UPDATE - 9/23/04 - 11:30 AM PDT)
Morning again. Some Blu-ray Disc news today.
just announced officially that its next generation PlayStation
videogame system, the forthcoming PS3, will run software on Blu-ray Disc
format media. This means both game software as well as compatibility
with high-definition movies on Blu-ray Disc format. More food for
We've got some Batman: Special Edition
news for you today in
Rumor Mill. Be sure to check it out. There's also information
on another edition of Tony Scott's Man on
Fire from Fox.
In other news today, Warner Bros. has announced that they'll release
the BBC's Coupling: The Complete Fourth
Season on 1/25/04. Other BBC titles on the way include The
Barchester Chronicles (12/28/04) and He
Knew What Was Right (1/25/05).
Finally this morning, we want to remind you about our live chat tonight
with IGN DVD. Members of The
Digital Bits staff will be on hand, including Todd Doogan and
myself, to answer your questions about a whole range of DVD and related
issues. The chat will start tonight at 8 PM EDT (5 PM PDT). You can use
link for browser access, or if you use a chat client like mIRC,
you need to connect to the server: chat1.ign.com. The browser-based
interface will automatically connect you. After that, join the channel
#DVD, by typing #DVD and pressing enter. The pound sign is required.
Then just select a username and off you go.
here for more details at IGN DVD.
See you then!
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/23/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Morning, all! I just wanted to chime in here with the first word on the
sales of Fox and Lucasfilm's Star Wars
Trilogy box set.
to Reuters, $115 million in worldwide sales were generated on
Tuesday, the first official day of the title's release. That's an
impressive figure, despite the fact that the number reportedly includes
sales data for both the DVD box set and the Star
Wars: Battlefront video game. We expect separate numbers to
be released soon. In any case, it represents probably the highest single
day sales for a single release in the history of the format. Anyone
Speaking of Star Wars, I had the
pleasure of visiting THX's Burbank facilities yesterday with Ron
Epstein, Parker Clack and some 60 members of
Home Theater Forum, who are visiting the L.A. area this week
on their annual California pilgrimage. THX's technical director, Rick
Dean, provided us with a first-hand look at the effort involved in fully
digitally restoring and remastering the films for DVD release. Among the
things we were shown was a glimpse of the original, high-definition
technical master for A New Hope,
prior to color timing and digital debris removal. At Lucasfilm's press
day for the event, Dean and Lowry Digital's John Lowry claimed that
literally hundreds - even thousands - of scratches, bits of debris and
other types of print damage were removed from EACH FRAME of each of the
three Star Wars films. They
weren't kidding. Judging by the images we saw, the digital clean-up work
done by the folks at THX, IVC and Lowry was nothing less than heroic.
Many thousands of man-hours were spent not only making these films look
perfect for the DVD release, but also in creating a digital negative
that can be used for future HD releases. "Creative changes" to
the video and audio component of these films aside, you can be sure that
every bit of that restoration effort shows up on the screen. And let me
tell you, those of you watching these films in full frame are doing
yourselves (and the restoration team) a huge disservice. Let that serve
as my anamorphic widescreen pitch of the day.
On an interesting side note, DVD producer Van Ling was also on hand,
and let us know that early numbers indicate that some 80% of the first
day sales of the DVDs at Wal-Mart stores are the widescreen versions.
Wal-Mart DVD sales, as you may know, are usually skewed heavily towards
full frame. Hey... maybe people are FINALLY starting to figure out that
movies like these should ALWAYS be seen in their original aspect ratio.
By the way, for any of you
Home Theater Forum members who might be reading this, let me
just say that it's always a pleasure to hang with you guys. Too bad we
can't do it more often.
That's all for now. Stay tuned!
We're pleased this morning to welcome back Matt Rowe's
In this edition, Matt reviews 8 new, recent and classic music DVD
releases, including Neil
Young: Greendale, Boz
Scaggs: Greatest Hits Live, Tomita:
The Planets, Journey:
Greatest Hits DVD, Jean
Luc Ponty: In Concert, Joni
Mitchell: Refuge of the Roads, Tom
Dowd & The Language of Music and another look at The
Jam: The Complete Jam. We hope you enjoy it!
That's not all. We've got some awesome new upcoming DVD cover art for
you to check out this morning. Here's an early look at Miramax's HERO
(11/30) and their Bridget Jones's Diary:
Collector's Series (11/9), Disney's Bambi:
Platinum Edition (3/1/05), Fox's DodgeBall
(12/7), the final cover art for Universal's Buck
Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series (11/16)
and Columbia TriStar's The Fantastic Films of
Ray Harryhausen box set (11/30)...
Also today, a lot of you have been e-mailing to ask how Todd is doing
after his surgery. Well, how about I let him tell you in his own words?
Here he is...
Thanks for the reintroduction, Bill.
Hi guys. Hope everybody is doing well. I'm back from surgery and except
for a few complications, I'm doing fine. I just wanted to let everybody
know that their well wishes and prayers were very much appreciated. I
made it through the woods and now it's all about post-op recovery, which
is going fine. My physical therapist says that I'm doing very well. The
good news is, starting this week I can sit under a laptop and get to
writing a column for you - a best of the weeks past, if you will. And
for those who just can't wait, Bill, me and the boys will be chatting
live on IGN on Thursday night. Should be fun. So, yes... I lived, but
no... I'm not fully on my feet yet. That shouldn't hurt y'all though,
'cause I'll be back to writing something for you by the end of this
week. Thanks once again for all the positive vibes you've been sending
my way. I got it all, and I'm doing super -- thanks for asking.
Love and hugs,
Good to have you back, buddy. No doubt about it.
