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page updated: 4/4/00

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/15/00 - 1/26/00)

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Well, I hope you all had a nice and relaxing Valentine's Day, 'cause we've got a LOT of ground to cover this afternoon! This is, of course, Oscar Nomination Day, and there were some BIG surprises this morning. Among the biggest, is that actor Jim Carey got snubbed for a Best Actor nomination for his amazing performance as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon. And Toy Story 2 got overlooked for Best Picture (which I suppose was no surprise, given the Academy's bias against animation, but I still found it disappointing). You'll find the nominations for the major categories at the end of this post, and you can read the rest at the official Ocsars website.

Congratulations to Gene Wells of Houston, Texas. Gene won our Valentine's Contest and takes home the three DVDs of his choice. And thanks to all 1,778 of you who entered - a record for such a short contest. Our usual Monthly Contest will start later this week. In the meantime, you can read the answers to this one here.

We've got a BIG update of The Rumor Mill for you today! You'll find details on an Artisan DVD price drop (to $9.95 on some titles), street dates on lots of upcoming titles like DreamWorks' Galaxy Quest, and all the details on those Warner June DVDs (which we mentioned a few days ago), including newly remastered DVD editions of Interview with the Vampire, Twister and Lethal Weapon 1-3: The Director's Cuts. And if you dig a particular PBS documentary about America's favorite pastime, you're gonna be a happy camper in June...

We've updated our AFI Top 100 Films on DVD listing (finally!), so you may wish to check out the changes.

As you may have heard, director Spike Lee will be signing copies of Malcolm X and his other films on DVD tomorrow (2/16) here in Los Angeles, in honor of Black History Month. He'll be at the Virgin Megastore (8000 Sunset Blvd) in Hollywood from 7:30 to 9:30 PM PST. You may have to make a purchase at the store... just be ready.

Want an opportunity to ask George Lucas about Star Wars on DVD? He'll be giving a lecture tomorrow night (2/16) at 7:30 PM PST at Zellerbach Hall on the campus of the University of California Berkeley (that's in Berkeley, California - just FYI). There will apparently be a Q&A session after the lecture.... Tickets are still available at

Here are those Oscar nominations from this morning - see you tomorrow!

Best Picture - American Beauty, The Cider House Rules, The Green Mile, The Insider, The Sixth Sense

Best Actor - Russell Crowe (The Insider), Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story), Sean Penn (Sweet and Lowdown), Kevin Spacey (American Beauty), Denzel Washington (The Hurricane)

Best Actress - Annette Bening (American Beauty), Janet McTeer (Tumbleweeds), Julianne Moore (The End of the Affair), Meryl Streep (Music of the Heart), Hilary Swank (Boys Don't Cry)

Best Supporting Actor - Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules), Tom Cruise (Magnolia), Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile), Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense)

Best Supporting Actress - Toni Collette (The Sixth Sense), Angelina Jolie (Girl, Interrupted), Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich), Samantha Morton (Sweet and Lowdown), Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don't Cry)

Best Director - Sam Mendes (American Beauty), Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich), Lasse Hallstrom (The Cider House Rules), Michael Mann (The Insider), M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense)

Best Screenplay (original) - Alan Ball (American Beauty), Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich), Paul Thomas Anderson (Magnolia), M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense), Mike Leigh (Topsy Turvy)

Best Screenplay (adaptation) - John Irving (The Cider House Rules), Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor (Election), Frank Darabont (The Green Mile), Eric Roth and Michael Mann (The Insider), Anthony Minghella (The Talented Mr. Ripley)

Stay tuned...


Happy Valentines Day everyone! We've got a couple of things for you today. First of all Brad's given both DVD versions of Universal's American Pie a look, so be sure to read his thoughts. Also, we've got word that Warner is soon to adopt DTS support on some of their discs - that's in The Rumor Mill today.

We've had a few people tell us that the Valentine's Day Trivia Contest e-mail box is full. Worry not, we'll empty it ASAP, and we're extending the contest until midnight so you'll all have a chance to enter. We'll announce the winner tomorrow. If you can't get your entry in now, try again in an hour or two.

Image Entertainment's updated their DVD News page again with lots of new titles, including Columbia's The Messenger and Little Women: SE, Artisan's Journey to the Center of the Earth and The Omega Code from Goodtimes. They've also got the beta version of their upcoming online retail site up - DVD Planet. Be sure to give it a look-see.

