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page updated: 2/10/03

My Two Cents
(Archived Posts 2/1/03 - 1/10/03)

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It seems so strange to comment on tragedy, this being a DVD website and all. But sometimes, you just have to take a moment. Such is the case now. If you've been watching the news today, or you live in Texas, you're no doubt aware of the sad events that have occurred this morning. The space shuttle Columbia (flying mission STS-107) appears to have been lost while re-entering the atmosphere this morning on its way to landing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A full crew of seven astronauts were on-board. Many of us here at The Digital Bits, and particularly myself, are long-time supporters of NASA and the space program. And I know from corresponding with some of you over the years that we have many readers who work at NASA's numerous branches around the country. So to all of you in the space community, and to the families and friends of the crew, our heartfelt sympathies.

STS-107 lost


As promised, we're closing down the week this afternoon with Barrie Maxwell's latest Classic Coming Attractions column. In this edition, Barrie takes a look at Douglas Sirk in America and More Upcoming Classic Releases. It's a fun read, with lots of good news for classic film fans, so do check it out.

Back on Monday with lots more. Stay tuned!


Afternoon, gang! We've just completed a massive update of the Upcoming DVD Cover Artwork section. We've posted more than 90 new cover scans. And we're not done! We've gotten so much new artwork from the studios that we're going to do a second round of posting on Monday. There are a TON of new covers, so do check it out.

Also today, we've posted a follow-up on that Spielberg deleted scene story that's been floating around the Net in the last few days. You'll find that in The Rumor Mill.

We'll be back tomorrow with a new Classic Coming Attractions column from our own Barrie Maxwell. See you then!


Well... yesterday turned out to be rather more busy that we expected. So TODAY is going to be a light post, to allow us to get a few things done behind-the-scenes here at The Bits.

That said, we do have a few interesting tidbits in The Rumor Mill for you this afternoon. One involves King Kong news and the others concern upcoming DVDs from director Steven Spielberg (including the Indiana Jones films). Definitely worth a read, so don't miss it.

We have some new Criterion DVD news for you today. The company will release Federico Fellini's The White Sheik on 4/29 (SRP $29.95). The film will be presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio, featuring a new digital transfer. Audio is Dolby Digital mono, in Italian, with new and improved translation for the English subtitles. Extras will include new interviews with actors Brunella Bovo and Leopoldo Trieste, as well as Fellini friend Moraldo Rossi, and an essay by critic Jonathan Rosenbaum.

Also coming from Criterion on 4/29 is a new 5-disc, François Truffaut box set, The Adventures of Antoine Doinel (SRP $99.95), which will include special edition releases of The 400 Blows (with new supplemental material), Stolen Kisses, Bed and Board, Love on the Run and the 1962 short subject, Antoine and Colette. All the films will feature new transfers in their original aspect ratios, and will be enhanced for 16x9 displays. The list of extras is pretty extensive (including new audio commentaries, text essays, additional short films, rare newsreel footage, interviews, documentaries, original theatrical trailers, an elaborate booklet and much more), so watch the official Criterion website for the complete details to be posted soon.

And around the Net this morning, there's an interesting story on the DVD-Audio vs. SACD "format war" over at USA Today. You'll find a summary of some of the bigger recent title announcements for each format, as well as word that the price of software for each format is expected to be lowered soon to encourage consumers to dive into the fray. I can vouch for one thing... we're certainly enjoying high-resolution music here at The Bits. ;-)

By the way, USA Today's Edward C. Baig also has an editorial column in the Tech section on that DVD viewing software that filters out obscene material. And there's also a follow-up, posted just yesterday, on reader reaction to a poll the site ran about the software.

Back tomorrow with a BIG Upcoming DVD Cover Art update and more. Stay tuned...

(LATE, LATE, LATE UPDATE - 1/28/03 - 3:45 PM PST)

So much for today's post being light. Sometimes you've just got to go with the flow... you know? Anyway, MGM's just announced the DVD release of the Bowling for Columbine: Special Edition (4/22 - SRP $26.98) and the Evelyn: Special Edition (4/15 - SRP $26.98). Special features for Columbine are yet to be announced. Evelyn will include audio commentary with director Bruce Beresford, a second commentary with star Pierce Brosnan and producer Beau St. Clair, The Story Behind the Story featurette, another "behind-the-scenes" featurette, a photo gallery and more. Here's the cover art for both titles, which can now be pre-ordered from DVD Planet.

Bowling for Columbine: Special EditionEvelyn: Special Edition

By the way, we had a minor server hiccup earlier this afternoon, which was quickly corrected. Just in case you were wondering.

Okay... NOW we're done for the day. ;-)

(LATE, LATE UPDATE - 1/28/03 - 3 PM PST)

Hot on the heels of that Paramount Western announcement, we've got word that 20th Century Fox will release several more classic War films on DVD in May, including Sink the Bismarck! The titles set to street on 5/20 are The Enemy Below, Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison, Sink the Bismarck, 13 Rue Madeleine, The Blue Max and The Desert Fox. Also, look for a Studio Classics special edition of Love Is a Many Splendored Thing on 5/6.

