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My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 6/28/01 - 6/11/01)

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(LATE UPDATE - 6/28/01 - 4 PM PDT)

We've just gotten word from MGM Home Entertainment that their RoboCop DVD will street on October 2nd, but the RoboCop: Special Edition will not be released until some time in 2002 (as it's still in production). There was some confusion about this among our readers. Rest assured that the movie-only version will include anamorphic widescreen video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

In the meantime, we've got cover artwork for the studio's Terminator: Special Edition (which IS set for October 2nd), along with some 21 other new scans for you to check out this afternoon. You'll find them in the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section. Other new covers include 13 Ghosts, An American Werewolf in London, Blood Simple, Blow Out, both versions of Cape Fear, An Everlasting Piece, Halloween 2, A Knight's Tale, The Mexican, The Tailor of Panama, Roughnecks: Tesca Campaign, Ultimate Jordan and more. Don't miss it!

See you tomorrow...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/28/01 - 10 AM PDT)

Some interesting news items this morning. First of all, head on over to The for images that COULD be from the upcoming Episode I DVD. There are shots of a deleted scene (click here and here) and what may be a deleted scene menu page (click here). Since they're all in full frame, The thinks they may be from some kind of promotional material. Real of not, they're interesting nevertheless.

Yahoo's got another good story on the recordable DVD battle, which is starting to really heat up. Actual hardware was shown at this week's PC Expo - hardware that's likely to find its way into consumers homes this fall. Personally, my money's on Pioneer's DVD-RW based format, which can record discs that can be viewed on the majority of current DVD players.

Finally this morning, one of my favorite magazines' online sites, Technology Review, has an excellent editorial up today on the battle over DVD and digital piracy. You can also find it in the magazine's current issue, on newsstands now. Written by Simson Garfinkel, it's an excellent review of the situation this far. Many of you will be surprised to learn that the original DeCSS program that sparked all the controversy has recently been reduced to just six simple lines of code. And while I completely understand the studios' fear of those six lines, and their desire to protect their copyrighted movies, Garfinkel's final comments in the column explains the problem Hollywood faces perfectly:

"The movie industry lost its battle over DVDs when it decided it would be neat to let people play DVDs not just on TV sets but on computers. There's no way to keep secret something that's distributed to millions of PC users. Information is power, and computers are machines designed to process and distribute information. Moviemakers are about to learn what the Clinton administration learned with crypto: no matter how you legislate, information wants to be free."

By the way, if you check out the article, you'll find links to LOTS more good and detailed reading on this subject and the latest news on Hollywood's war on piracy... and the fallout from it.

Back with more soon. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/27/01 - 4 PM PDT)

Three new DVD reviews have just been uploaded from Greg, Dan and Brian - HBO's Sex and the City: The Complete Second Season, Columbia TriStar's Vertical Limit: Special Edition and 20th Century Fox's That Thing You Do!. And we're getting back into the swing of things review-wise, so be sure to check back. More reviews are definitely on the way.

Stay tuned...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/27/01 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Warner Bros. has officially confirmed that Orson Welles' Citizen Kane will arrive on DVD in Region 1 on September 25th. Considered by many to be the greatest movie ever made (it's #1 on the AFI Top 100 Films list), Citizen Kane will feature full frame, B&W video (the film's original aspect ratio), along with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio. Extras are TBA but reportedly will include audio commentary and more. SRP will be $29.98. More details will follow.

Citizen Kane

Also this morning, Columbia TriStar has announced the DVD release of their 1988 remake of The Blob, expected on September 11th. The DVD will SRP for $19.95, and will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround audio and theatrical trailers.

Finally, a reminder. As we mentioned a few weeks ago, director Kevin Smith will be signing copies of the new Dogma: Special Edition at Dave's Video - The Laser Place on Sunday, July 1st from Noon to 2 PM PDT. He'll sign two items, one of which must be a copy of the DVD purchased at the event. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charity of Smith's choice. Dave's is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, California. We've been invited to attend, so maybe we'll see you there.

Back with reviews soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/26/01 - 1:30 PM PDT)

Big news! The Willow: Special Edition has officially been announced! We've received this e-mail from our friends at 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment:

Dear Editors:

Lucasfilm Ltd. and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announce the DVD debut of one of the most successful fantasy adventure movies of all time, Willow. The Special Edition DVD features exclusive material enabling fans of the movie, as well as a new generation, to experience the mystical adventure like never before. Willow is also available on VHS. Available on November 27, the DVD and VHS are priced to own at $26.98 and $14.98, respectively.

