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page updated: 5/21/02

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 5/4/02 - 4/16/02)

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Just a quick update today with a couple of interesting bits of DVD information. A whole bunch of readers have e-mailed to let us know that Lucasfilm's Jim Ward and Rick McCallum confirmed this weekend at the Star Wars Celebration convention in Indianapolis that the Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones DVD is definitely coming by the end of the year. Lucasfilm has reportedly already been working on the disc for over a year. That's not new information (we've been reporting it in The Rumor Mill for months now), but it's nice to hear something official. The latest word is that disc should street in October or early November.

Also on the subject of popular Lucasfilm trilogies today, Paramount has officially confirmed that the Indiana Jones films WILL NOT be released on DVD this year.

We've got word on what to expect on Criterion's upcoming DVD version of The Royal Tenenbaums. Look for a new anamorphic widescreen digital transfer supervised by director Wes Anderson, audio commentary by Anderson, the featurette With the Filmmaker: Portraits by Albert Maysles, outtakes and deleted scenes, The Peter Bradley Show with cast interviews, The Art of the Movie in-depth art direction and production design featurette, theatrical trailers, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio options and collectible multi-panel booklets with set-design drawings, director introspective and DVD guide. Street date is TBA. Thanks to Bits reader Mike W. for the info!

Also today, we've updated our review of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy with new access instructions for the disc's Easter eggs. Thanks to Bits reader Don G. for those!

And finally, just an FYI. I saw Spider-Man last night and it pretty much rocks. It's a lot of fun and well worth seeing if you get the chance.

Don't forget that our Trivia Contest ends tomorrow night. Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 5/3/02 - 7 AM PDT)

One last post today and then I'm off to see Spider-Man. Todd's got a review of Dimension's new 2-disc The Others: Collector's Series for you.

Enjoy and have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/3/02 - 12:01 AM PDT)

Okay kids... we've got two retro DVD reviews this morning for those of you who aren't playing hooky from work to go see Spider-Man. Adam's checked in with reviews of Showtime's Rated X (Unrated Edition) and one of my favorite recent films on DVD - New Line's 2-disc Boogie Nights: Platinum Edition.

Also today, ADV Films has revealed that their Farscape: Season 2, Set 1 DVD streets on 6/25. The 2-disc set will include 4 episodes, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, deleted scenes, audio commentary for one episode and more. SRP is $39.98. Thanks to Tim D. for the tip.

And in other upcoming DVD news, Anchor Bay will release House and House II: The Second Story on 6/25. Artisan's Dune: Special Edition - Director's Cut is coming on 6/11. BMG Music will release Bad Company: In Concert - Merchants of Cool and Tribe Called Quest on 5/21. Criterion has announced A Nous la Liberte, Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard (awesome!) and Under the Roofs of Paris for 7/23. And Elite's The Incubus is due on 8/27.

Image Entertainment gets their own paragrph. Their newly announced upcoming titles include Kidsongs: A Day with the Animals, Kidsongs: I Can Dance!, Kidsongs: I Can Do It!, Kidsongs: Play Again Songs, Fassbinder Collection #1: Whity/Pioneers in Ingolstadt, Rick Springfield: The Best of the Live Drum and Variations: Without Limits #1 (all 7/2), Bat Thumb, Berlioz: Requiem - Colin Davis, Carmen: Bizet - The Culberg Ballet: Mats Ek, Doctor Dracula, Graveyard of Horror, Horror of the Blood Monsters and Monster-A-Go-Go/Psyched by the 4-D Witch (all 7/9), Jamie Foxx: I Might Need Security, Kiri Te Kanawa: Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, La Tirra Trema, Mariss Jansons: In Rehearsal - Oslo Philharmonic, Max Ernst, Orpheus in the Underworld: Offenbach and Ossessione (all 7/16), Blondes Have More Fun, Childhood of Maxim Gorky, Country Cuzzins/Midnight Plowboy, Dance Theatre of Harlem: Fall River Legend and Street of a Thousand Pleasures/Way Out Topless (7/23) and Cat in the Brain, Corpse Grinders II, Guardian of the Night, Nomads of the North (silent - 1920)/The Shock (silent - 1923), Subterfuge and When Love Comes (all 7/30).

