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Site created 12/15/97.

page updated: 11/8/01

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 9/26/01 - 8/21/01)

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We've got a bunch of stuff for you today. First of all, we have details on Fox's upcoming DVD release of Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes. The 2-disc set is expected to street on November 20th, for an SRP of $29.98. The disc will include anamorphic widescreen video, audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1, audio commentary by director Tim Burton (which studio sources tell me may be his best commentary yet), an "enhanced" viewing mode that lets you access behind-the-scenes materials as you watch, an isolated score/commentary track by composer Danny Elfman, 5 extended scenes, makeup, group and movement tests, a gallery of multi-angle features that "lets the viewer climb into the director's chair for several key scenes", theatrical trailers, a music video, television spots, a concept art and design gallery, the HBO: First Look special, behind-the-scenes featurettes: Simian Academy (Ape Movement), Face Like a Monkey (A Day in the Make-Up Chair), Costume Tests, On Location in Lake Powell, Chimp Symphony Op. 37 (Behind the Scenes on Scoring the Film) and Swinging from the Trees (Stunt Work), 2 Easter eggs, Nuon features, DVD-ROM access to the screenplay, a novella and weblinks and more. We've got a look at some of the menu screens for the 2-disc set for you today - click here for that.

Today's Rumor Mill update features word on a couple of Fox TV titles that may be waiting in the wings for January and February release.

We'd also like to welcome Troma's Adam Jahnke to our full time review staff here at The Bits. Adam had been a guest reviewer for some time, but now comes on more regularly. You can read his review of Buena Vista's Unbreakable: Vista Series today. Both Adam and our own Brian Ford Sullivan have new e-mail addresses here at The Bits - Adam's is and Brian's is Drop 'em a line and say hello. And by coincidence, today is also Adam's birthday - you know what to do!

We've got word on street dates for a few more titles today. Warner is debuting Osmosis Jones and Uprising on 12/18. Columbia TriStar has The Glass House on January 4th. They've also confirmed the new SuperBit versions of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Gattaca and The Patriot on 12/11, along with Casualties of War, Sahara and Waterdance. Their Vertical Rays of the Sun is due on 12/18. Artisan has announced that Twin Peaks: Episodes 1-7 is due on 12/4. And look for the following on 11/20 from Anchor Bay: Bad Taste, Daleks Invasion of Earth 2150 AD, Doctor Who and the Daleks, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, Learning Guitar for Dummies, Lust for a Vampire and Stunt Man.

And don't forget that the debut of Paramount's new Star Trek: Enterprise series is tonight on your local UPN stations. Should at least be worth a look.

Okay... it's back to work for me, while jamming to the new Tenacious D CD. Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 9/25/01 - 4:30 PM PDT)

Just a quick update to give you a look at the new and final DVD cover artwork for MGM's The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Special Edition. The new art is on the left (the original art, adapted from the VHS release, is on the right). I think I liked the original better...

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Special Edition (final art)The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Special Edition (original art)

Just FYI, I've also been told that MGM's Jeepers Creepers will be an early January DVD release as well. We hope to have artwork on that and Mad Max soon.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/25/01 - 12:30 PM PDT)

MGM's just officially announced both special edition DVDs of Mad Max and Buckaroo Banzai! Anyone want details? Here goes...

The Mad Max: Special Edition streets on January 4th (yes, that is a Friday) for an SRP of just $19.98. The film will be included in anamorphic widescreen, and the original Australian English audio, remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1. This means that Mel Gibson's dialogue will be heard, as spoken by him, for the first time in the U.S. (his dialogue was dubbed by an American actor in previous releases). Mono English (Australian) and English (American) audio will also be included. The disc will feature over 2 hours of bonus material, including the Mel Gibson: Birth of a Star bio-documentary, a "making of" documentary entitled Mad Max: The Film Phenomenon, audio commentary by special effects coordinator Chris Murray, cinematographer David Eggby and production designer Jon Dowding, an animated trivia game and more.

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Special Edition will also street on January 4th (note that for a time, it was going to street on January 1st, but the 4th is now final) for $19.98. This disc will also include anamorphic widescreen video and remixed audio in Dolby Digital 5.1. Extras will include audio commentary by director W.D. Richter, John Lithgow, Peter Weller and Jeff Goldblum, a rare prologue sequence with Jamie Lee Curtis, deleted scenes with director's commentary, a "making of" documentary, trailers and more. The disc will also feature Nuon enhancements, including pre-selected zooms, behind-the-scenes facts and a condensed version of the film with selected scenes only. But you have to be one of the .1% of DVD player owners with Nuon capability to view any of that (and I don't mean that as a jab - just the facts). I also hear the interactive menus for this disc rock. Both DVDs should be a lot of fun, and kudos to MGM for going the extra mile with a pair of fan fav films. We hope to have final artwork for you soon.

Word from director Kevin Smith on his View Askew website is that Columbia TriStar will release the DVD version of Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back on February 12th. No further details are available at this time. Thanks to Ross for the heads-up.

And from the "way cool" files today, New Line has released the final theatrical trailer for their forthcoming The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which debuts in theaters on December 19th. Click here to visit the trailer download page, and here to visit the film's official website. Trust me... it's worth the wait. I am so ready to see this flick, I can't even tell you...!

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/25/01 - 11 AM PDT)

We'll have more this afternoon, but we've got a clarification this morning on the John Landis signing at Dave's Video here in L.A. on Friday. It's actually a signing with not only John Landis, but also special make-up effects guru Rick Baker! The signing will run from 7 to 9 PM at the store. As always, they'll sign 2 items, one of which must be a copy of American Werewolf in London purchased at Dave's.