You may have heard the sad news this weekend - Peanuts creator Charles Schultz has died, ironically on the eve of the Sunday publication of his farewell strip (visit the official Peanuts site). Schultz has being penning the adventures of Charlie Brown, Snoopy and the gang for some 50 years. He was born in my old neck of the woods - St. Paul, Minnesota - and he actually went to the same high school as my wife. Now he's gone to that Great Pumpkin Patch in the sky, and he'll be greatly missed. Our hats off to him.
Also, and not to be overlooked, comes word that funny man Jim Varney passed away last week. Varney was famous for his Ernest P. Worrell character, and as the voice of the Slinky Dog in the Toy Story films. As our own Todd Doogan put it... Ernest Goes to Heaven. We'll miss him too (and we think Jim would appreciate the joke).

Stay tuned...


Our Valentine's Day Trivia Contest is now up! Be sure to get your entries in fast for your chance to win any 3 DVDs of your choice (up to $39.95 each)! You'll be asked to match up 10 famous celebrity couples (past or present). The contest will run until 7PM on Monday, February 14th. The winner will be announced the next morning. Good luck!


It's finally Friday, and I bet you're all looking forward to the weekend! We've got just a couple of things for you today. First of all, you may have noticed that the graphics above have changed slightly. Clicking on the Got DVD? graphic will take you to our Star Wars on DVD Campaign page. The logo on the right will, as always, take you to the official Star Wars on DVD petition over at DVD And finally, the little golden boy in the middle there (aka The Bitsy) will take you to our 1999 Digital Bits Bitsy Awards, which some of you may have missed the first time around. We thought the re-arrangement looked better, and helps people find things easier.

Brad and I have got a couple more DVD reviews for you today. Brad's checked in with a look at a retro title, MGM's Hackers. And I've given Buena Vista's The 13th Warrior a spin for you. There are lots more reviews coming on Monday from all of us. Also, this weekend, we'll be running a brief Valentine's Day Trivia Contest, which will give one lucky winner a chance to take home any three DVDs of their choice (up to a $39.95 each). That will be up by tomorrow morning, and will end on Monday.

The CEA DVD player sales numbers have been updated for the first week of February - 54,611 players were shipped into retail in the week ending 2/4. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Finally today, the Star Wars on DVD Campaign's gotten another press mention, this time in yesterday's issue of The Washington Post. You can find the article online at this link.

Be sure to check back tomorrow for that contest, and have a great weekend!


Howdy campers! The staff of The Digital Bits is very pleased today to introduce you to our newest staff reviewer, young master Brad Pilcher. Todd, Sarah, Frank and I want to welcome him to our unique bag of mixed nuts. So welcome, Brad! You can get your first taste of his work today, with his new DVD reviews of Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Wargames, now available online. And he's got more on the way. Todd's got a little more to tell you about Brad, and he's got lots of other stuff to say today too, so I'm letting My Two Cents be his two cents for the day. So take it away, comrade...

Heeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrreeee's Todd!

I just had to pop my face into the Two Cents today to let everybody know about some way cool stuff. First, I want to tell you about a couple of upcoming DVD titles. April will see another installment from Fantoma Films, the producers of the wicked-smart DVD Fando & Lis. The upcoming title is the rarely seen Rainer Werner Fassbinder film, Whity. This is a treat for you Fassbinder fans out there, because this thing is hard-to-find. All we know about it for now, is that it'll feature an audio commentary by actor-producer Ulli Lommel and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, along with a brand new anamorphic transfer. Like Fando, the transfer is being done at American Zoetrope, home of Francis Ford Coppola. And after looking at Fando, I think you can expect a wonderful job.

Next up... oh doggie, we have a doozy: the notorious German film Nekromantik! It's probably one of the sickest, most twisted and stomach churning films ever made, and it's slated to hit the digital streets before the summer reaches an end. Directed by Jorg Buttgereit, the film follows a hapless chap and his sicko girlfriend as they spice up their relationship with a dead body, a chair leg and a prophylactic. Ouch.

Brian Krueger, President of Barrel Entertainment, is the daring soul behind getting the project on DVD. And as he tells it, it isn't very easy. They've lost quite a few transfer houses and a German translator due to the nature of the film. We wish him luck, and can't wait to see how the whole thing turns out. Brian tells us that it will be digitally remastered from a 16mm negative and will have optional English subtitles to go along with the German soundtrack. Don May, Jr. is spinning in his grave.

Extra features on the disc will include feature length audio commentary from director Jorg Buttgereit and co-writer Franz Rodenkirchen, Horror Heaven (a Jorg Buttgereit Super-8 short, subtitled in English for the first time with it's own audio commentary from Jorg Buttgereit), The Making of Nekromantik with 15 minutes of behind-the-scenes footage, a 10-minute featurette/interview with Jorg Buttgereit including Nekromantik out-takes, an extensive photo gallery from the collection of Jelinski/Buttgereit, trailers for Nekromantik, Der Todesking, Nekromantik 2 and Schramm and liner notes by Buttgereit biographer David Kerekes. The disc will be Region 1 coded, NTSC and hopefully dual-layered. The first 500 pieces sold will be signed and numbered by Jorg Buttgereit, and are only available through Barrel at $38 (which we are told are pretty much gone). The non-signed DVD will retail for $35, and judging from the content, you might want to save yourself some time looking for it at your local DVD shop, and just order it through them as well. You can reach Barrel with the following information:

Barrel Entertainment
PO Box 182035
Shelby Township, MI 48318
Phone: 810-323-1999
Fax: 810-323-3024

They're working on a website and it should be up soon. We'll let you know where to find them when it's up.