Moving on, MPI's got Dark Shadows: Set #2, Honeymooners: Lost Episodes #21 and Honeymooners: Lost Episodes #22 set for 7/30. Sony Music has B2K: Introducing B2K (DVD single) and Five For Fighting: Easy Tonight/Superman due on 5/14, along with Incubus: Morning View Sessions on 6/25. 20th Century Fox is delivering Boondock Saints, Five Aces, Rapid Fire and Reckless and Wild on 5/14, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Second Season on 6/11, Ablaze on 7/16, Kung Pow: Enter the Fist, M*A*S*H: TV Season 2 and Speed: Special Edition on 7/23 and Super Troopers on 8/6. Universal is delivering Change of Habit and Elvis: His Best Friend Remembers on 7/30. And upcoming Warner titles include Clash of the Titans, Exorcist II: The Heretic, Swarm: Expanded Edition, Them!, Time After Time, V: The Final Battle and Wolfen (all 8/6) and Gremlins: Special Edition, Gremlins 2: The New Batch, Hometown Legend, Magic School Bus: Creepy, Crawly Fun, Nightmare Room: Camp Nowhere, Nightmare Room: Scareful What You Wish For and Scooby-Doo Meets Batman (all 8/20). Warner also has lots more Doctor Who titles coming from their BBC license, including Doctor Who: Tomb of the Cybermen (on 8/6) and Doctor Who: Armageddon Factor, Doctor Who: Power of Kroll, Doctor Who: Ribos Operation, Doctor Who: Stones of Blood, Doctor Who: The Androids of Tara and Doctor Who: The Pirate Planet (all on 10/1).

Finally this morning, our good friend Ron Epstein (of The Home Theater Forum) has checked in with one of the Net's first reviews of an actual theatrical screening of Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones. Lucky dog. You'll have to wait until next week to hear what WE think of the film. ;-)

Stay tuned...


Two things today. First of all, we've just posted a review of the BBC's new 2-disc Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy DVD, which is now available in fine stores across the universe (and here in the States from Warner Home Video). I think you fans of the classic TV series will be pretty thrilled with it.

Also today, we're very pleased to announce that renowned film producer, historian and preservation expert Robert Harris is going to begin writing a regular column here at The Digital Bits in the coming weeks.

As many of you know, The Digital Bits has long been an advocate of anamorphic widescreen and films being released on DVD in their original aspect ratio. We've been very active in trying to educate both the studios and consumers on this subject, and we created our widely-read Guide to Anamorphic Widescreen for Dummies for this very reason. We've often led the charge when studios tried to release their much-loved films on DVD in full frame only (think Willy Wonka), because their market research said "families don't like black bars".

As DVD becomes mainstream, the wider audience of average consumers seems to be having a much greater influence over the studios' decision-making in terms of how to best present their films on the format. And sadly, this audience has absolutely zero understanding of the importance of things like aspect ratios. What's worse, the studios seem to be reluctant to educate their consumers on these issues. So we believe it's time for the experts to step forward, and for websites like The Bits to make a new push to take on this responsibility.

We're in a unique position at The Digital Bits, in that our readership doesn't just include cinephiles and hard-core home theater enthusiasts. Our audience is wide and varied, from the most savvy studio insiders and DVD producers to the most recent, mainstream consumers to jump on the DVD bandwagon. We have the ability to help take these issues into a much larger arena, and to educate more mainstream audiences on the importance of things like anamorphic widescreen and original aspect ratio.

And who better to do this than Bob Harris, a genuine film expert and a man who has been responsible for some of the most important work to save and restore our favorite classic films? I hope you'll all join us in welcoming Bob and supporting our joint efforts. We're working out the details now, so keep watching this column for updates and for news on Bob's first column here at The Digital Bits. And you should know that each column will tie into discussion treads over at The Home Theater Forum (which has long been the official DVD discussion group of The Bits) to create an ongoing community of thought on these issues.