In other news, we've got news for you on the return of Total Movie magazine. If you subscribe to the newly-relaunched magazine, they'll give you an instant library of 40 great movies on DVD to jump-start your collection! Here are the details from their press release:

"The 40 movie bundle includes Classics, Westerns, Noir, Sci-Fi, Cult, Animation and even French New Wave; from directors including Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola and Frank Capra; starring actors including Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Cary Grant and contemporary fave John Travolta."

And as always, Total Movie will continue to include a bonus DVD disc with every issue. Be sure to visit the Total Movie website for more information. Great to have 'em back!

Stay tuned...


Well, we've got another week ahead of us, and we wanted to start it off by letting all of you who live in the Los Angeles area know that there's a couple of good DVD events you may want to take in this weekend. First of all, on Friday evening, Dave's Video will be holding a charity DVD signing with director John Landis, in honor of the release of Universal's An American Werewolf in London. And then on Saturday (starting at 10 AM), Dave's will hold its annual Studio Day event, where consumers can talk one-on-one with representatives from many of the major studios about their DVD work. Also, that afternoon (from 1 to 3 PM), I'll be moderating another DVD producers' panel discussion in the store. Scheduled to participate are: David Prior, Charles de Lauzirika, Van Ling, Alita Holly, Jeff Lerner, Jeff Kurtti, Steve Gustafson, Perry Martin, Jeffrey Schwarz and David Naylor. It promises to be a lot of fun, so hopefully we'll see you there. Dave's is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA.

In other news today, we've got a look at the final packaging and details for Universal's Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition and the Jurassic Park Trilogy box set (street date for both: December 10th).

Jurassic Park III: Collector's EditionJurassic Park Trilogy box set

The Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition will carry an SRP of $26.95. You'll get the expected anamorphic widescreen transfer and Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio options, along with a plethora of extras. Included will be an audio commentary with director Joe Johnston, The Making of Jurassic Park III production featurette shot on set, additional featurettes on the special effects (including The New Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park III, A Guided Tour of Stan Winston's Studio and A Visit to ILM), a Dinosaur Turntable (providing a 3D look at the creatures themselves), a production photo gallery, storyboard sequences, the Jurassic Park III Archives, theatrical trailers and more. As is par for the course with Universal these days, there will be multiple versions of the title released the same day. You'll be able to buy the film in full frame if that's what you prefer, or you can buy a box set of all three films, entitled The Jurassic Park Trilogy, for $76.95. This new box set will reportedly contain a bonus disc of previously unreleased material, The Jurassic Park Franchise. And if you already own the movies on DVD, you can get the new disc without buying the box set. This comes from the studio's press release:

"Consumers purchasing Jurassic Park III who already own Jurassic Park and The Lost World DVDs may receive a collectible Jurassic Park DVD slipcase and Bonus Disc allowing them to complete their own "Jurassic Park Trilogy Collection" via mail for only $6.95."

That's very cool - kudos to Universal for doing this.

And finally this morning, did any of you watch the America: A Tribute to Heroes telethon on Friday night? I have to say, I let my ReplayTV record it and watched it later. It was worth seeing for an incredible live performance by U2 (of their song Walk On) alone, not to mention the many other artists who participated, including Sting, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Sheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder and others. Word is now that there are tentative plans to release a DVD and music CD featuring the performances. Count me in.

Stay tuned...


We've got several things for you in today's post. First up is a detailed look at DreamWorks' forthcoming Almost Famous: Untitled - The Bootleg Cut, which streets on December 4th (SRP $26.95). The 2-disc set will contain both the original theatrical version of the film and a new, 30-minute longer director's cut, both in anamorphic widescreen. Audio will be available in both Dolby Digital and DTS formats. The new director's cut will feature audio commentary by Cameron Crowe, a special "behind-the-scenes" featurette which includes rehearsal footage from Stillwater's San Diego show, original Rolling Stone articles from the 1970s penned by Cameron Crowe with an introduction by Crowe, Cameron Crowe's Top Ten 1973 album picks, the film's screenplay, animated menus featuring original music by Nancy Wilson, deleted scenes with commentary (including Pete Droge and Elaine Summer singing Small Times Blues in its entirety), production notes, the theatrical trailer and cast & crew bios. You'll also get a bonus CD featuring Stillwater's Cleveland concert, which includes 6 songs performed live. Here's a look at the cover artwork for the release. This promises to be a fun DVD...

Almost Famous: Untitled - The Bootleg CutPeter Pan: Special Edition

I suppose you've noticed that second DVD cover there? Yep... Disney's rolling out a brand new special edition of their animated classic Peter Pan on February 12th. Details on specs and price will follow soon.

Also today, we've got no less than 4 new DVD reviews for you. First up are Todd's thoughts on Universal's An American Werewolf in London: Collector's Edition (available now) and Fox's The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (street date 9/25). And Greg's checked in with looks at Image's Behind the Planet of the Apes: Special Collector's Edition (also available now) and Fox's The French Connection: Five Star Collection (also 9/25).

And one last note - DVD International has informed me that Digital Video Essentials is being delayed from its original November 14th street date (as mentioned yesterday), and will now be released in the 1st Qtr of 2002. Just FYI.

So there you go - another week is history. Have a great weekend and we'll see you Monday!


We've got more Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork for you this morning. We've just added some 9 new covers of forthcoming Criterion titles, including 8 1/2, That Obscure Object of Desire, Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, Rebecca, Notorious, The Last Wave, Le Trou, The Lady Eve and The Ruling Class. You'll find those on the 10/16 and 11/13 pages respectively. We've also moved MGM's Fiddler on the Roof: Special Edition to the 10/2 page, and updated the cover for A&E's Pride & Prejudice: Special Edition (on the 9/25 page).

