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page updated: 1/15/03

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 1/10/03 - 12/30/02)

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(EARLY UPDATE - 1/10/03 - 12:30 PM PST)

We're going to be back with more in just a little while, but we have a few quick things to update you on this morning.

First, those Police SACDs from Universal have been pushed back until 3/4, but they've now been officially announced. Every Breath You Take - The Classics is a hybrid SACD/CD with digipack packaging, and will be both stereo and multi-channel. All the other titles in the catalog will be stereo SACD only in jewel cases, but will be released separately as remastered CDs in digipacks as well. With any luck, the next time we'll mention them is when we post our reviews. ;-)

Also this morning, we want to give you official warning on Disney's recently released The Absent-Minded Professor DVD. Not only is it presented in full frame (its original aspect ratio was 1.75:1), it's also been released COLORIZED. No kidding. Someone's really got a screw loose over there to make a decision like that. And as you can imagine, a lot of fans are furious. Apparently, the notes that the film have been aspect ratio modified and colorized appear on the back of the packaging, so we suggest that you look closely at the packaging whenever buying a Disney DVD.

I've got to tell you... many of here at The Bits are starting to reluctantly believe that DVD is slowly going to Hell in a handbasket, now that it's become such a financial windfall for the studios. It's not a surprise, of course - the signs have been there for a while now. But it's sad nonetheless. Every mid-level studio exec with a mail-away business or marketing degree is suddenly trying to get their fingerprints on every DVD project that goes through their department. Now even the upper-level guys, who've never paid attention to DVD before and who have no idea how to do it well, are issuing silly proclamations from on high. I've even recently learned that at least one studio that will not be mentioned has an exec who makes it personal business to read DVD sites like this looking for bits of "unauthorized" news. You've got studios cutting back on extras (hey... why do a great special edition if an okay one will get you more profit?). You've got every decision being made by committee. You've got the Blockbusters and WalMarts of the world using their muscle to get full frame releases of every title. You've got agents demanding huge paychecks and other perks for talent participation. Hell... even some DVD producers are taking agents now.

We hate to say it, but a LOT of the fun of this format is slowly being bled away, by people who have absolutely no love of, or interest in, the MOST IMPORTANT THING... the films themselves.

By the way, if you've still decided to tough this DVD thing out with us, we've got some word on a couple of big upcoming titles in The Rumor Mill today. And we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest as well. Congrats to all.

Stay tuned if you dare!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/9/03 - 4:30 PM PST)

Here's a nice little surprise for your afternoon... a first look at the cover art for two more classic Fox Sci-fi titles coming on 3/4 with Day the Earth Stood Still... Journey to the Center of the Earth and Quest for Fire.

Journey to the Center of the EarthQuest for Fire

As with Day, both titles are available for pre-order at DVD Not a bad way to end the day. Love that Quest cover cover art. ;-)

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/9/03 - 11 AM PST)

We've got a good old fashioned news round-up for you this morning.

First up, we've got word that Fox's Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Complete Fourth Season will debut in June. That comes straight from the packaging insert for Buffy: Season Three. And judging by the number of readers who e-mailed me to remind me about it, there's a lot o' fans out there.

In another nifty bit of title news, there's word from Roger Waters Online that Roger's manager has confirmed the March release of Live at Pompeii on DVD. Thanks to Bits reader Alphonse T. for the heads-up.

And how about this -- a look at the DVD cover art for Fox's upcoming The Day the Earth Stood Still: Studio Classics release (due 3/4)! On a related note, Kino's Metropolis: Restored Authorized Edition (2/18) is now available for pre-order at DVD Two classic robot flicks in the space of a month! Zoinks! Now if Warner would just release their long-rumored Forbidden Planet: Special Edition, we'd have the pulp Sci-fi hat trick!

The Day the Earth Stood Still: Studio ClassicsMetropolis: Restored Authorized Edition

In other news today, there's another story about the fight over 321 Studio's DVD X Copy software. The legal battle continues.

USA Today has an interesting piece on the ClearPlay DVD player, coming this Fall, which (for under $100) will neatly sanitize all of the "offensive material" from the movies you watch on it. Remind me to watch the 5-minute version of Caligula on it sometime.