And Columbia TriStar has announced Ignition, Immediate Family, Once a Thief and Mad About You: The Complete Second Season for 4/22, in addition to Punch-Drunk Love.

Here's the cover art for two more of those Paramount Westerns, Rio Lobo and Little Big Man, in addition to The Transporter (due from Fox on 4/14).

Rio LoboLittle Big ManThe Transporter

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/28/03 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've received official word from Paramount that the studio will release another great batch of classic Westerns on DVD in April! On April 22nd, look for Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Nevada Smith, Copper Canyon, The Lonely Man and The Carpetbaggers. Then, following on April 29th, you'll get Little Big Man, Big Jake, Rio Lobo, A Man Called Horse and Le Mans! Each disc will SRP for $19.99 and will be presented in anamorphic widescreen, except for Copper Canyon which is in its original full frame format. Many of the titles will include audio remixed in Dolby Digital 5.1 in addition to the original stereo or mono soundtrack. Here's DVD cover art for Gunfight and Nevada Smith...

Gunfight at the O.K. CorralNevada Smith

Just FYI, for those of you who were hoping to see Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West in this batch, rest assured that the title is still being planned. There are a number of issues that need to be addressed, but it will be released eventually.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/28/03 - 10:30 AM PST)

Today is going to be a light post, because we've got a lot of projects going on behind-the-scenes here today - upcoming feature work, reviews and other things. But we wanted to drop in here this morning with a major snippet of 20th Century Fox DVD news.

There's an insert that's been included with Fox's X-Men 1.5: Special Edition DVD, which reveals a major upcoming release from the studio - the 9-disc Alien Quadrilogy box set! All four films in the series, Alien, Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, are being given brand new special edition treatment (2-discs each) with a separate bonus disc of extra materials. Many of the extras on the set have never been seen before. There's no release date announced yet, but the title is set to be released in "2003". Click here to see a scan of the insert itself, and here's the tentative cover art for the box set...

Alien Quadrilogy

Should be a very cool release. We'll have more official details as they're announced. Stay tuned!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/27/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

This is just a quick update to let you all know that Warner's Animatrix DVD will arrive on 6/3. The disc will feature nine short animated films (described as a "visionary fusion of CG-animation and Japanese anime"), including a "prelude" to The Matrix Reloaded called The Final Flight of the Osiris.

And before we go this afternoon, we wanted to bring you a sneak peek at the cover artwork for Buena Vista's upcoming Miyazaki titles, Spirited Away, as well as Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky (a.k.a. Laputa), which are due on 4/17. All of them are available for preorder at our software sponsor, DVD Planet. Enjoy!

Spirited AwayKiki's Delivery ServiceCastle in the Sky

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/27/03 - 2 PM PST)

Well... the Superbowl was pretty much a bust. Given that only one team showed up with their A-game on, it was about as much fun to watch as drying paint. Still, it sure looked good in 720p high-definition video. And those Hulk, Matrix and T3 commercials looked pretty nice too. Should be a good year for big-budget action, Sci-fi and superheroes.

Speaking of superheroes, Warner's got another batch of them coming to DVD on 4/22, including Batman: The Animated Series - Tales of the Dark Knight, Justice League: Justice on Trial, Challenge of the Superfriends and X-Men: Evolution/Mutants Rising. Here's a look at the cover art for a couple of them...

Challenge of the SuperfriendsJustice League: Justice on Trial

Our own Todd Doogan returns to form today with a new Doogan's Views column. This time around, he's got a number of new DVD reviews for you, including City of Lost Souls, The Donner Party, Bacchanales Sexuelles, I Spit on Your Grave: Millennium Edition, Undisputed, 2003 Playboy Video Playmate Calendar, Blood Work, Noir: Shades of Darkness - Volume 1, Human Nature, fear dot com, Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, Grand Tour: Disaster in Time and Snow Queen.

Those of you who jones on ABC's Alias will be pleased to learn that a DVD release of the first season is a-comin' later this year. Producer J.J. Abrams spills the beans in The Rumor Mill this morning, via TV Guide.

More good news for fans of The Police. Universal Music is releasing the band's Every Breath You Take on DVD-Video on 3/18. We believe this is a DVD port of the videos collection originally released in 1986. Sure would like to see the band's Synchronicity concert on DVD...

And speaking of The Police, the Universal Music site now has the band's entire catalog listed for SACD release as "coming soon", along with the complete Peter Gabriel catalog. We've confirmed with the record company is that all The Police SACDs are due 3/4, all in stereo except Every Breath You Take: The Classics which will be stereo/multi-channel and a CD hybrid disc as well. Similarly, the Peter Gabriel discs are all tentatively due 4/1, all in stereo except Up which will also be stereo/multi-channel and a CD hybrid disc.

Stay tuned...