Also this morning, we've got word that DVD International's much-lauded and highly-useful Video Essentials DVD is soon to be no more. The disc, which is used to properly calibrate your home theater equipment to maximize your picture and sound quality, has been discontinued. But don't fret, because on November 14th, it's being replaced by Digital Video Essentials. The new disc will SRP for only $24.99 (the original Video Essentials carried a hefty $49.99 price tag). Created by Joe Kane Productions, the disc will be the first ever created using true "Progressive Mastering". It will reportedly contain far more information that the original Video Essentials, and will be easier to use. It will still feature all of the calibration patterns we've come to rely on here at the Bits, along with a wealth of new demonstration material and new programs on Dolby Digital and DTS sound. Both NTSC and PAL versions will be produced, and localized versions will be available in German, French, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Japanese and Portuguese. Joe Kane is nothing if not a crusader for quality and a stickler for detail, so I fully expect this disc will live up to the hype. You can preorder the title now via this link at DVD Planet.

Finally this morning, we've gotten word that Anchor Bay is recalling all copies of Dario Argento's Opera. Apparently, due to a manufacturing defect, some copies of this disc will not play properly in many DVD players. The disc is being fixed and will soon be made available. If you currently have a defective copy of this disc, visit this link at Anchor Bay's website for instructions as to how to exchange it for a new copy.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/19/01 - 8 PM PDT)

Okay... we've just kicked off our new Trivia Contest, where you'll get a chance to take home great DVDs from MGM, Paramount and 20th Century Fox. 3 lucky people will win 7 discs each, and 2 more will win 10 discs each! You've got until 7PM PDT on Sunday, September 30th to enter. So what are you waiting for? ;-)

Also this evening, we've posted the transcript of a live chat our friends over at Home Theater Forum held on Tuesday night with Michael Flesher of Anchor Bay Entertainment. There's lots of information on titles that they're working on, so if you're a fan of the Bay, don't miss it!

Finally this evening, we've got good news for you Star Trek fans. Paramount's official website is currently running a very in-depth survey to see what fans might want from upcoming boxed sets of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager episodes on DVD. So if you want your voice heard, head on over there and participate.

Back tomorrow...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/19/01 - 3:45 PM PDT)

More updates around The Bits today... we've just posted some 50 new pieces of cover artwork to our Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section. Among the new titles are The Matrix: Revisited, Cats & Dogs, Cats: Ultimate Edition, 6 new Cirque du Soleil titles from Columbia, The Prince of Tides, America's Sweethearts, Tomb Raider, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series, Spacehunter, Divided We Fall, Willow: Special Edition, Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Inherit the Wind, The Lover, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Fritz the Cat, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat, Jurassic Park III, Princess Diaries, Scary Movie 2, Blankman and more.

We've also updated Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version, which is dated September 19th.

We'll be back with one more update this afternoon, to post a new Trivia Contest and the transcript of a chat that our friends at the Home Theater Forum did with Anchor Bay last night. And then we'll have several new DVD reviews for you tomorrow.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/19/01 - 1:30 PM PDT)

We've got word in today's Rumor Mill of more SuperBit DVDs from Columbia TriStar, a pair of animated titles from Disney and a studio-confirmed street date for MGM's long awaited Buckaroo Banzai. Most of it is confirmed, but we put it in The Rumor Mill just to be safe. Be sure to check it out.

Back soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/18/01 - 4:15 PM PDT)

One last thing for you this afternoon. We've got the final artwork for Warner's The Matrix Revisited, which streets on November 20th (SRP $19.98). The same day, you'll also be able to buy the title in a 2-pack with the original The Matrix DVD (SRP $39.98).

The Matrix Revisited

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/18/01 - 3 PM PDT)

Big news today - according to the latest numbers from the Consumer Electronics Association, the DVD format has officially crossed the 20 million player mark! As of the week ending September 7th, some 20,235,574 players had been shipped to retailers in Region 1 since the debut of the DVD format back in 1997. Obviously, there's no way to predict how recent events will affect consumer buying habits and manufacturer shipments, but this is clearly good news for the format. You'll find all the details on our CEA tracking page, and all charts have been updated accordingly.

In other news, we've got an early look at the final DVD cover artwork for Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes, which streets from 20th Century Fox on November 20th. We've also got a look at the art for MGM's Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey (both due on December 4th) and Columbia TriStar's America's Sweethearts (due on November 13th).

Planet of the Apes (2001)America's Sweethearts

Bill & Ted's Excellent AdventureBill & Ted's Bogus Journey

We've updated The Rumor Mill this afternoon with the latest updates on a number of Miramax titles that are currently in production, as well as a long-awaited Hollywood Pictures title from Buena Vista. Don't miss it.

And one last note - we've just updated our review of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace with information on how to access all of the Easter eggs on the 2-disc set. Now you just have to wait a month to get your hands on the DVD... ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/18/01 - Noon PDT)

Okay... we're almost back to normal. I'll be posting a larger update later today. In the meantime, I just wanted to let everyone know that I've looked at both the Neverending Story and Neverending Story II discs from Warner, and you'll be happy to know that both are in anamorphic widescreen. There's been some confusion about this, but they are definitely 16x9. Just FYI.

Also, Variety's Scott Hettrick posted an interesting story which kind of got lost in last week's craziness. It seems Lucasfilm spent some $4 million to produce the extra for the upcoming Phantom Menace DVD - money which particularly went to pay for completing the disc's deleted scenes.

Back soon...


I bet you're wondering where we've been today. You know how they say bad things happen in groups, all at once? Well, I was working on a large update for the site last night, when I heard a loud "snapping" noise and my computer fritzed out. Moments later, wisps of smoke started to waft from my computer's tower case. Turns out my power supply fried, taking my video card with it. Luckily, that was all that got damaged. So I've been doing electronic surgery all day, and will be at it pretty much all night tonight as well. We should be back to regular operation around here sometime tomorrow afternoon. So thanks as always for your patience. Anyone want a slightly charred silver box with a lot of wires dangling out of it and an equally useless video card? I'll give you a great price. ;-)

Open the pod bay door please, HAL. Can you hear me, HAL? HAL?