From CES today comes word that Toshiba is debuting a pair of new portable DVD players, a high-def video projector and a DVD player that doubles as a Tivo later this year.

In case you missed it last year, USA Today has published a nice timeline of events in the development of DVD. Ah... we remember it well.

And how 'bout this... according to the latest numbers (released at CES), consumers spent more than $12.1 billion dollars last year buying DVDs, and another $8.2 billion renting them. Those combined numbers are up more than 11% from 2001. Is there anyone left who doubts that DVD is truly the fish that saved Pittsburgh (aka: the disc that saved Hollywood)? Somewhere out there... we hope Warren Lieberfarb's got a big ol' smile on his face. For more on the numbers, click here.

Stay tuned...

(LATE, LATE, LATE UPDATE - 1/8/03 - 5:30 PM PST)

Okay... last post today before we collapse from fatigue. We're trying to get back in the DVD review swing of things around here. So our own Adam Jahnke has hammered out our first four reviews of 2003. This time out, he takes a look at a set of classic action flicks from the Far East... Mad Mission, Mad Mission Part 2: Aces Go Places, Mad Mission Part 3: Our Man From Bond Street and Mad Mission Part 4: You Never Die Twice. All four films are available in a recently released box set from Anchor Bay.

In more new release news, Buena Vista has set Perfect Game, That Darn Cat, Summer of the Monkeys, Toothless, Operation Dumbo Drop, Tom and Huck, God Said Ha!, Cosi, Vibrations, Hardware, Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, The 6th Man, Roommates, A Simple Twist of Fate, Straight Talk and Oscar for release on 5/6. And the company will reissue the A Bug's Life: Collector's Edition on 5/27.

Also, be aware that we've made a correction to the Confessions report in our earlier The Rumor Mill post. Several people who were at the screening last night have checked in with more accurate information, so you might want to re-read if you're interested. Just FYI.

And that's all for Wednesday. See ya'll back here tomorrow...

(LATE, LATE UPDATE - 1/8/03 - 4:30 PM PST)

We've got a new column today in Bob Banka's Hot Buttered Popcorn for the Movie Lover's Soul series. This time around, Bob takes a look at the work of actor Robert DeNiro. So enjoy... Say it Isn't So, Mr. DeNiro!.

One last update is coming, so check back soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/8/03 - 1 PM PST)

Next update... we've got details in The Rumor Mill today on a delay for those R2 Looney Tunes DVDs, and word from director George Clooney on potential extras for the eventual DVD release of his Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.

Also, we've got an update on those Peter Gabriel and Police SACDs. Peter Gabriel's Up stereo/multi-channel SACD has indeed been delayed by Universal Music until later in the first quarter, but the good news is that Peter Gabriel's ENTIRE catalog will be released on stereo SACD this year, including 1, 2, 3, Security, Plays Live, Birdy, Passion, So and Us. And The Police catalog release (tentatively set for 2/25) will include Every Breath You Take: The Classics in stereo/multi-channel SACD, and Outlandos d' Amour, Regatta de Blanc, Zenyatta Mondatta, Ghost in the Machine, Synchronicity and The Police: Live all in stereo SACD. There is some reason to believe that these Police discs will also include a hybrid CD layer, although Universal's press release isn't entirely clear on this point. Look also for the company to announce upcoming SACD releases from Three Doors Down, The Wallflowers and The Roots.

And in the last bit of news for this update, International CES begins tomorrow in Las Vegas, so watch for interesting DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, SACD and HDTV news throughout the weekend. CNet has a page dedicated to coverage of the show, and Wired usually has good coverage too. You can also visit the official CES website, and the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) site as well.

We're not even close to finished today, so be sure to check back...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/8/03 - 11:45 AM PST)

We've got lots more for you today, including some reviews and a new special feature column. So be sure to check back throughout the day.

But first of all, we've got a new Trivia Contest for you this morning, which gives 10 people a chance to win a copy of M. Night's Shyamalan's Signs on DVD. You've got until early Friday morning to enter, so get your entries in!