By the way... a quick follow-up on that Fraggle
Rock story we posted on Monday. We've been informed that HIT
Entertainment is now officially planning on releasing the series in
full-season sets Fall 2005. Thanks to Bits
reader Kevin A. for the scoop!
(LATE UPDATE - 9/21/04 -
1:30 PM PDT)
Anyone up for some big new 20th Century Fox title street dates? Look
for Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn in DodgeBall
on 12/7. Will Smith's I, Robot
will follow on 12/14. Even better, the critically well received (but
hardly seen) Napoleon Dynamite
will street on 12/21. Finally, Alien Vs.
Predator will officially hit stores in January (exact date is
still TBA). We're made to understand that this will not be the recently
rumored "director's edition" because there really isn't much
unreleased footage. You might get a little more blood, but that's about
As far as specs and extras, I, Robot
will include anamorphic widescreen video, both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1
audio, commentary by director Alex Proyas and screenwriter Akiva
Goldsman, The Making of I, Robot
featurette, a still gallery and previews for other upcoming Fox titles.
DodgeBall will include anamorphic
widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with
writer/director Rawson Marshall Thurber and actors Ben Stiller and Vince
Vaughn, 6 Easter eggs, 7 deleted/extended scenes with optional
commentary by the director, an alternate ending with optional director's
commentary, the Dodgeball Boot Camp: Training
for Dodgeball, The Anatomy of a
Hit, Dodgeball: Go for the Gold
and Justin Long: A Study in Ham & Cheese
featurettes, bloopers and a gag reel, trailers, teasers for The
Ringer and Elektra and
the screenplay via DVD-ROM.
Features for the other titles are still TBA. We'll post cover art when
it's available. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/21/04 -
Morning, everyone! Well, the big day has officially arrived. The Star
Wars Trilogy is coming home today with a lot of you I'm sure.
Obviously, we've been going over the sound issues these last couple of
days, and Lucasfilm says they're deliberate creative decisions. The
audio quality of Tarkin's line may simply have been unavoidable, and
we're prepared to acknowledge that. The whole thing with the music being
dialed back during the first part of the Death Star battle however...
that's just irritating. That we suspect WAS a creative decision, but we
think it was a really poorly considered one. Williams' score was so much
a part of the spirit of that scene and now it's barely audible for the
first few minutes of the battle. That's really a shame.
You know, it seems like with each new revised version of these films,
there's one change we absolutely hate. In 1997, it was Greedo shooting
first. Now that scene has been tweaked a little more, and we can deal
with it. But in 2004, it's not younger Anakin we hate, it's not the
Emperor, it's not the revised Jabba. All that we don't mind. But this
music change is disappointing. Ah well. Maybe George will fix that in
the 2007 ultimate version... and there will be something new to complain
about. In any case, we trust you will enjoy these DVDs. By and large,
they're pretty nifty. But this ain't your older brother's Star
Wars, that's for sure. Anyway, we're going to be doing a
final revision of
review of the set to reflect our final opinion on all this. Just
We've got a bit of other news for you today. First of all, The
Digital Bits is going to be moving to a new server. That
SHOULDN'T impact you guys at all. With any luck, you won't even notice
the transition. But it's going to keep us a little busy behind the
scenes for the next few days, so if the posts seem a little light,
you'll know why. Never a dull moment around here. Heck, you guys
probably won't even notice. You'll all be to busy watching Star
Next up, Universal has announced Sci-Fi's recent Battlestar
Galactica: The Miniseries for release on 12/28. The DVD will
be a single disc only, containing the complete 183-minute miniseries in
anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. There are no
other details yet on the extras, but we suspect it will at least include
a preview of Sci-Fi's reinvisioned Battlestar
Galactica TV series, which premieres in January.
By the way, Universal has also announced Relative
Evil for 12/21.
The other news today is that Video Store
magazine has officially announced the nominees for the first ever TV
DVD Awards. Three nominees were chosen in each of twelve
categories (from over 150 entries), by a panel of experts that included
myself, USA Todays Mike
Snider, veteran home video journalist Bruce Apar,
TV Shows on
DVD.com's Gord Lacey and DVD
Talk's Geoffrey Kleinman. Here's the cool part - YOU guys get
to pick the winners! You can visit either
website or TV
Shows on DVD.com to make your picks. The winners will be
announced Oct. 19 during the second annual TV DVD Conference in Century
City, CA. Here's the list of nominees:
Best 1950s Series - Have
Gun With Travel: The Complete First Season, The
Honeymooners: The "Classic 39" Episodes, I
Love Lucy: The Complete Second Season
Best 1960s Series - The
Dick Van Dyke Show (complete series), Here's
Lucy: Best-Loved Episodes, Star
Trek: The Original Series Season One
Best 1970s Series - Battlestar
Galactica: The Complete Epic Series, The
Richard Pryor Show, Sonny &
Cher: The Ultimate Collection
Best 1980s Series - The
Kids in the Hall: Complete Season One, SCTV
Network 90/Volume One, Sledge
Hammer! Season One
Best 1990s Series - Freaks
& Geeks: The Complete Series, The
Simpsons: Complete Fourth Season, West
Wing: The Complete First Season
Best 2000s Series - 24:
Season Two, Alias: The Complete
Second Season, The Sopranos: The
Complete Fourth Season
Best Animated Series - Looney
Tunes Golden Collection, The
Simpsons: Complete Fourth Season, SpongeBob
SquarePants: The Complete First Season
Best British TV Release - MI-5:
Volume One, The Office,
Pennies From Heaven
Best Compilation - The
Jack Paar Collection, The Ultimate
Johnny Carson Collection, Unsolved
Best Made-for-TV Documentary -
Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, How's
Your News?, The World at War
Best Miniseries or TV Movie - The
Reagans, Shogun, The
Winds of War
Best Special Feature - 24:
Season Two: Exposed Part One &
Part Two featurette, Buffy the
Vampire Slayer: The Complete Sixth Season: Once
More with Feeling featurette, The
X-Files: The Complete Ninth Season: The
Making of the Truth documentary
Get your votes in!