We've got a pair of new disc reviews for you today. This time, I'm diving deeper into the audio side of things, with a look at the DVD-Audio version of Dishwalla's Opaline and the new SACD release of David Bowie's Heathen. And if all goes well, our own Todd Doogan will check in with a new Doogan's Views column on Monday to cover a whole mess of new DVD-Video titles. I'll have that long-awaited Sports Night review next week too.

Around the site today, we've announced the winners of our Trivia Contest, so be sure to check that out. Thanks to all 635 people who participated and congrats to the winners.

On the news front, DreamWorks has officially announced their DVD release of The Ring and Ringu for March 4th. The Ring will include "an all-new 15-minute experimental short film created by director Gore Verbinski exclusively for the video release", and will be available in both full frame and anamorphic widescreen versions (MAP $19.95 each). Both versions will also have audio in Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1. Ringu will be available in anamorphic widescreen only, with Japanese 5.1 audio in Dolby Digital (SRP $29.99).

We have some new upcoming DVD cover artwork for you this afternoon. Here's a first look at Buena Vista's Rabbit-Proof Fence (4/15) and the long-awaited 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Special Edition (which has officially been announced for release on 5/15).

Rabbit-Proof Fence20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: Special Edition

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea will be a 2-disc special edition, featuring the film in anamorphic widescreen video, sound in Dolby Digital 5.1, audio commentaries by director Richard Fleischer and classic film historian Rudy Behlmer, original 1954 theatrical radio spots, Peter Lorre's ADR tracks, Captain Nemo's organ music, The Making of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea documentary, the Jules Verne & Walt Disney: Explorers of the Imagination featurette, storyboard-to-screen comparisons, unused animation, 5 additional featurettes (The Humboltsquid: Real Sea Monster!, Touring the Natuilus, Monsters of the Deep, The Musical Legacy of Paul Smith and Lost Treasure: The Sunset Squid Sequence), the "Nemo's Death" script excerpt, the Grand Canyonscope animated short and the film's theatrical trailer. It should be, in a word, awesome.

Note also that Buena Vista will release Dracula II: The Ascension on 4/15, with the 1950 version of Treasure Island following on 4/29 and the direct-to-video Atlantis II: Milo's Return due on 5/15 as well.

By the way, you superhero movie fans might want to tune into the SuperBowl broadcast this weekend for your first look at the extended trailer for Universal's The Hulk. As if all the football wasn't reason enough. ;-)

That's all for now. Have a great weekend!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/23/03 - 2 PM PST)

Yes... at long last, I've finally gotten off my duff and reviewed a couple of discs for a change. So you can now read my in-depth thoughts on Buena Vista's recent Signs: Vista Series DVD, as well as 20th Century Fox's upcoming X-Men 1.5: Special Edition, which streets on February 11th. And I'm working on a couple more for tomorrow as well (gasp!).

In other news today, I've learned from the folks at 20th Century Fox that those of you who purchased The X-Files: The Complete Sixth Season (which featured the episode Triangle in an inferior quality transfer) will be able to get a new remastered version of that specific disc from the set. All you have to do is call 1-888-223-2FOX (or 1-888-223-2369) to arrange a replacement. We suggest that you wait until the discs are actually available before making the call (reportedly in a few weeks - try in early to mid February).

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/23/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

We've got those reviews coming later today, but first we wanted to jump in quickly with news about a few new Fox titles that are on the way. On 4/14, look for Darkwolf and The Transporter. And on 5/13, Fox will deliver a There's Something About Mary: Collector's Edition and The X-Files: The Complete Seventh Season. This new X-Files set will feature audio commentary on at least three episodes including All Things (we have no idea yet if Gillian Anderson, who directed the episode, participated), as well as numerous deleted scenes, a 30-minute documentary and much more.

Back this afternoon. Stay tuned...


Afternoon, folks. We've got two new reviews for you this afternoon. Matt Rowe's checked in with a look at Rounder Records' Bruce Cockburn: Anything, Anytime, Anywhere on SACD, as well as Image Entertainment's DVD-Video release of John & Yoko's Year of Peace. We have a few more new disc reviews coming as well, either tonight or tomorrow morning.

By the way, Matt's also been informed that the upcoming Peter Gabriel SACDs have now been given a tentative 4/1 release date by Universal Music. This reminds me of how DVD-Video title release dates used to shift around, evaporate and reappear during the early days of the format.

On the Harry Potter front, the Warner DVD announcement has triggered the expected flurry of wire service stories, so click here, here and here for more details.

And as a side note, a LOT of you have sent in e-mails asking which antenna I purchased to watch high-definition football broadcasts last weekend. The answer is the Zenith ZHDTV1Z, which retails for between $40 and $50. I picked it up at Sears, but I'm sure it's available elsewhere. You have to reposition the antenna occasionally depending on the channel you're trying to tune in, but it works like a charm for me. I've been able to tune in every digitally broadcast channel in the L.A./Orange Country area without fail. It's nice and small, and sits right on top of my component rack. It's a good option for those who don't want to go dish or to mount a large roof aerial.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/21/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

We're pleased this afternoon to present you with the latest Yellow Layer Failure column from Robert Harris, entitled "Check the plate, please..." In this column, Robert takes a look at The Complete Monterey Pop Festival and some of the challenges involved in bringing it to DVD in such high quality.

