we sign off, we should also let you know that our
MusicTAP audio site is
back to full strength after Matt's hard drive crash. He's going to
continue his daily updates while the rest of us are on a break. So be
sure to stop by (and tell him we said hello). ;-)
And you Star Trek fans out there,
don't forget that the season finale of Enterprise
is on tonight on UPN. We hear it's a pretty twisted cliff-hanger ending,
so program your TiVos. Last time we'll bug you about the show until next
Okay... that is officially it for The Bits
for the next seven days. Have yourselves a great (and safe) Memorial Day
weekend. See you back here on Thursday, June 3rd!
(LATE UPDATE - 5/25/04 - 4 PM PDT)
We're back as promised this afternoon with Todd's
Release Roundup. But we're doing things a little different
today. The staff of The Digital Bits
is going to be taking a much needed week off starting tomorrow, so that
we can all charge up for the busy Summer and Fall DVD schedule ahead.
Because of this, Todd's
today covers both titles that are new in stores this week, and those
that street next week as well. Some 13 new DVDs are reviewed, and Todd
runs down the other good releases you might want to check out too. Lots
of great stuff in there.
Also this afternoon, we've kicked off FOUR new
giving each of you the chance to win HBO's
Curse of the
Bambino, the BBC's
The Complete Third Season, MGM's
Ho-Tep: Special Edition and
a Lord of
the Rings Moria Orc Archer bust from Sideshow Collectibles.
These will be two-week contests, and entries will be accepted until Noon
PDT on Friday, June 4th.
As I said, The Bits will be dark
from tomorrow afternoon until Thursday, June 3rd. But don't fret,
because we'll be back tomorrow morning (early) with one last post before
we go. We'll be bringing you a pair of new columns from Barrie Maxwell
and Adam Jahnke, containing lots more upcoming, new and recent DVD
See you back here first thing in the AM. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/25/04 -
1 PM PDT)
Okay... we're going to be checking back in today with a number of
posts, so be sure to tune in throughout the day. First up though, we
have UPDATED word from Babylon
5 creator J. Michael Straczynski himself on why Legend
of the Rangers isn't included in Warner's forthcoming Babylon
5: The Movies DVD collection (due 8/17).
posts on his Usenet site, Straczynski has told fans of the series
that Legend of the Rangers will be
released separately on DVD. In addition, there will be a separate DVD
box set release of the 13-episode Crusade
here for that - it's near the bottom of his post). Thanks to Neil
D., John H., and the many Bits
readers who sent this in.
Speaking of Babylon 5,
has posted a story of the death of series star Richard Biggs.
On a more offbeat note,
is also reporting that select McDonalds stores are going to start
renting DVDs. Does anybody remember a time when some thought this format
would never appeal to more than the videophile niche market? How long do
you suppose it will be before we get DVDs in Happy Meals?
Also this morning, our MusicTAP
crew has posted a review of a new SACD release for you... David Elias'
We'll be back later with Todd's Weekly
Release Roundup and more. Stay tuned...
Yeah, just when you thought all the hubbub over director Michael
Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 had
finally died down, the film wins the top prize (the Palme d'Or) at the
Cannes Film Festival. Like Moore or not, you can bet he'll squeeze every
ounce of promotion out of the controversy over this film that he can.
Our prediction - Miramax will find a way to release it and it'll piss
off 51% of you, while the other 49% loves it (or vise-versa). Either
way, I have no doubt it'll be a huge money-maker. It's not over yet
folks. You can read more
You know, we happen to support the release of this film. But if Moore
feels so strongly about this film being seen (and it's truly about his
principles and not about making money), maybe he could let people see
the film online, either for free or for a reduced cost. Just a thought.
It would certainly solve the distribution problem.
Regardless of our position on Moore and his films... we always seem to
get at least a few testy e-mails from people who disagree. Moore never
fails to inspire spirited debate, that's for sure.
While we're talking films this afternoon, let me just say that if you
haven't already gone to see Shrek 2
by the box office take this weekend, most of you did), don't
hesitate. If you liked the first film, this one really is even better.
