What a way to follow-up my state of the home video industry report circa CES 2020 yesterday!
The news is breaking this morning that Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures are going to be merging their physical media distribution operations. The combined venture will distribute Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD discs in North America over the next decade, beginning in early 2021.
The merger will first have to be approved by the United States Justice Department.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment president Eddie Cunningham will lead the new venture. [Read on here...]
“The Brady Bunch is ’comfort TV’ to the highest degree.” — Classic TV historian Herbie J Pilato
The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the golden anniversary of the premiere of The Brady Bunch, the classic family sitcom which originally ran on ABC from 1969 to 1974 and starred Florence Henderson as Carol/Mom, Robert Reed as Mike/Dad and Ann B. Davis as housekeeper Alice.
The series (and ultimately franchise) — created by Sherwood Schwartz (Gilligan’s Island, It’s About Time) and featuring as the memorable Brady kids Barry Williams (Greg), Maureen McCormick (Marcia), Christopher Knight (Peter), Eve Plumb (Jan), Mike Lookinland (Bobby) and Susan Olsen (Cindy) — premiered 50 years ago this month, and for the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with classic television historian Herbie J Pilato, who offers some recollections and insight into the timeless series. [Read more here...]
- classic television
- History Legacy & Showmanship
- Michael Coate
- The Digital Bits
- Herbie J Pilato
- The Brady Bunch
- 50th Anniversary
- Sherwood Schwartz
- Robert Reed
- Florence Henderson
- Ann B Davis
- Maureen McCormick
- Eve Plumb
- Susan Olsen
- Barry Williams
- Christopher Knight
- Mike Lookinland
- Frank De Vol
- The Brady Bunch Kids
- Peppermint Trolley Company
- The Brady Bunch: 50th Anniversary TV & Movie Collection
Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits ties into the Blu-ray news we announced earlier (see our post here). It’s A&E Home Video’s Space: 1999 – 30th Anniversary Edition box set, released on DVD on July 31, 2007.
Licensed from Network/ITV in the UK, the series was first released on DVD both in the US and UK beginning in 2001 – by A&E/New Video in the States and by Network in the UK. The US release was initially done via 8 2-disc sets (4 per season). In 2002, all 8 volumes were packaged together in a “Megaset” with an exclusive DVD bonus disc that includes the short follow-on video A Message from Moonbase Alpha.
The set you see at left and below is a repackaging of that same Megaset from 2002, re-issued in 2007 for the show’s anniversary. All 17 discs carried over, along with the bonus disc, simply packaged in ultra-thin DVD slim cases. [Read on here...]
Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits is a favorite of mine personally, as well as a favorite of our readers and classic Star Trek fans overall. It’s the acclaimed 2-disc Star Trek: The Motion Picture – The Director’s Edition DVD, released by Paramount Home Entertainment in 2001.
The film was directed by the great Robert Wise, who had previously directed the Best Picture winners West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965), as well as The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), and who was an editor on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941) at RKO early in his career. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was released in theaters on December 7, 1979 and this year celebrates its 40th anniversary.
As many Trek fans know, Star Trek: The Motion Picture began life as an effort to return the franchise to TV with Star Trek: Phase II, but the box office success of other science fiction films convinced Paramount to try bringing the property to the big screen. The film reunited the entire original series cast, along with newcomers Persis Khambatta and Stephen Collins. The legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith was hired to score the film, which would become among his most iconic and widely-recognized works. [Read on here...]
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...]
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...]
- Rockne S O'Bannon
- Claudia Black
- Ben Browder
- The Jim Henson Company
- Starburst Edition
- New Video
- A&E Home Video
- Lionsgate Home Entertainment
- SciFi Channel
- Hallmark Entertainment
- Amazon Prime
- Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars
- Farscape: The Complete Series 15th Anniversary Edition
- Retro Release Day
- My Two Cents
- The Digital Bits
- Bill Hunt
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...]
For today’s Retro Release Day here at The Bits, we’re looking at a 65 mm epic from director William Wyler: MGM’s Ben-Hur (1959), first released on DVD on March 13, 2001 by Warner Home Video.
Winner of 11 Academy Awards, the film stars Charlton Heston in the title role, with cinematography by Robert L. Surtees (Camera 65 process), music by Miklós Rózsa, and a supporting cast that includes Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell, and Sam Jaffe.
The film is renowned for its chariot race sequence, which takes full advantage of the 2.66:1 widescreen frame (70 mm prints featured 2.76:1).
Today, Ben-Hur is often considered the second greatest American epic film behind Lawrence of Arabia. [Read on here...]
Today’s Retro Release Day title here at The Bits happens to be the very first DVD title I ever purchased and it’s also one of the very first titles released on the format.
I’m talking of course of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut on DVD, released twenty-two years ago today on March 26, 1997.
The film stars Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer, Sean Young, Edward James Olmos, and Daryl Hannah, with cinematography by the great Jordan Cronenweth, and music by Vangelis.
This was not the first time that Blade Runner had been released in its Director’s Cut form for home viewing; it appeared on VHS and LaserDisc in 1993. It would also not be the last version of the film to reach home video. [Read on here...]
(As I am writing this month’s column, word spread that the world had lost Nick Redman, a man of incomparable vision and love of classic films. He was a friend of mine and this entire website. I’ll write more next time.)
Maybe it was the mustache. Or the unscripted quips. Or the genteel Southern manner.
Or just maybe it was that laugh, a bombastic cackle delivered by one comfortable in his own skin – inviting his audience gut bust with him, as though they were all in a private joke.
That’s our Burt. And he’s, unbelievably, gone. [Read on here...]