(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/01 - 12:30 PM PDT)

Todd forwarded me something this morning that I wanted to share with all of you. It's a link to an editorial by Miami Herald columnist Leonard Pitts, Jr. And I think it perfectly express what I and probably all Americans are feeling in wake of what happened here this week. I thought some of you might find comfort, solace and strength from it.

(LATE UPDATE - 9/13/01 - 11:30 AM PDT)

So it's time to get back to business as usual here at the Bits. And here's a great way to do it. We've learned that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment's going to be releasing a 4-disc Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series DVD. The title will street on November 20th, for an SRP of $49.98. How cool is that? Very, that's how cool. Damn, I loved that show when I was a kid! The street date coincides with the studio's just-announced 11/20 street date for Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes (SRP $29.98). The art you see below is final for the TV series, but not final for the movie, just FYI. We also have the studio temp artwork for Universal's upcoming Jurassic Park 3 DVD (street date 12/11 - it will have a DTS soundtrack). Titles you see here with a weblink can now be preordered at DVD Planet. Here you go...

Planet of the Apes (2001)Planet of the Apes: The Complete TV Series

Jurassic Park III

According to its press release, Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes will be "one of the most ambitious and technically-advanced DVDs ever produced, providing unprecedented interactivity for viewers. Presented in Anamorphic Widescreen (Aspect Ratio 2:35:1) with English 5.1 DTS, English 5.1 Dolby Digital and Spanish Dolby surround sound, both Special Edition discs contain a multitude of bonus features."

Disc One will include an enhanced viewing mode that enables you to choose when to go behind-the-scenes, search cast and crew biographies, or view the special effects, an audio track by composer Danny Elfman, 2 Easter eggs, DVD-ROM screenplay/script/storyboard comparison, NUON-enhanced features such as Viddies and Cool Zooms and animated menus.

Disc Two contains the HBO First Look special, 5 extended scenes, multiple featurettes (including Simian Academy, Face Like a Monkey, Costume Tests, On Location in Lake Powell, Chimp Symphony Op. 37 and Swinging from the Trees), makeup, group and movement tests, a gallery of multi-angle features that lets the viewer climb into the director's chair for several key scenes, theatrical trailers, a music video, television spots, a concept art and design gallery and additional DVD-ROM features including a novella and weblinks. So there you go.

By the way, we've confirmed that Warner's animated The Lord of the Rings is anamorphic widescreen. Note that The Hobbit and The Return of the King are full frame, which is their original aspect ratio. Maybe Warner's starting to get the message...

We've also gotten word today that Fox's Moulin Rouge DVD will street on December 18th now, and it will apparently include a DTS soundtrack. Also, look for The Score on 12/11 and Made on 11/13.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/13/01 - 1 AM PDT)

Okay... we'll be back later this morning to get down to business as usual here at the Bits. But first I want to share something. We've now heard from several readers who were directly involved or affected by this week's tragedy. And obviously, we're all indirectly affected in some way. It means a lot that you've shared your experiences with us. You know, for Todd, myself and the rest of the staff here, the Bits is really a labor of love. But the main reason we do it at all is because we know that there are a lot of people out there who get a little bit of enjoyment from reading the site each day. You guys are important to us. You're family. So just know that we're thinking about you. And thanks to reader Kris for the new graphic underneath our button bar. I think we'll keep it up for a while...

Back soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/11/01 - 9:45 AM PDT)

A Message from the Staff of The Digital Bits

Owing to the tragedy that's happened this morning here in parts of the United States, we'd like to ask any of our readers who are able, and particularly those in the New York or Washington areas, to consider donating blood. Literally thousands of lives have been lost today, and The American Red Cross is going to need all the blood they can get. Our prayers out to all involved.

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/11/01 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay... at long last, our special coverage of the DVD release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace is now online! We've been to the Skywalker Ranch and back and we've got a complete transcript of the Q & A with Van Ling, Rick McCallum, Richard Dean, Pablo Helman, Jon Shenk and George Lucas! We've also got a look at the menu screens on the DVD! And you definitely don't want to miss our in-depth review of the DVD itself! So what are you waiting for? Check it out and enjoy.

Meanwhile, once you've read our coverage of the disc, you'll probably notice that we didn't talk much about the experience of visiting the Skywalker Ranch itself. That's deliberate. But we know lots of you love to live vicariously, so I'll give you a few details here.

I started my journey to the Ranch on Thursday morning. As I waited for my plane in Orange County, CA, I discovered that one of my fellow DVD webmasters, Guido Henkel of DVD Review, was on the same flight. I was already planning to meet up with Pete Bracke from DVD File and Jeff Rauter (the DVD Answer Man) when I stepped off the plane in Oakland, so when we arrived, it seemed only natural that all four of us share a rental car for the hour-long drive to the Ranch. We spent the drive catching up on the latest DVD news, and musing on what the next two days held in store.

Without revealing its location, suffice it to say that the harrowing road that takes you from civilization to the remote Ranch is quite the sweaty-hands adventure, especially for a boy who grew up on the flat plains of North Dakota. But once you drive onto the Ranch, you'd never guess that some 300 people are hard at work on Episode II there. It looks more like a national park. The whole place is very in tune with its natural surroundings. There's a vineyard and an olive orchard. Eagles soar gracefully overhead. And at one point, as we drove up to the Victorian-style main house, a herd of deer crossed the road in front of us. When we finally stepped out of the car, the first thing that struck all of us was the absolute, peaceful quiet that hovers over the place. It's really an amazing atmosphere.