It's great for the whole family and TONS of laughs for adults as well as
children. They riff on just about every movie you can think off. It's
very clever and very, very funny.
In DVD news this afternoon, our guys at
MusicTAP have a review
of a new DVD-Audio disc for you... Porcupine Tree's
absentia from DTS.
And Warner has officially announced the DVD release of Scooby
Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed for 9/14 (SRP $27.95). The film
will be available in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions.
Extras will include 10 minutes of deleted scenes with director's
commentary, 2 behind-the-scenes documentaries (including True
Ghoul Hollywood Story and Dancing
Dog), the Triple Threat
featurette, the Scooby-Doo Monsters Challenge
and Behind the Mystery: The Mystery of the
Missing Pants interactive games and 2 music videos (for Big
Brovaz' Thank You Falletin Me Be Mice Elf
Again and Simple Plan's Don't
Wanna Think About You).
By the way, a lot of people have been asking us why Warner's Babylon
5: The Movies collection (due 8/17) doesn't include Legend
of the Rangers. The short answer is that we don't know. We
can only assume the omission means that there are plans to release it
separately, or that there's some kind of legal hold-up. We'll post more
when we learn anything.
By the way, in a sad (but related) note today, actor Richard Biggs, who
played doctor Stephen Franklin on Babylon 5,
passed away this weekend. He was only 43.
(LATE UPDATE - 5/21/04 - 3 PM PDT)
Damn, it just isn't stopping today! We've got one MORE last post for
you this afternoon. Warner Bros. has just announced the DVD release of a
Babylon 5: The Movies DVD
collection for 8/17 (SRP $59.98). This set will include the films In
the Beginning, The Gathering,
of Souls and A Call to Arms,
all in their original aspect ratios (some full frame, some anamorphic
widescreen) with English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include
new introductions on each of the films by creator J. Michael
Straczynski, audio commentary for each film by members of the cast and
crew, and the Creating the Future
featurette (on how science fiction and the show have influenced each
other). We'll post cover art when it becomes available from the studio.
Okay, that's it. Stick a fork in it... we're done for the week.
(LATE UPDATE -
5/21/04 - 3 PM PDT)
Okay... we just had to check in with one last update today. We've got
more information for you on THX-1138
article at Video Business magazine. Here's a quote:
"There are a few snippets of extra footage
throughout the movie, but the main differences in the new version--in
addition to digital video and audio restoration--are digitally enhanced
backgrounds, cityscapes and crowds of people. Those enhancements add a
greater scope and scale than Lucas could generate with the limited
budget and technology of 33 years ago, said Jim Ward, VP marketing and
distribution at Lucasfilm."
According to the article, the film was in bad shape, and more than 10
months of restoration work was involved to restore it. For the DVD,
extras will include the 1-hour long documentary, A
Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope
(featuring new interviews with Lucas, Coppola and Duvall, the
documentary features Martin Scorsese, John Milius, Matthew Robbins,
Walter Murch and Caleb Deschanel), Lucas' original short film Electronic
Labyrinth THX 1138 4EB, audio commentary by Lucas and
co-writer and sound designer Murch, the 30-minute Artifact
from the Future featurette on the making of the film, and an
isolated sound effects track/branching video, called Theatre
of Noise, on the film's sound design.
Also today, we've updated
Rumor Mill one last time this week with more street dates for
great upcoming Paramount catalog titles through the end of 2004, as well
as word on a great new Criterion disc in the works. You DEFINITELY don't
want to miss it!
Have a great weekend!
(LATE UPDATE - 5/21/04 - 1:30 PM PDT)
We've gotten word from some of our readers that a few of the new
effects shots in THX-1138 can be
seen in the online preview trailer now up on
official website. Like the CG additions to Star
Wars, there are shots of background activity (elevators and
underground trains sweeping past), expansive environment shots (some
kind of factory-like lab), etc. If you're a fan, you might want to check
them out. Also, we've got an image that is either (or both) the film's
re-release poster artwork or the DVD cover art (thanks to reader Stefan
B. for that). The words in very small print at the bottom say, The
George Lucas Director's Cut. Here it is...