With the upcoming stuff out of the way, we move onto a past DVD release being replaced. We heard a while back that there were problems with Manga's DVD release of Macross Plus on some players. Specifically, there's been reports of an audio dropout in the center channel on the second volume. Manga/Palm Pictures, being a stand up company, has issued the following statement with instructions on how to replace your copy if it is indeed defective:

"We have noted your concerns regarding our Macross Plus DVDs. If you are not completely satisfied with your Macross Plus DVD, please send them to the following address for a prompt replacement:

Manga Video
Attn: Macross Plus DVD
P.O. Box 482
Lincolnshire, IL 60069-0482

We will be accepting exchanges from Tuesday, February 8th through Monday, May 8th. Please allow 2-4 weeks for delivery. Please include all original materials (disc, case) along with your address and telephone number inside the DVD case. If you have any other questions, please send an email to:

We are very proud of the Macross Plus DVDs and we hope that you find them highly entertaining. Manga Entertainment, Inc. A Palm Pictures, LLC Company ("

Okay... we've saved the best for last. You're going to notice a new name on some of the DVD reviews we'll be posting in the coming weeks, starting with two today. That name is Brad Pilcher, and he's a talented young writer trying to make his mark on the Internet. We're proud to help him with that endeavor. Currently, Brad's studying film and journalism at Georgia State University, where he's the Editor-In-Chief for the campus newspaper The Signal (which is a great collage paper, by the way). Brad's a big DVD, movie and computer head, and we're glad to have him on board. Be sure to check out his reviews and join us in welcoming him to the Bits family (you can send e-mail to Brad starting tonight at:

And I wanted to make a note that The Digital Bits is looking to hear from a handful of other new writers like Brad, who are looking to get published on the Net. So IF you have a passion for film, you know DVD better than anyone out there AND you're a serious and professional writer (and we mean that), then feel free to send a resume and writing sample to me here at this e-mail address: Please direct all inquiries to me (Todd) and not Bill, as he just doesn't have the time to go through them all. And since I'm the review editor here at the Bits, I'm the guy to talk to anyway. Just FYI - I'll only be accepting submissions until February 20th. Anything that comes in after that, will have to be deleted without being read (sorry!).

Right up front, I want to let everyone know that this is non-paying gig. So if you're looking to get rich, join the club (aren't we all?). This is about a chance to get published, show what you can do and build up a portfolio with a respected Internet site. And it's about having the glory of seeing your name in bytes. So if you think you've got what it takes to be a DVD advocate like the rest of the Bits staff, get those reviews to me and we'll see what you've got.

That's about all I have for now. Keep spinnin' those discs!

Back to you Bill, captain, my captain...

Thanks, Doogan. Well, I've only got a couple of other things to report to you today. First of all, is the fact that Pioneer's sold off their U.S. disc replication assets to Deluxe. They plan to concentrate strictly on A/V products. And Image Entertainment has signed a deal with the Black Entertainment Television (BET) network to distribute a series of live concerts on DVD.

We're pleased to say that there are now over 100 web sites that have joined us and DVD in our Star Wars on DVD Campaign. Some of those who have thrown in their support include Cinescape Online, Widescreen Review magazine, JediNet and even Anchor Bay Entertainment. You can read the full list of supporters here. Keep those signatures coming!

Finally, the Star Wars on DVD Campaign was even mentioned in yesterday's edition of one of Canada's largest newspapers, The Toronto Star. You can read the article online at this link. Thanks to the paper's movie critic, Peter Howell, for his tongue-in-cheek mention!

See you next Wednesday! Okay... we'll see you tomorrow too. Haven't you ever watched a John Landis flick closely? ;-)


Wow... were we ever swamped yesterday. I spent most of the day on the phone, and yesterday afternoon's update fell by the wayside. But we've got lots of stuff for you today to make up for it.

First of all, we're pleased to say that we've gotten some 15,514 signatures so far in our joint Star Wars on DVD Campaign with our friends at DVD File. And using some of our Messages to George Lucas, Pete's created some funny new animated buttons that you can use on your web pages to show support for the campaign (you'll find them on both our campaign page, and the actual petition page over at DVD File). Please keep those signatures coming in!

