My Two Cents
No… your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. At long last, we’ve finally gone and done it. You are now looking at the all-new, fully-modernized Digital Bits. We’ve entered the 21st Century at last! That’s right, The Bits no longer looks like it was designed in the late 1990s. And this is just the beginning.
So what took so long? Well… a funny thing happened over the decade and a half since we first launched The Bits. The site grew so big so fast that it just because a monstrous chore to try and update it! I mean, seriously daunting. It didn’t help that I was always too busy talking to industry sources, taking calls, tracking down release news, reviewing discs and dealing with not one but two format wars. Add to that hundreds of daily reader e-mails in need of answering, and more than a few readers who needed help with defective discs or hardware… you get the idea. The idea of completely redesigning The Bits became completely overwhelming.
But about a year ago, I finally got the bug to get it done. I started playing with various new looks and new layouts, designing new graphics… an all-new Bits logo. The rest of The Bits staff got cautiously excited about it, though to be fair I’m not sure most of them believed it was ever really going to happen. And given all of the personal difficulties I’ve experienced in the last year – the death of my grandmother and father, the death of Sarah’s mom, the loss of a beloved cat and most recently the passing of our dear friend and colleague Barrie Maxwell – well, frankly even I’m not quite sure how I managed to get this done. But here it is and we’re pretty pleased with it. We hope you are too.
Today, we’re essentially ‘soft launching’ the new Bits. I really wanted to get it up and running in time for Adam’s Hell Plaza Oktoberfest to kick off today… and up and running we are. But you’ll notice that there are several features that aren’t fully working or updated yet. Only a few of the most recent column entries are here on the new site. We have a few brand new columns that we’ve yet to launch. Reader comments aren’t yet enabled. And less than a hundred of our many disc reviews – mostly Blu-rays – are in the database at the moment. It’s going to take time to add our entire current review catalog – thousands of titles in all – into the new database. Our immediate goal is to work out the various bugs in the new design (and there are sure to be a few, so your patience is appreciated) and to update and add all the usual features over the coming month or so. We’ll gradually add older Bits content to the new design in the weeks and months ahead. Meanwhile, the original Bits site has been permanently archived here, so you can go back and look through it any time you like. (You can always find it in the main menu bar under Features for future reference)
If you’d like to e-mail me or any of The Bits’ staff, all you have to do is go to Meet the Staff under the About section and you’ll find bio pages for each of us. On each bio page is a Contact e-mail form for that person. Don’t hesitate to use these forms to let us know what you think.
So there you go! It’s a whole new Bits! Updated. Shinny. Easier to use. Links up nice with Facebook and other social media sites so you can share content. It should look good on mobile devices. You can finally search for stuff. We have RSS feeds! And best of all, it’s 100% less unattractive. We hope you like it.
Back tomorrow with the usual. Stay tuned…
- Bill Hunt
Warner Home Video has officially announced the Blu-ray Combo and DVD release of The Campaign on 10/30 (SRP $35.99 and $28.98). The Blu-ray will include Line-O-Rama, deleted scenes and a gag reel. The film will be an extended cut with 11 minutes of scenes not seen in theatres.
Warner Bros will also release Dallas: The Complete First Season on DVD only on 1/8 (SRP $39.98). You'll get all 10 episodes, plus 6 featurettes, commentary on the pilot and deleted scenes.
Look for a Chuck: The Complete Series - Collector Set on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner as well on 10/30 (SRP $179.98 and $149.98). We don't know if these sets will include the 3D version of the Chuck Versus the Third Dimension episode (that was a Best Buy BD exclusive), but we'll try to find out.
And Warner has set Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon Adventures: Volume 3 for DVD only release on 1/8/2013.
Meanwhile Lionsgate has a Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection coming to Blu-ray on 12/4 (SRP $39.99). It will include Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Now Redux, Tetro, The Conversation and One from the Heart. We believe this is the first time that final film will be available in high-def. (One suspects it will be released separately on Blu-ray next year.)
Drafthouse Films has set The Ambassador for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 10/23.