Back tomorrow with more reviews. Stay tuned...!

(LATE UPDATE - 5/1/02 - 6 PM PDT)

This is completely unrelated to DVD, but it's very cool anyway. Right now, as I type this, the grandson of Charles Lindbergh (the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean) is recreating his grandfather's flight in honor of its 75th anniversary. As of 6 PM PDT, Erik Lindbergh is about halfway through his journey to Paris, having left New York just after noon today. You can track his progress live at this link. As I said, it has nothing to do with DVD, but it's cool nonetheless. Any of you guys that live near Le Bourget Airport (outside Paris) should head on out there and give him a big welcome when he arrives. ;-)

Now then... here's something that IS DVD related. Those Vault Disney titles I mentioned earlier? They're all in the original theatrical aspect ratio and they're all 16x9 enhanced. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...


We've just learned some pretty exciting news, which is that the upcoming Vault Disney collection DVDs (Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson, Old Yeller, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Love Bug) are going to be a lot more extensive in terms of extras than anyone thought. Here's a look at what to expect. This comes straight from the DVD producer on these projects, Eric Young.

"Each title is a 2-disc set - the first disc contains the movie, a cast and filmmaker commentary and a cartoon. The second disc in each set contains substantial supplemental material as follows:

Old Yeller - the original documentary, Old Yeller: Remembering a Classic with new interviews with Fess Parker, Tommy Kirk, Kevin Corcoran (rare), Bob Weatherwax (son of dog trainer) and T. Beck Gipson (son of the author). Other new features include Conversations with Tommy Kirk, Lost Treasures: Ranch of the Golden Oak, a featurette entitled Dogs!, 1957 studio album (retrospective), Inside the Disney Archives Tour (extensive bios and galleries), a script excerpt, film archives including Best Doggone Dog in the World and audio archives.

Pollyanna - the original documentary, Pollyanna: Making of a Masterpiece with exclusive interviews, a feature entitled Recreating Pollyanna's America, a featurette entitled 1912, Lost Treasures: Walt Disney TV Introductions, the 1960 studio album, Inside the Disney Archives (bios and galleries), film archives including Promoting Pollyanna (merchandising piece), A Day in the Life of an Actress (Nancy Olson) as as well as a section devoted audio archives (songs and a multi angle feature called Sound Studio that allows the viewer to hear the various discrete soundtrack elements of a scene).

Swiss Family Robinson - the original 55 minute documentary, Adventure in the Making, a featurette entitled Pirates, Conversations with James MacArthur, 1960 studio album, Inside the Disney Archives (galleries, bios), film and audio archives (including excerpts from the 1940 version of Swiss Family Robinson).

The Parent Trap - the original documentary Caught in the Act: The Making of The Parent Trap, a featurette entitled Let's Get Together, The Sherman Brothers' Music Magic, Lost Treasures: Who's the Twin, 1961 studio album, Inside the Disney Archives Tour and sections devoted to the film and audio archives.

We've also included never-before-seen footage from the private collections of David Swift (for Parent Trap and Pollyanna) and James MacArthur (Swiss Family Robinson). On Swiss Family we also have footage of the opening of the Swiss Family Treehouse Attraction at Disneyland (not ever seen by the public) with commentary by Hayley Mills.

We've included extensive bios, photo galleries, sound archives pieces and more. I've been working on these projects and can't possibly list all the material in a few paragraphs. They have been a major labor of love that will permit fans and the general public alike a rare and comprehensive look at everything associated with these titles. There are hours of supplemental materials painstakingly researched and uncovered on each disc.

And you're in for a real treat with the forthcoming 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. In addition to myself, I've enlisted the work of David Skaal (Universal Monsters Series) and Disney Archivist Les Perkins, along with film historian Rudy Behlmer and collectors Bob Burns and Larry & Paul Brooks to create the ultimate fan's dream: over three hours of original, extensive supplements. I've discovered substantial behind-the-scenes footage from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea missing for almost 50 years as well as a few other surprises.