We've also kicked off a new Trivia Contest, giving you a chance to win a trio of Studio Classics on DVD from 20th Century Fox - All About Eve, Gentlemen's Agreement and How Green Was My Valley. The contest runs until Friday morning.

Enjoy and back soon with more...!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/21/03 - 10:30 AM PST)

We've got several posts on the way today, but first we wanted to jump in here with word that Warner Bros has officially announced the DVD release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. The disc is set for release on 4/11 in dual widescreen and full frame versions. Both will be 2-disc sets that include the film as well as 19 deleted scenes (including more Dobby mischief, more flying car adventure, a frightening encounter with the Malfoys in Borgin and Burkes and more), self-guided tours (of the Chamber of Secrets, Dumbledore's office and Diagon Alley, including places never shown in the film such as more Diagon Alley shops, the sitting room in Dumbledore's office and more), interviews with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), Emma Watson (Hermione) and other cast members, an exclusive interview with author J.K. Rowling and screenwriter Steve Kloves, numerous interactive set-top games and more than 15 special features available via PC DVD-ROM drives. SRP for both versions of the film on disc is $29.95. And just FYI, the next book in the popular series, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, arrives on 6/21. Here's a look at the cover art...

Harry Potter and the Chamber of SecretsRingu

And yes, that is DreamWorks' upcoming Ringu (due 3/4).

Also this morning, there's a brief news story over at Yahoo on the upcoming SACD release of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon. Worth a look if you're a fan.

Back with more later. Stay tuned!


Afternoon, folks! Hope you all had as nice a weekend as I did. For anyone who doubts the future of television, let me ask you... is there anything better than watching championship football in high-definition and widescreen? I've been waiting for months now for my local cable provider, Cox, to launch their high-definition service. So on Friday night, I finally went out and picked up a $50 indoor antenna, so as to be able to view the NFL games this weekend in high-def. Man... I can't believe I waited so long. There's just nothing like watching sports in high-definition! But since you've gotta make the wife happy too, Sarah and I also went to see The Hours and Adapation this weekend. Both are highly recommend for you avid filmgoers out there.

Anyway, since today is a holiday here in the States, there's not much going on in the way of studio/DVD news, so our post will be lighter than usual. But as you know, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association last night hosted the 60th Annual Golden Globes. Top honors went to The Hours, Chicago, Martin Scorsese, Nicole Kidman and Jack Nicholson. And there were many surprises, as usual. As you know, these awards often are good predictors of the Academy Awards, so be sure to check out the complete list of winners.

We also want to take a moment this afternoon to acknowledge actor Richard Crenna, who passed away on Friday at the age of 76.

In other news, Norwegian prosecutors have announced that they'll appeal the recent court ruling that acquitted the young man who cracked DVD's DeCSS encryption scheme. The Oslo City Court ruled that Jon Johansen (now 19) could not be convicted of breaking into DVDs that he purchased legally. You can bet that's not a precedent the MPAA wants to see stick. Click here for more via Yahoo.

And Spanish authorities have broken up a DVD piracy ring that apparently involved more than 40 people in Madrid. Just goes to show you... some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you.

We've got DVD cover artwork today for all you parents out there with teenage daughters... Columbia TriStar's Dawson's Creek: The Complete First Season (street date: 4/1). Don't say we never did nothing fer ya.

Dawson's Creek: The Complete First SeasonPeter Gabriel: Secret World Live

Yes... that IS the final DVD cover art for Universal Music's Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live (2/11). And yes... it does say widescreen right there on the front. If it ends up being anamorphic widescreen, you'll have to excuse me while I pass out from the sheer joy of it all.

More good news on The Lion King front... Disney's included a trailer for the upcoming special edition on their new 101 Dalmatians II DVD. The trailer lists an October 2003 release date, and indicates that the film will include a new musical number, called Morning Report. You can be sure an official announcement is on the way in the near future.

Finally today, all of us here at The Digital Bits are proud to say that this website has been selected as one of 50 Really Useful Websites for Really Busy People by PC World! According to the publication, the sites listed are timesavers that "deliver top-notch information, support, and services." The feature is available in the February issue of the magazine and is also available online. We've gotten a lot of e-mails from readers about this, so thanks to everyone who sent in kind words. And thanks also to the good folks at PC World for acknowledging all the hard work our staffers do. Very much appreciated!

Now then... we'll be back tomorrow with a new Robert Harris column and new reviews too! Stay tuned!

(LATE, LATE UPDATE - 1/17/03 - 9 PM PST)

Oh hell... one MORE last quick update this evening just for kicks. We don't have a street date or any disc spec details yet, but Buena Vista has just confirmed with us that The Lion King: Special Edition is on the way. Based on the number of retailers who have been e-mailing us on this, we're pretty sure this will be released as the The Lion King: Platinum Edition in November or December. More on this as it comes in.

