March 2019

Today is a day many of us in the cinephile community have been eagerly awaiting: Criterion has finally launched their streaming replacement for FilmStruck, better known as The Criterion Channel.

It officially launched this morning with apps on AppleTV, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS and Android. You can also view it via web browser.

The good news is, the launch seems to have gone nearly flawlessly. I checked for the Roku download shortly after midnight. Finding it not yet available, I figured it was more likely to launch early AM on the East Coast, where Criterion’s offices are located. So I went to bed and checked again when I woke up here in California. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits is one that caught the eye of more than a few of our readers in the background of photos I’ve posted of recent Retro Release Day titles. I’m speaking of ADV Films’ 4-disc Farscape: Starburst Edition DVDs!

Farscape, which celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 19, was a Sci-Fi Channel original series that debuted in 1999 from The Jim Henson Company and Hallmark Entertainment. An Australian-American production, the live action science fiction series was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon and starred Ben Browder, Claudia Black, Virginia Hey, Anthony Simcoe, Gigi Edgley, Paul Goddard, Lani Tupu, and Wayne Pygram.

The series was first released on DVD starting in 2001 by ADV Films in a regular DVD edition (with 2 episodes per set plus extras on one DVD-9 disc). This was followed in 2005 by an initial Starburst Edition release (with 6-7 episodes per set plus additional extras on 2 DVD-18 discs). Both releases presented the series in the original broadcast 1.33:1 (or 4x3) TV aspect ratio, save for Season Four which switched production to 1.78:1 (or 16x9). Audio was lossy Dolby Digital. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Today’s Bits postings are a double-header, and this first one will be pretty substantial. I’ve unfortunately come down with the flu, so the last few days my functionality has been limited. But, I’m going to do a couple posts today to make up for it.

Before we begin, though, we’ve posted 4 new Blu-ray reviews here at The Bits in the last few days, including... Tim’s look at The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires from Scream Factory, Ecco and The Forbidden from Severin Films, and the Region B release of Dragonwyck (1946) from Powerhouse Films and Indicator. We also have Dennis’ look at Stan & Ollie on Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Enjoy!

So... first things first: We’ve confirmed with Warner Bros. that their new Burton/Schumacher Batman 4K releases will feature new Dolby Atmos audio mixes on both the 4K and the Blu-rays in the package. Those Blu-rays will be remastered too. High dynamic range will be HDR10 only on the 4Ks. And the Blu-rays will carry over all of the previous BD extras with one exception: Don’t expect to find the Batman: The Birth of a Modern Blockbuster featurette from the recent Batman: Diamond Luxe Blu-ray. Beyond that, most everything should be there. (Thanks to Bits reader Anthony DiPaola for spotting that). [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

We mentioned this title a few days ago, but now we can officially confirm that Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Neon will be releasing Todd Douglas Miller’s acclaimed large format documentary, Apollo 11, on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on May 14th.

From the studio’s press release:

“Crafted from a newly discovered trove of 65mm footage, and more than 11,000 hours of uncatalogued audio recordings, Apollo 11 takes us straight to the heart of NASA’s most celebrated mission—the one that first put men on the moon, and forever made Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names. Immersed in the perspectives of the astronauts, the team in Mission Control, and the millions of spectators on the ground, we vividly experience those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future ” [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has just officially confirmed information we’ve had in our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits for a while now, which is this…

Tim Burton’s Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) and Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997) are officially coming to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and Digital on 6/4. You’ll be able to buy them as single SKU editions that day, and then a 4K Batman Anthology box set will follow on 9/17.

The films have been scanned from the original camera negatives in native 4K, fully remastered, and graded for high dynamic range in HDR10 (there is no mention of Dolby Vision but we’ll try to confirm its inclusion). They’ll also feature new Dolby Atmos audio mixes. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

Attention all readers of The Digital Bits. This is just a quick announcement to remind you all that The Criterion Channel officially launches in the U.S. and Canada on Monday (4/8).

That means you only have ONE WEEK left to become a Charter Subscriber of the service. Benefits include an extended 30-day free trial (starting April 8), reduced fees for the life of your subscription (for as long as you maintain it), and more.

Specifically, charter subscribers (who sign up before 4/8) will pay just $9.99 for a monthly plan or $89.99 for a yearly plan, following the trial period. After 4/8, the prices will rise to $10.99 for monthly or $99.99 for yearly.

Content includes the complete Janus Films library, plus curated and original content, with special features to supplement it.

You can watch on your desktop right now, and the official app is expected to go live for download on Monday for Apple TV 4 and newer, Amazon Fire, Roku, iOS, and Android devices. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

The Matrix managed to outdo Star Wars in terms of truly reshaping the zeitgeist mere months before George Lucas’ first prequel was supposed to roar into theaters and show everyone how big budget sci-fi is supposed to work.” — Zaki Hasan, co-author of Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 20th anniversary of the release of The Matrix, the popular, franchise-inspiring action/sci-fi/cyberpunk adventure starring Keanu Reeves (Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure, John Wick) and highlighted by Academy Award-winning editing, sound effects editing, sound, and visual effects.

Directed by The Wachowskis (Bound, Speed Racer), produced by Joel Silver (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon) and co-starring Laurence Fishburne (Boyz n the Hood, What’s Love Got to Do with It), Carrie-Anne Moss (Memento, Disturbia), Hugo Weaving (V for Vendetta, The Lord of the Rings), and Joe Pantoliano (Midnight Run, The Fugitive), The Matrix introduced moviegoers to Bullet Time and featured the music of Deftones, Marilyn Manson, Prodigy, Rage Against the Machine, Rammstein, and Rob Zombie. [Read on here...]

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