We're also completing Love Bug for 2003 with archival footage and the participation of Buddy Hackett and Dean Jones, to name a few."

Just FYI, Pollyanna, The Parent Trap, Swiss Family Robinson and Old Yeller street on 5/7. The other two titles are still in production. Anyone else think these DVDs should be pretty cool?

(EARLY UPDATE - 5/1/02 - 11 AM PDT)

Happy May Day to ya'll. To kick off the new month right, I thought we'd take a brief look at some major upcoming DVDs that are currently in production (but definitely unannounced) from the major studios. You'll find that in today's update of The Rumor Mill. Enjoy!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/30/02 - 2:45 PM PDT)

Our review of Warner's new 4-disc Friends: The Complete First Season DVD box set is now up for you to check out. The set is definitely worth buying if you're a fan, although the extras could use a little kick in the pants given the not-so-cheap SRP of $69.98 (hopefully, Warner will load up future sets with more worthy bonus material... or drop the price a bit accordingly). Just FYI, you should find the title on store shelves today.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/30/02 - 1 PM PDT)

After my post yesterday about bootleg DVDs becoming available in Afghanistan, I got a great e-mail from Master Sgt. Doug Oswald, who is currently serving in Kuwait with the Air National Guard. Seems our boys and girls in uniform are enjoying DVD over there as well. Here's what he had to say:

"I'm serving with my Air National Guard unit in Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and read the story about electricity and pirated DVDs in Afghanistan. While I didn't see any DVD players there, I have one in my tent were I'm serving in Kuwait. They sell them at the base exchange and a trip into town to the local bazaar yields hundreds of pirated DVDs and VCDs. While the quality ranges from watchable to pretty good, the price is between $7-$10 each and there is a wide range of titles like "Lord of the Rings" and "Jason X." I was hoping to find a copy of "Star Wars: Attack of the Clones," but I don't think that title will show up until it hits theaters. DVD is very popular with the military and some people who are staying for a longer rotation have ordered surround systems for their living quarters. I've enjoyed the updates while I've been over here and check in daily."

Doug also sent over a few pictures of one of the local bazaars, showing tons of bootleg discs in cardboard sleeves.

Bootleg DVDs at a bazaar in Kuwait.

Also available (on the same table pictured here) is perfume, Gameboy games - you name it. Absolutely fascinating. Thanks for dropping us a line, Doug! When you get that home theater set up in your tent, maybe you'll have to send us a DVD review or two! Stay safe and please give our best to everyone serving with you over there.

And in other news today, there's a story over at Yahoo on the release of Warner's Friends: The Complete First Season on DVD. Watch for our review later this afternoon.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/29/02 - 4:30 PM PDT)

We've got a little interesting DVD news for you to round out the day. It seems that DVD players have become all the rage in Afghanistan now that electric power is more readily available (see the complete story via Yahoo). Word is that "people are snapping up videotape and DVD players to watch pirated Rambo and Jean-Claude Van Damme movies from Pakistan on televisions that no longer need to be hidden". Fascinating.

And there's news that Blockbuster is going to be testing a "subscription" service that will allow select customers to keep their rented DVD movies as long as they like without paying rental fees. This would be in an effort to head off competition from the likes of Netflix, which allows a similar DVD rental service online.

And finally this afternoon, we've got a look at the final DVD cover art for MGM's Hart's War (7/9), along with Paramount's I Love Lucy: Season 1, Volume 1 (7/2), Artisan's Rambo Trilogy: Special Edition boxed set (5/21) and Fox's Kung Pow: Enter the Fist (7/23). Enjoy!

Hart's WarI Love Lucy: Season 1, Volume 1

Rambo Trilogy: Special EditionKung Pow: Enter the Fist

Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 4/29/02 - 12:45 PM PDT)

Just a quick note to let you know that we've just kicked off our latest Trivia Contest, giving you each a chance to take home copies of MGM's Bull Durham, Usual Suspects and Bandits special edition DVDs. There will be five winners in all and the contest will run for one week. So click here to enter and good luck!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/29/02 - 11 AM PDT)

We've got a few posts coming today. First up, we've updated all the data charts including the CEA DVD Player Sales numbers (to include the players shipped in the second week of April). We've also updated all of the other stats listed above.