Back soon...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/7/03 - 10:45 AM PST)

There's been a ruling in the Norwegian courts in the case of that kid kid who, at age 15, wrote and distributed the DeCSS software that cracked DVD's encryption scheme. Jon Johansen, now 19, was sued by the MPAA on behalf of the Hollywood studios. But in a unanimous verdict today, he was acquitted of wrong doing. The news is all over the Net this morning - you can read more here, here, here, here and here for starters. How this will affect similar cases here in the States (like the one we were reporting on last week, in which the U.S. Supreme Court executed a stay in a lower court ruling, and then retracted it) remains to be seen.

In other news today, we've gotten word from director P.T. Anderson, via the Cigarettes and Coffee website, that Columbia TriStar's upcoming Punch-Drunk Love DVD (set for 4/1) will be a standard edition. A more elaborate special edition will be released at a later date. The delay is due to the added time needed by the director and others to compile worthwhile added value material for the release. Thanks to Greg for sending this.

Finally this morning, we've got the final cover art for A&E's UFO: Set 2 (1/28 - which includes the complete second season of the British TV series) and Buena Vista and Miramax's upcoming Cinema Paradiso: The New Version (2/18 - which will include both the new cut of the film and the original version). That Paradiso art is so fresh off the presses, this is probably the first place you'll see it. So enjoy!

UFO: Set 2Cinema Paradiso: The New Version

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/7/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got LOTS of ground to cover this morning, so hang onto your hats kids!

First up, we've got a rundown of MGM's April DVD slate. On April 1st, look for the studio to release a West Side Story: Special Edition Collector's Set ($39.98). The 2-disc set will include the film in anamorphic widescreen video, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. You'll be able to play the film with or without the original intermission. Also included is the hour-long West Side Memories documentary, an archive of rare footage, the original intermission music in 5.1 and more. Plus, you'll get a collectible scrapbook featuring the film script and a reproduction of the original lobby brochure.

Also streeting on 4/1 from MGM are Checking Out, The Couch Trip, Fatal Instinct, How to Get Ahead in Advertising, Married to It, Memories of Me, The Missionary, Palookaville, The Perez Family, A Private Function, Popi, Privates on Parade, Sibling Rivalry and Undercover Blues. Then, on 4/15, you'll get Absolute Beginners, Rappin', A Chorus Line, Lambada, Beat Street, Breakin' 2, Roadie, Salsa, Psych-Out/The Trip, Angel Unchained/Cycle Savages, Muscle Beach Party/Ski Party, Invisible Invaders/Journey to the Seventh Planet and Cry of the Banshee/Murders in the Rue Morgue. All the titles just listed will carry an SRP of $14.95 SRP.

Just FYI, MGM has also added Killing Me Softly (3/25) and Personal Velocity (3/18) to its March release slate (SRP 26.98 each).

In other fresh DVD announcement news, Warner Bros has revealed that Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season will street on 4/29. Buena Vista will release a box set of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy DVDs (Blue, White and Red) on 3/4 for an SRP of $39.99 (they'll be available individually the same day, as we've reported previously). Buena Vista will also release Below and Moonlight Mile on 3/11. Troma will debut Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger, Part IV in both R-rated and Unrated versions on 3/18 (we'll finally get to see if the cameos Frankie and I did made the final cut). Artisan will release The Locket on 3/18 as well, along with a Trading Spaces DVD (featuring the "greatest moments" from TLC's popular room make-over show).

And we've got details on Buena Vista's Who Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series DVD (due on 3/25 for $29.99). Look for the film in both anamorphic widescreen and full frame versions, Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio, audio commentary with the filmmakers, a deleted scene, the Who Made Roger Rabbit featurette, the Behind the Ears: The True Story of Roger Rabbit featurette, set-top games and trivia, a production art gallery and 3 cartoon shorts (Tummy Trouble, Rollercoaster Rabbit and Trail Mix-Up).

Here's the DVD cover art for West Side Story, along with the final art for Roger Rabbit and Fox's Futurama: Volume One (3/25) and Family Guy: Volume One, Seasons 1 & 2 (4/15). All are available for pre-order now from our software sponsor, DVD Planet.