We were greeted at the main house by Lucasfilm staffers. We waited in a gorgeous parlor, complete with elaborate, hand-carved woodwork, as the rest of our band arrived - some 20 other webmasters from DVD websites and Star Wars fan sites (too numerous to mention here but be sure to visit your favorite sites online for their own coverage). Then we were treated to a tour of the main house, and a first screening of several scenes in the film on DVD, hosted by Lucasfilm's Jim Ward (you may recall our recent interview with him). The home theater system in use for this demo was set-up just for this event by THX, and it featured a complete Dolby Digital EX configuration. The remainder of the afternoon was spent in a large DLP-equipped theater in the main house, where we screened the complete deleted scenes, The Beginning documentary and were given a tour of both discs. At one point in the documentary, there's a scene in which Lucas and company screen the first rough cut of Episode I. We realized at once that the theater they were using was the same one we were currently sitting in, making for quite the amusing moment. After several hours of this, the day wrapped with a visit to the General Store. And following a long drive back to our hotels, about six of us went out to dinner together to discuss the day's events.

Our second day at the Ranch began with a visit to the Technical Services building, where Skywalker Sound is located. And in the main theater there, we were joined by about 15 more members of the electronic press, for the Q & A session (a transcription of which you'll find here), which lasted the remainder of the afternoon. The highlight, of course, was being able to speak with George Lucas himself, and - at long last - getting our hands on the DVD. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who spent the rest of the weekend playing with the 2-disc set, following a quick evening plane flight back home.

So that's about it. Most of us took pictures of the Ranch, but we're not allowed to post them for obvious reasons. Suffice it to say that the Ranch is every bit as cool as you imagine it to be and then some. Personally, I'm looking forward to going back when the Episode II DVD comes out... but that's an adventure for another day. Let me just close by saying that all of us had a great time, and I especially appreciated getting to spend time with some of my fellow DVD webmasters. Their friendship is one of the nicest benefits to this job. Thanks also to everyone at Lucasfilm and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for inviting us to spend some time in Lucas-land. I think I speak for everyone when I say that the opportunity was much appreciated.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/10/01 - 3 PM PDT)

While we're waiting for the Midnight deadline to post our Star Wars DVD coverage, anyone out there care for a look at the DVD cover artwork for 20th Century Fox and Lucasfilm's other big upcoming title... Willow (street date 11/27)? Here it is...

Willow: Special Edition

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/10/01 - 10 AM PDT)

Well... we're back from the Ranch, and we're happy to report that we weren't banned from ever returning! We did get Q&A time with George, we did get the Episode I DVD, and we have spent all weekend playing with it. And the good news is that we know when the next Star Wars film is coming out on DVD. The bad news is that we can't tell you anything until tomorrow. Everyone who attended signed an agreement saying we'd all wait until a specific time to post our reports. So if you check back with us at 12:01 AM PDT tonight, we should have a detailed review of the disc itself, along with a complete transcript of the Q&A session with DVD producer Van Ling, Star Wars producer Rick McCallum, George Lucas himself and others. And with luck, we may even have a few pictures to show you. So do check back then... ;-)

In the meantime, we've got word from Variety (via Yahoo) that Fox plans to debut Tim Burton's Planet of the Apes on DVD 2 days before Christmas. The 2-disc set will SRP for $29.98 and is expected to include some 13 hours worth of material, including 28 bonus programs and several multi-angle featurettes.

Anyone want to see the DVD cover artwork for Paramount's Tomb Raider (street date 11/13) and Columbia TriStar's A Muppet Family Christmas (11/6), Emmet Otter's Jig-Band Christmas (also 11/6) and John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars: Special Edition (12/4)? Here you go (note that you can already pre-order 3 of these discs from DVD Planet - just click on the cover to visit their page for that particular title)...

Tomb RaiderJohn Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars: Special Edition

Emmet Otter's Jug-Band ChristmasA Muppet Family Christmas

We'll be back this afternoon with more, and don't forget to check back this evening! Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/5/01 - 9:30 AM PDT)

This will be our last update until Monday. Gasp! "Say it isn't so!" you cry! Yes, it's true... and no, we're not slacking off. We're off to Skywalker Ranch to take part in a special 2-day, Lucasfilm-hosted press event to promote the upcoming DVD release of Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. George Lucas himself will answer our DVD questions, along with DVD producer Van Ling and others involved in the creation of the 2-disc set. A lot of fellow online press will also be there, and you can be sure we'll have complete coverage of the event, along with a detailed review of the disc itself, when we return next week.

So until then... stay tuned... ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/5/01 - 12:01 AM PDT)

We figured we'd get ahead of the game today, and get our daily post up early for a change! We posted seven new DVD reviews last night and we've got three more for you today. This time, we're taking a look at a trio of films from director Brian De Palma: MGM's new Carrie: Special Edition and Dressed to Kill: Special Edition, along with Criterion's Sisters. More reviews are in the works, including some major new and upcoming titles, so stay tuned.

We've got some interesting news to report this morning. First up, it looks as if the Back to the Future Trilogy may finally show up on DVD in 2002. The website recently conducted an interview with Back to the Future co-screenwriter Bob Gale, in which he reveals that Universal has been waiting to release the trilogy on DVD until a deal that gave foreign rights for the studio's films to Columbia expires (reportedly at the end of this year). If true, that would clear the way for the DVD release to happen in 2002. The films had previously been reported delayed because of legal issues surrounding the use of screen test footage of actor Eric Stoltz in the title role. The National Post is also reporting this story, adding that Universal Studios Home Video president Craig Kornblau has confirmed that Back to the Future, Schindler's List and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial are all on Universal's production slate. According to Kornblau, E.T. is set for a theatrical re-release next spring, to celebrate the film's 20th anniversary, and a DVD release will follow. Here's a quote: "Our approach is to create an event ideally around an anniversary of a film or re-release like E.T.. We don't want to just throw a DVD title out there." Very cool... just so long as we don't get three different versions of the film on DVD, followed a few months later by an Ultimate Edition...