Paramount is releasing the classic "western comedy" Something Big on DVD only on 10/9 (SRP $19.99). The film stars Dean Martin and Brian Keith.
Danger After Dark will release the Japanese horror (or "J-horror") film X-Game on DVD only on 11/13. SRP is $17.99.
Shout! Factory will release Simon & Simon: Season Seven on DVD only on 10/16 (SRP $29.99). All 16 episodes from the season will be included.
Any of you guys remember the Nickelodeon classic You Can't Do That on Television? Shout! is also releasing a feature-length documentary on the series, You Can't Do That on Film, on DVD only on 10/16. The disc will include a rare interview with show creator Roger Price, extended cast and crew interviews, recaps of the SlimeCon and SlimeCon 2004 fan conventions and cast reunions, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage from The Official Reunion Episode Titled Project 131 and more.
Image Entertainment has set the documentary The Clintons: An American Odyssey for DVD only release on 10/2.
The Cinema Guild has the indie film Natural Selection coming on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/13 (SRP $29.95 and $24.95). The discs will include interviews with the cast and crew and the film's theatrical trailer.
First Run Features has set Chely Wright: Wish Me Away and Nobody Else But You for DVD only release on 10/16.
Wolfe Video has Funkytown coming to DVD on 10/2.
And Anchor Bay and Starz has Magic City: The Complete First Season coming to Blu-ray and DVD on 10/3.
Finally, we've got a couple title updates for you. First, we've learned that Network doesn't currently have the U.K. release rights to Gerry Andersons' UFO and Thunderbirds so they can't release Blu-ray versions there. A&E does have the U.S. rights to both series and is considering releasing them on BD. However it's very early in the process so there's nothing concrete to report yet.
Also, for those of you who are interested in the Target-exclusive version of Warner's Harry Potter: Year 7 - Ultimate Edition, here's what you need to know. It's a Blu-ray/DVD Combo, but only the movies are included on DVD. All the extras are on the Blu-rays. Also, it only includes the 8th book - Growing Up. It's in many Target stores now, but initial shipment quantities were low so many stores have just 1-3 copies until they restock. Some stores aren't getting their copies of the set in until next week. We strongly suspect that when the Target exclusive ends and Warner puts the set into wide release, you'll get at least two different SKUs - separate Blu-ray and DVD versions - to match the ones they've released thus far. It may also be that the wide release versions will be split into separate boxes for the two films, like the U.K. versions. So if you only want Blu-ray and you're dying to get the set now, Target's the place. But if you want the DVD version or want to wait until it's two separate boxes for each film so you get the two different books, all the character cards, etc, hang tight until early next year.
All right, one last note about upcoming reviews. We do have the Bond 50 Blu-ray Disc set on hand. I will be doing a full review, but it's going to take a couple weeks to really get into it all and cover it properly as I only just got my hands on it and there's a LOT of material to go over. Also, Dr. Jahnke will shortly have the Universal Classic Monsters: The Essential Collection Blu-ray set in his hands which means you can definitely expect it to be one of the titles he reviews when we launch his annual Hell Plaza Oktoberfest next week! I know a lot of you have been looking for reviews on those titles, so just know they're coming.
We'll leave you with a look at the Blu-ray Disc cover art for Lionsgate's Francis Ford Coppola 5-Film Collection, Warner's Chuck: The Complete Series and PBS' Downton Abbey: Seasons 1 & 2 (due on 10/2)...
- Bill Hunt
All right, we've got a quick early update for you today with some major breaking release news...
You may recall that, back on 9/18, we reported on a leaked WHV promotional video on YouTube that teased the home video release of The Dark Knight Rises with the text "Own it on Blu-ray Combo Pack or Digital Download 12/3." Well, now Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Warner has confirmed to them that the film will arrive on Blu-ray Combo, DVD and digital on 12/4. There will also be a limited and numbered box set edition of the BD Combo that comes packaged with a replica of Batman's cowl. According to their information, the discs will include a documentary on the history of the Batmobile, the 17-part Ending the Knight documentary, The Journey of Bruce Wayne featurette, trailers, galleries and more. Watch for official details shortly.