Okay... since we've got to move the site to the server, we're going to
delay Matt's reviews a day. Watch for them to be posted late tonight for
tomorrow. Matt doesn't mind. He's still glowing from his Bears' victory
over the Packers this weekend.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/20/04 - 10:30 PM PDT)
Well... Lucasfilm has responded to our questions about the audio issue
on the DVD of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New
Hope with a blanket statement of denial. Here's the exact
"We are always impressed with how closely
fans listen to the many different sound mixes we have made for the Star
Wars movies over the years. It is flattering to know that, indeed,
the audience is listening. Consequently, each mix comes out differently
and any changes that you hear on the all-new Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
EX tracks on the Star Wars Trilogy DVD set are deliberate
creative decisions. We can confirm that there are no technical glitches
Now here's my response. I don't buy it. The audio quality of that
Tarkin line can't be anything other than a technical issue, probably a
problem with the original audio element of the dialogue, and Lucasfilm
doesn't want to cop to that on the eve of the big release. When you guys
hear it tomorrow, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about. Tarkin's "Then
name the system!" line sounds terrible. As far as dialing down the
trumpet fanfare during the Death Star attack (in fact, much of Williams'
music during the first part of the attack has been reduced in volume in
the mix)... I can see that could be a creative decision. It's a decision
I absolutely HATE, but okay, maybe that's a creative decision. You guys
will have to see what you think when you get the discs. We'd like you
die hard audiophiles out there to give them a listen yourselves and let
us know your opinion.
We'll keep looking into this, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
9/20/04 - 12:30 PM PDT)
We're pleased to kick off the new week with some new announcements this
morning. Paramount will release SpongeBob
SquarePants: The Complete Second Season - one of the most
strangely compelling animated shows I've ever seen - on 10/19, with Richard
Prior: I Ain't Dead Yet, #*%$#@!! Uncensored on 12/7.
Columbia TriStar will release a Ray
Harryhausen 5-Pack Giftset on 11/30. The set will include
It Came from Beneath Sea, Earth
vs. The Flying Saucers, 20 Million
to Miles Earth, Mysterious Island
and First Men in the Moon.
Anchor Bay's The Commish: Season One
will be released on disc on 11/16. Extras will include new interviews
with Michael Chiklis and Theresa Saldana.
HIT Entertainment is releasing the 3-episode Fraggle
Rock: Where It All Began on 10/19. We've heard they're also
thinking about releasing full season box sets of the show on DVD - give
'em a call if you're a fan and you'd like box sets: 1-866-405-7625.
Remember - be polite!
Also, MGM seems to have revised its December DVD release schedule, and
mysteriously the Martin Scorsese Film
Collection titles have disappeared from the slate (they
had been set for release on 12/14 - we suspect they've been
delayed until early 2005). Now set for release in December are the Wild
at Heart: Special Edition, the direct-to-DVD Species
III and Species III: Unrated
Edition, Daddy's Dyin'... Who's
Got the Will?, Hi, Mom!,
The Hound of the Baskervilles,
Cold, Young Doctors in Love,
The Phantom of the Opera (1989)
and Smooth Talk (all on 12/7),
followed by the Rocky Anthology
(on 12/14). We'll let you know when the Scorsese titles get reannounced.
In all the hype over the DVD release of Star
Wars, I'm afraid to say there's a bit of bad news about the
discs (or at least one of them) from a quality standpoint. We've
discovered what we believe are a pair of audio defects on Episode
IV - A New Hope. We've updated our
review of the set accordingly with the details as follows:
The familiar Force theme trumpet fanfare that used to play right after
Red Leader says: "This is it!" and just as the X-wings start
diving towards the Death Star's surface has been dialed back in volume
so that it's almost inaudible - it's almost completely buried in the
The audio quality varies wildly as Tarkin says the line: "You
would prefer another target, a military target? Then name the system."
- almost as if the master sound element was damaged.
Other reports of audio problems or changes are starting to appear
around the Net as well. These problems would seem to be severe enough to
merit a repressing/exchange of the disc. We're waiting to hear back from
Lucasfilm on this issue and we'll update this review with the details as
soon as we do.
Speaking of Star Wars,
has posted an interesting interview with director George Lucas in
which he talks about the DVD release, the changes he's made and the
future of the Star Wars universe.
He also talks about why he's releasing these films now rather than after
Episode III as he originally
planned. It's well worth a read.
In other news today,
Store Magazine is reporting that Toshiba and Sanyo expect to
launch the first HD-DVD hardware players into the U.S. and Japanese
consumer markets by the fourth quarter of 2005. Not a single Hollywood
studio has yet agreed to support the format with software however. The
has a good story on industry analysis of Sony's purchase of the
MGM catalog and how it might affect the looming format war between
Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD.
Also members of The Digital Bits
staff (including Todd Doogan and myself) are going to be participating
in another IGN DVD Chat this Thursday, September 23 (at 8 pm EDT, 5 pm
PDT). You can use this
link for browser access, or if you use a chat client like mIRC,
you need to connect to the server: chat1.ign.com. The browser-based
interface will automatically connect you. After that, join the channel
#DVD. The pound sign is required. We'll be talking about the Star
Wars DVDs, other upcoming titles and much more.
here for more details at IGN DVD.
See you then!