Okay, that's it. Stick a fork in us. We're done for today. See you next week!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/17/03 - 2:15 PM PST)

One last thing before we close out the week here at The Bits. Our friends over at Troma have been kind enough to give all of you, our readers, a special sneak peek at their upcoming Citizen Toxie DVD. There's a rundown of the special features, a look at the disc art, menu shots and even a trailer. This won't be available on the Troma website until Monday - it's for your eyes only for the whole weekend. So click here to get your very first look at Toxie IV! And thanks to Lloyd Kaufman and the whole Troma gang for thinking of us.

See you next week!

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/17/03 - 12:15 PM PST)

We've got some very cool information in The Rumor Mill today about possible street dates for upcoming titles. Some interesting things in there, so it's well worth a look.

Also today, we've announced the winners of our two Trivia Contests. 1,755 people entered all together, so thanks to everyone who participated. And congratulations to all 10 winners. We'll have another contest starting next week, so be sure to check back.

And finally this afternoon, we've really gone and done it this time. After we don't know how many years, we've finally gone in there and updated our links section! We've updated all the studio contact information, website addresses and e-mail links as best we can, and we've added special sections for video and audio software, hardware links, general industry links and other useful sites for DVD fans. If you have more accurate information for any of the listings, or find a studio/industry link that you think should be added, just drop us an e-mail and let us know.

Now then, we've got a LOT of stuff in the works for next week. Including (believe it or not) a bunch of new reviews. And some cool special feature stuff as well. In the meantime, ya'll have a spiffy weekend! Ya hear?


Some interesting DVD-Audio news from last week's CES today. According to High Fidelity Review, it seems as if the DVD-Audio folks are going to be adding a Redbook CD layer option to the DVD-A format, to allow the same kind of backwards compatibility with standard CD players that some SACDs (like the recent Rolling Stones re-issues) enjoy. This is certainly a smart idea, but one wonders why it's taken the DVD-A folks so long to make this happen. The biggest obstacle DVD-Audio faces right now, in our opinion, is title availability. And we don't mean classical stuff and DTS releases, good though they are. We're talking about MAJOR titles from MAJOR artists, and heavy-duty catalog releases from popular artists, in quantity. The DVD-Audio camp has, for whatever reason, proceeded much too cautiously thus far in launching the format. Whereas very little seems tentative about the SACD push these days.

It's a tough road both camps face. Both are trying to launch high-resolution audio product at a time when most people are still just upgrading to DVD-Video. Pinning your bandwagon to multi-channel and DTS mixes is risky, because both are still niche markets to a certain extent. Not everyone who has DVD has audio systems that are compatible with DTS and surround sound. And it doesn't necessarily follow that music releases will appeal to the home theater crowd that does have DTS and surround equipment. And many of the high-end audiophiles aren't interested in multi-channel mixes, which they consider a bastardization of their favorite music. That, I think, is one area where SACD has an advantage - their emphasis has been stereo first, and multi-channel as demand or a particular title calls for it.

But there's one other interesting area where DVD-Audio has issues to overcome, and that's its ability to include video content with the audio. In an ideal world, this would be a perfect situation. Imagine buying U2's Johsua Tree on DVD-A, where not only do you get the album in high-resolution stereo and multi-channel mixes, you also get in-depth video interviews with the band and the producer, a look behind-the-scenes at the recording of each song on the album, all the song lyrics, several B-sides and cuts that didn't make the album but were recorded for it, a complete discography, lengthy video of a live concert from the band's tour for that album and every music video produced for that album. And imagine it has DTS and CD compatibility too, and that you don't HAVE to turn on the TV to select which audio format you want to listen to. That's the ultimate experience in our opinion.

But that's not likely ever to happen. Why would the record company want to add all the music videos, the concert video and the B-sides if it could make more money selling those things separately on VHS and DVD-Video? So what you're left with is the kind of paltry extras you get on a CD/DVD bonus disc - maybe a couple alternate versions, maybe a music video and a 6-image photo gallery, plus lots of links to online stores and content that's not on the disc. Cool for about 5 minutes, but after that, who cares?

The point we're trying to make is that DVD-Audio may have a lot more potential, but it also has a lot more issues to work out. SACD is simple - just put the disc in, select stereo or multi-channel (if available) and press play. No TV necessary... and LOTS of great titles available and on the way. In any case, we still recommend a combo player that does both formats. Let me tell you, the new Pioneer combo unit in The Bits office is getting a lot of use lately... ;-)

While we're on the subject of high-resolution audio, Slate has an interesting piece by technology writer Paul Boutin, entitled Put the Compact Disc Out of its Misery. It argues against both DVD-Audio and SACD for following the old model of physical disc delivery, rather than streaming audio right to your computer listening station, as well as not allowing direct-digital connections to receivers and other equipment. We don't necessarily agree with his argument, but it's interesting nonetheless. There's just something about having your entertainment content in a physical form that appeals to people, particularly when they're being asked to pay for it. I think Boutin underestimates the value of being able to hold a book or a movie or an album in your hand, or being able to point to a shelf and say, "That's my music collection." Thoughts anyone?