Also today, for those of you Bond fans who have the EPIX channel on your cable or satellite system, they'll be showing a documentary on the Bond franchise called Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007. Directed by Steven Ridley, it focuses "on Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman, and author Ian Fleming as they discuss the inception and durability of the longest running film franchise in cinema history." The documentary will debut on Friday, October 5th at 8:00pm ET. Here's the film's listing on the EPIX website.
- Bill Hunt
Okay... we've got a couple more little bits of information for you today...
First, here at the site today, we've kicked off a new Giveaway giving each of you the chance to win one of FIVE copies of Fringe: The Complete Fourth Season on Blu-ray Disc thanks to our friends at Warner Home Video. Entries will be accepted until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, October 7th. Click on the link for instructions on how to enter and good luck!
Speaking of Warner, Warner Home Video has set LEGO Ninjago Masters of Spinjitzu: Rise of the Green Ninja for DVD release on 11/27.
Vanguard Entertainment has set Behold the Lamb, The Last Soul on a Summer Night, Flood Streets and Mama Sweetie for DVD release on 11/27.
And Lionsgate will release Bro' on DVD on 12/18.
Back to Warner again for a moment, there are rumors that Target stores have (or will soon have) a retail-exclusive version of a Harry Potter: Year 7 - Ultimate Edition on Blu-ray and DVD. This is obviously the very box set that many of you (who've purchased all the previous UE sets) have been waiting for. We asked WHV for confirmation and have been told that they're not commenting. Which suggests that it's true. However, there's no such set listed on Target.com. We're trying to get to the bottom of this, so if any of you spot the set at your local Target store be sure to let us know. Meanwhile, we've asked Warner if they can at least tell us when and if the set will be available widely for all their loyal customers who, as I noted, have already purchased all the other UE sets. When and if they get back to us on this we'll let you know. We certainly hope they do, because judging by your e-mails many of you are getting understandably impatient about this.
[UPDATE - Target DOES INDEED have a retail exclusive on the long awaited Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Parts 1 and 2 - Year 7 Ultimate Edition, with both movies included in one box set. That explains why the studio isn't commenting. It's available starting today in stores. A sticker on the front of the box indicates that it's a Target exclusive until 1/6/13, and it's a 6-disc set that DOESN'T include the 3D versions - just 2D. SRP is $49.99. Presumably after 1/6 it will go into wide release. Thanks to the many Bits readers who e-mailed with this information.]
Also today, we've yet to hear back from our contacts at Network and A&E about the BD release status of UFO and Thunderbirds, but Bits reader Robert H. did send us a link to a trailer for the Japanese UFO BD release on YouTube. Keep in mind, given that the U.K. and U.S. rights are owned by other companies, so I wouldn't expect this Japanese release to be all-region. Again, anything we hear from our official contacts we'll post as soon as it comes in.
Finally this morning, I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the passing over the weekend of filmmaker Steve Sabol, who was the president and co-founder of NFL Films (along with his father, Ed). If you love football like I do, you need no explanation as to just how much impact Sabol has had on the game of pro football over his career. Week in and week out, season after season, Steve and his camera teams captured every scrap of the drama, the history and the humanity of the game. Like any good filmmaker, he was a storyteller and he was a damn good one. Steve died of complications of a brain tumor at the age of 69. He will be missed. Be sure to check out the NFL's tribute film here.
- Bill Hunt
All right, we've got some good new announcement news for you today.
First though, you may have noticed that I missed a couple daily posts last week. No worries - all is well here. We've just got some good stuff going on here at The Bits. Personally, I've been helping my mother prepare for a move to a new retirement home. And behind-the-scenes here we're also working on a couple really cool things for you guys, one of which is Dr. Jahnke's Hell Plaza Oktoberfest! Look for that to kick off on 10/1. The other thing you'll learn about soon enough, so I'll come back to that in a week or so. Anyway, I appreciate your patience as we get it all completed so thank you.
