Items filtered by date: June 2023
We’re starting the week off here at The Digital Bits this afternoon with a great new disc review, this one featuring Tim and Stephen’s tag-team take on Arrow Video’s fantastic Enter the Video Store: Empire of Screams Blu-ray box set, which includes The Dungeonmaster (1984), Dolls (1986), Cellar Dweller (1987), Arena (1989), and Robot Jox (1990). It’s a boxed release that’s well worth checking out if you can get your hands on a copy—the title is sold out and basically only available on the secondary market. One hopes that the films will be released individually on Blu-ray from Arrow in the future.
In announcement news today, Paramount has revealed a new School of Rock: 20th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray Steelbook for release on 9/26. The disc will include audio commentary with Jack Black and director Richard Linklater and nearly an hour of legacy special features.
Paramount will also release a new Halloween H20: 20 Years Later 4K Ultra HD Steelbook Edition on 9/26, celebrating the film’s 25th anniversary. You can see the packaging below the break.
Kino Lorber Studio Classics has officially set Lewis Teague’s Cujo (1983) for 4K Ultra HD release on 10/24, complete with a new 4K scan of the original camera negative, Dolby Vision HDR, and a great new special feature, Cujo Revisited, which is a never-before-seen 2014 roundtable discussion with Dee Wallace, Danny Pintauro, Daniel Hugh Kelly, and the director.
The company has also revealed that Harold Becker’s Sea of Love (1989) is coming to 4K Ultra HD in the months ahead.
And coming to regular Blu-ray from KLSC are Mario Bava’s Black Sabbath (1963) on 10/24 and Jules Dassin’s Topkapi (1964), the street date for which is still TBA. [Read on here...]
We have two new disc reviews of you to enjoy today...
Stephen has taken a look at Dusty Nelson’s Effects (1979) in 4K Ultra HD, a film that originated from the minds of several Pittsburgh-area collaborators of George A. Romero. It’s now available from Image Works via the American Genre Film Archive and our friends at Vinegar Syndrome.
If you’re interested in this film, you might also enjoy reading a 2005 archived interview we did on the original Bits website about the project with our old friend John Harrison (Takes from the Darkside, Frank Herbert’s Dune). You’ll find that here (and pardon the messy HTML).
Also today, Dennis has taken a look at Cheryl Dunye’s The Watermelon Woman (1996) on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.
We don’t have a lot in the way of new announcement news today, but a number of long-awaited 4K Ultra HD catalog titles are finally available for pre-order on Amazon. [Read on here...]
I have the good fortune of having one of the thirty theaters on Earth that’s showing Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer in 15 perf/70 mm IMAX located within three miles of my house. So I needed all the coffees on Tuesday morning, after seeing the film at an 11 PM showing on Monday night, which is the only decent single ticket I could get my hands on. (My theatre of choice is virtually sold out well into the second week of August.)
I must say, the experience of this film in IMAX 70 was impressive, with the urgency of its editing and immediacy of its cinematography creating a uniquely engrossing narrative momentum. J. Robert Oppenheimer’s life and career, from his college years to his post-war exile, are covered in extensive detail, and while all of this adds context, I’m not sure that much detail was strictly necessary. (In Nolan’s shoes, I might have shortened the film by a good twenty minutes.)
The ensemble cast is fantastic, each of them disappearing into their roles to a degree I didn’t think some of these actors were capable of. There are many familiar faces that I knew would appear in this film, but many more here were unexpected (including Jack Quaid as Richard Feynman of all people, James Urbaniak as Kurt Gödel, and Gary Oldman as Harry S. Truman), yet all of them raised their game. What’s more, this is certainly the finest performance of Cillian Murphy’s career, and one of the most compelling. Hands down, the guy deserves an Oscar for this role. [Read on here...]
All right... as one might expect, we’ve got a lot to talk about again today here at The Bits.
First of all, we don’t have any new information on Manta Lab’s “disc-less” WandaVision packaging, except to reiterate that while this is a licensed Disney Consumer Products item, it’s most definitely not an official Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment physical media product. And while some you deluxe packaging collectors might think that’s splitting hairs, for the vast majority of disc consumers around the world it’s a very important distinction. Disney is not suddenly getting in the business of releasing Steelbook packaging for titles they have no intention of actually releasing on disc, and making it okay by including a Digital copy code. Just to be clear. In any case, we hope to hear more on this in the next few days.
