For July 1997
The Voyager / Criterion Collection laserdisc release of Shine was officially recalled on July 23, 1997 (its release date). According to Image Entertainment: "There was a production error that occurred during the final mastering and replication of this disc. The finished product has no resemblance to the finished master that was prepared by Voyager under the supervision of the film's director, Scott Hicks.
The disc will be repressed and a new street date will be announced. If you have purchased a copy of this disc, please return it to the retail outlet from which it was originally purchased. Returns will not be accepted after August 22, 1997.
If, for curiosity's sake, you decide to hold onto an old version of this disc and subsequently compare it to the new edition, you will see a substantial difference in video quality, specifically in color and detail. The audio tracks will not change. We strongly suggest you return this disc now so that you are not left holding defective mechandise when the corrected disc is released.
Your retailer will not accept returns of this defective edition after August 22, 1997."
Pioneer has announced the addition of 25 titles to their Pioneer Value Priced Titles laserdisc collection. Titles in this collection have had their retail price permanently reduced. Please note that the price reductions for this new set of titles may still be unavailable in some locations:
Laser Rot had a quick conversation with Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski at the San Diego Comic-Con this past weekend regarding plans for a home video release of the popular science-fiction television series. Straczynski confirmed that negotiations are still underway with Warner Home Video, but that nothing has been finalized at the present time -- i.e., Straczinski wants the series released, but there is still no words as to whether this will happen. Due to Warner's current enthusiasm over the new DVD format, a DVD release of Babylon 5 is being sought in favor of a laserdisc release (although we sincerely hope they will be released in both formats should the negotiations be successful).
On a side note, in case you haven't heard yet, according to Straczynski, actress Claudia Christian has decided to leave the show in order to pursue her motion picture career (she will not be appearing in any 5th season episodes at this time). However, Christian has publicly stated in an internet press release that she was basicallly fired because she requested to have four episodes off so she could be in a film. Either way, she's off the show, and we'll leave it up to you to decide who is telling the truth.
Contrary to previous announcements in these pages, the new direct-to-video Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero has been fully completed. However, Warner is still postponing the VHS and laserdisc release until either the 4th Quarter 1997 or 1st Quarter 1998. Although no official reason for given for the delay, it was very much hinted that the postponement was due to the studio's embarrassment over Joel Schumacher's recent Batman & Robin film (which also featured the Mr. Freeze character). While a VHS and laserdisc release are definitely planned, there has been some discussion of releasing it on DVD as well. It was also mentioned that a very limited theatrical run may also take place.
Although the creators of Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero desperatey wanted to show the entire video, Warner only allowed the opening segment to be shown, and all I can say is that it is absolutely gorgeous. The animation features a combinatio of traditional cel animation mixed with CGI sequences, and they flow together mostly seemlessly. The clip shown was letterboxed at what appeared to be a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. The video runs approximately 65m, and the laserdisc release will feature a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
ANNOUNCES SUPPORT OF DVD FORMAT!
Universal Studios Home Video announced that they will release their first DVD tiltles in support of the DVD format. Up until this point in time, Universal delayed releasing DVDs until several key issues - most notably copy protection - were addressed. With the exception of Universal's desire for a federal digital copyright legislation, all those other issues have now been satisfactorily addressed. Universal is expecting to release more than 60 titles during their first 12 months. Additionally, all DVD releases will be packaged in standard jewel cases instead of the larger VSDA-recommended packaging.
Their first four titles, which are scheduled for a November 1997 release, include Beethoven, The Land Before Time, The Paper and The Shadow. For some unknown reason, these initial titles will be released only in pan-and-scan version. The titles will, however, offer trailers and customized screens featuring filmographies of the cast, directors and producers. Audio for all these titles will be Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes. These titles all carry a $24.98 suggested retail price. For those of you wondering about Universal's strange selection of launch titles, the studio decided to do "a little counter programming to what products are currently available," and release a number of more family-oriented products that the marketplace currently lacks.
Six other titles have been slated for released between December 1997 and February 1998: Babe, Back to the Future, Casper, The Flintstones, Jurassic Park and The River Wild. Universal stated that these and future titles will be available in letterboxed, anamorphic 16:9, and pan-and-scan versions utilizing dual layer technology.