Also today, Doogan's checked in with three more new DVD reviews, this time of Columbia TriStar's Blue Streak, Fox's Ally McBeal: Ally on Sex and the Single Life and Warner's Malcolm X. If you haven't seen Malcolm X yet, it looks great on DVD. It's one of Spike Lee's best, and it's definitely worth checking out.

We've just posted Jim Taylor's latest update of The Official DVD FAQ - the February 8th revision. If you have any questions about DVD, that's definitely the place to start.

It looks as if that theory about the bad Tarzan DVD part numbers isn't holding water - people are reporting bad discs with both of the listed part numbers. Still, it was a nice try. We're digging into this more with Disney to find out the official story, so stay tuned...

We've gotten an official update on The Abyss from the folks at Lightstorm, which is now available in The Rumor Mill. Our opinion on the reported problems with the disc? We'll have to wait and see. There's also a look at the disc cover for Braveheart on DVD, and word of more upcoming Paramount titles too.

MSNBC has a good new story up on Nuon technology enhancement for DVD players. You may remember that we addressed Nuon briefly in our CES 2000 coverage.

Warner's created a new video club for those of you who buy lots of their videos and DVDs - just follow this link to the club's official site. You'll get exclusive offers on Warner video products and have a chance to win stuff. Best of all, it doesn't cost anything to join.

Dolby Laboratories has created a new demonstration DVD disc that includes seven of Dolby's trailers, along with multi-channel music demonstration samples and more. It's called We've Got the Whole World Listening, and you can order it online for $15 (plus shipping) by clicking to this link.

Finally, Columbia TriStar has announced a host of great new DVDs. On April 25th, look for Fortress 2: Re-Entry, The Lords of Flatbush, The King of Marvin Gardens and a Rutgar Hauer double feature disc of Blind Fury and Omega Doom. All four of the discs will SRP for $24.95 and will include a smattering of extras. They'll all also be in anamorphic widescreen.

Stay tuned...


We'll be back later this afternoon with our usual full update, but I wanted to sneak in early with this information for those of you who picked up the Tarzan DVD (thanks to Jack for bringing it to our attention). There's a theory brewing on the newsgroups, and I think there might be something to it. It seems that a number of people with bad copies of the disc have noticed that the defective discs seem to share the same part number - E1690. This is found on the printed face of the disc, near the edge. And those who feel their disc has good Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio have noticed that their discs have a part number of E7401. I just got my copy of Tarzan, and after careful examination, it appears that the audio is okay. And indeed, it's got the E7401 number on the edge. Unfortunately, this doesn't help you identify the disc in the packaging - mine says E1691 on the back of the keep case, which doesn't match the disc. But if this theory holds up, it may be a way for those who already have the disc to know if theirs is bad. This theory would make sense if (as is likely) more than one replicator was used to press the discs - one of them may have had a bad master, and each plant's pressing would be identified by a different part number...

We'll be back later, so stay tuned...


We've got a bunch of interesting stuff for you today. First of all, our own Todd Doogan's taken a look at the three new volumes of South Park on DVD - Volumes 4, 5 & 6. And we've got a LOT more reviews coming in the next week.

I've posted a new Message to George Lucas today, this one a spoof on the by now familiar logo of a Lucas company. Here's a hint: the audience is waiting...

Speaking of Lucas, we're up to nine pages of signatures on our Star Wars on DVD petition drive. I'll have a full count of the number of signatures thus far tomorrow. Several people have noticed that some are taking advantage of the petition to post more than once, or to post "less than courteous" messages. Worry not - we delete these once each page is full. And we'll go through the entire petition and delete duplicate posts before we forward them on to Lucas. So rest assured, those who would take advantage of the situation are only wasting their time. In the meanwhile, please keep those signatures coming - we need as many as possible. And again, please sign only once per person.

We've had a lot of people ask about those Ed Wood DVD reviews we posted on Friday. Specifically, people want to know what happened to the DVD version of Night of the Ghouls, which was expected to be released with the other titles. Rest assured, it's coming from Image later this year. It just needs more work for DVD.

Linux users are blasting the DVD industry over the whole DeCSS case again. And they're not alone. Linus Torvalds, the founder of Linux, has added his voice to the mix. Check out both links via Yahoo and ZDNet.

We've got some new stuff for you in The Rumor Mill today. There's word on Jaws and The Exorcist, as well as whispers of trouble for The Abyss on DVD. Don't miss it!

We'd like to send our best wishes out to director Steven Spielberg, who we've just learned underwent surgery today due to a "kidney irregularity" (read the story here from CNN). Get well soon, Steven.

Finally, we'd like to thank radio host Wayne Resnick and his producer at KFI for having us on his show on Saturday night. Todd and I had a blast, as we chatted about all kinds of DVD-related issues. Poor Wayne's a DVD addict, and we know how he feels. We even got to answer a few caller questions. So thanks again, Wayne! Anytime you need to talk DVD some more, we're here for you, buddy. We got your back.