The DVD will feature THX-certified anamorphic widescreen video and newly remixed Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Extras will include include special commentaries, an all-new documentary on the film's groundbreaking achievements in special effects, a classic Making of an Adventure documentary, an effects featurette, original theatrical trailers, TV spots, a still photo gallery and more. We'll post artwork as soon as it becomes available.

Be aware that we've also updated The Rumor Mill with a look at the expected DVD release slate for The Criterion Collection and Home Vision Entertainment through November. Some very cool titles are on the way from them - Notorious, Rashomon and anyone? There's also word in there on a possible Trek: TMP street date, so do check it out.

Finally this afternoon, we've also kicked off our second Trivia Contest for June, which will give you each a chance to take home 4 great DVDs from 20th Century Fox or a laserdisc display frame from ShowOff Displays! There will be 10 winners in all, and you've got until July 4th to enter. So click here to get started and good luck!

We've been a little slow on the DVD review end of things around here lately, so we'll be back in the morning to rectify that. See you then.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/26/01 - 11 AM PDT)

We've confirmed with our sources that The Sopranos: The Complete Second Season is currently slated to be released on DVD here in Region 1 on November 13th. This date also seems to have been confirmed by a series fan site, We'll post more details as they become available.

We've also confirmed that October 2nd is the street date for MGM's The Terminator: Special Edition. Look for an official announcement soon from the studio. October is gonna be a killer month for DVD fans financially - anyone out there planning to get a second job to pay for all these great DVDs?

We've also heard that when Citizen Kane and Doctor Zhivago are officially announced in the coming weeks from Warner Bros., they're gonna have some very cool special features on them. Yep... in case you didn't know, they're both expected before the end of the year.

One last item this morning... you Linux and Solaris operating system users are finally in luck. There's now a software DVD player available for you that supports DVD menus. It's called Ogle, and you can get it here. Did I mention it's freeware? It's freeware. Thanks to Matt R. for the link. Enjoy... ;-)

Back with more in a couple of hours...


The big news this morning is that Warner Home Video has finally revealed officially that it's working on a Citizen Kane DVD, which will include at least some special edition materials (TBA). No official street date has been announced, but our sources are telling us to expect it in later September.

In other news, U2 is talking a little more about that Elevation Tour DVD that they're currently working on. It's being culled together from a pair of shows recorded recently in Boston, MA. The band hopes to have it out by the end of the year, hopefully in November. Click here for more. There's also a TV special that's reportedly in the works (click here for more on that, straight from The Edge himself).

Sony apparently doesn't want to get caught in the 4th quarter DVD player crunch. The manufacturer says that they're going to be boosting their production output by some 60% in order to meet demand... and make the prices more attractive to consumers. That will mean that they ship some 7 million players a year.

ZDNet's got a good story up on the start of the recordable DVD format wars. It's a very good primer on the different formats, so you might want to give it a look.

Finally this morning, The Salt Lake Tribune's Vince Horiuchi has a story online about the upcoming DVD releases of The Godfather and Episode I. I was interviewed for the article, along with Paramount's Martin Blythe. Do check it out.

We'll be back with the Trivia Contest soon. Stay tuned...


Well... we had planned on a more elaborate update yesterday. And then, of course, we were left picking up the pieces when the server went down again. We're working hard to get this resolved once and for all - no one's more pissed about it than us. Naturally, we're having the usual e-mail problems as well... so be patient if you're trying to send us correspondence. Things should be back to normal today... but then we've believed that before. So just hang in there while we deal with this... again. And we'll try to get some of what we'd planned for yesterday posted this afternoon.

In the meantime, we've just updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to reflect shipments for the third week of June - all charts have been updated accordingly.

Stay tuned...


More reaction to the Episode I DVD this morning. Scott Hettrick of Variety has a good summary of the announcement. And thankfully, he didn't mention The Phantom Edit, which a lot of the mainstream press seems to think is, in part, responsible for Lucasfilm's decision to release the film now on DVD. You know... I have to admit I'm curious about this thing. Anyone out there seen it?

Also this morning, our old friend Andy Patrizio's at it again - he's got a more in depth story on the Episode I DVD over at, which talks about the climate in the DVD industry leading up to the announcement, along with a mention of the Star Wars on DVD Campaign's having raised awareness of the desire for the disc, and a look at how concerns (or lack thereof) about digital piracy and DeCSS may have played a role in the decision to release now. Plus, I think there's a quote or two in there from someone you'll recognize. Do check it out. ;-)

In other DVD news, it seems that Fox's CastAway is off to a fast start. According to this story by The Hollywood Reporter, 1.8 millions units of the 2-disc set have been sold, resulting in some $36 million in sales. And that was just as of yesterday afternoon. Heck - I even saw the disc up for sale at my local grocery store last night. Remember when we used to have to really look hard for a store that carried DVDs, and they only had like 10 titles? Amazing.