We've kicked off THREE new
today, giving each of you the chance to win copies of 20th Century Fox's
Complete First Season, along with Buena Vista's
The Complete Third Season. The contests will run until Noon
PDT on Sunday, September 26th, so get your entries in quick. Good luck!
Finally today, if you haven't already checked out our
of the Month for September, there's no time like the present.
You may recognize Robert Shields
from his TV days as half of the duo Shields and Yarnell. These days
Robert's creating his art in beautiful Sedona, Arizona - loads of
different and whimsical designs. Sarah and I recently visited Sedona,
happened upon his work and really liked what we saw. Robert draws his
inspiration from all areas, including film. Check out the print of "Coyote
Law" that was inspired by Tombstone.
Robert's offering a special discount just for Bits
readers - $5 off any purchase of $30 or more from his
store through September. We think you'll like his work as much as
we do, so be sure to check it out!
Back tomorrow with more DVD reviews from our own Matt Rowe. Stay
Decision 2004? Well, your votes are finally in, they've been
tallied and the winners have been announced. The following 5 titles will
get their DVD debut in early 2005, each remastered and with new bonus
features and special content: The Letter,
Ice Station Zebra, Ivanhoe,
Random Harvest and King
Solomon's Mines (1950). Look for more information on these
titles in the coming months. Special thanks to Bits
reader Clyde P. for the heads-up on this.
Moving on, anyone remember EVD? It was supposed to be China's custom,
home-grown answer to DVD... except that it turns out it's not being
accepted so readily by Chinese consumers and manufacturers. Go figure.
You can read more
Matt's been on vacation in Illinois this week, so I want to make
mention of this: Ramones guitarist and co-founder Johnny Ramone died
earlier this week. Definitely a sad day for music. I'm sure Matt will
talk more about it over at MusicTAP
when he gets back next week, but in the meantime, I know I speak for him
when I say hats off to Johnny's family, friends and fans. You can read
By the way, we hope all of you readers down on the Gulf Coast weathered
Ivan okay. I grew up in the Midwest with tornados, so I know what it's
like when Mother Nature sends a fit your way. Hang in there.
If we don't pop in later with any late-breaking news, have a great
weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday.
Afternoon, folks. We've got more new announcements to cover today, so
here we go...
Universal has revealed that its delayed Twin
Towers has been rescheduled for 10/12. Also, their release of
Northern Exposure: The Complete Second Season
has been pushed back to 11/30. Other, newly announced titles from the
studio include The Door in the Floor
on 12/14 and Anchorman: The Legend of Ron
Burgundy (distributed by Universal for DreamWorks) on 12/28.
Look for Anchorman to be released
in a number of versions - there will be a full frame PG-13 theatrical
edition (94 mins), full frame and anamorphic widescreen unrated extended
editions (103 mins - SRP $29.99 each), and an anamorphic widescreen
limited edition gift set (no SRP). The limited edition will include Ron
Burgundy's Month to View Journal and a bonus disc containing
an entire second film, Wake Up Ron Burgundy,
also in anamorphic widescreen.
Buena Vista has announced That's So Raven:
Supernaturally Stylish, Volume 1 and Kim
Possible: The Villain Files for 12/7, the animated In
Search of Santa for 11/23 and My
Name is Modesty for 9/28.
20th Century Fox has added M.A.S.H.: Season
7, How to Steal a Million
and Garfield and Friends: Season 2
to its 12/7 slate, with King of the Hill:
Season 3 following on 12/28.
Paramount has informed us that the Top Gun:
Special Collector's Edition is going to be moving to December
(it had previously been set for release in November). The new street
date has been tentatively set as 12/14. We'll keep you posted.
Also, Warner is going to be releasing MI-5:
Volume 2 (for the BBC) on 1/11/05 (SRP $79.98).
Here's a little cover art for you... Touchstone's King
Arthur: Unrated Director's Cut (12/21), the BBC's
MI-5: Volume 2 and Disney's A
Wrinkle in Time (11/16)...
By the way, our friends over at
Town have posted a Quicktime video clip comparing one of the
changes in Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope
(specifically the Jabba scene) from the 1997 SE to the new DVD version.
Be sure to check it out.
We're kicking things off today with a trio of new DVD reviews from our
own Adam Jahnke. Take a look at his in-depth thoughts on Warner's
Special Edition and his reviews of Universal's
Collector's Edition and
Express by way of his latest edition of
Bottom Shelf on the cult films of director Steven Spielberg.
In announcements today, Universal has announced the DVD release of Alice's
Adventures in Wonderland, Izzy &
Moe, The Prince and the Surfer,
Skateboard Madness and Ski
School 2 for 12/28 (SRP $9.99 each). Video for all will be in
Columbia TriStar will release Falling from
Grace on 11/9, with Bob &
Carol & Ted & Alice, First
Snow of Winter and The Pickle
due on 11/16, and Doing Hard Time,
Unstoppable and Zhou
Yu's Train following on 11/23.
Also, Criterion has a new 2-disc special edition of Fritz Lang's M
on the way for December (street date TBA).
On the news front, there's
good story from Reuters (via Yahoo) on how Sony's purchase of MGM
gives it a major leg up in the battle to position its Blu-ray Disc as
the format to beat in the next-generation, high-definition optical disc
battle. Don't say we didn't tell you so. Let's just hope this deal
doesn't kabosh Peter Jackson's plans to lens The
Hobbit sooner rather than later (the rights to make the film
are owned by New Line, but the rights to distribute it are owned by
MGM... and now, presumably, Sony's Columbia TriStar).
Finally this morning, Video Business
and Variety have posted
interesting sales numbers this week. It seems that, dollar for
dollar, DVD sales are outpacing sales of movie tickets in the U.S. by
about 30% (as of mid 2003).