Stay tuned...


All right - we've got some great DVD reviews for you today. First of all, in honor of the release of Scream 3 to theaters, we've got a look at the dual DVD versions of the first Scream. But we're saving the best for last, 'cause today we've got a sneak peak at Image's upcoming DVD editions of the films of Ed Wood! Yep - we've got Glen or Glenda? and Jail Bait. We've got Bride of the Monster too. And best of all, we've looked at the greatest Wood classic... Plan 9 From Outer Space! The folks at Image have really outdone themselves this time - don't miss it!

Also today, we've gotten the latest CEA DVD player sales numbers for January. Some 173,464 players were shipped in the week ending January 28th, making the total for the month 370,031. All charts have been updated accordingly.

Finally today, if you live in the Los Angeles area and you've got nothing better to do on Saturday night, you might want to tune in to Wayne Resnick's radio show on KFI 640 AM. At about 10 PM PST tomorrow night, your faithful editor Bill Hunt (that would be me) should be joining Wayne for a discussion on "DVD Addiction". Seem's that Wayne's just gotten his first DVD player and he can't stop buying movies! Our own Todd Doogan may join us as well. So tune in and don't touch that dial...

Have a great weekend, everyone!

(LATE UPDATE - 2/3/00 - 4:30 PM PST)

Have you ever wondered what the set of a major Hollywood motion picture was like? Well too bad... you're not gonna find out here. But we are very pleased to be able to take you all behind-the-scenes on a movie of different sort... a B-movie to be specific. Frankie and I were recently lucky enough to be invited to the L.A. set of the latest Troma production, Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger, Part 4. And we had a pretty interesting time - much more than we bargained for going in. We definitely got caught up in the fun. So please enjoy our report - Totally Tromatic: A Visit to the Set of Citizen Toxie!

And we'll be back tomorrow with a flurry of new (and long-overdue) DVD reviews for you. Stay tuned...!

Lloyd Kauffman's bookThe DVD of the original Toxic Avenger

(EARLY UPDATE - 2/3/00 - 12:45 PM PST)

We've got that special report almost done - it's coming this afternoon, along with a bigger post. But we wanted to get the following information up immediately. We've gotten reports that SOME of the copies of Tarzan currently shipping have good audio, while others have the messed up rear channels. I've heard from several people (that I consider experts) since yesterday afternoon, who say that their copy of the disc is a-okay, while others claim to have a problem. And our own Digital Man (Josh Lehman) claims to have found a copy of each - good and bad. So just be aware that some good discs are shipping. We'll have more on this as soon as we hear it.

Back soon...


We've got some good news for you Star Trek fans in today's update of The Rumor Mill. It looks as if episodes of another favored Trek series are coming to DVD in 2000! We've got that, plus updates on some other Paramount titles. So as one famous Captain of the Enterprise might say, "Engage..."

Image Entertainment's updated their DVD News page again, with details on a number of Image-exclusive titles. Image will be releasing some 43 DVD titles in April. Here are some highlights: On April 4, Lost in Space Forever comes to DVD hosted by television's John Larouquette - a tribute to the classic '60s TV series. April 4 will also see the release of Victor/Victoria, the Broadway musical starring Julie Andrews. This was her last public singing role, filmed live on stage at New York's Marquis Theatre. It will be released in anamorphic widescreen, and full Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Another Broadway title, Via Delarosa, is also upcoming. For different musical tastes, VH1's Divas Live 1999 with Whitney Houston, Cher, Tina Turner and Brandy will come out on 4/4, with DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks on the same disc and a host of ancillary materials. Two new volumes of Twilight Zone DVDs hit the streets on April 11 (Volumes 22 & 23), featuring the following classic episodes: A Word of Difference, Back There, One More Pallbearer, Ring-a-Ding Girl, Long Live Walter Jameson, Dead Man's Shoes, You Drive and The Long Morrow. April 11th will also see four more classic Chaplin masterpieces released: Limelight, The Great Dictator and A King in New York (coupled with A Woman of Paris). All of these Chaplin DVDs will contain extensive supplementary materials. Also on the 11th, Fritz Lang's scathing critique of fifties America's hunger for bloodshed and scandal, The Blue Gardenia, comes to DVD starring Anne Baxter, Raymond Burr and Ann Sothern. On April 18, Image will satisfy cinemaphiles with yet another landmark DVD release, Krzysztof Kieslowski's nine hour-plus masterpiece, The Decalogue. Another volume of classic sci-fi serials, Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe will also street that day. The IMAX film The Discoverers will be released on April 25, with both DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound on the same disc. The program will also contain an extensive "making of" documentary. Finally, The Slipper and the Rose, starring Richard Chamberlain and Gemma Craven with a musical score by the Sherman Brothers (Mary Poppins, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Jungle Book), comes to DVD in its original, 143-minute British cut. A retelling of the classic Cinderella story, this disc will be presented with anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The special edition disc will also include commentary by director Bryan Forbes, a video interview with Robert and Richard Sherman and a promotional featurette, Cinderella Story: The Making of The Slipper and the Rose. And these are just the highlights...!