Around the site today, we've finally gotten our banner CGI running again. Took long enough, but now you don't have to look at broken links anymore. We're still working on the search engines, so we should have that done soon. We've had a lot of people e-mail us to let us know they were down. One guy even said - "Hey - you should get your web developer guy on that!" Well, guess who our web developer guy is... yep, yours truly. So I'm editor guy, writer guy, news gathering guy, interview guy and web developer guy. Any wonder things take a while to get done around here? The Bits is your mom and pop DVD news site. We put more love into everything we do. ;-)

On the news search note, if anyone can suggest a good, solid search engine CGI script that will work on an NT server, please let me know. It needs to be able to look through a large batch of files efficiently for a particular text string and display a list of results. An added bonus would be that when you click on one of the results, it takes to you the actual instance of the text string in the target page. Any help would be appreciated. ;-)

In other news, we have details on MGM's forthcoming Hart's War DVD (street date 7/9). The disc will feature both anamorphic widescreen and full frame video, Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, audio commentary with Bruce Willis, director Gregory Hoblit and writer Billy Ray, a second audio commentary with producer David Forester, deleted scenes with director's commentary, a 42-page photo gallery and the film's theatrical trailer. SRP is $26.98. Note that the disc was to have been labeled a special edition. It isn't anymore, despite the fact that there are significant SE materials on the disc.

Also coming soon from MGM is No Such Thing (street date 7/9), which will include anamorphic widescreen and full frame video and Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. SRP $22.50.

You know, we've really got to hand it to MGM. They're doing some great special editions, good solid standard editions, they're not afraid to include both anamorphic widescreen and full frame on the same disc and they price their discs reasonably relative to what they include on their discs. Props, guys.

We've got word of other upcoming DVDs today as well. More upcoming MGM titles include Care Bears Movie/Water Babies and True Heart/Courage Mountain, both on 8/6. MPI is delivering The Honeymooners: Lost Episodes 17 & 18 on 5/28 and The Honeymooners: Lost Episodes 19 & 20 on 6/25. Pioneer's Armitage: Dual-Matrix arrives on 6/25. Rhino will deliver Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Crawling Hand and Mystery Science Theater 3000: Hellcats on 6/11. And Warner has announced Getting There, Sweet 16 and License to Drive (6/11) and Charlotte Gray (7/9).

Back later. Stay tuned...


Here's a little something to start your day off right. An in-depth review of Paramount's Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Two DVD boxed set (by yours truly), which streets on May 7th.

Also this morning, we wanted to point out a really good article in Business 2.0 magazine this week on the battle between Hollywood and everyone else over copyright in the digital age. You can find it available online at this link and it's well worth reading. We can't stress to you enough how important this issue is. Do yourselves a favor - read all you can and get active!

Stay tuned...


Here's a little something I figured you guys would enjoy... how about a look at 20th Century Fox's upcoming Speed: Five-Star Collection (street date 7/30) and M*A*S*H: Season Two Collector's Edition (7/23) DVDs?

Speed: Five-Star CollectionM*A*S*H: Season Two Collector's Edition

The 2-disc Speed: Five-Star Collection will feature the film in newly mastered, THX-certified anamorphic widescreen video with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 versions (SRP $26.98). Extras will include audio commentary by Jan De Bont and audio commentary by Graham Yost and Mark Gordon (with chapter selection), 5 extended scenes including (“Jack shoots Payne in the neck," "Payne lives/cops party," "Annie’s job," “After Helen’s death” and “Ray’s Crime”), multi-angle stunt comparisons on "Bus Jump” (9 angles), “Cargo Jet Explosion” (9 angles), “Jack vs. Payne” (4 angles) and “Metro Rail Crash” (9 angles), 5 featurettes (On Location, Stunts, Visual Effects, Bus Jump and Metro Rail Crash), 4 storyboard to film comparisons (for "Bombs on Bus," “Baker Sequence," “Bus Jump” and “Metro Rail Fight & Crash”), interviews with Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Dennis Hopper, Jeff Daniels and Jan De Bont, the HBO First Look special, the original theatrical trailer, 11 television spots, the Billy Idol music video and production notes, Easter Eggs, the original screenplay and an image gallery totaling over 400 images (including "Production Design," "Behind the Scenes" and "Press Kit" galleries).