Well, we meant to have this posted yesterday. But Barrie's latest
Coming Attractions contains a massive table listing of Film
Noir titles that was a real bear to format. Nonetheless, his latest
column is now up. As you might have guessed, it's an in-depth look at
Film Noir overall - one of our favorite genres here at The
Bits. In addition to looking at Noir as a whole, Barrie
reviews 6 newly released Noir titles on DVD, including Image's
Late for Tears and Warner's
Noir Classic Collection, which includes Out
of the Past, The Set-Up,
Murder, My Sweet, Gun
Crazy (gee... that title is oddly appropriate today, isn't
it?) and The Asphalt Jungle.
There's a lot of meat on them bones, so dig in and enjoy.
In news today,
a good story at CNN on George Lucas' excellent
1138. The new DVD release is excellent. In fact, on the whole,
the DVD itself is arguably better than the
Wars Trilogy DVDs in terms of extras. If you're out buying
Star Wars next week, definitely
don't miss out on THX. It's well
worth your time, particularly if you're into high-concept science
fiction, like 2001, A
Clockwork Orange or Blade Runner.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/04 - 1:30 PM PDT)
Barrie's column will be up later this afternoon, but I wanted to jump
in here early with quick news that Sony's last-minute $5 billion bid
might just have worked. The latest reports indicate that Warner has
pulled their offer to purchase MGM and Sony will close the deal to take
possession of the studio. You can read more
at CNN/Money and
(subscription requited). There are also
reports on Yahoo news. Can you say Blu-ray Disc?
Back later. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/13/04 -
12:01 AM PDT)
Has anyone else out there missed football season as much as me and
Matt? We've both been thoroughly enjoying listening to the NFL preseason
games on Sirius
satellite radio. As most of you know, Matt's a Bears fan, while I'm a
Vikings fan. Living as we both do in Southern California, we rarely get
to see either of our teams on TV. Thankfully, Sirius not only carries
every game, you can choose to listen to each game with the home radio
announcers of either team. Came in handy yesterday afternoon, I'll tell
you. I had to make a run to IKEA, but I didn't miss a moment of the
Vikings' thrashing of the Cowboys. You just gotta love digital
On the DVD front this morning, there's a whole mess of online newspaper
stories about next week's impending
Wars Trilogy DVD release.
here for links to just a few via Yahoo. In case you missed it,
added more DVD screenshots on Friday illustrating additional
changes that have been made to the films for the DVDs.
By the way, as you probably know by now, Universal has removed Twin
Towers from its release schedule (it was originally to have
streeted on 9/7). We expect a new date to be announced at some point, so
we'll keep you up to date.
As we've reported in the past, Warner is expected to announce soon that
it will release both versions of Exorcist:
The Beginning on DVD sometime early next year. Paul Shrader
directed the original version, but the studio felt it was "too
cerebral", so Renny Harlin shot a "scarier" version of
the film that the studio eventually released to theaters. Warner and
production company Morgan Creek should make their final decision this
week. You can read more at
And in other news today,
is reported to have raised its offer to purchase MGM to close to
$5 billion in a last-ditch attempt to steal the deal away from Warner.
Meanwhile, Warner has reportedly told MGM it will rescind its own bid
unless MGM accepts it within the next couple of days. This thing is
REALLY heating up, folks. Expect some kind of announcement on the deal
to be made soon either way. Depending on how this shakes out, the fate
of both Peter Jackson's The Hobbit
and the opening round of the forthcoming HD disc format battle could be
decided in one fell swoop.
We'll be back later this afternoon with a new Classic
Coming Attractions column from Barrie. In the meantime, stay
(LATE UPDATE - 9/10/04 - 10 PM PDT)
Evening, folks! We're going to leave you this week with a quick late
update. We've gotten some nifty upcoming DVD cover art for you tonight.
Here's an early look at Touchstone's King
Arthur (12/21), DreamWorks' The
Terminal (11/23) and temp art for Universal's Buck
Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series
See you Monday. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/10/04
- 12:01 AM PDT)
We have some very sad news to report today, I'm afraid.
Disney animator Frank Thomas has passed away here in Los Angeles.
He was 92. Thomas, along with friend and fellow animator Ollie Johnston,
was one of Walt Disney's original "Nine Old Men" and was part
of the team that lovingly hand-crafted such classics as Snow
White and the Seven Dwarfs and Bambi.
If you haven't seen it yet, I think a great way to honor his memory is
to give the wonderful
and Ollie documentary a spin (click the link for Barrie
Maxwell's review of the special edition DVD). In this time when
traditional hand-drawn animation has been all but abandoned by the
studio that bears Walt's name, Thomas is greatly, greatly missed. Here
at The Bits, we humbly doff our
caps in his honor.
On the news front this morning, we've got more details on Miramax's
11/30 release of HERO on DVD. The
disc will include the 99-minute theatrical edition of the film in
anamorphic widescreen video with Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio. We
know the original Chinese audio will be included (with optional English
and Spanish subtitles), as will English and French dubbed audio. Extras
will include storyboards for 4 scenes, and the HERO
Defined and Inside the Action: A
Conversation with Quentin Tarantino featurettes.
It's also worth noting this morning that there are fresh rumblings
around the industry that Warner's bid to buy MGM is either a newly done
deal, or just about to be sealed.
here for the latest via Yahoo.
Finally, we've updated
pages of screen shots comparing the 1997 special editions and 2004
DVD editions of the Star Wars Trilogy.
Several new screen shots from Return of the
Jedi have been added showing more digital changes, and we've
added text to accompany the images as well.