Stay tuned...


As promised, we've just posted a massive update to the Upcoming DVD Artwork section - some 164 new scans in all! There's a lot of great covers - way too many to mention here. But there are definitely some surprises among the titles listed, and lots of little gems. How about The Dish, Into the Arms of Strangers, Enemy at the Gates, Marathon Man, The Princess Bride: SE, 61*, Driven, Fawlty Towers and Dumbo? They're all in there, along with lots of others, so do check 'em out!

We've also updated The Rumor Mill again today, with word on more A&E British TV series DVDs, a possible Star Trek: TMP street date, Columbia's A Knight's Tale and more.

And we've updated the AFI Top 100 Films on DVD list as well this morning, to reflect the release of The Apartment and the recent announcement of A Place in the Sun.

As far as DVD announcements today, Universal's revealed that it will release a Midway: Collector's Edition on October 30th. The disc will include a documentary featuring new interviews with producer Walter Mirisch, director Jack Smight, editor Frank J. Urioste and star Charlton Heston, a featurette on composer John Williams, a featurette on the Sensurround Sound audio format, production photographs and portraits with score by John Williams, additional scenes exclusively shot for the network television version, a theatrical trailer and DVD-ROM features. That same day, the studio will release MacArthur on DVD, which will include cast and filmmaker bios, production notes, a theatrical trailer and other bonus material. Both discs will SRP for $24.98. You know... we think that's cool and all, but how about collector's editions of Dune, Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century and Battlestar: Galactica?

Finally today, for those of you who have been jonesing for a Cinescape Online fix since the site's been down, you'll be happy to know that the publication is back online at last. Todd's discovered them at Good to have you back, guys!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/19/01 - 11 PM PDT)

Oh... hell. We couldn't wrap today's Episode I DVD coverage up without giving you a better look at the cover art, could we? So we've got a look at both the front AND the back covers, thanks to Bits reader James. You can almost read the small print (we're working to get an even higher resolution scan for you, where you can read everything - stay tuned). Enjoy!

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

(LATE UPDATE - 6/19/01 - 4:45 PM PDT)

Okay... we've just spoken with Lucasfilm's Vice President of Marketing, Jim Ward, who was kind enough to call us after having just gotten off a plane (he's on his way to the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment retailer event in New Orleans). Jim answered a bunch of our (and your) questions about the upcoming DVD. So here's the full transcript of the interview. And special thanks to everyone at Lucasfilm, Fox and Bender/Helper Impact for arranging this - we know you guys are a little busy today! Note that we've also updated the old Star Wars on DVD Campaign page to reflect today's announcement. Ahh... the good old days. ;-)

Also today, we've posted an update to The Rumor Mill, featuring word on more Warner IMAX DVDs, a note on animated shorts on DVD from Disney, an update on A&E's Space: 1999 releases and more. Don't miss it.

Whew... now to catch my breath. See you all tomorrow...!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/19/01 - 11:45 AM PDT)

Ever since the official Episode I DVD announcement this morning, we've been flooded with questions. So we'll try to answer a few of them as best we can.

Some have asked why there is no DTS 6.1 ES track on the DVD. The decision as to which audio formats to include (and indeed which content overall) was made by Lucasfilm. Obviously, Lucas supports Dolby Digital, his companies having participated in the creation of the Dolby Digital 5.1 EX standard (also sometimes called THX EX). The Phantom Menace was the first film to feature this format theatrically. Clearly, Dolby was given priority. And given the need to maintain a high video bit rate, there was probably little room left on Disc One to add DTS. But the 5.1 EX track on the Episode I laserdisc (see our review here) is widely considered to be one of the best laserdisc surround sound mixes ever produced, so we have little doubt the DVD's 5.1 EX audio will be just as good, if not better.

Others have asked, "Why no isolated score?" The reason for this is probably 2-fold. First, there may not have been room on Disc One, what with the video, audio and audio commentary. Second (and more importantly), the complete score is currently already available on CD, in a special 2-disc "ultimate" set.

Many people want to know what Lynne's Dairies are, and what Lucasfilm means by "tone poems". Well... guess what? You can view all of that RIGHT NOW at the official Star Wars website. Click on this link, to access a page at the site where you can view all 12 of Lynne's Dairies, the Duel of the Fates music video, the film's theatrical and teaser trailers, all of the "tone poems" and more. Much of this will be included on the DVD.

Finally, many want to know if the 7 deleted scenes will be available separately, or if they're incorporated back into the film via seamless branching. Our information is that they're available separately, on Disc Two.