West Side Story: Special Edition Collector's SetWho Framed Roger Rabbit: Vista Series

Futurama: Volume One The Family Guy: Seasons 1 & 2 - Volume One

Around the site today, one of our staffers has uncovered an interesting rumor about a long awaited classic from Warner that's possibly coming to DVD in 2003. Accordingly, you'll find it in today's update of The Rumor Mill, so off you go to check it out.

On the high-resolution audio front this morning, BMG has officially announced that it will begin releasing more titles in DVD-Audio format. The company took a first baby step last month with the release of a DVD-Audio version of Elvis 30 #1 Hits. The release has sold more than 15,000 copies so far. Expect at least 12 additional DVD-A titles to be released in 2003, with more to follow. Just another reason for you music fans to buy a combo player that does both DVD-A and SACD.

And while we're talking audio, it turns out that Peter Gabriel's UP SACD has been delayed until later in the 1st Qtr. Not long after we linked to Universal Music's site yesterday, the title was removed from the 1/14 release listing. We'll update you as soon as we can. In the meantime, if someone associated with UMusic or Gabriel would contact us with the official skinny, that would be great. ;-)

That's about enough for now, I'd say! Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/6/03 - 3:30 PM PST)

We've got even MORE new DVD announcements for you this afternoon, and I think you're really going to be excited by some of these titles.

First up, ADV Films will release Farscape: Season 3, Volume 1 on 4/8, with Andromeda: Season 2, Volume 1 following on 4/22. A&E will release the complete Fireball XL5 on 2/25. Buena Vista will release Beyond Science, Four Days in September, Inkwell, Innocent Man, Last Dance, Life with Mikey, Marrying Man, My Father the Hero, New York Stories, Pastime, Scenes from a Mall, Stella, Tom and Viv, Two Much and Zentropa (aka Europa) all on 4/8. 20th Century Fox will release American Family: Season One (6-discs) on 4/29. Universal weighs in with some classic catalog titles, including Countess from Hong Kong, Man's Favorite Sport/Strange Bedfellows, The Money Pit, Send Me No Flowers and Thrill of it All on 2/4, Lady Jayne Killer (aka Betrayal) on 3/25 and Andromeda Strain, Continental Divide, Fahrenheit 451, Legal Eagles, Sixteen Candles and Weird Science on 4/1. And Warner will debut their recent Ghost Ship on 3/28. Not a shabby list of discs if I do say so myself.

Speaking of Farscape, word is if the last 11 episodes do well in the ratings, there's a possibility of the show getting a second look by the Sci-Fi Channel. The final episodes begin airing on Friday on the network. So if you want to try and help save the show, be sure to get all your friends to tune in.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/6/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

Hope you all had a good weekend! We've got some more upcoming DVD announcements for you this morning, along with a couple new pieces of cover artwork.

Columbia TriStar has officially announced the DVD release of the following titles for 4/1: Brainscan, Dawson's Creek: The First Season (3 discs), Dream with the Fishes, Married... with Children: The Most Outrageous Episodes! - Volume 2, The Crime of Padre Amaro and P.T. Anderson's Punch-Drunk Love.

And here's a first look at the cover art for a couple of Columbia titles we mentioned last week, Maid in Manhattan (3/25) and Auto Focus (3/18).

Maid in ManhattanAuto Focus

In The Rumor Mill today, we've got what may prove to be the street date for the 2-disc Lord of the Rings: Two Towers DVD. Don't wanna miss that, do you?

A lot of people have been asking us about that Peter Gabriel - UP SACD that we mentioned on Friday. Apparently it's not available for pre-order anywhere, even though it's supposed to street on 1/14. It may be that the disc is being delayed so as to be released along with the other planned Peter Gabriel catalog titles. But as of this morning, Universal Music is still saying on their website that 1/14 is the date (click here for the main site and look in "new formats"). We'll update you when we know more.

Around the horn today, there are a couple stories about the DeCSS case again today. Apparently the Supreme Court has decided not to get involved after all and has thrown out the stay. Click here and here for more on that.