(LATE UPDATE - 9/9/04 -
10 PM PDT)
Well, we're now hearing that New Line HASN'T yet officially announced
the street date for The Lord of the Rings:
The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition.
Earlier today we said that the studio had announced the title for
release on 12/14. They had published a 2-page spread in this week's
issue of Video Store revealing the
street date, SRP and other details. Turns out that the ad got printed
was retracted. So the street date and other release details are
still subject to change. Doh! We've updated the posting below and we'll
be sure to let you know when New Line gets their ducks in a row on the
By the way, I'm up to over 2,000 e-mails about the
Wars DVDs in less than 24 hours since I posted my review. I'm
trying to read them all, but there's just no way I can get back to you
all. It seems everyone's got a question or a comment! Judging by the
volume of e-mail I'm getting though, one thing is certain - there's a
LOT of interest in this title. No surprise there, I suppose!
(LATE UPDATE - 9/9/04 - 2:30 PM PDT)
Boy, I'm getting FLOODED with e-mails about the
Wars DVDs. Everyone's got a question it seems. Just FYI, I've
updated the review to note a couple of new changes we've discovered in
Some DVD release news today - fearful of fans importing Asian versions
of the film on DVD, Miramax has officially announced the release of HERO
on 11/30. The film will be available on disc in both subtitled and
dubbed English translations, and will include a "making of"
featurette and an interview with presenter Quentin Tarantino. With
almost no extras, that transfer had better rock Miramax. Don't make us
come up there, 'cause you know we will.
On the Fox front, we've learned that the studio's 24:
The Complete Third Season (due on 12/7) will feature a
special "half episode" written by the show's creators and shot
with the cast. It's designed to bridge the time span between seasons 3
and 4, and introduce some of the new characters and situations that will
appear in season 4. Very cool. You can read more on this
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/9/04
- 12:01 AM PDT)
So... anyone up for a little MORE George Lucas on DVD today? Yeah?
Okay then... after 8 long years of waiting, here's my in-depth review
of 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's 4-disc
Wars Trilogy DVD box set. Was it worth the wait? Do the films
look and sound awesome? Has Lucas really made more changes to them? Just
read the review, folks. It's all in there. On that last question
however, I think
will finally convince you that we weren't lying all those many months
ago when we first said there would be more surprises in store for these
films. Don't say we didn't warn you. ;-)
By the way, Mark Hamill and Irving Kershner? Cool guys. Both were in
attendance at the DVD press event yesterday, which I'm sure you'll be
able to read about all over the web. I'm frankly just too wiped out from
completing the review to go into it at the moment. Anyway, enjoy the
review. The DVDs street in just two weeks, on 9/21.
Before we go, we've got one great piece of news for you today. New Line
has officially announced the DVD release of their 4-disc The
Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - Special Extended DVD Edition
for 12/14 (SRP $39.99). The set will include more than 50 minutes of new
footage added back into the film and many, many hours of audio
commentary and documentaries on the production (we'll post a complete
list when it becomes available). Also on 12/14, you'll be able to buy
the Collector's DVD Gift Set of
the film (SRP $79.92) that includes the 4-disc DVD along with an
exclusive Minas Tirith keepsake box and an exclusive bonus DVD - Howard
Shore: Creating The Lord of the Rings Symphony.
[Editor's Note: We posted this Return of the
King news based on the studio publishing a 2-page ad in Video
Business magazine with the street date and the above details. We're
now told that the ad was published prematurely, and that the street date
may be wrong. So the above information is now NOT official and is likely
to change. We'll post the final details when they become available from
We've posted it before, but here's the cover art again...
Alright, I'm gonna go sleep for about 12 hours. Stay tuned...!
So... anyone up for a little George Lucas on DVD today? Yeah?
Okay then... let's kick things off with my in-depth review of Warner's
1138: The George Lucas Director's Cut - Special Edition. This
is one great little DVD, let me tell you. The film streets next Tuesday
(9/14) in both a single-disc version and this 2-disc edition. Just
forget the single platter - the special edition is the one you want.
Trust me. Check out the review and you'll understand why.
Now then, I'm off to L.A. this morning to attend Lucasfilm's official
Star Wars Trilogy DVD press event.
And you know what that means. Yes... with any luck (pending Lucasfilm's
approval), I'll soon be able to post our in-depth review of the single
most anticipated DVD release in the history of the format. So do keep
checking back, will you?
Just to keep you busy in the meantime, we've kicked off THREE MORE
contests today giving each of you the chance to win copies of Warner's
The George Lucas Director's Cut - Special Edition, Rhino's
Science Theater 3000: The Essentials and a pair of their
Armada titles. Like the others, these contests will run for 2
weeks until Noon PDT on Sunday September 19th. Click on the links to get
started and good luck!
One last note this morning... Paramount has informed us that the
revised street date for their delayed
Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition is 9/28. But
judging by the e-mails we've been getting, plenty of copies are now
available on store shelves despite the recall. Keep in mind that the
only difference between these two releases will be the wording of the
spec list on the back of the packaging - the actual discs are the same.
Consider yourself warned. We don't want you getting ripped off on eBay
(LATE UPDATE - 9/7/04 -
1:30 PM PDT)
DreamWorks has announced the DVD release of Steven Spielberg's The
Terminal on 11/23. The film will be available in separate
anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions (SRP $29.99 each), with
audio in both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. Extras are TBA. There will also
be a special Limited Edition (no
SRP) that will include the widescreen disc along with a second DVD of
Coming on 11/23 from Universal is a slate of interesting deep catalog
titles (SRP $9.99 each), including Cloak &
Dagger, Colossus: The Forbin
The Cure, Little
Miss Marker (1980), Missing,
Private School, Splitting
Heirs and Sweet Liberty.