Now then... Liongate has announced their December Blu-ray and DVD slate, including Bob the Builder: Teamwork Time, Fred 3: Camp Fred, a Fred 3-Movie Collection, Titanic: Blood & Steel (Blu-ray and DVD) and A Vampire's Tale on 12/4, followed by Bigfoot County and Thomas & Friends: Sticky Situations on 12/11. The studio will release Step-up Revolution on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/27. Lionsgate has also set Power Rangers Samurai: Christmas Together, Friends Forever for DVD only release on 10/16.
Warner Home Video will release Thunderstruck on Blu-ray/DVD Combo on 1/1/2013 (SRP $24.97).
Sony Pictures has just announced the Blu-ray 3D Combo, Blu-ray Combo and DVD release of the CG-animated Arthur Christmas on 11/6. Extras will include 2 featurettes (including Un-wrapping Arthur Christmas and Elf Recruitment Video) and 5 Progression Reels (Arthur Christmas Unwrapped, Arthur's Office, Grand Santa, Invasion and Trelaw).
Sony has also announced a slate of new MOD DVD-R titles for release on 11/6, including Arizona (1940), The Tall T, Assignment K and The Houston Story.
Disney has set Army Wives: Season Six, Part Two for DVD only release on 12/18.
20th Century Fox has set individual season sets of Stargate Atlantis for release on Blu-ray Disc on 11/27 (SRP $39.99 each).
Synapse Films has announced The Definitive Document of the Dead documentary for release on DVD and limited edition Blu-ray Disc on 11/13 (SRP $19.95 each). Just 1500 copies of the Blu-ray will be available. The Blu-ray will include the 102-minute documentary on DVD, plus a BD of the 66-minute version from 1979. Extras on both will include all-new audio commentary by writer, producer and director Roy Frumkes.
PBS Distribution has announced a Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey - Seasons 1 & 2 box set for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 10/2 (SRP $64.99 and $59.99). The DVD is a 6-disc set while the BD set is a 5-disc set.
Anchor Bay Entertainment will release The Trouble with Bliss on DVD only on 1/1/2013.
Well Go USA Entertainment will release Painted Skin: The Resurrection on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/13.
Shout! Factory will release Kaijudo: Rise of the Duel Masters - Creatures Unleashed on DVD only on 12/4 (SRP $14.97).
CBS and Paramount have set Perry Mason: The Seventh Season - Volume Two for DVD only release on 10/23 (SRP $55.98), followed by The Streets of San Francisco: Season Five, Volume One and Volume Two on DVD on 10/30 (SRP $45.98 each) and Perry Mason: The Eighth Season - Volume One on DVD on 11/27 (SRP $55.98).
Paramount has also set Hot in Cleveland: Season Three for DVD only release on 11/27.
For you music fans, Eagle Rock Entertainment has set Paul McCartney: Live Kisses for DVD and Blu-ray release on 11/13.
And Image Entertainment has set Suddenly, the 1954 film noir classic starring Frank Sinatra, for Blu-ray Disc release on 12/4 (SRP $19.98).
Also today, Amazon is suggesting that Universal's Ted will street on Blu-ray Combo and DVD on 12/11 (SRP $34.98 and $29.98).
Amazon.co.uk has also suggested a new street date for Warner's Empire of the Sun - 11/13 in the U.K. according to the site. Sources at Warner have informed us that a new official street is soon to be announced, so be sure to check back. We'll post it as soon as it's available.
And while we're talking about Amazon... Amazon.co.jp has revealed the Japanese Blu-ray Disc release of Gerry Anderson's UFO on 12/5 and Thunderbirds on 2/6/2013 respectively. Looks like lots of great content. One suspects they're coming in the U.S. and the U.K. as well - likely handled by Network and A&E/New Video. Fingers crossed we'll see official announcements soon. We're working to confirm. Thanks to several Bits readers who sent this in today.
We'll leave you with a look at the Blu-ray cover art for Synapse's Document of the Dead and Warner's The Postman Always Rings Twice (due 11/13) and Guys and Dolls (11/6)...
- Bill Hunt