Sigma Designs has officially announced that it will add Linux support to its DVD and MPEG streaming capable products. Click here for the official press release. They're a little to the ball game perhaps - isn't this what started all of the DeCSS problems to begin with? As Wired said in a recent story... It's a Linux Thing.

We've gone back and forth with Buena Vista today about their Tarzan DVD "missing" the .1 channel in the soundtrack. We thought it was a little strange that they would claim to us that it will be "returned to the mix when the fixed audio DVD is pressed", since the film never had a 5.1 soundtrack to begin with. Our feeling is that this was just incorrect information - someone didn't know their Ps & Qs. They claimed to be getting a lot of complaints about the disc only being 5.0, so apparently a lot of people didn't know that the film ran theatrically with only 5.0 (with bass in the mix, but not on a separate channel). BVHE should be getting back to us on this, but our feeling is that the .1 issue is moot.

Our friends over at have endorsed the Star Wars on DVD Campaign, with a good editorial on the issue. Our thanks to Ian Ebright, the websites' Senior Editor, for his words of support.

Finally, we'll be back tomorrow with a very special report on a recent visit we made to the set of an upcoming film. As you'll see... it was quite an adventure.

Stay tuned...


We've gotten word of some problems with Disney's new Tarzan DVD. Apparently the left and right rear channels in the English Dolby Digital 5.0 audio have been mixed incorrectly, resulting in a serious problem with the sound. I've spoken to Buena Vista personally, and they tell me that they ARE re-pressing the DVD with the correct mix. Not only that, but the .1 subwoofer track that was missing from the first pressing will be returned to the mix for this new DVD. We recommend that you return your copy if you've already purchased it, and wait for the corrected release. We'll have all the details as to when the fixed discs will be available as soon as we learn them. Does anyone think that maybe Buena Vista should work a little harder at quality control? This certainly isn't the first time that they've screwed up audio or features on one of their discs...

No doubt by now you've heard that Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace is going to be made available on laserdisc in Japan, but not here in the States. Here are the details (thanks Mark!):

Release Date: April 7, 2000
LD# PILF-2830 (Pioneer)
List Price 7,800 yen
THX, Dolby Digital, 2 Discs-3 sides, CLV, Japanese Subtitles, Cinemascope Size, 133 Min.

This note came with the solicitation:

"It's ONLY available from Japan or from Taiwan and it won't be released in American / European market yet. Also it won't be released on DVD through this year 2000 in any market."

This should tell you two things. First, by not releasing a laserdisc here in the U.S., Lucasfilm is hoping to drive up demand for an eventual DVD release (whenever that may happen). This is the same thing that happened with the now-cancelled Indiana Jones Trilogy laserdiscs. Second, you will probably be able to find very good quality bootleg DVDs mastered from the laserdisc by pirates by the end of the summer. I've personally seen the bootleg copies of the original Star Wars trilogy, and I was stunned by how good they look compared to other bootlegs. They come straight off of the laserdiscs, and they even have Dolby Digital 5.1 audio - surprising for a pirated disc.

Why Lucasfilm would choose to give pirates this kind of an edge is hard to fathom, unless you come to the conclusion that they just don't care. In any case, there's new hope that we'll hearing from them directly on this issue. Stay tuned...

Columbia TriStar has announced a few new goodies for DVD. Jackie Chan's Gen-X Cops is slated for release on April 18th. The disc will include a "making of" documentary, a music video, a "making of" the music video, a deleted scene, and a talent file on Chan. The disc will also include both full frame and widescreen, and 5.1 audio in both English and Cantonese Chinese, with English and French subs, all for $24.95. Also coming from the studio on that same day is The Red Dwarf. The disc will include full frame and widescreen, trailers and French 2.0 audio with English subs. SRP is also $24.95. Picnic and Two Moon Junction are also slated for 4/18. Picnic will include vintage advertising, a photo montage and talent files. Both discs carry an SRP of $24.95. Finally, April 18th will also see a Little Women Collector's Series DVD from Columbia. The disc will include a "making of" featurette, director's commentary, deleted scenes with commentary, trivia games, historical timeline, the isolated score, and a costume and set design gallery with commentary. SRP is also $24.95, and the disc will feature anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital audio in 5.1 and 2.0. Whew! posted an interesting interview yesterday with Jon Johansen, that young Norwegian hacker who helped to mastermind the DVD encryption hack. It's well worth a read to get a sense of what he was trying to accomplish, and what he's up against legally. And the San Francisco Chronicle has an interesting summary of the digital piracy situation, and the different issues and legal cases associated with it.