Also, Warner has announced the next to last piece of the Babylon
5 puzzle on DVD... Crusade: The
Complete Series. Look for the 4-disc set on 12/7 (SRP
$59.98). All 13 episodes will be presented in their original full frame
aspect ratio with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (there will be some special
features TBA on the 4th disc). Only the Babylon
5: The Legend of the Rangers pilot film remains unannounced
for DVD (expect that to change soon).
We've got a TON of cool
DVD Cover Art for you to check out today. Well over 200 new
cover scans have been added, making it our biggest single artwork update
to date. There's LOTS of stuff you haven't seen before so be sure to
check it out. Special thanks to our resident cover art guru Russell
Hammond for putting it all together.
Speaking of art, we're pleased to give you an early look at the
packaging for 20th Century Fox's Daredevil:
Director's Cut, which streets on 11/30, as well as the
aforementioned Crusade: The Complete Series
Don't forget that Kevin Smith DVD signing event tonight in L.A. at the
new Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash Comic
Emporium. The signing starts at 5 PM, and you can expect a
big line (so get there early). The store is located at 1045 Westwood
Blvd. in Los Angeles.
Finally this morning, we've kicked off SIX new
today, giving each of you the chance to win DVD copies of Universal's
Dreams: Season One and
The Complete First Season and
Trace: The Complete First Season, New Line's
Zone and Lions Gate's
The contests will run for 2 weeks until Noon PDT on Sunday September
19th. Click on the links to get started and good luck!
Back tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
9/7/04 - 12:01 AM PDT)
Well, here we are... Tuesday. Still kinda feels like Monday though. ;-)
We've got a lot more on the way for later today, but first I wanted to
jump in here with word that Paramount is going to be releasing Star
Trek: The Complete Original Series on 12/14 (all 3 seasons),
followed by Star Trek: Voyager - The Complete
Series on 12/21 (all 7 seasons). Here's a look at the
packaging for both sets...
For you Sci-Fi fans, Word is Paramount is going to be releasing The
4400 on 12/21 as well.
Just FYI, we've updated all the DVD software sales and rental numbers
we chart here at The
Bits, along with the
DVD Player Sales numbers. We've also updated our authorized
mirror copy of Jim
Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to its most recent edition
Back later. Stay tuned...
Yeah, this couldn't wait until Tuesday. Go see HERO.
Matt and I just got back from an early Saturday matinee screening of
the film, and it's by far the best thing we've seen this year. Probably
the best thing we've seen since The Return of
the King. A lot of the early reviews compare this film to
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, but
it actually reveals a much greater connection to late-period Kurosawa in
terms of style, simplicity and philosophical depth. Films like Ran,
Kagemusha and Dreams.
Miramax's trailers for HERO
really do it a disservice. They make it seem like another Jet Li wire-fu
action film. Rest assured, that's not the case. The combat, while
powerful and plentiful, is almost incidental to the story. And don't let
the "Quentin Tarantino presents" tag fool you either. We dig
the guy's work, don't get us wrong, but this is so far beyond his range
he's gotta be humbled by it. This film is a stunning meditation,
combining a near perfect blend of movement, color and meaning. If I had
any criticism, I would say that it's maybe just a little more
intellectually satisfying than emotionally so, but the film certainly
doesn't suffer much for that. HERO
is in a league all its own.
Seriously. Just go see it. You'll thank us later.
And a quick note to you DVD guys at Miramax and Buena Vista: When you
release this film on disc, the transfer quality had so better freaking
rock or you will NEVER hear the end of it from us. I mean it - this
thing had better sparkle or else.
'Nuff said. See you Tuesday. ;-)
(LATE UPDATE - 9/3/04 - 11
You know... some cool new cover art became available late in the day
today, so I thought I'd close out the week by giving you all a look at
it. Here's Warner's The Looney Tunes
Spotlight Collection, Volume 2 (11/2) and The
Ultimate Oliver Stone Collection 14-disc box set (10/19),
DreamWorks' Anchorman: The Legend of Ron
Burgundy (street date TBA), and Universal's The
Bourne Supremacy (12/7) and the main menu from their Buck
Rogers in the 25th Century: The Complete Epic Series
By the way, The Ultimate Oliver Stone
Collection will include Born on
the 4th of July, The Doors,
JFK: Director's Cut, Platoon,
Radio, Wall Street,
Any Given Sunday: Director's Cut,
Heaven and Earth, Natural
Born Killers, Nixon,
Oliver Stone's America, U-Turn
and the exclusive Ultimate Oliver Stone
bonus disc (SRP $129.92).
Have a great weekend!
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/3/04 - 1:45 PM PDT)
Afternoon, everybody! We've got two quick items for you today.
First, I wanted to let you all know that Clerks
director Kevin Smith is going to be having a special DVD signing event
on Tuesday (9/7) to commemorate the opening of his new L.A. store... the
Jay and Silent Bobs Secret Stash Comic
Emporium. In addition to Smith, Jason Mewes and other
celebrities may also be in attendance. The signing starts at 5 PM, and
you can expect there will be a big line. The store is located at 1045
Westwood Blvd. in Los Angeles. Maybe we'll see you there!
By the way, Bits reader Esteban
S. has found subtle confirmation on the official
website of the changes to the films on the new Star
Wars Trilogy DVDs.
a special offer page for an "exclusive Hologram Emperor"
action figure, you'll find this text:
"Starting September 21, the debut of the
Star Wars Trilogy on DVD is going to have fans seeing the film
in a whole new way... from the unbelievably clear digital restoration
and remastering of the picture and sound, to a few other surprises."