There's a new story up on the announcement via Associated Press (at Yahoo) - do check it out. One of the things that's mentioned is that there are no immediate plans to release the other films in the Star Wars saga on DVD. BUT... here's my own speculation on that issue. I'm guessing you'll see the films come out on DVD about 1 each year, until they're all out. Keep this in mind... 2002 is the 25th anniversary of the original Star Wars. Hhmmm... ;-)

One last note - this Episode I announcement is, not surprisingly, eating up most of our time today. And as we're still getting artwork in from the studios, we've decided to postpone our Upcoming DVD Artwork update until tomorrow. Trust us when we say that it will be worth the wait - more than 150 new covers will be included in all. We'll also have a new Trivia Contest for you as well.

That's all for now. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/19/01 - 9:15 AM PDT)

The day we've been waiting a LONG time for... the day you Star Wars fans have been going crazy for... has finally arrived! As we expected (and as our sources indicated last week) Lucasfilm has officially announced the WORLDWIDE DVD release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace for October 16th. The 2-disc set will include 480 minutes of content (including commentary) - some 6 hours in all - including brand new scenes that you've never seen before, fully post-produced just for this DVD release! The set will be priced at $29.98 in the U.S. and $41.98 in Canada. Here's a look at the DVD cover artwork (click for a larger image), followed by the official list of the contents...

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Menace, mastered by THX for superior sound and picture quality, presented in Anamorphic Widescreen and Dolby 5.1 Surround EX (English), Dolby 2.0 Surround (English and Spanish), and Dolby 2.0 Surround (French, for Canadian release)

Audio commentary by Writer-Director George Lucas; Producer Rick McCallum; Co-Editor and Sound Designer Ben Burtt; Visual Effects Supervisors Scott Squires, John Knoll and Dennis Muren; and Animation Supervisor Rob Coleman, offering personal insights into the making of the film

Seven never-before-seen deleted scenes with full visual effects completed just for the DVD release

The Beginning - an all-new hour-long documentary culled from over 600 hours of footage offering unprecedented access inside Lucasfilm and ILM during the making of Episode I

Multi-angle storyboard-to-animatic-to-finished-film feature, that lets you flip through the various phases of development of key action sequences

Five behind-the-scenes featurettes exploring The Phantom Menace's storyline, designs, costumes, visual effects and fight scenes

The popular Duel of the Fates music video that debuted in 1999

All 12 parts of the Lynne's Diaries, the web documentaries that first appeared at

Galleries of theatrical posters, print campaign, and never-before-scene production photos

Downloaded by millions from, the original theatrical teaser and launch trailers, plus seven TV spots including the "tone poems"

Hey kids... how do you like them apples? Looks like our sources were spot on about the extras as well. You can check Star for more. There's also a brief blurb on the release at Yahoo, along with another quick story at Video Business. You can be sure this news will be everywhere later today, as it hits the wires.

Now then... we just got a call from a studio source indicating that we'll have the chance to talk later this afternoon with an official representative of Lucasfilm about the impending DVD release. So we'll be back later this evening with a lot more on this. We'll also have that Upcoming DVD Artwork update - we put the call out to the studios and got so much new artwork it's taking a couple days just to gather it all together!

So stay tuned... and May the Force be with You!

(LATE UPDATE - 6/18/01 - 1 PM PDT)

Should DVD fans begin to fear the dumbing down of DVD? Just as Buena Vista's research shows that new consumers are growing to love fancy DVD features as much as we avid DVD fans, MGM's shows that more and more people want pan-and-scan versions, and don't care about director's commentary tracks (although they still love deleted scenes and bloopers). You can find a pair of articles (see pan & scan and special edition) on this at Video Business. So does this signal a potential "dumbing down" of DVD in the future?

Hopefully not. It looks as if the only result right now is that MGM plans to offer both full frame and widescreen versions of their big new releases in the future. But honestly, we think some of these things get a little too over-market-researched. Did you know that TV networks actually pay "average" consumers to preview TV series episodes? They're often given a set of controls, along with vague instructions to press a red button when the show makes them "feel bad" and a green button when it makes them "feel good" - no kidding. Changes are then made to the episode based on the results. We wonder how long it will be before studio "marketing geniuses" are testing DVDs this way. And we also wonder how much the results of such a test would differ if you used a room full of trained chimps... but that's a whole other issue. ;-)

Advice to the studios: just keep making good DVD special editions. If you want to make alternate pan & scan versions available, great. But start skimpin' on quality and extras and you'll have a LOT of vocal, and very angry, DVD fans on the warpath. Remember Divx? 'Nuff said.