Finally today, we'd like to mention an Eyes Wide Shut petition drive to encourage Warner Bros to release Kubrick's last film in its original unaltered version. Do check it out.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/31/00 - 10:45 PM PST)

Congratulations to Jerold A. Moses of Baltimore, Maryland. Jerold correctly unscrambled all of the movie titles in the January Trivia Contest, and was chosen in our drawing as the winner. He's won the Pioneer DV-525 DVD player (and three discs of his choice to play on it), thanks to sponsor Access DVD. We'll start the next contest soon, but you can click here to see all of the movie titles revealed. Thanks to everyone who entered!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/31/00 - Noon PST)

All right... did everyone's favorite team win the Super Bowl? Probably not... but to all you Rams fans out there, congratulations!

Now then. Today, we've got a new disc review for you - Frank Ortiz's take on Pink Floyd: The Wall. We've also got another Message to George Lucas. We're giving you a look-see deep into the bowels of the Lucasfilm Archives. It's a play on a famous image from Raiders of the Lost Ark, and we think it will give you a laugh. ;-)

Today is the last day of our January Trivia Contest, so get those entries in quick for your chance to win the DVD player. We'll be back tonight to announce the winner.

Warner's issued a new press release on their DVD lineup for February, which includes 4 classic Humphrey Bogart titles on disc. Click here to see it via Yahoo.

Remember that Rumor Mill post we had about a month ago, about more Steven Spielberg films coming to DVD in 2000? Well DVD File's gotten some more information from inside sources at Universal that seems to corroborate it. Looks like Steven's backing DVD in a big way in Y2K. Hey Steve, can you do us a favor and try to get your old pal George on the bandwagon too?

We got a good laugh this weekend, when we received the first issue of Star's new e-mail newsletter The Homing Beacon. The first bit of news they go into is as follows:

"But why no DVD??

Most of you have accepted the fact that there will be no Star Wars films released on DVD in 2000 or the foreseeable future. This week Rick McCallum answered the ultimate question... WHY NOT?"

They then rehash the McCallum comments we've heard before. Talk about propaganda spin - "Most of you have accepted the fact that there will be no Star Wars films released on DVD..." How do you like that? We've gotten EIGHT huge pages of signatures so far from people who would argue that line, and we know there are lots more out there. Naturally, you can preorder Episode I on VHS now. Yeah, right. As if...

Finally today, we've gotten the latest CEA DVD player sales numbers - some 101,298 players were shipped to retailers during the week ending January 21st. That brings us up to 196,567 for the month so far, and some 5.6 million for the format at large.

Stay tuned...


We've got some details on the upcoming Warner DVD release of Stanley Kubrick's Eyes Wide Shut. The film will be presented in open matte full frame aspect ratio (per Kubrick's wishes), and will include a 30-minute featurette that boasts interviews with Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Steven Spielberg (apparently it's pretty moving, as these interviews were done after Kubrick's death). The disc will also include a theatrical trailer, a pair of TV spots and production notes. The audio will be Dolby Digital 5.1. The U.S. release WILL indeed be the R-rated (altered) version of the film. In talking with Warner, we've been told that their policy is to not release on home video anything with higher than an R rating (this explains why Natural Born Killers - a Warner property - was just released on DVD by Trimark). Our feeling is that Warner could (and should) put both versions on the DVD, and restrict access via parental lock if necessary. If only we ruled the world...

For all those of you out there following our joint Star Wars on DVD Campaign with DVD File, we've got another tongue-in-cheek Message to George Lucas that should give you a smile. The idea for this one came from Doogan, and we think it's pretty funny - kinda says it all. Here's a two word hint: milk mustache. FYI - you can access all of the messages we've done so far on the Campaign page, and more are in the works...

We'd like to thank everyone who has e-mailed us in support of these efforts, and we ask that you keep those signatures coming in to the petition page! We'd particularly like to thank Matt Springer, for his well-written editorial on the effort over at Cinescape Online. It's some of the best damn dead horse-flogging we've ever seen. ;-) And thanks also to our friends over at the excellent Star Wars web site JediNet, for officially endorsing the campaign. These efforts have also received a good mention in Video Store magazine this week. By the way - if you're an editor or journalist with any publication or program (newspaper, magazine, TV, radio - you name it) and you'd like to know more about the campaign, please give us an e-mail. We're trying to spread the word as far and wide as possible, and we greatly appreciate all the help we can get.

Stay tuned...