In other news this morning, Buena Vista has revealed that their DVD release of Treasure Planet is set for 4/29, with Rabbit-Proof Fence due on 4/15. No details are yet available on Treasure Planet, but it's looking very much like it will be another single-disc edition, like Lilo & Stitch, rather than a 2-disc special edition. Here's the cover art...

Treasure Planet

And finally this morning, you animation fans will be happy to know that those Miyazaki DVDs we mentioned in The Rumor Mill the other day (Spirited Away, Kiki's Delivery Service and Castle in the Sky) are starting to become available for pre-order online. Just FYI.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/15/02 - 1:45 PM PST)

We've added another quick bit of information to The Rumor Mill this afternoon, bringing you more word on the upcoming DVD release of DreamWorks' The Ring. And while we're at it, here's a look at the tentative cover artwork for the disc, which has been appearing on sell sheets...

The Ring

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/15/02 - 12:01 AM PST)

Before we get into the day's news, I wanted to make you aware of a change to the Review Page. We've added a way to quickly access recent title reviews by format: DVD-Video, DVD-Audio, Super Audio CD and D-VHS High Definition. When you visit the Review Page, just click the logo for the format you're looking for and you'll be taken to a list of the most recently reviewed titles. As always, you can access all our reviews (going back to the beginning of the site, in all formats) by using the alphabetical review index at the top. We thought this would be a good way to make it easier to find things, given that we're going to be doing a lot more multi-format reviews in the coming months.

Now then... the news. You D-VHS guys will be excited to learn that both Universal and Artisan have additional titles on the way in early 2003. Universal is planning on releasing Gosford Park, The Hurricane and The Family Man on 2/25 (SRP $44.98 each). Artisan will release Basic Instinct, Reservoir Dogs, Total Recall, Glengarry Glen Ross and First Blood in the first quarter of this year (street date TBA), with Dirty Dancing, Stargate, Young Guns and Standing in the Shadows of Motown following in the second quarter. All Artisan titles will SRP for $34.98 each.

In case you missed it in the latest Classic Coming Attractions column, Barrie Maxwell revealed Fox's planned slate of Studio Classic titles for 2003: An Affair to Remember (February), The Day the Earth Stood Still (March), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (April), Love Is a Many Splendored Thing (May), The Grapes of Wrath (June), Anastasia (July), The Inn of the Sixth Happiness (August), Titanic (1953 version - September), The Mark of Zorro (October), Laura (November) and The Ox-Bow Incident (December). All releases will be on the first Tuesday of each month.

In The Rumor Mill today, we've got word from studio sources on great upcoming TV and feature film releases from Paramount. Frasier and Cheers anyone? How about planned street dates for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine? Don't miss it.

In audio news this morning, we've learned that a number of Bob Dylan titles will be issued on SACD by Sony in the fall of this year. Look for Freewheelin', Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringin' It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, John Wesley Harding, Nashville Skyline, Blood on the Tracks, Desire, Slow Train Coming, Infidels, Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind, Love and Theft, Royal Albert Hall: Bob Dylan Live and Street Legal.

By the way, EMI's SACD release of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon is officially set for 3/3. With The Rolling Stones already available on the format and the likes of Peter Gabriel, Pink Floyd, The Police and Bob Dylan all on the way to SACD, it's beginning to look very much like the high-resolution audio format war between DVD-Audio and SACD is all but over, even before most consumers have even become aware of it.

We've also got a new bit of upcoming DVD art for you this morning... Moonlight Mile, which streets on 3/11 from Buena Vista.

Moonlight Mile

And finally this morning, we've got a pair of new Trivia Contests up, giving each of you a chance to win copies of Universal's Undercover Brother and Fox's The Shield: The Complete First Season on DVD. The contests run until 12:01 AM on Friday, so get those entries in!

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/14/03 - 3 PM PST)

One last update for you this afternoon. We've got possible word in The Rumor Mill today on the first R1, special edition DVD releases of the Hayao Miyazaki animated films coming from Buena Vista. Good news if it pans out, so be sure to check it out.

Back tomorrow!