(LATE UPDATE - 6/18/01 - Noon PDT)

We've got details for you on Universal's The Mummy Returns. The disc will street, as we mentioned, on October 2nd, for an SRP of $26.98. Two versions will be available - full frame and anamorphic widescreen (no doubt, both will be availble on an eventual The Mummy Returns: Ultimate Edition - just my prediction). Here are details on the disc's contents, from the official press release:

"The Mummy Returns DVD contains special added features including exclusive advanced footage from the Universal Pictures Spring 2002 release, The Scorpion King starring The Rock, animated menus, spotlight on location, behind-the-scenes featurette, interactive visual and special effects formation, feature commentaries with the director and editor, deleted scenes, a historical background segment called Egyptology 201, outtakes, theatrical trailers, production notes, cast and filmmakers bio and DVD-ROM features including The Mummy game, screen savers and browser."

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/18/01 - 10 AM PDT)

So did everyone manage to catch that Kubrick discussion on Charlie Rose? I was really blown away by it. At one point, Kubrick's widow and Jan Harlan were talking about how Stanley simply wouldn't miss any films made by certain directors, and said he loved Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese. Of course, Scorsese was sitting right there, hearing that for the first time, and you could tell he was emotionally very affected by it - really a touching moment. Too bad we can't have that complete interview on DVD, because it was well worth it. Naturally, though, Rose's technical people neglected to set their DVD player's display setting properly when they grabbed footage from 2001 to B-roll during the discussion... everything was vertically squished. Go figure...

Okay... let's start off the morning by giving you a look at the DVD cover art for Fox's upcoming The Simpsons: The Complete First Season. The 3-disc set streets on September 25th, and you'll find the details below. Can't wait!

The Simpsons: The Complete First SeasonWilly Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: 2001 Edition

You'll notice we also snuck in a scan of the packaging for the Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: 2001 Edition, which streets on August 28th. This is just a little taste of what's in store for you later this afternoon, when we update the Upcoming DVD Art section. Be sure to watch for it.

The big news today is that Universal has revealed that it will release The Mummy Returns on DVD on October 2nd. Jurassic Park III will follow in time for the holidays, along with How the Grinch Stole Christmas (which has already been announced for November 20th). Details will follow soon, along with an official announcement.

Also this morning, we've announced the winners of our AFI Contest. You'll find that above. Thanks to all 1,943 people who participated. The next contest will start later this week, so do check back.

Back this afternoon with more... stay tuned...


We've got some news for you Kubrick fans. First of all, Jan Harlan, the director of the amazing new documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, is going to be on The Charlie Rose Show this evening, as part of a panel discussion on Kubrick and his work. Joining him on the show will be director Martin Scorsese and Kubrick's wife Christiane. Rose is a terrific interviewer, and it promises to be a fascinating discussion, so don't miss it. For more information, visit the official Charlie Rose website. And be sure to check your local listings for broadcast times in your area.

Speaking of Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, the cable movie channel Cinemax is going to be broadcasting the documentary next Thursday, June 21st (click here for details). As you know, it's only available on home video in the new Stanley Kubrick DVD Collection. So if you can't afford that, but you happen to have access to Cinemax... get your VCR's warmed up.

And rounding out today's Kubrick coverage, we've just updated our reviews of Lolita and A Clockwork Orange to include the newly remastered DVD versions. We'll also be updating Barry Lyndon later this afternoon, so that will complete our look at all Kubrick's films that are currently available on DVD.

Also today, we've posted Greg's review of the Coen brothers' terrific O Brother, Where Art Thou? on DVD. To me, it was one of the funniest and most original films released last year, and the DVD isn't half bad either. Do check it out.

We've also updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to cover the second week of June (ending 6/8) - some 75,055 players shipped. All charts have been updated accordingly.

In other news, A&E Home Video has revealed that they're continuing their Space: 1999 DVD releases with Sets 3 & 4 of the series. Set 3 contains 6 episodes on 2 DVDs (Collision Course, Death's Other Dominion, The Full Circle, End of Eternity, War Games and The Last Enemy) along with production photo galleries. Set 4 also contains 6 episodes on 2 DVDs (The Troubled Spirit, Space Brain, The Infernal Machine, Mission of the Darians, Dragon's Domain and The Testament of Arkadia) along with production photo galleries. These 2 sets complete the series' first season. Hopefully, the second (and final) season will follow soon (we'll try to find out). SRP for each set is $39.99.

The Metropolis Reconstruction site recently posted news about a new 2-disc Metropolis: Special Edition which is apparently in the works by a company called Solaris Digital. Word is that the new DVD will include both Frtiz Lang's original film (as restored this year by Filmmuseum Berlin - Deutsche Kinemathek) AND the 1984 re-release which featured a soundtrack by composer Giorgio Moroder. Should be very cool. And speaking of 1984... is there anyone else out there who would love to see Michael Radford's modern film version of the George Orwell novel (which stars John Hurt and Richard Burton), on DVD? Who owns that anyway? Someone should get busy with that title, but quick.