As to the matter of today’s other Disney hot topic, I’m afraid, the news is not good. Despite the fact that Sanity has now pulled down their original Facebook post announcing it, we at The Digital Bits have confirmed today with multiple industry, distributor, and retailer sources in the region that Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is indeed pulling out of the Australian market in terms of physical media. This follows similar moves in Asia (save for Japan) and Latin America, and the reason is apparently down to the gradual collapse of physical disc sales in the region, the growth of Disney+ Starz streaming, and also the rise of global retailers (think Amazon, Zavvi, etc). None of that will be of any comfort to disc fans in Australia, who will now have to pay a hefty shipping premium to import titles from outside the country. But it is true that Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 3 will be the last new-release Disney title to get a physical release in the region. Previously-released titles may continue to be available for purchase until the end of the year, but that will be up to individual retailers.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, folks, but there it is.
Now then, before we shift to a bit of announcement news, we have several new disc reviews here at The Bits that are worth mentioning today...
Here’s the big one: Stephen has just turned in his in-depth thoughts on William Friedkin’s To Live and Die in L.A. (1985) in 4K Ultra HD, as newly-released by our friends at Kino Lorber Studio Classics. It’s a great disc, with the best A/V presentation of the film to date, and it includes nearly all of the previously-created special features. [Read on here...]
Okay, folks... we’ve got a LOT of ground to cover today, and I’m seriously not kidding, so strap in and hold on tight...
First up, it broke last night on the Interwebs that a company called Manta Lab in Hong Kong, which is a legit Disney licensee, was taking pre-orders for a “disc-less” Steelbook Blu-ray package for Marvel’s Disney+ streaming series WandaVision. Now, as you can imagine, that’s caused a great deal of surprise and consternation.
Some context... Manta Lab creates deluxe and custom packaging for lots of legit studio home entertainment releases, which are extremely popular with collectors, especially in the Asian market. However, since Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment officially exited the Asian market (apart from Japan), all of these licensing deals are made with Disney Consumer Products. The problem with this WandaVision release is that this is a title for which no authorized Blu-ray release exists anywhere in the world. So outside of the Steelbook packaging’s value as an objet d’art in and of itself, there’s no practical use for this packaging apart from holding people’s bootleg Blu-rays. And unfortunately, the proliferation of bootleg copies of Disney+ streaming titles has exploded online. (Don’t believe me? Visit Etsy and search for “WandaVision Blu-ray”—or just click here.)
In any case, when this news broke last night, too many otherwise respectable geek and movie news outlets online reported it as “Marvel and Disney have announced...” when nothing of the sort was true. This is a product licensed by Disney Consumer Products, but it is not in any way shape or form a licensed Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment release. I immediately contacted my sources at Disney last night, who assured me that this was the case, and who have this morning provided us with this statement:
“While Manta Lab is a legit licensee of Disney, and does create custom Steelbooks for Disney Blu-ray titles through Disney Consumer Products, the pre-order for a disc-less WandaVision was a surprise to some and we are looking into it as well as speaking to our partners in market.”
I expect to hear more back from Disney in the next day or so, so be sure to check back here on The Bits, and you can also follow us @BillHuntBits and @thedigitalbits on Twitter/X for the latest updates as I get them. Suffice it to say, this has generated an enormous amount of confusion outside of Manta Lab’s usual collector customer base. I’ve gotten literally hundreds of emails and messages in the last 24 hours from readers asking why Disney and Marvel would be releasing Steelbook packaging for a title they don’t appear to have any plans to actually release on physical media. (They aren’t, and stay tuned for further information.) [Read on here...]
We’ve got just a few quick news items to report today to close out the week...
First, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment has set the animated Mortal Kombat Legends: Cage Match for Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD release on 10/17.
Also, it looks like Warner is tentatively planning to drop the newly-released Barbie movie on at least Blu-ray and DVD on 10/3, based on the date Target briefly showed on their listing for the Blu-ray this morning.
Meanwhile, Universal has officially set the animated Shrek the Third for 4K UHD release on 9/12.