By the way, if you want to see a great film this weekend... well, the
obvious choice is Shrek 2. But if
you want to catch a great film that definitely won't be as crowded or in
demand, you might want to check out Twilight
Samurai. Matt and I caught a late matinee screening
yesterday, and the film is really incredible. Very well acted... moving.
It's about a low-level samurai struggling to raise two young daughters
and an ailing mother alone, while having to deal with his lack of
stature in society and his duty. The film also takes place at a time
when Japan's samurai culture is dying, so people are struggling to
accept that. Really a great film - an Academy Award nominee for Best
Foreign Film last year, and deservedly so. It's in Japanese with English
subs, but don't let that stop you from going if you can. Twilight
Samurai is a lovely piece of work, and I think you'll be glad
you saw it. There is a little samurai fighting, but not nearly as much
as you think. This is very much a character driven story. Here's a link
U.S. website as well as
Japanese site (which has a trailer - click on the second red
diamond from the top to access them).
Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/21/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)
We figured some of you would be interested in this news. Miramax has
announced the DVD release of Quentin Tarantino's Kill
Bill, Volume 2 for 8/10 (SRP $29.99). This will be a
single-disc edition containing the film in anamorphic widescreen video
(aspect ratio 2.35:1) and both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround sound.
Extras will include The Making of Kill Bill,
Volume 2 featurette, footage from the film's premiere and a
deleted scene. Be aware that more elaborate DVD versions of both volumes
will arrive at a later date. The title is available for pre-order now at
Amazon (click on the cover artwork)...
On the Buena Vista/Disney front, look for Ella
Enchanted to street on 8/24.
Now for the other big news this morning.
Today is reporting that Warner Bros. will release THX-1138:
The George Lucas Director's Cut on 9/14. The title will be
available as a 2-disc collector's edition (SRP $26.99) and a
single-disc, movie-only edition (SRP $19.97). Extras on the collector's
edition will include a documentary on the making of the film and another
on Francis Ford Coppola's American Zoetrope studio. Although it doesn't
say anything in this particular article, we have a number of very
reliable industry sources who are telling us that the film will feature
"significant digital changes and enhancements." THX-1138
will also make a limited theatrical run in 20 cities around the country
starting on 9/10. Warner has launched
a new website
to promote the release.
Back with more later. Stay tuned...
Some interesting news today. First up, though it's not particularly DVD
related it's good news for Paramount's Star
Trek franchise. UPN, at their upfronts press conference this
morning in New York, officially announced that Star
Trek: Enterprise will be renewed for a fourth season and will
appear on Friday night this fall. UPN programming executive Dawn Ostroff
told the audience of television and advertising executives at UPN's
upfront presentation that Enterprise
is an established franchise with a loyal audience and that the level of
mail seeking renewal gives her every reason to believe that the audience
will follow Enterprise to the new
time and night. Here's the except from UPN's press release:
"STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE (Friday, 9:00-10:00
PM), the latest in the Star Trek franchise, is now entering
its fourth season. A prequel to the original Star Trek
series, STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE takes place during the early pioneering
days of deep space exploration when interstellar travel is in its
infancy and 100 years before Capt. James T. Kirk takes the helm of the
famous starship. As the season opened, a mysterious and deadly race of
aliens called the Xindi had attacked Earth, killing millions of people.
Having discovered that their next planned attack will completely destroy
Earth, Capt. Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula) and the crew set out on a
gripping new mission to track down and put an end to these enemy aliens.
With the fate of the planet in their hands, the crew faced strange new
life forms, dangerous unexplored regions of space and difficult moral
questions. In addition to being more action packed with spectacular
special effects, this new season will take STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE into
further uncharted territory, while advancing last season's critically
acclaimed storylines, including Vulcan Sub Commander T'Pol's (Jolene
Blalock) blossoming relationship with Chief Engineer Charles Trip
Tucker III (Connor Trinneer) and mysterious twists in the familiar
timeline. The series also stars John Billingsley as Dr. Phlox, Dominic
Keating as Lt. Malcolm Reed, Anthony Montgomery as Ensign Travis
Mayweather and Linda Park as Ensign Hoshi Sato. Rick Berman and Brannon
Braga are creators/executive producers. STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE is a
production of Paramount Network Television."