And in the category of personal experience, I saw a truly wonderful film this weekend that I want to recommend to all of you - About Schmidt. It was written and directed by Alexander Payne (who also made Election), and it actually reminded me a lot of the Coen Brothers' Fargo, in that it's sharply funny, but also very painful at times. The film is about a newly-retired insurance actuary (Jack Nicholson) who finds himself looking back at his life and trying to find the meaning of it all. It makes you feel, which is a lot more than you can say about most films these days. And the filmmakers definitely understand the experience of living between the coasts in this country, because they absolutely get everything right. If you want to see a film that Jack Nicholson could win a Best Actor statue for, and deserve it, here it is. I'll leave you with this: "Dear Ndugu..."

Back later with more. Stay tuned!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/3/03 - 4 PM PST)

Okay... I just had to jump in here and post this. Our own music guru, Matt Rowe (also of MusicTAP), just sent this update in and it's got me really excited. We first posted news of this in very early December, but I think you fans of Peter Gabriel and The Police will be really happy with the latest details.

First up, Peter Gabriel. Not only will his latest album, UP, be released on stereo/multi-channel SACD on January 14th from Universal Music (with at least four more catalog SACDs from Gabriel due later in the first quarter), now we're about to get the first Peter Gabriel DVD! Yes indeed, his Secret World Live will arrive in stores on 2/11. The disc will feature the concert in full frame video (the original aspect ratio), with newly-remixed audio formatted in Dolby Digital 2.0, 5.1 and DTS 5.1 as well! Bonus material will include time-lapse footage of the stage set-up in Berlin, Germany, The Making of Peter Gabriel's Secret World Live documentary with interviews with Gabriel and his band, and a behind-the-scenes photo gallery. The DVD will also be all region compatible. Songs included in the performance are: Come Talk to Me, Steam, Across the River, Slow Marimbas, Shaking the Tree, Blood of Eden, San Jacinto, Kiss That Frog, Washing of the Water, Solsbury Hill, Digging in the Dirt, Sledgehammer, Secret World, Don't Give Up and In Your Eyes. And here's the DVD cover art...

Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live

Not done yet! You Police fans will be very pleased to learn that Outlandos d'Amour, Reggatta de Blanc, Zenyatta Mondatta, Ghost in the Machine, Synchronicity, Every Breath You Take: The Classics (the greatest hits release) and The Police: Live (which includes live performances from the Reggatta and Synchronicity tours) will all be released on SACD format on 2/25 from Interscope/A&M (via Universal Music). All will be in jewel cases except Every Breath You Take, which will be in a digipack. There's no word yet on price or whether these will be formatted for stereo or multi-channel or both, although it's reasonable to assume they'll at least be stereo. I am now, officially, a SERIOUSLY happy camper. ;-)

While we're on the subject of SACD, Matt and I recommend that anyone interested in these new high-resolution audio formats invest in a combo player that's compatible with both DVD-Video, DVD-Audio and SACD formats. There are several on the market with more on the way. And some, like Pioneer's Elite DV-45A, are available online for less than $400. By buying a combo unit as your next player, you can be sure of having full compatibility, no matter which of these new audio formats wins out. I have to tell you though that both Matt and I, as well as many audiophiles, are starting to lean in the direction of SACD for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it seems to be really hitting its stride in terms of quality releases. The format is also somewhat easier to use that DVD-Audio - at least the discs we've seen thus far - and seems to have been more thoughtfully conceived. And some SACD discs, like Abkco's recent Rolling Stones reissues, feature both SACD and standard CD formats on the same disc, meaning that the discs are compatible with both new SACD players as well as existing CD players - a BIG plus for consumers looking to upgrade in the future. Rest assured, we'll look much more closely at high-resolution audio in the weeks ahead.