In other news, actor Jon Favreau is reporting that the DVD version of Made will arrive sometime in mid-November (we're hearing November 13th). According to Jon, the disc will reportedly include "over an hour of additional material including outtakes, deleted scenes, a documentary, and the screenplay on DVD-ROM. For those who have come to expect a lot from your DVD's, we have hours of commentary from Vince and myself as well as plenty of other goodies." The disc is being produced by Alita Holly, who you may remember from our recent DVD Producers 2001 panel discussion at Comic-Con. Better news still is that, after Made, they'll be working on a Swingers: Special Edition for release on DVD next year.

Oh... but we're still not done. We've got word that Ivan Reitman's Evolution is coming to DVD on November 13th from Columbia TriStar. The Official Weird Al Yankovic website is reporting that Al's UHF is seriously being discussed at MGM as a special edition DVD release for the summer of 2002. You may not know this yet, but The Muppet Show is now on DVD as an exclusive from Time-Life. Some 30 episodes are available on 10 DVDs, which you can buy monthly or in sets of your choosing. Or you can buy the whole collection in one shot for $175. The Official Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson website is offering a 3-disc set called The Ultimate Johnny Carson Collection, which features some of his best moments on the show over the years. It's selling for $89.99 ($79.99 if you order online before September 30th). The Backstreet Boys are releasing a greatest hits DVD, tentatively titled Chapter 1, on October 23rd to accompany a "best of" CD of the same name (read the story via Yahoo here). And finally, The Who and Special Guests, Live at the Royal Albert Hall is set to arrive on DVD on September 25th, featuring performances by The Who with Pearl Jam vocalist Eddie Vedder, Oasis songwriter-guitarist Noel Gallagher, Bryan Adams, Kelly Jones, Kennedy and Paul Weller (click here for that story).

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 9/4/01 - 8 PM PDT)

Okay... we've posted SEVEN new DVD reviews for you to check out this evening. Todd's checked out Pioneer's new Akira: Special Edition, Greg's got his thoughts on The Goonies from Warner, and we've got Dan's take on the complete Woody Allen Collection, Volume 2 from MGM, which includes September, Another Woman, Crimes and Misdemeanors, Alice and Shadows and Fog. Enjoy!

Back with more tomorrow. Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 9/4/01 - 10:30 AM PDT)

Welcome back from the holiday! So did everyone enjoy their extra day off (those of you in the U.S. anyway)? We're rested and raring to go, so we thought we'd kick off the morning with the latest upcoming street date information. You'll find that in today's update of Rumor Mill. And we'll be back later with a bunch of new DVD reviews. Enjoy and back soon...


Well here's great way to end the week - info on the street dates for a whole bunch more cool upcoming DVDs! Let's get right to it, shall we?

Buena Vista has announced that November 27th is the day Scary Movie 2 will his store shelves. Columbia TriStar's confirmed that November 13th will see America's Sweethearts. A classic, 1922 Rudolph Valentino film, Blood and Sand, will street from Kino International on October 9th. ADV's got more Farscape coming your way - Farscape #6: Till the Blood Runs Clear/Rhapsody in Blue (September 4th) and Farscape #7: The Flax/Jeremiah Crichton (October 16th). DreamWorks has confirmed that their Almost Famous: The Bootleg Cut will street on December 4th - still no official word on details. On December 4th, MGM will release Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure, Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. They'll follow on December 11th with The Handmaid's Tale, The Defiant Ones, Dodsworth, Fritz the Cat, The Indian Runner, Inherit the Wind, Look Back in Anger, The Lover, Separate Tables, Witness for the Prosecution, Topkapi, The Nine Lives of Fritz the Cat and The Party. And Paramount's added Road Rage to its October 30th slate, along with Bridge of the Wind on November 13th. Look also for National Geographic: Pearl Harbor - Legacy of the Attack on November 6th. Finally, Wolfe Video will release Queer as Folk 2 on September 4th.

We'll be back with a TON of review after the holiday. Everyone have a great weekend!


We mentioned this the other day, but it's worth mentioning again, because it's now official - Paramount will deliver a loaded Tomb Raider: Collector's Edition on November 13th. The disc will include director's commentary, behind-the-scenes featurettes, an interactive game and more. Better still, Paramount's very long-awaited What's Eating Gilbert Grape finally arrives on November 27th. And Frankie & Johnnie is set for December 4th. Buena Vista's crazy/beautiful is due on November 13th. MGM will deliver Legally Blonde on November 6th. And other just (or soon to be) announced titles from Columbia TriStar include several Cirque du Soleil discs, among them Baroque Odyssey, Cirque Reinvente, Journey of Man, Magie Continue, Novelle Experience and Saltimbanco (all 10/30). Look also for The Point Men (11/13), The Breed (11/20), The Owl and the Pussycat (11/27) and Mixed Nuts, Sheena, Silent Rage and Weekend at Bernies II (all 12/4).

We've got word on several more major upcoming DVDs in today's Rumor Mill post, so don't miss it.

In other news, Winstar's The Power of Myth has been pushed back until September 24th. Just FYI.

Also, director Dennis Przywara e-mailed me this morning to let me know that his Starwoids will soon be released on DVD. As you may know, the film takes an amusing look at all those guys who stood in line for the theatrical release of Star Wars: Episode I (I know a few of 'em myself). The disc is coming in the first week of October (street date is 10/9) and it'll include deleted scenes, director's commentary, an interview with Kevin Smith about Star Wars and much more. Click here for the official Starwoids website.

We'll be back to announce the winners of the Trivia Contest in a couple of hours. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/29/01 - 5:30 PM PDT)

The updated Upcoming DVD Cover Art is now online, and you've got more than 60 new scans to check out. Included are The Legend of Hell House, Shadow Magic, Pride and Prejudice, The Prisoner, Set 5, Airheads, The Scout, Pink Flamingos/Female Trouble, all 5 SuperBit titles, Dr. Doolittle 2, Jabberwocky, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, From Here to Eternity, See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Exorcism, all the new Woody Allen titles, Dominick and Eugene, Of Mice and Men, Now, Voyager, Little Women (1933), Ocean's 11, Sudden Impact, Magnum Force, Babylon 5, all of MGM's November titles, The Princess Dairies, revised art for Driven and The Tailor of Panama and much more. Whew!