In other news, Yahoo's got a good story up in their financial section on how DVD, and the failure of Video On Demand thus far) is energizing video retailers.

And finally, today is the last day of our AFI Contest, so be sure to get your entries in quick. You've got until 7 PM PDT tonight to do so.

We'll see you back here on Monday. Have a great weekend!


You Simpsons fans have reason to be excited this morning. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has just announced that The Simpsons: Season One will arrive as a DVD boxed set on September 25th (SRP $39.98). All 13 first-year episodes will be included on the set's 3 discs, along with the episode scripts, audio commentary for each episode, early sketches, magazine covers, stills and more. Best of all, you'll get the original shorts that first appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show, along with a never-before-seen lost episode. And The Simpsons: Season Two may be out in time for the holidays! You can read more about the set by clicking here. Doh!

We've also got another interesting bit of Fox information for you today. You'll find it in The Rumor Mill, and you DEFINITELY don't want to miss it!

Stay tuned!


Morning all! We've got more DVD goodness for you today. First of all, we've finally been able to update the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers with the latest weekly information. That includes all of May (which saw some 523,225 players shipped to retail in the U.S.), as well as the first week of June (ending June 1st, which saw another 249,393 players shipped). That brings the R1 total to some 17,661,678 units - well on track for the format to double in size in 2001. All the charts (including the one above) have been updated accordingly.

In other news today, Columbia TriStar has just announced the DVD release of their My Best Friend's Wedding: Special Edition. The disc, which will street on August 28th (SRP $24.95), will include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio options in English, French and Spanish, the new documentary Unveiled: The Making of My Best Friend's Wedding, the HBO "making of" featurette On the Set, Wedding Do's and Don'ts, Helpful Hints for the Soon to Be Wed, My Best Friend's Wedding Album: Behind-the-Scenes Facts and Trivia, Say a Little Prayer sing-a-long, DVD ROM features (Soul Mate quiz and Do-It-Yourself photo screensaver), theatrical trailers and filmographies.

Also, Warner Bros. will release a trio of Doctor Who titles on DVD in August, via their BBC license. Doctor Who: Spearhead from Space will feature audio commentary by actors Nicholas Courtney and Caroline John, "pop-up" production notes, trailers, a photo gallery, a Who's Who and the "UNIT Recruitment Film". Doctor Who: The Robots of Death will feature audio commentary by producer Philip Hinchcliff and writer Chris Boucher, studio plans, a photo gallery, model tests and a Who's Who. Doctor Who: The Five Doctors will feature audio commentary by actor Peter Davison and writer Terrance Dicks, 33 minutes of soundtrack music and a Who's Who. All will SRP for $24.95. These three titles represent the beginning of a new series - look for many more U.S. Doctor Who DVD titles to follow in 2002. Very cool!

Here's a look at the DVD covers for My Best Friend's Wedding: SE and all three Doctor Who titles. Thanks to Bits reader Odis N. for sending the art. Enjoy!

My Best Friend's Wedding: SEDoctor Who: The Five Doctors

Doctor Who: The Robots of DeathDoctor Who: Spearhead from Space

Also this morning, Mark Rivera over at Genre II has posted a report on Monday's Godfather DVD event in New York, so do check it out. Ron Epstein from HTF has his up as well - don't miss 'em.

And finally, Miramax's launched a new official website for their Apocalypse Now: Redux. The site has a new theatrical trailer for the enhanced re-release that you can watch online. Keep in mind that this will also be released on DVD later this year from Paramount (Miramax is doing the theatrical release, while Paramount gets all home video rights).

Stay tuned...


Our good friend Ron Epstein of the Home Theater Forum lives in New York City and was fortunate enough to attend yesterday's Godfather Collection DVD announcement party. He sent over some pictures from the event for you all to enjoy, so here they are. The first is a display of the DVDs themselves, the second is Paramount's Martin Blythe addressing the gathering and the third, of course, is the master himself... director Francis Ford Coppola. Enjoy!

A display of the Godfather DVDs.

Paramount's Martin Blythe addressing the gathering.

Godfather director Francis Ford Coppola talks DVD.

One note - a lot of readers have asked why The Godfather, Part II is split over 2 discs. My understanding is that Paramount and American Zoetrope felt that, given the video, audio and audio commentary content on the discs, it would be better to spilt the 200-minute film over 2 discs in order to maintain the highest possible video bit rate (and thus quality). I'm guessing it's the right decision. Just FYI.