Have a great weekend!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/3/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

We've got some updated Warner information for you today. First of all, I've been told by the studio that The Color Purple: Special Edition (due 2/18) is NOT a director's cut, although Spielberg was "intricately involved in this release". The disc does, however, contain four all-new documentaries (Conversations with Ancestors: The Color Purple from Book to Screen, A Collaboration of Spirits: Casting and Acting The Color Purple, Cultivating a Classic: The Making of the Color Purple and The Color Purple: The Musical) featuring new interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Quincy Jones, Spielberg, Alice Walker and more. Other features include photo galleries, the theatrical trailer and two teaser trailers. The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen with audio in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Next up, Warner is planning to release a host of musicals on DVD on 4/22. These include Broadway Melody of 1940, The Great American Songbook, High Society (16x9), Kiss Me Kate, Les Girls (16x9), Silk Stockings (16x9). All are being presented in their original aspect ratios. Note that the three titles with (16x9) are widescreen, and will be enhanced for anamorphic widescreen TVs. Also set for release on 4/22 is The Great American Songbook.

On the Fox front, we've got word on the extras to be included with their Quest for Fire and Journey to the Center of the Earth DVDs, both due on 3/4. Quest will include audio commentary by director Jean Jacques Arnaud, Michael Gruskoff, Ron Pearlman and Rae Dawn Chong, the Quest for Fire Adventure featurette, the theatrical trailer, and 15 photo galleries with commentary by Arnaud. Journey will include a restoration comparison, the theatrical trailer and trailers for a number of other Fox Sci-Fi films.

We've got a couple of new pieces of upcoming DVD cover art for you. Here's Buena Vista's Full Frontal and Columbia TriStar's The Fast Runner (both 2/11).

Full FrontalThe Fast Runner

Around the Net today, there's another good story on the Supreme Court's involvement with the DeCSS case at Yahoo (via PC World). Neflix is reporting that they've picked up more subscribers this year. And the video industry's early estimates place DVD sales at a whopping $8.9 billion for 2002, up 65% from 2001.

And that's all for now. We'll be back next week with new reviews and more. Have a great weekend and stay tuned!


Welcome to 2003 folks! With the holiday-shortened week, we expect this to be a pretty slow news day DVD-wise. But we have a couple of interesting items for you, and a few new title announcements as well.

On the news front, it seems Warren Lieberfarb isn't the only exec leaving a major studio home video posting this holiday season. Fox Home Entertainment president Pat Wyatt has left the company to start her own production company. Industry insiders expect her to be replaced by Mike Dunn, Fox Home Entertainment's executive vice president of domestic sales and marketing. And speaking of Lieberfarb, Video Business has an updated report on his dismissal, which is expected to be the start of major restructuring at Warner Home Video. We'll have to wait and see if (and how badly) the new kids screw up the good DVD work Warner's been doing.

And in other news, Video Store has a piece on Blockbuster's falling stock prices in light of declining rentals this holiday season. Seems more and more folks are choosing to buy DVDs rather than rent them. No surprise there.

On the new announcement front, Columbia TriStar will release the recent I'm with Lucy and Maid in Manhattan on 3/25, along with a pair of catalog titles... Troop Beverly Hills and The Howards of Virginia.

And speaking of Fox, look for Family Guy: Season One on 4/15, with American Family: Season One following on 4/29. The studio has also announced that Wave 4 of its Studio Classics line will include The Ghost and Mrs Muir, streeting on 4/1.

Stay tuned...


Today's update will be brief, because there just isn't a lot going on to report. But we do have word that the U.S. Supreme Court has granted a stay in the court case over DVD copying (read more on this here, here and here) and may get more heavily involved after the New Year's holiday. The stay puts on hold the California Supreme Court's decision restricting the entertainment industry's ability to sue people posting programs that crack DVD encryption codes online.

Around the site today, we've updated the CEA DVD Player Sales charts again to include the 463,549 players that shipped to retail in the third week of December, ending 12/13. All charts have been updated accordingly (but be aware that we're still working to resolve the discrepancy in the November numbers).

And that's just about all she wrote for 2002. It's been a good year DVD-wise, all things considered. And 2003 looks to be even better. The coming year could finally see the DVD release of long-awaited favorites like Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Lion King, and will certainly see many more great classic films coming to our favorite format. And then there's new films like Matrix: Reloaded, The Hulk, Daredevil, The Two Towers... just think of it!

So we'll be back on Thursday with our first report of 2003. In the meantime, all of us here at The Digital Bits hope you and your loved ones enjoy a wonderful and SAFE celebration tonight. Happy New Year!