That same day, you'll also be able to get Speed 2: Cruise Control on DVD in newly mastered, THX-certified anamorphic widescreen video with audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 versions, along with a never before seen "making of" special (SRP $19.98). And both films will be available in the Speed: DVD Box Set (SRP $39.98).

The 3 discs contained in the M*A*S*H: Season Two Collector's Edition box set will include all 24 second season episodes of the series (SRP $39.98), including favorites The Incubator, Five O'Clock Charlie, and Carry On Hawkeye. As with Season One, each episode on the DVD is presented in English, French and Spanish, and with the option of turning off the laugh track in English.

Also from Fox, watch for Kung Pow: Enter the Fist on 7/23.

And just FYI, there's a new online petition to get Disney to release their two upcoming Muppet Treasure Island and Muppet Christmas Carol in their original widescreen aspect ratios. Make sure to get on over there and sign it.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/24/02 - 1:15 PM PDT)

We've got a look at the final DVD cover artwork for major upcoming DVDs this afternoon... Universal's A Beautiful Mind: Awards Edition (widescreen version - street date 6/25), New Line's Special Extended Edition and Collector's Gift Set versions of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (both street 11/12) and Paramount's Top Secret! (7/16):

A Beautiful Mind: Awards Edition (Widescreen)Top Secret!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Special Extended Edition (4-discs)The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring - Collector's Gift Set (5-discs)

Also, just FYI, Universal has officially set 6/25 as the street date for Gosford Park (a title which was taken over by the studio from the now defunct USA).

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/24/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Some of you may have heard that Universal's upcoming DVD release of Steven Spielberg's Duel has been cancelled. That is not true. I have it direct from the studio that the title has merely been postponed, likely due to production issues. Fear not, it is coming.

Unfortunately, the news is not so good for Muppet fans. We've confirmed that Disney's upcoming Muppet Treasure Island and Muppet Christmas Carol are both being released full frame only, which has TONS of fans really steaming. You can read more here via the Muppet News Central website. Let Disney know what you think about this folks: call 'em at 1-800-72-DISNEY and e-mail 'em at

On the subject of widescreen vs. full frame DVD, there's a good article over at USA Today you should read. One of the key points in the article is from Toshiba's Scott Ramirez:

"But Ramirez also notes that the industry is moving swiftly toward 16:9 as the retail standard. Last year, he said, about 30% of all rear-projection sales — including 60% of high-definition digital models — were in widescreen. In 2002, the percentage of wide-screen sales is expected to jump to 60%; at the same time, 80% of high-definition sales are likely to be in wide-screen models."

Can't you just already hear the uneducated masses complaining in a few years: "Hey... why do I have these ugly gray bars on the side of my new widescreen TV when I watch all my DVDs that used to fill the whole frame?"

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/23/02 - 11:30 AM PDT)

Okay, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts with the numbers for the week ending April 5th. Also, we've got three new DVD reviews for you this morning - Todd's look at Fox's From Hell: Director's Limited Edition (street date: 5/14) and Dan's take on Fox's The Deep End and USA's The Man Who Wasn't There (both now available). We'll have more reviews over the next few days.

Check back later for the start of our new Trivia Contest.

And one last note this morning. I wanted to recommend a great movie I saw this weekend while I was waiting for my cable modem connection to right itself. It's called My Big Fat Greek Wedding. My wife Sarah had to practically drag me to see it, but I have to tell you... I haven't laughed that hard in a while. It's in limited release, but it's really worth seeing if you can find it. And it makes great counter programming if you get tired of all the Spider-Men and Clones coming to theaters in the next 30 days.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/23/02 - 9 AM PDT)

Sorry we disappeared there guys. My cable modem connection decided to get spotty on me early Saturday morning and didn't clear up until last night. We've got a lot of stuff ready to post, but it's going to take a while to get it all up, so please give me until later this afternoon to get caught up. Reviews are on the way!

