My Two Cents
Wednesday, 16 December 2020 21:17

BREAKING: Roku & HBO Max reach a deal, plus Criterion’s March slate, BD & 4K news, new Twilight titles, Empire at 40 & more

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Good evening, everyone! Sorry for the lack of news updates this week, but we’ve been incredibly busy here at The Bits over the past several days. We’ve been doing some important server updates and software patching, but more importantly for you guys we’ve been working hard on new Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD reviews. So we have a few of those for you this evening...

First, I posted my review of Christopher Nolan’s TENET in 4K Ultra HD from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment on Monday. It’s an ambitious film with stunning image quality and a characteristically Nolan-frustrating surround sound mix. You’ll find all the details here.

And just today, I posted my thoughts on Well Go USA’s brand new Ip Man: The Complete Collection box set, featuring all four films in the series—Ip Man, Ip Man 2: Legend of the Grandmaster, Ip Man 3, and Ip Man 4: The Finale—in 4K Ultra HD with remastered image quality and new Dolby Atmos sound mixes. It’s also worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of Donnie Yen.

Meanwhile, Tim has reviewed Sean Cunningham’s DeepStar Six (1989) on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.

And Dennis has turned in his looks at Robert Aldrich’s Attack! (1956) and Frank Perry’s Ladybug Ladybug (1963), also on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics. [Read on here...]

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There are also more reviews to come, so be sure to stay tuned.

Now then, there’s also some big announcement news and substantial industry news to report today as well. So let’s get to those announcements first...

Our friends at the Criterion Collection have revealed their March Blu-ray and DVD slate, which is set to include an updating of Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (Spine #685 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 3/9, Jacques Rivette’s Céline and Julie Go Boating (Spine #1069 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 3/16, that unnumbered World of Wong Kar-wai box set we mentioned last week (Blu-ray only – includes As Tears Go By, Days of Being Wild, Chunking Express, Fallen Angels, Happy Together, In the Mood for Love, and 2046) on 3/23, and Mike Leigh’s Secrets & Lies (Spine #1070 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Albert Brooks’ Defending Your Life (Spine #1071 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 3/30. We’ve updated our Criterion Spines Project pages here at The Bits accordingly.

Be aware that for World of Wong Kar-wai, the director has made a few changes to some of his films as a part of the 4K remastering process. You can find the details here in this Director’s Note image shared by Film at Lincoln Center and Nashville’s The Belcourt Theatre (for a screening series of the films—and thanks to our own Johnnie Young for tracking that source down)...

Wong Kar-wai Director's Note

Also today, we have word of more forthcoming 4K Ultra HD catalog titles that are coming over the next few months. Look for The Ten Commandments from Paramount on 3/30 (with Dolby Vision HDR), Perdita Durango and Day of the Beast from Severin Films on 3/20, and Snatch and Last Action Hero in May from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. We’ve updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits as well.

Here’s a surprise: Screen Archives Entertainment has announced two new catalog Blu-ray titles under the Twilight Time label, including Brian Trenchard-Smith’s The Man from Hong Kong (1975, aka The Dragon Flies) and Peter Syke’s Venom (1971, aka The Legend of the Spider Forest). They’re now available for pre-order here on the SAE website with a tentative street date of 1/18/21.

New Twilight Time titles

Meanwhile, many of you have noticed that some big Q4 4K Ultra HD titles seem to be hard to find or out of stock in stores and via online retailers. The reason for this: There’s only one major disc replication plant left in all of North America (particularly for the production of 4K UHD titles) and it’s struggling to keep up with greater than normal demand, what with so many studio pivoting to physical media in 2020 due to the pandemic. So you’ll need to be patient as things come back in stock in the weeks ahead. In case you were wondering.

On a related note, some of you have also noticed that Shout! Factory and Scream haven’t announced many new Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K titles in the past few weeks. The studio has quietly acknowledged this via social media, citing the impact of COVID as the primary cause, but says that their usual full slate of monthly titles will resume in Q2 of 2021 (they’ll apparently be back to full swing in May). So adjust your plans accordingly.

Also, here’s great breaking news for those of you who are HBO Max subscribers and who have Roku streaming devices: HBO Max and WarnerMedia have finally clinched a deal to allow the HBO Max app to appear on Roku devices. It’s been nearly seven months since the service launched without Roku support, but it was virtually certain that the two parties would try to come to some kind of a deal before Warner debuts Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984 on HBO Max (in 4K with HDR) on Christmas Day. And indeed, the news broke late today that the deal is done. The HBO Max app will officially be available on Roku devices starting tomorrow. You can read more here via Variety.

And finally today, in honor of this year’s 40th anniversary of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, the official Star Wars website has just shared a 7-minute video on YouTube featuring rare and never-before-seen set footage and outtakes from the film. It’s well worth your time, so you can watch that here...

We’ve got more announcement news still to catch up on, but we’ll save that for tomorrow’s post.

Until then... stay tuned!

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)



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