And for your Trek fans, we’ve now officially confirmed that CBS Studios will release Star Trek: Prodigy: Season 1, Episodes 11-20 on Blu-ray and DVD on 9/26. And we have a look at the final cover artwork at left and also below the break. [Read on here...]
Today’s post is a quick one, but we do have some great release news for you...
First, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment and DC Studios have kicked off pre-orders for their long-awaited 4K Ultra HD release of Bruce Timm and Eric Radomski’s animated Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993). As we’ve been expecting, the street date will be 9/12. Look for HDR10 high dynamic range and 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The only extra will be the existing Kevin Conroy: I Am the Knight featurette. But you can see the final cover artwork at left and also below.
By the way, we’ve also confirmed with WB that their forthcoming Babylon 5: The Complete Series Blu-ray set will include its episodes in the original 1.33 broadcast aspect ratio with 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio sound mixes. You can pre-order this title now on Amazon.com by clicking here (or on the cover art below the break).
In terms of official announcements today, our friends over at Powerhouse Films in the UK have just revealed their next pair of Indicator 4K and Blu-ray titles, which are coming on 10/24 in both the US and UK. Look for Jean Rollin’s Lips of Blood (1975) and Fascination (1979). Each will feature new 4K restorations from the original camera negative, with Dolby Vision HDR on the UHD SKUs. Each will also include a plethora of new and archival special features. Note that they’re also region free. [Read on here...]
In reviews this morning, Dennis has taken a look at Raphael Sbarge’s 2022 Laemmle Theatres documentary Only in Theaters on DVD from Kino Lorber. The film chronicles the 80+ year history of the family-owned cinema chain, which is based in L.A., and looks at the family’s efforts to see it survive the current challenges facing the industry.
More reviews are coming, so be sure to watch for them.
Now then... the big news today is two-fold: First, Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment has just revealed that Babylon 5: The Complete Series is coming to Blu-ray Disc for the first time ever on 12/5! Of course, the series was originally produced and finished in SD resolution only. But its live-action footage was shot on film, so that’s been scanned in 4K and downsampled to HD, while the CGI and VFX shots have been upsampled to HD from SD. But if you’ve seen the series recently as it appears on the Max streaming app, you’ll be familiar with the quality. (Note that it’s presented in the original 1.33 broadcast aspect ratio, and will include English SDH subtitles.) All 110 episodes of the show will be included, along with the 1993 pilot film, The Gathering. It appears that this title will be available via online retailers only, so don’t expect to find it at your local brick-and mortar shop. SRP is $99.99. You can see the cover artwork at left and also below. (Oddly, it doesn’t actually include an image of the Babylon 5 space station itself, which.. ahem... seems like very strange marketing choice.)
And second, here’s some exciting news for fans of 1980s animation: The great Ralph Bakshi has announced on his Facebook page that American Pop (1981) is finally coming to Blu-ray Disc from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on 8/22! [Read on here...]
We’re kicking off the new week today with three more disc reviews from The Bits review team, including...
Tim’s thoughts on Martin Brest’s Midnight Run (1988) in 4K Ultra HD from Shout! Factory via their Shout Select line.
And Dennis’ look at John Cromwell’s Caged (1950) on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive Collection.
More reviews are forthcoming all this week, so be sure to check back every day for them.
Now then, the big release news today is that the Criterion Collection has just announced its October Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD slate, which includes five great new titles. [Read on here...]
We have three more new disc reviews for you again today here at The Bits, including...
Stuart’s thoughts on Wojciech Jerzy Has’ The Saragossa Manuscript (1965) on Blu-ray from Yellow Veil Pictures via Vinegar Syndrome.
Dennis’ take on the vintage Rin Tin Tin double feature of Clash of the Wolves (1925) and Where the North Begins (1923) on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics.
And Tim’s take on another Shawscope: Volume One Blu-ray title from Arrow Video: Lau Kar-Leung’s Heroes of the East (1978), also known as Challenge of the Ninja, Shaolin vs. Ninja, and/or Shaolin Challenges Ninja.
In announcements today, the big news is that Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment and DC Studios have officially set Andy Muschietti’s The Flash for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 8/29, with the Digital and “Web3 Movie Experience” expected on 7/18. [Read on here...]