One note for the benefit of our readers: seems like we're seeing a real upswing in the amount of viruses we're getting attached to e-mails from some of you guys. Our anti-virus programs are catching them all just fine, but you all should definitely update your own anti-virus software and do a good scan of your systems. Better same that sorry.

Also, just FYI, our second discussion with Buena Vista (which has been set for yesterday) got postponed, so we'll let you know when we get it rescheduled.

Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/19/02 - 2:30 PM PDT)

Okay, we're gonna wait on the DVD reviews in favor of a big review post on Monday. Look for Friends: The Complete First Season, The Deep End and From Hell among others. In the meantime, we've another Rumor Mill update for you die-hard fans of Star Trek on DVD. Here's a hint - start saving your money for 2003. ;-)

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/19/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)

Okay... we're really swamped today with e-mails, and we're doing a lot of work behind the scenes to get our banner software running again and to fix the broken search engines. We switched from a UNIX server to an Windows 2000 server, and we're having to install new code because of this. Plus, we're also investigating a few other stories behind-the-scenes. So today's post isn't going to be huge. BUT... one thing I wanted to mention is that we HAVE asked Buena Vista's Chris Carey about the possibility of the studio using DVD's "pan & scan on the fly" feature, which would allow a full frame viewing option on DVDs of 1.85:1 films without having to include separate transfers. The DVD player simply creates a full frame version electronically from the anamorphic widescreen video file, and it is PROVEN to work, even on the crappiest players. I expect an answer sometime soon, so we'll have that for you as soon as it comes in. Also, we'll be talking with the studio again on Monday on the marketing issues of widescreen vs. full frame.

By the way, thanks to everyone who informed me that the word "skew" should be properly transcribed "SKU". ;-)

In the meantime, we've got more upcoming DVDs to tell you about. Anchor Bay is releasing Are You Being Served: The Movie, Beast with a Gun, Diamonds, Guns and Lipsticks, Shatter and Toy Soldiers on 6/11. BCI Eclipse/Brentwood is releasing 16 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, 20 episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies and 8 episodes of Bonanza the same day. Columbia TriStar has finally announced 1776, Old Gringo and Teenage Caveman for 7/2. They also have Devil's Backbone, Outside the Law and Perfect coming on 6/25. Elite is releasing That Little Monster/The Visitant on 7/30. First Run has Butterfly Kiss and History Lessons coming on 6/11. Paramount has announced Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Three for 7/2, with Better Off Dead, The Big Bus, Black Sheep, Gung Ho, It Came from Hollywood, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy, Mean Machine and Top Secret all due on 7/16. Showtime is releasing By Dawn's Early Light on 7/9, along with They Call Me Sir and Walter and Henry. They also have My Louisiana Sky coming on 6/11. Universal has announced (as we mentioned the other day) A Beautiful Mind (both full frame and widescreen) for 6/25. Universal Music will also release Tesla: Time's Making Changes on 4/30 as well as Jimi Hendrix: The Dick Cavett Show on 5/14. And finally, Warner's announced The Majestic for 6/18, with Affair of the Necklace coming on 6/25 and A Walk to Remember on 7/9.

Now then... we're gonna make a rare Saturday post to kick off the next Trivia Contest. And we may try to slip in here this afternoon with a DVD review or two (don't get upset if we don't, but we're working on it). In the meantime, have a great weekend and we'll be back with more Monday!