See you tomorrow... ;-)

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/29/01 - 1:15 PM PDT)

We're working on a huge Upcoming DVD Artwork update for later this afternoon, so be sure to watch for that. But we wanted to jump in quick with some street date news.

We've just gotten word that Paramount's Apocalypse Now: Redux DVD will be released on November 20th. Look for an official announcement soon. Also, Columbia TriStar is releasing John Singleton's Baby Boy: Special Edition, A Muppet Family Christmas and Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas on November 6th. Moscow on the Hudson will follow on November 27th, and both John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars and Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone are expected on December 4th.

And don't forget - tonight's the deadline for entering the Trivia Contest. Get your entries in quick!

Back soon...


Hi all! Sorry for the extra day off yesterday. I've had a lot of family visiting in the last couple of weeks and needed a little extra time to decompress. We're going to be doing a lot of housekeeping around the site today, and we'll have more for you tonight and tomorrow.

In the meantime, Video Store magazine, to which Todd and I are regular contributors, has announced the winners of their 4th Annual DVD Awards. As in our own Bitsys this year, Toy Story: The Ultimate Toy Box walked away with the top honors, winning in the Best of Show category. Bits editor Bill Hunt (that's me, in case you didn't already know that) served as one of five judges for the event. For a complete list of all the winners, click here.

We have more on that Almost Famous: SE. First of all, the street date for the title is expected to be announced as December 4th. We've also heard that some of the details we listed in our last post are still tentative, so just be aware of that.

Here's a bunch more newly announced street date information. Paramount's Tomb Raider: Collector's Edition is due on DVD on November 13th. New Line's Rush Hour 2: Infinifilm Edition will street sometime in December. Universal's Jurassic Park III: Collector's Edition and Fox's Planet of the Apes are also likely December releases. DreamWorks' A.I. Artificial Intelligence is due very early in 2002. MGM's Legally Blonde is due on November 6th. Fox's Dr. Doolittle 2 streets on October 23rd (as their second Nuon-enhanced title). Note that Warner is now considering releasing a widescreen version of Cats & Dogs, thanks to pressure from consumers. The full frame disc streets on October 16th. Also, look for a 5-film Dirty Harry collection and a 3-film Rat Pack collection from Warner on November 23rd (tying into Warner's remake of Ocean's Eleven). The original Ocean's Eleven is also on the way to DVD.

Stay tuned...8/24/01

You fans of Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous should be happy soon. We just got this info yesterday:

Almost Famous Untitled: The Bootleg Cut (Director's Edition) is a 3-Disc set (2 DVDs and 1 music CD) that includes a NEW Director's version, the original Academy Award winning version and an additional music CD of 6 never before released songs by Stillwater! Available at the S.R.P. of $34.99, the Director's Edition includes 36 minutes of never before seen footage! Exciting new bonus features on the DVD include a new director's commentary, cast audition tapes, deleted scenes, the shooting script, new menu music by Nancy Wilson and much more.

I'll try to have a street date for you soon. Note that the 6-song Stillwater CD was originally created by director Crowe as a wrap party gift for the cast and crew. Very cool!

This next news comes official from Warner. Bowing to pressure from DVD's core fans, Warner Home Video has announced plans to release a widescreen version of theWilly Wonka & the Chocolate Factory: 30th Anniversary Edition. The disc will street on November 13th (SRP $24.98), and will include everything that was on the other, full frame-only version. It's nice to see that they've decided to listen to the more than 11,000 fans who signed the Wonka Widescreen petition. But Cats & Dogs and their animated Lord of the Rings DVDs, both upcoming, are still due to be full frame only. Come on Warner... you're almost there. And just to make sure Warner gets the message, here are links to online widescreen petitions that you can sign about Cats & Dogs and Lord of the Rings. We know that they're not as popular as Wonka, but we ask EVERYONE who feels strongly about this widescreen on DVD issue to sign both of these petitions. The Hollywood studios need to be sent a message by widescreen fans, or this is just going to keep happening.

Here's my 2 cents on this whole thing. I don't mind at all if Warner and other studios release full frame versions of their films on DVD. As the format expands into a larger, more mainstream market, I understand that many people prefer full frame. I get many e-mails a day now asking "Why the black bars?" I think the fault here lies with the studios in not making a better effort to explain widescreen to its consumers. But whatever - there's no doubt that the studios will have to release some titles in full frame. BUT NEVER ABANDON YOUR CORE, ORIGINAL CONSUMERS! Warner... you were the driving force behind DVD, and it's shameful if you make any move to dumb down the format as it gets popular. The people who prefer anamorphic widescreen ARE THE VERY PEOPLE WHO MADE THIS FORMAT A SUCCESS by supporting it from Day One, and by spreading the word of mouth about how great DVD was to anyone who would listen. If you're going to release full frame titles... fine. BUT ALWAYS RELEASE A WIDESCREEN VERSION AS WELL. Better still, do what many other studios have done and include both aspect ratios on the same disc, or in the same 2-disc set. NEVER FORGET who the core DVD consumers are, and what they want. Period. And if you do, you can bet we'll be there to remind you. Enough said.

In other news, Columbia TriStar will release a Boys 'N the Hood: Special Edition on November 6th. And Luc Besson's Subway will street the same day. Also Buena Vista is prepping both The Princess Diaries and Crazy/Beautiful for release in December.