Howdy-ho, gang! We've got a couple of new disc reviews for you today. To start with, Doogan takes a look at New Line's new DVD edition of National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1. As for the other title... well, we've gotten a lot of e-mails about this disc, which has been delayed several times. But it's finally set to street on February 14th, and we're happy to say that it was worth the wait. So enjoy a First Look at Criterion's For All Mankind. If you're a space nut like me, you're gonna want this disc - trust me.

Speaking of Criterion, we have officially confirmed that they're in production on a DVD version of Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy, with the release tentatively set for mid-2nd quarter of this year (final street date TBD pending production schedule).

Yet another leak for the DeCSS hacking code has been plugged - the State of California itself. Apparently, when lawyers submitted the source code as evidence for the trial, it wasn't placed under seal. The code (in hard-copy paper document form) was apparently publicly available for viewing at the Santa Clara courthouse until yesterday. Oh my. You can read the story via this link to Yahoo. Someone did apparently get to them, because (believe it or not) we've found these legal documents available for reading online... INCLUDING the source code. We can't publish the link for obvious reasons, but it just goes to show you how difficult an issue this is becoming.

Finally today, Image Entertainment has updated their DVD News page again, with details on such titles as Eyes Wide Shut, Pokemon: The First Movie and Pee-Wee's Big Adventure: Special Edition from Warner, For Love of the Game and collector's edition DVDs of The Birds, The Bone Collector, End of Days and Conan the Barbarian from Universal, and lots more.

Stay tuned...

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure: Special EditionPokemon: The First Movie

(LATE UPDATE - 1/26/00 - 1:30 PM PST)

Groan! How do you like this? While Lucasfilm claims that there are no plans to release Star Wars DVDs in the foreseeable future, there are already plans to release the Star Wars Trilogy on VHS again! A number of readers pointed us to this article at the BBC News. The article is about all of the books being published related to the film. Here's the relevant quote from the publisher: "We are looking at the Phantom Menace video release in April and the Star Wars classic videos in autumn as good opportunities to sell books."

Just what we need - 3 more VHS tapes to add to the 10 or 15 other copies of these films collecting dust on our shelves. This should make you angry. THIS is why we need as many signatures as possible in our petition. Keep 'em coming!

Also, Buena Vista has revealed their DVD release line-ups for March and April. Here they are:

March - The Sixth Sense: Collector's Edition, Outside Providence, Guinevere, Prophecy III: The Ascent, B. Monkey, Pinocchio (Gold Collection), Miami Rhapsody

April - Tarzan: Collector's Edition, The Aristocats, The Insider, Mumford, Happy, Texas, That's the Way I Like It, Music of the Heart, The Enforcer

Tarzan: Collector's Edition DVD

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/26/00 - Noon PST)

Yow! I don't know how this one slipped under our radar, but I guess we've been so busy with the Star Wars campaign, that we missed it. Jon Johansen (the 16-year old kid in Norway who was the person who originally broke the CSS code and published it on the Net) had his house raided by police on Monday. Two of his computers were confiscated, and both he and his father were brought in for questioning. Jon himself was questioned for some 8 hours. The pair are also being sued by several of the companies involved in the DVD format, and could face heavy fines and up to 2 years in prison if convicted. You can read brief stories on this at Scandinavia Online, The Norway Post and Yahoo. And I'd be willing to bet that this is just the beginning. Heads are gonna roll over this one...

You Paul Thomas Anderson fans out there should head on over to the definitive p.t. anderson resource. They've got a recent conversation with the young writer/director, in which he talks about the possibility of a NEW Boogie Nights: Special Edition DVD release, as well as tentative plans for the DVD version of Magnolia. I've gotta tell ya - I'm a big fan of Anderson. In my opinion, he's one of the most interesting young filmmakers I've seen in a long time.

Columbia TriStar has informed us that The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc is coming to DVD on April 4th. The DVD will include the extended international version of the film (in anamorphic widescreen), with 10 additional minutes of footage. Also included will be the HBO: First Look featurette, the film's isolated score, and talent files. SRP is $27.95. The studio is also releasing Shakes the Clown and Godspell to DVD on April 4th. Both will also include anamorphic widescreen. Shakes will SRP for $24.95, while Godspell will SRP for $27.95. And Bell Book & Candle is coming to DVD on March 28th. The movie stars Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemon and Kim Novak. It will include anamorphic widescreen and full frame, talent files, vintage advertising and the original mono audio. SRP is $24.95.

Also, NetFlix has launched their CineMatch campaign, which lets you rate DVDs that you like. Once you've rated enough of them, the system will actually recommend movies that you might also want to see. Think of it as personalized renting. Click here for their press release.

Finally today, we've heard some very early word on a bunch of great MGM DVDs that are coming later in the year, including a number of cool special edition titles that are in the works. Check the Rumor Mill for that.

Stay tuned...

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