Not to be outdone, Columbia TriStar yesterday announced their DVD release of Gandhi. Set to be released on August 28th, the DVD special edition will include video of Ben Kingsley talking about the film, 4 vintage newsreel clips (Gandhi Goes to England, Gandhi's Farewell Talk in Europe, Mahatma Gandhi Begins Death Fast and Gandhi Talks: First Talking Picture ever Made by India's Famous Leader), a Making of Gandhi photo montage, The Words of Mahatma Gandhi, a weblink to an official Gandhi website, the film's theatrical trailer, talent files and more. Video will be in anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio options in English, French and Spanish. SRP is $24.95.

Also this morning, we're kicking off a new Trivia Contest, sponsored by our friends at The American Film Institute. The contest is in honor of their new TV special, which debuts tonight on CBS (at 8:00 PM PDT/7:00 PM CDT)... AFI's 100 Years, 100 Thrills! There will be FIVE lucky winners, each taking home one of the top 100 actions films on DVD (revealed tonight on the show). It's REALLY easy to enter, so don't miss your chance to do so. Click here for more.

We've also got Todd's review of Artisan's new Requiem for a Dream, the acclaimed and controversial film from director Darren Aronofsky. Don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 6/11/01 - 3:30 PM PDT)

Here it is, folks - the announcement we've all been waiting for. Paramount has officially unveiled The Godfather Collection DVD boxed set for release on October 9th. Here's a look at the cover art and the complete text of the press release (click on the cover for a larger image):

The Godfather Collection on DVD

Francis Ford Coppola's Acclaimed Masterpieces ``The Godfather,'' ``The Godfather Part II'' and ``The Godfather Part III'' Make Their Debut on DVD in One Five-Disc Collector's Gift Set

HOLLYWOOD--(ENTERTAINMENT WIRE)--June 11, 2001-- "THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION," Available October 9, 2001; Featuring New Full-Length Director's Commentaries on All Three Films and a Spectacular Three-Hour Bonus Disc of Special Features Francis Ford Coppola and Paramount Home Entertainment are proud to present the most highly-anticipated DVD release of the year, THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION, which debuts on October 9 as a five-disc collector's set. Featuring new director commentaries on all three films, THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION also includes a spectacular, three-hour bonus disc of special features, produced exclusively for this collection. The movies are not available individually. International release dates immediately follow the U.S. and Canadian release.

Disc 1 THE GODFATHER (with Coppola commentary)
Disc 2/3 THE GODFATHER, PART II (with Coppola commentary)
Disc 4 THE GODFATHER, PART III (with Coppola commentary)

Disc 5 contains the following: -- "Francis Coppola's Notebook": an inside look at Coppola and the creative process, taking the "The Godfather" from book to screen; -- "On Location" with Academy Award(R)-winning production designer Dean Tavoularis, who goes back to New York's Lower East Side for a look at some of the original locations where "The Godfather" films were shot; -- "The Godfather Family: A Look Inside": a 73-minute documentary on the films' origins, including original screen tests and rehearsals; -- "The Godfather Behind the Scenes 1971" - a featurette from the original theatrical release; -- Additional scenes: scenes that were added to later versions of the original films, presented within a timeline of events from 1898 forward that chronicles the Corleones' rise and real-life events; -- "The Cinematography of The Godfather," featuring Gordon Willis; -- "The Music of the Godfather": two featurettes looking at the unforgettable musical contributions of Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola; -- "Coppola and Puzo on Screenwriting": the collaboration of the novelist and filmmaker adapting the book to the screen; -- Storyboards from THE GODFATHER PART II and animatic storyboards from THE GODFATHER PART III; -- "The Corleone Family Tree": character and cast biographies; -- Academy Award(R) acceptance speeches; -- Photo galleries with captions; -- Theatrical trailers; -- Filmmaker biographies.

"Paramount is honored to announce the worldwide release of THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION," said Eric Doctorow, President of Paramount Home Entertainment Worldwide. "These three films are among the greatest achievements in cinematic history. Their legacy spans nearly 30 years and now with their release on DVD, we look forward to providing movie lovers everywhere the opportunity to rediscover -- or discover for the first time -- the power of these extraordinary films."

"We were delighted to collaborate with Paramount in the creation of this extraordinary DVD collection," added Kim Aubry, Zoetrope's VP of Technology and Executive Producer of the DVDs. "To have the opportunity to take films that we truly love and spend six months looking through the vaults for interesting `lost' objects was something too good to pass up. We contacted many of the original filmmakers in our quest for great DVD extras; and we were led to photographs, tapes, student films and forgotten promotional materials that when viewed today add insight to the films and the filmmakers. Francis Coppola's new commentaries are unique and we believe will become `required' viewing for `Godfather' buffs and film lovers everywhere."

THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION will be supported with Paramount Home Entertainment's largest DVD marketing effort to date. To capitalize on the films' wide-ranging appeal, advertising support is designed to reach 95% of all U.S. households 10 times. This includes substantial TV advertising on network, cable and syndication in the U.S. and Canada; spot TV and outdoor in key markets; as well as print ads in People, Entertainment Weekly, Premiere, Playboy, TV Guide, Sports Illustrated and other magazines.

The film that inaugurated the era of the modern blockbuster, THE GODFATHER received three Academy Awards(R) in 1972 for Best Picture, Actor (Marlon Brando) and Adapted Screenplay (Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola), from a total of 11 nominations including supporting actor nods for Al Pacino, James Caan and Robert Duvall. Also a Best Picture Oscar(R)-winner, THE GODFATHER PART II (1974) features repeat performances from Al Pacino, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton and Talia Shire and also stars Robert DeNiro as the young Vito Corleone. The film won six Oscars in all, including Director, Supporting Actor (DeNiro), Music and Adapted Screenplay. Adding Andy Garcia, Eli Wallach, Joe Mantegna and Sofia Coppola to the franchise, THE GODFATHER PART III (1990) was also nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, in addition to receiving Oscar nods for Supporting Actor, Director and Cinematography, among others.

The DVDs of THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER PART II and THE GODFATHER PART III are presented in widescreen format enhanced for 16:9 televisions. The audio tracks feature Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround and French Mono. All three films are closed-captioned and sub-titled in English.

THE GODFATHER DVD COLLECTION is priced to own at a MAP (minimum advertised price) of $74.95 in the U.S. THE GODFATHER, THE GODFATHER PART II and THE GODFATHER PART III are all rated R in the U.S. by the Motion Picture Association of America and are rated 18A, 14A and 14A respectively in Canada. THE GODFATHER has a running time of approximately 175 minutes, THE GODFATHER PART II is 200 minutes, THE GODFATHER PART III is 170 minutes, and "The Godfather Bonus Materials Disc" has approximately three hours and 20 minutes of bonus video features and nearly 300 informative menu pages and still images. All discs are encoded with the Macrovision(TM) AntiCopy process.

Holy DVD, Batman! Speaking of that, here's a look at Fox's Batman: Special Edition (the original baby) - the main menu and cover art. The disc streets on August 21st, and will include an all-new 16-minute featurette featuring interviews with stars Adam West and Burt Ward, audio commentary with West and Ward, an exclusive tour of the original Batmobile, a production photo gallery, never-before-seen shots from Adam West's "private" photo collection, the original theatrical trailer and more. Enjoy!

Batman: SE

Batman: SE - Main Menu

We'll be back tonight and early tomorrow with reviews. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 6/11/01 - 10 AM PDT)

News is a little slow this morning, but we'll be back this afternoon, when Paramount makes their Godfather announcement, with all the details on the disc. We'll also post a couple of new DVD reviews for you.

In the meantime, here's a quick blurb on today's impending Godfather announcement, via Daily Variety. There's also a good story on how Hollywood is seeing dollar signs in terms of DVD sales. It's a good "state of the format" piece, and it's well worth a look. Finally, this morning, there's word that the European Union is launching a probe of DVD prices in Europe, claiming that "the major American distributors of movies on DVDs are overpricing their disks for European consumers." Fascinating. And probably not surprising to anyone. Here's more on the story via the BBC Online.

Oh... but we're not quite done. And this story would be hilarious if it weren't so damn irritating. File this one in the "attempting to have their cake and eat it too" category. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has spent millions of dollars to develop an "unbreakable" watermarking standard for digital music, to completely prevent the kind of online piracy you get with Napster and its ilk. They did this through the Secure Digital Music Initiative (SDMI). In September 2000, SDMI sponsored the "SDMI Public Challenge", in which they boastfully announced their new "unbreakable" watermarking standards and challenged hackers (and anyone who wanted a go at it) to attempt to crack them. Lo an behold, a group of scientists and students from Princeton and Rice Universities accepted the challenge... and proceeded to crack the watermarks fairly easily. When they tried to publish their findings in April, per the usual scientific review process for publishing research, the SDMI and RIAA threatened to sue the scientists and everyone involved, claiming that it would be a violation of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act! So now the scientists are suing back. "Studying digital access technologies and publishing the research for our colleagues are both fundamental to the progress of science and academic freedom," stated Princeton scientist Edward Felten, who was involved in the effort. "The recording industry's interpretation of the DMCA would make scientific progress on this important topic illegal." Are you laughing yet? For more on this, check out and this link at Yahoo.

Stay tuned...

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