You can read more over at former Bits-er
Brian Ford Sullivan's The
Futon Critic. Thanks to all of you who worked so hard to get
word to UPN that we want this show back for another year! Well done!
Now then... a number of DVD retailers have leaked information about a
9-disc Matrix Trilogy box set that
may be in production by Warner Bros. We've got details on that in
Rumor Mill today, along with a preview of titles on the way in
September, October and November from MGM. Fans of directors David Lean
and Alfred Hitchcock will definitely not want to miss it.
Also this afternoon, we have word that Universal will release Nia
Vardalos' Connie & Carla on
8/17 (SRP $29.98), complete with deleted scenes, extended music scenes,
outtakes, audio commentary with creator/star Nia Vardalos and director
Michael Lembeck, The Making of Connie and
Carla featurette and more.
We've updated our
DVD review section today to include reviews of three new titles -
and the Chess Expert,
Cane Sword. We've also rearranged the reviews so that they're
all presented in series order. We'll be reviewing all the remaining (and
currently released) Ichi titles on DVD in the next week or so.
Our own Matt Rowe has posted
interview with Colin Cigarran of Sony's SACD group, featuring
discussion of the development and future of the high-resolution audio
format. Don't miss it.
Finally, I wanted to tell you about a new sponsor of The
Bits that might be of interest to you Canadian readers.
Soon is a great source for R1/Canadian DVDs and the site is
available in English and French. If you live up in the Great White
North, be sure to give them a try - doing so supports our work here at
The Bits, so we appreciate it.
(LATE UPDATE - 5/19/04 - 12:30 PM PDT)
We're back as promised with Todd's
Release Roundup. In this edition, Todd checks out some 12 new
titles that have just arrived in stores. There are a number of really
great DVDs are finally available this week, so you definitely don't want
to miss it.
(EARLY UPDATE - 5/19/04 -
12:01 AM PDT)
First up this morning, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge
passing of actor Tony Randall yesterday at the age of 84. Randall
was, of course, one half of TV's comic Odd
Couple and much loved for his work on the big screen, from
classic Doris Day and Rock Hudson films to last year's Down
with Love. He'll definitely be missed.
In terms of DVD news today, we have a great bunch of information about
upcoming Paramount film titles through October. You'll find that in
Rumor Mill, where we also touch upon the subject (again) of
changes to the forthcoming Star Wars
films on DVD, the most recent evidence for which appeared over at AICN
Also this morning, we've got some cool cover art that I know a lot of
you have been waiting for. Here's a look at Universal's Knight
Rider: Season One (8/3), as well as Disney's The
Black Hole (8/3) and Columbia TriStar's Earth
vs. the Spider (7/6)...
By the way, The Black Hole is
just one of several classic titles coming from Disney on 8/3, including
Unidentified Flying Oddball, Something
Wicked This Way Comes, Darby
O'Gill and the Little People, Paradise
and Jack. We have no word yet on
Since we posted that Earth vs. the Spider
artwork, we should tell you that Columbia TriStar has added National
Security: Special Edition and She
Creature to its 7/6 release slate as well.
Finally this morning, we've been getting word from our industry sources
(and it's appearing over at Save
Enterprise as well) that Star Trek:
Enterprise will indeed be renewed by UPN for a fourth season,
with the official announcement coming tomorrow at UPN's Fall Line-up
press conference in New York. If this is true, it's great news in our
book. Hats off to all you fans who worked hard to keep Trek
on the air. And if you haven't been watching... no kidding, the show's
been really great this year. Be sure to watch tonight's penultimate
episode of the season if you get the chance.
We'll be back in a bit with Todd's Weekly
Release Roundup. Stay tuned...