Anime fans, our friends at Urban Vision tell us that the national premiere for the new Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust is tonight at Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre (7 PM PDT). Tickets are almost gone. After the film, you can stop next door at Hollywood's famous Pig 'N Whistle, for your chance to meet all the talented individuals who made the film. Discuss the movie, have drinks, meet celebrities, get stuff signed or just hang out. Masao Maruyama will be there, as well as Kawajiri (director of Ninja Scroll), Minowa and d'Ambrosio! Who knows - you may catch a glimpse of Carl Macek (Robotech) or Peter Chung (Aeon Flux) attending, among others. Don't miss it.

And finally this morning, Synapse has just announced the DVD release of Jess Franco's Exorcism. The disc will street on October 30th, and will include a brand new anamorphic widescreen (1.66:1) digital transfer, reversible double-sided cover artwork (so you can choose which artwork you Prefer), an English language version, the first ever commentary from director Jess Franco, an alternate "clothed" opening sequence, liner notes from film historian Tim Lucas, a still gallery and the film's theatrical trailer.

Stay tuned...


We've got something pretty exciting for you to check out today. How about a downloadable video trailer of footage from Warner's upcoming Matrix: Revisited DVD? The clip is in Real Media format (get a free Real Player here) and runs about 2 minutes. It's available in 56k, 100k and 300k optimized versions, to ease download times (300k is obviously the highest quality). So pick your download and enjoy. These files may not be published elsewhere online without permission. Thanks to Thomas for sending them!

We've also pleased to give you another new DVD review - Greg's look at Paramount's awesome new WWII thriller, Enemy at the Gates. I have to say, the film is not without its faults. But if you can overlook them, I think you'll really enjoy it a lot. It delivers good acting, great cinematography and plenty of dramatic tension. Best of all, it's in stores now. Don't miss it.

On the news side of things, we've got word that Columbia TriStar is going to be releasing St. Elmo's Fire on DVD on November 20th. And speaking of Columbia, here's a look at the DVD artwork for the studio's first batch of SuperBit DVDs, due to street on October 2nd.

Air Force One - SuperBit DVDCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - SuperBit DVD

The Fifth Element - SuperBit DVDDesperado - SuperBit DVD

Johnny Mnemonic - SuperBit DVD

Around the Net today, there's a great story at Yahoo (via Reuters) about a new war between the Hollywood studios and video retailers like Blockbuster over revenue sharing and DVD.

And look for the new Trivia Contest to start later this afternoon, giving you all a chance to take home copies of both MGM's new Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal special editions on DVD.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 8/21/01 - Noon PDT)

We've got two new DVD reviews for you from Todd. First up is one that I know you're all waiting for: MGM's The Terminator: Special Edition, which streets on October 2nd. I think you'll find that, for the most part, it's been worth the wait. The other new review is Columbia TriStar's just released Tomcats.

And around the site this afternoon, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers to include the 115,414 players shipped to retailers here in the States in the second week of August (ending 8/10).

Speaking of the CEA (Consumer Electronics Association), we've gotten some interesting numbers from them which reveal just how well DVD hardware product is selling these days. Sales of stand-alone DVD players in 2001 thus far currently sit at some 4,347,258 units, compared to 2,683,334 by this time last year. That's a 60% increase over 2000. Integrated systems with DVD players built-in have sold some 418,976 units this year, compared to only 93,416 by this time in 2000 (a 348% increase). And mobile and portable players have sold 100,320 units so far in 2001, compared to only 17,605 in 2000 (a 469% increase). Over all, sales of all product categories of DVD players are up some 74% in 2001 from last year. And keep in mind that none of this includes the increasing sales trends in PCs and laptops with DVD-ROM drives or video game consoles with DVD playback capability. Note also that these numbers reflect the U.S. domestic market only.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 8/21/01 - 11 AM PDT)

Could Paramount be about to go back and give the deluxe treatment it's giving Star Trek: The Motion Picture to all its Trek franchise films? That's the word according to a new article over at CNN (via Reuters). Here's the relevant passage:

"Paramount senior VP of marketing Michael Arkin said that since the studio released standard DVD versions of the Star Trek movies in reverse order of their theatrical release, the studio is considering working its way back through the series in chronological order with special DVD editions of each."

And that's what we've been hearing from our sources as well. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan is up first, as a 2-disc special edition sometime early next year. How freaking cool is that? We've also heard that the complete first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation will be released shortly after the first of the year, with Voyager and Deep Space Nine likely to follow (along with additional seasons of TNG) later in 2002. It's definitely a good time to be a fan of Trek on DVD...

In other news this morning, you fans of Sting have a DVD treat on the way. The ex-Police front-man-at-large is set to record an intimate, live performance at a villa in Tuscany, Italy on September 11th. The performance will then be released simultaneously as a live CD and DVD in November. According to, the audience will be made up of about 200 family and friends and the concert "will likely feature guest performers." Reportedly, Sting will perform "new arrangements of Police classics and solo material." As a HUGE fan of The Police going back to their days as a punk rock band, it sure would be cool if a couple of those guests just happened to be Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers. Speaking of which, when is Universal Music/A&M gonna get off their butts and release The Police: The Synchronicity Concert on DVD? Or ANY Police stuff for that matter? I'd pay good money for that...

Moving on, here's a Star Wars DVD story via our friends over at The that's worth reading, even if you REALLY have to file it in the "dubious rumor" category. According to one of their sources, George Lucas may continue releasing Star Wars movies on DVD in the meantime, but his ultimate plan is to release an Achival Editions box set of all six films on DVD when they're done. But these would be no regular special editions. Reportedly, Lucas wants to shoot additional scenes that would be added into the existing films (Phantom Menace, Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi). I guess the idea would be to tie the stories together even more, by adding little details and scenes here and there. Once again, this is VERY sketchy info, but it's an interesting idea none the less. I guess we'll have to wait until 2006 to see. In the meantime, here's to hoping that the original Star Wars comes out on DVD next year in honor of the film's 25th Anniversary. Maybe we'll learn more soon...

Stay tuned...!

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