(LATE UPDATE - 1/14/03 - 12:30 PM PST)

We've gotten a list from Buena Vista of all of their Movie Showcase titles for the rest of the year. Here's what to expect:

2/4 - Into the West, The Night and the Moment, Citizen Ruth, Jane Eyre, The Star Maker

3/4 - The Duke, Blank Check, First Kid, Heavyweights, A Kid in King Arthur's Court, Man of the House, Blue, White, Red, Stepfather 2, Blue in the Face, Smoke, A Low Down Dirty Shame, One Good Cop, Born Yesterday, The Ref, Basil, Boys, Green Card, Gone Fishin'

4/8 - Pastime, Zentropa, Four Days in September, Beyond Silence, Tom & Viv, Life with Mikey, New York Stories, Scenes from a Mall, Stella, Two Much, My Father the Hero, The Inkwell, An Innocent Man, Last Dance, The Marrying Man

5/6 - Operation Dumbo Drop, That Darn Cat, Tom and Huck, Toothless, Summer of the Monkeys, Perfect Game, God Said Ha!, Hardward, Vibrations, Cosi, Mr. & Mrs. Bridge, The Sixth Man, Roommates, Oscar, Straight Talk, A Simple Twist of Fate

6/3 - Cry, The Beloved Country, The Horseman on the Roof, The Truce, A la Mode, Super Mario Brothers, 3 Ninjas, A Stranger Among Us, Unstrung Heroes, Where the Heart Is

7/21 - A Month by the Lake, Lie Down with Dogs, My Left Foot, Queen Margot, The Advocate, Don't Drink the Water, Guilty as Sin, Renaissance Man, The Minion, Tuesdays with Morrie

8/5 - Tower of Terror, Dead Tired, French Twist, Rowing with the Wind, Royal Deceit, The Wedding Gift, An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn, Camp Nowhere, Crossing the Bridge, Slam Dunk Ernest, The Cemetery Club

9/2 - Children of the Revolution, Mouth to Mouth, Rage in Harlem, Shades of Fear, The Big One, Fatherhood, Feast of July, Funny Bones, It's Pat: The Movie, The Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag

10/14 - Bad Company (1995), Jack, D.O.A., The Doctor, Consenting Adults, Deceived, Fire Birds, Holy Matrimony, Angie, Before and After

11/11 - The Air Up There, Shoot to Kill, Money for Nothing, Shadow Conspiracy, Jefferson in Paris

12/9 - Country, Blame it on the Bellboy, Hello Again, In the Army Now

There are no details on most of these discs yet in terms of specs, but keep in mind that they range in price fro $9.99 to $19.99, so don't expect special editions.

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/14/03 - 11:30 AM PST)

Matt's learned from Universal music that a date has been set for the release of the Peter Gabriel catalog on SACD format - 3/11. Visit Matt's MusicTAP for more details, including specific titles.

In new announcements, Columbia TriStar will be releasing First Shot, For Da Love of Money, Care Bears Movie II: A New Generation and Dream for an Insomniac on 4/8.

Also, there's word now that Panzer/Davis is going to be releasing complete seasons of their Hercules and Xena TV series on DVD. This comes from the official website for the series.

And Star Trek producer Rick Berman talks a little about the release of Nemesis on DVD in an interview posted on Sci-Fi

Finally this morning, there are a whole host of good stories on new DVD-equipped devices that were shown at CES this year - networked DVD players, DVD players with Internet connections, DVD recorders and the like. Click this link at Yahoo to browse some of them.

Stay tuned...

(LATEST UPDATE - 1/13/03 - 3 PM PST)

Okay... last update for today. And it's a good one for you superheroes fans. Warner will release some new animated titles on DVD on 4/22, including Batman: The Animated Series - Tales of the Dark Knight, Justice League: Justice on Trial, Challenge of the Superfriends and X-Men: Evolution/Mutants Rising. By the way, that Superfriends IS the classic 1970s animated series. The disc is apparently a compilation of episodes.

Speaking of classic cartoons on DVD, I sure wish Paramount would get around to releasing the Star Trek animated series. And how about that short-lived New Animated Adventures of Flash Gordon from the 70s? Throw in the complete Speed Racer (which was released last year in a $300 limited edition set, but has never been available in stores) and we'll be happy campers.

Also, there's word from that the Superman: The Movie box set we mentioned earlier (which was to street on 2/25) has now been pushed back to April as well.

And finally this afternoon, we have confirmation from the WB Network (see the very end of the linked article) that episodes of Smallville are on the way to DVD. As you may remember from a recent Rumor Mill post, our retail sources are telling us to watch for the first season in the next few months (the rumored date is March). May we suggest April? ;-)

Back tomorrow!

(LATER UPDATE - 1/13/03 - 12:15 PM PST)

Another quick post here, but some big news. We've obtained the complete week by week DVD player sales breakdown for 2002 from CEA, and adjusted our month by month numbers to match their tallies. We've also added the 481,600 players shipped to retailers here in the States in the last week of December, ending 12/27. That takes the total for December to 2,330,048 units (in the history of the format, last month's total is second only to November's 2,544,130). That also takes the total number of players sold in 2002 to a record 17,089,823. And finally, the grand total of the DVD format to date (since its debut in March of 1997) is now 43,718,738 players here in the States. These numbers come straight from the Consumer Electronics Association, and are final pending any late adjustments. All charts here at The Digital Bits have been updated accordingly.

Also today, we've updated our authorized mirror copy of Jim Taylor's Official DVD FAQ to the most recent version, dated 1/3.

Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/13/03 - 10:45 AM PST)

A couple of interesting things for you this morning. Those of you who have been buying those special collector's box sets from Creative Design Art will be happy to know that they're releasing box sets of Ocean's Eleven and Superman: The Movie on 2/25 (SRP $79.99).

In more new DVD announcements, Artisan is releasing Barbarosa, Cyberella: Forbidden Passions, Down Time, Dreammaster: The Erotic Invader, Kingston High, The Locket, Mary, Mother of Jesus, Midnight Crossing, Physical Evidence, Redeemer, Roger Dodger, Shadows Run Black and Young Americans on 3/18. New Line has set Cheats and Table One on 3/18, with Friday After Next set for 3/25. Paramount has added Just a Kiss and Abandon to its 3/18 slate. And Warner Bros. has announced Femme Fatale for 3/25, with Kiss Me Kate, Les Girls, Silk Stockings and Justice League: Justice on Trial following on 4/22 and Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season - The Coming of Shadows on 4/29.

And here's the DVD cover art for Babylon 5 and Krzysztof Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy: The Exclusive Collection (due on 3/4)...

Babylon 5: The Complete Second Season - The Coming of ShadowsThree Colors Trilogy: The Exclusive Collection

Stay tuned...

(EARLY UPDATE - 1/13/03 - 12:01 AM PST)

Morning all! You may have noticed some changes to The Digital Bits today. We've reformatted the site for 1024x768 screen resolutions. Worry not if you're still working at 800x600 - you should still be able to see everything you need to in terms of news and links. But according to our research, some 75% of you are viewing this site at 1024 or higher resolution, so we figured we might as well make the shift. And we think the site looks better now anyway, plus it gives us a lot more space to work with when making updates and posting news. We want to give this new format a few days, to make sure everything's working for all of you at the new size, and then we'll start converting other pages to the new format as well.

We've also added quick-access links (at the top of the page) to all the featured columns here at The Bits, so you can keep up with the latest work from everyone. There's a lot of good writing being done by our columnists, so be sure to check them out if you haven't done so before.

Back with more later this morning. Stay tuned...

(LATE UPDATE - 1/10/03 - 2:30 PM PST)

Okay... last post for this week, but we think it's a good one.

First of all, we're very pleased to bring you a new entry in Barrie Maxwell's Classic Coming Attractions column here at The Digital Bits. This time, Barrie talks about the film of the legendary Humphrey Bogart on DVD, and updates you on all the latest announcements of classic films coming to DVD in the months ahead. There are a TON of great titles mentioned and the column is a fun read. So don't miss it!

Next, Matt's compiled a list of some interesting upcoming DVD-Video music/concert, DVD-Audio and SACD titles...

On the DVD-Video front, look for The Dixie Chicks: An Evening with The Dixie Chicks, Jennifer Lopez: Let's Get Loud, John Mayer: Any Given Thursday, Yukmouth: United Ghettos of America, Russell Watson: Russell Watson Live and Ute Lemper: Sings Kurt Weill & Michael Nyman (all 2/11), The Jam: The Complete Jam, Slayer: War at the Warfield, Peter Gabriel: Secret World Live and George Strait for the Last Time: Live from the Astrodome (all on 2/25), The American Tenors (3/4), Various Artists: Golden Age of the Piano and Bryn Terfel: Live in Concert (both 3/11), The Stranglers: Video Collection and David Bowie: Ziggy Stardust (both on 3/25) and The Beatles: Anthology (on 4/8).

Upcoming DVD-Audio titles include The Band: Music from Big Pink (1/28), REM: Document (2/4), Bonnie Raitt: Nick of Time (4/22) and The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (5/20).

And on the SACD end of things, look for Mark O'Connor w/Wynton Marsalis, Jane Monheit, Jon Burr and Frank Vignola: In Full Swing (2/11 - stereo/multi), Tony Bennett/kd lang: A Wonderful World (2/11 - stereo/multi), A Chorus Line: Original Soundtrack (2/18 - stereo/multi), Olatunji: Drums of Passion (2/18 - stereo/multi), Johnny Cash: Silver (2/18 - stereo/multi), Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic: Tchaikovsky: Symphony # 4: Nutcracker Suite (3/4 - stereo/multi), Leonard Bernstein/New York Philharmonic: Holst: The Planets (3/4 - stereo/multi), Pierre Boulez/New York Philharmonic: Ravel: La Valse (3/4 - stereo/multi), Ozzy Osbourne: Live at Budokan (3/4 - stereo/multi), The Byrds: Fifth Dimension (3/11 - stereo/multi) and Andrea Bocelli: Sentimento (3/11 - format TBA).

Feel free to contact Matt directly if you have questions on any of the above titles.

And finally today, here's some more new upcoming DVD cover art for you - Columbia TriStar's Punch-Drunk Love and Brainscan (both 4/1), along with the tentative art for Universal's 8 Mile (tentative 3/18) and Red Dragon (as they appear on sellsheets - both TBA). Enjoy!

Punch-Drunk LoveBrainscan

8 MileRed Dragon

Have a great weekend and we'll see you back here on Monday!

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