As many of you are probably aware, there's been some controversy recently over studios releasing select widescreen films (usually "children" or "family" titles) in full frame aspect ratios on DVD only. But what constitutes a family film? Certainly you could call Warner's Willy Wonka a family film, but the idea that Warner tried to release it in full frame only recently gave a lot of DVD fans the plain old willies. The studio rational is that as DVD has gotten more mainstream, average consumers don't like the black bars. But avid DVD fans (ourselves included) believe that all films should be released on DVD in their original theatrical aspect ratios. So what's the solution? This morning we had the chance to speak with Chris Carey, who is the Senior Vice President of Worldwide DVD Production and Technical Operations for Buena Vista Home Entertainment. Chris was kind enough to discuss the widescreen vs. full frame issue with us from a technical standpoint. So here's the transcript of our conversation. Next week, we'll speak with another BVHE representative from a marketing standpoint on the same issue. Keep in mind, our goal with these interviews is simply to let the studio explain their side of the issue and let them address your most often voiced concerns. You should already know where we at The Bits stand. We'll let you decide how you feel about it.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 4/17/02 - 6:15 PM PDT)

Just FYI, we've got late word for you today on the subject of that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Collector's Edition delay we mentioned earlier. You'll find it in The Rumor Mill, and I think it works out to be pretty cool news actually.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 4/17/02 - 12:15 PM PDT)

We've got a trio of new DVD reviews for you today, with more expected to follow tomorrow. You'll find my two cents on A&E's terrific Shackleton, as well as Adam's take on Fox's recent M*A*S*H: Five Star Collection and their M*A*S*H: TV Season One. All of these titles are currently available.

In other news today, the National Film Preservation Foundation has announced a $200,000 grant to produce three DVDs of rarely seen films (set to debut in 2004). Included in the Save the Silents DVD anthology will be rare features (such as Cecil B. DeMille's The Girl of the Golden West), newsreels (among them footage of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake), documentaries, animation, kinetoscope loops, one-reelers, serial episodes, technical tests and exhibitor reels. Each DVD will run up to three hours and will include new musical accompaniments and scholarly notes. According to foundation member Leonard Maltin, fewer than 20% of all silent pictures survive. He views the DVD project "as a milestone in that it will allow the archives to give the world an easy glimpse of what does remain."

And finally, we've got word today that Paramount's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - Collector's Edition is being delayed from its expected originally expected June release time-frame. Please note that the date was tentative anyway and the title was as yet unannounced by the studio, so don't start complaining to Paramount. Rest easy - it's still coming... there's just no date set. We'll update you when there's something official to report.

Stay tuned...


Howdy, gang. We've got some more upcoming DVD information for you today, and we'll start with details on Universal's OFFICIAL A Beautiful Mind: Awards Edition DVD (as opposed to that April Fool's version we told you about recently). The 2-disc set will street on June 25th for an SRP of $29.98. Look for it to include anamorphic widescreen video, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio, audio commentary with director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, deleted scenes with director's commentary, the A Beautiful Partnership featurette, a look at the development of the screenplay, The Nash Theory of Equilibrium, Nash accepting the Nobel Prize in economics, The Process of Age Progression featurette, storyboards to final feature comparison, Creation of the Special Effects featurette, a look at the scoring of the film, the Inside A Beautiful Mind documentary, an Academy Awards featurette, the theatrical trailer, a soundtrack prom and DVD-ROM features including "Total Axess", production notes and cast and filmmakers biographies. Thanks to Bits reader Joe V. for the heads-up. We'll have art for you soon.

Also today, looks like in my rush to list all those new, forthcoming Buena Vista live action titles, I left a couple out. Add Babes in Toyland and Where the Toys Come From to the September 3rd slate. And just to let you all know, we've requested a complete list of which titles are anamorphic widescreen and which may be released in full frame. We'll post that as soon as it becomes available. We'll also be speaking with Buena Vista in the next few days on the widescreen issue, so stay tuned.

And we've got word today that Stuart Gordon & Jeffrey Combs will attend a signing event at Dave's Video: The Laser Place here in L.A. on Saturday, May 4th from 1-3 PM. They'll be signing copies of Elite's Re-Animator: Millennium Edition. The usual rules apply - they'll sign two items per person, one of which is must be a copy of Re-Animator purchased at Dave's. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to a charity of the guests' choice. Dave's Video is located at 12144 Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, CA.

Stay tuned...

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