The folks at Lucasfilm do like their surprises, don't they? Just to let
you know, I'll be attending Lucasfilm's official press event for the
Star Wars DVD release next week
here in L.A., so it's very possible you could start seeing the first
reviews of the 4-disc set as early as the end of next week (Lucasfilm
has an embargo date on reviews in place, but you can bet we'll post ours
as soon as we're allowed to do so).
Okay... given that it's a 3-day weekend for you North American readers
(owing to the Labor Day holiday), our next post will be on Tuesday. But
we'll be back then with a major Upcoming DVD
Cover Art update and several new DVD reviews.
Have a great weekend and we'll you then!
(LATE UPDATE - 9/2/04 - 12:30 PM PDT)
Howdy, kids. We've just received an official statement from Paramount
about the Generations delay...
"There is a typographical error on the Star
Trek Generations Special Collector's Edition DVD. It inadvertently
notes a teaser and theatrical trailer that are not on the DVD. As a
result, this product is being recalled and street date (originally
September 7) is being delayed. We will provide further information on a
new street date shortly."
So there you have it. We'll keep you up to date.
Anyone out there interested in the classic, British animated version of
George Orwell's Animal Farm? Home
Vision is releasing the Animal Farm: 50th
Anniversary Special Collector's Edition on 11/2 (SRP $24.95).
According to the official press release, the DVD "includes
a new digital restoration, scenes as told through original storyboards,
an audio commentary by film historian Brian Sibley, Down on Animal
Farm - a 30-minute BBC produced making-of featurette presented by
Tony Robinson, and liner notes by author and art historian Karl Cohen (Forbidden
Animation: Censored Cartoons and Blacklisted Animators in America)."
Finally this afternoon,
is reporting that Warner may be about to close the deal in its
months-long effort to purchase the MGM film library. MGM has reportedly
restricted some of its employees' ability to trade shares in the
company, a strong indicator that something's afoot behind the scenes.
Thanks to Bits reader Chris W. for
the heads-up on this. Other news sources (click
also have updates on the deal today, saying that to make their bid more
attractive to MGM majority owner Kirk Kerkorian, Warner has shifted
their offer to all cash (from cash and stock). Looks like this could be
for real, folks.
(EARLY UPDATE - 9/2/04 -
12:01 AM PDT)
It's official, folks. After saying they were and then saying they
weren't, Paramount is again saying that they ARE recalling the Star
Trek: Generations - Special Collector's Edition so that the
inaccurate spec listing on packaging can be corrected. The title will
NOT be released on 9/7 as originally scheduled. Naturally, since the
discs have already shipped out to retailers, many copies will still find
their way into consumers' hands on 9/7. Whatever you do, DON'T pay a
huge price for the disc on eBay. Paramount expects to announce the
revised street date soon, so don't get ripped off by unscrupulous types
on the secondary market. The title is still coming, and sooner rather
than later. We'll give you the new date as soon as Paramount sends it
Some good news for you David Lynch fans today. MGM has officially
announced the DVD release of the Wild at
Heart: Special Edition for 12/7 (SRP $19.98). The disc will
include the film in anamorphic widescreen video mastered from a new
high-definition transfer supervised by Lynch himself. Audio will be
included in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround. Extras will include Dell's
Lunch Counter (featuring all new interviews with Lynch,
Nicolas Cage, Laura Dern, Willem Dafoe, Diane Ladd and Sheryl Lee), the
30-minute Love, Death, Elvis & Oz: The
Making of Wild at Heart documentary, the Specific
Spontaneity: Focus on David Lynch featurette (featuring the
cast and crew talking about working with the director), the David
Lynch: On the DVD featurette (featuring the director talking
about the new transfer), the film's original 7-minute EPK featurette, an
animated photo gallery featuring 65 images, the original theatrical
trailer and TV spots.
MGM has also officially announced that Martin
Scorsese Film Collection
we told you
about in The Rumor Mill a few days ago. Set to street on
12/14 (SRP $69.96), the set will include the New
York, New York: Special Edition, a 2-disc Raging
Bull: Collector's Edition, and the previously released The
Last Waltz: Special Edition and Boxcar
Bertha. The New York, New York:
Special Edition will be presented in 1.66:1 letterboxed
widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and mono audio (SRP $19.98
separately). Extras will include audio commentary, alternate takes,
deleted scenes, a photo gallery, and the film's theatrical and teaser
trailers. The Raging Bull: Collector's
Edition will be presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen
with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround audio (SRP $29.98 separately).
Extras will include audio commentary by Scorsese and editor Thelma
Schoonmaker, a separate cast and crew commentary, a "storytellers"
commentary, 3 documentaries (including Before
the Fight: The Writing and Casting of Raging Bull, Inside
the Ring: The Making of Raging Bull and The
Bronx Bull), 3 featurettes (After
the Fight: Creating a Classic, La
Motta Defends Title and De Niro
vs. La Motta) and the theatrical trailer.
Also coming on 12/14 from MGM is the 6-disc Rocky
Anthology box set (SRP $62.96). The set will include all of
the films in the series in anamorphic widescreen video (mastered from
new high-definition transfers), plus a bonus disc containing A&E's
Sylvester Stallone: The Rocky Road at the Top
episode of Biography. Note that
the original Rocky will feature
both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, while all the rest of the films
will have Dolby Digital 5.1 audio only.
In other news today, Universal has announced a new Meet
the Parents: Special Edition for release on 12/14. No other
details are as yet available.
Here's the cover art for Miramax's Zatoichi:
The Blind Swordsman/Sonatine double feature DVD (11/9), along
with MGM's Wild at Heart: Special Edition
and Raging Bull: Collector's Edition...