I'm afraid we've got some sad news today for you L.A. area readers. A long-time fixture in the laserdisc and DVD community is now gone. Dave's Video: The Laser Place officially closed its doors last week. Thursday was the store's last day. I received an e-mail from store manager Paul Prischman on Friday morning, and store co-owner Linda Lukas e-mailed on Saturday to confirm the news. Here's Dave and Linda's last message to their customers:

"To Our Dear Customers,

After nearly twenty years of business, Dave's Video, The Laser Place is forced to close its doors. Here at Dave's, we have always taken pride in providing you with the best selection, fair prices, and above all, the best service in town. This industry has changed drastically over the past couple of years, but what has changed the most is profit margin. We have tried very hard to adjust to the poor profit margin that has taken over this market, but we have come to realize that it would be impossible for us to continue to serve you in the manner in which you have expected, you deserve, and we have been proud to give. This is certainly a sad time for all of us, and please know we are deeply sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. We truly appreciate your loyalty over the years and wish you and your families good health and much happiness."

As many of you know, Dave's was not just a great place to buy DVD software and hardware... it was the location of many a great DVD event, from their annual Studio Day (in which consumers could meet and speak directly with Hollywood studio reps about the format) to the many talent signings they held for charity (just scan through our special event coverage page for a sampling of their recent events). The folks at Dave's were long-time friends of The Digital Bits, and ardent supporters of the DVD format in general, and I know I speak for all DVD fans here in Southern California when I say that we're VERY sad to see them go. Our hats off to everyone there - Dave, Linda, Paul, Hobie and all the rest. We'll miss you!

Lest one think the DVD news is all bad this holiday season, we've got a nifty little Disney animation tidbit for you. As you should all know if you've been reading The Bits for the last few months, The Lion King is slated to be Disney's next Platinum Edition release in November 2003. Now we've got confirmation that Aladdin will be the Platinum Edition title for 2004. How so you may ask? Well, when you go see the "giant screen" release of The Lion King (now in theaters), you'll also see a preview trailer for "giant screen" Aladdin coming next Christmas. The DVD release generally follows a year later, as was the case with Beauty and the Beast earlier this year.

In a bit of news that makes me a very happy camper, Columbia TriStar will release Wind on 3/11. Wonder how many times I've asked for that title in this column? Do me a favor and buy a copy when it comes out so I don't look like an idiot. ;-)

In other Columbia TriStar news, their recent I Spy remake will also street on 3/11, as will Sasquatch, Sniper 2, Desert Bloom and The Awful Truth. Following on 3/18 will be Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation, The Eighteenth Angel, In a Lonely Place, Auto Focus and The Man from Elysian Fields. And earlier in March, on 3/4, Columbia TriStar will release Half Past Dead, Quitting, Best of The Muppet Show: Harry Belafonte, Best of The Muppet Show: Peter Sellers, Luc Besson's Atlantis, Born Free and Living Free, as well as all those new SuperBit titles we mentioned a few days ago.

Warner's got some good news too. They'll release Friends: The Complete Third Season to DVD on 4/1. And look for The Color Purple: Special Edition 2-disc set on 2/18, featuring the director's cut of the film, along with 4 new behind-the-scenes documentaries and more. Here's the artwork for Friends, along with The Color Purple, I Spy and Wind.

Friends: The Complete Third SeasonThe Color Purple: Special Edition

I SpyWind

Around the Net today, Audio Revolution is reporting that Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon will be released on SACD format, but no DVD-Audio version has as yet been confirmed.

And finally today, we've updated the Upcoming DVD Cover Art section once again, to add more than 60 new cover scans. You'll find Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, CB4, Born in East L.A., To Wong Foo..., Above the Rim, Coupling: Season One, Banger Sisters, Bliss, Complete Musketeers, Good Times: Season One, Predator 2, Angel: Season One, The Man Who Fell to Earth, Lady Jane, Knockaround Guys, Fear Strikes Out, Atlantis, Lucas, Wind, I Spy, White Oleander, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Season Two and lots more. There's new art on almost every page, so don't miss it!

Stay tuned...

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