FOR THE VISUALLY IMPAIRED
LIVE Entertainment announced that they expect to be the first studio to use the DVD format to make movies accessible to visually impaired consumers.
LIVE Entertainment stated that their upcoming DVD releases of both Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Basic Instinct will include a descriptive narrative audio track produced by WGBH-TV's Descriptive Video Service (DVS). Both DVDs carry a standard suggested retail price of $24.95.
NUMBER OF DVD RELEASES
Columbia TriStar Home Video announced that they will release at least 26 more DVD titles throughout the calendar year, bringing the studio's 1997 releases to 37.
Columbia TriStar also stated that they are working to release additional titles, possibly later this year, as their replication capacity increases.
Although most of these titles have already been listed in our "Coming Distractions" page for some time (and have been listed in the booklets contained inside their DVD releases), Columbia TriStar "officially" announced Anaconda, Awakenings, Big Night, Bram Stoker's Dracula, The Cable Guy, Cliffhanger, Das Boot: The Director's Cut, Dr. Strangelve, The Fan, A Few Good Men, The Fifth Element, First Knight, Flatliners, Ghostbusters, Johnny Mnemonic, The Last Action Hero, A League of Their Own, Much Ado About Nothing, The Net, The People vs. Larry Flynt, Philadelphia, The Professional, Sense and Sensibility, Stand By Me, Taxi Driver and Wolf.
HOME-VIDEO DISTRIBUTION RIGHTS
TO SAUL ZAENTZ FILM TITLES
|Warner Home Video announced that they have gained "exclusive home-video distribution" rights to the Saul Zaentz-produced film classics Amadeus and One Flew Over the Cuckloo's Nest. Both of these titles will be released on DVD by Christmas. It is unknown at this time if an our Saul Zaentz titles are included in this arrangement.|
WITH DVD MOVIE TITLES!
Warner Home Video announced that they will begin unrestricted nationwide distribution of all their DVD titles on August 26, 1997. Previously, Warner titles were only available in seven test markets (Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Washigton) since their March debut. Warner-distributed titles from HBO, MGM/UA and New Line are also included in this nationwide distribution announcement.
Warner also stated that their DVD catalog will expand to 125 titles by Christmas, with an additional 81 titles coming from HBO, MGM/UA and New Line. A total of "208 titles" are expected by the holidays. Warner also stated that new releases will be day and date with the VHS release, including Addicted to Love, Batman & Robin, The Conspiracy Theory and Contact.
MAJOR VIDEO HARDWARE AND
During the recent Video Software Dealers Association (VSDA) convention in Las Vegas, several major video hardware and software copanies announced the formation of the DVD Group, a DVD support organization.
The purpose of the DVD Group is to develop and issue material designed to promote the DVD format as a prime source of pre-recorded video entertainment. The group will attempt to increase consumer awareness, interest and acceptance of DVD products.
The initial members of the DVD Group are as follows:
DVD: IMAGE ENTERTAINMENT & METROMEDIA ENTERTAINMENT GROUP
Image Entertainment announced plans to release twelve of Metromedia Entertainment Group Home Video's major Orion Films titles on DVD pursuant to an exclusive licensing agreement. Under this agreement, Image will take responsibility for the marketing, sales and distribution of these DVD titles in both the U.S. and Canada markets.
The following titles will be released beginning in late September 1997 (formats and indivdual disc features are forthcoming:
200 TITLES DURING 1997
|Simitar has announced that they intend to release more than 200 DVD titles by the end of the year. No new titles have yet been announced.|
We just found out that the folks at SHORT cinema journal corp. are offering a special Collector's Box for their initial DVD release, Short Cinema Journal 1:1. The box is available to all customers who fill out and return the survey included with their DVD (a copy of your receipt must be included, and you can use a copy of the survey page).
SHORT also reports that the next issue will be available around October, after which the title will be releaed on a monthly schedule. Also in the works from the company are junior SHORT cinema for kids and the SHORT music journal.
ON ALL DVD MUSIC TITLES
As of June 30, 1997, all DVD music videos distributed by Warner Electric Atlantic (WEA) Music have been released nationally, making the company the first of the Warner-affiliated companies to break out of the seven-city market, distributors said.
"Effective immediately, WEA has lifted the seven-city restriction on sales of the WEA Music video titles," CAV Distributing told dealers this month." All dealers nationwide may now order both previously released and upcoming WEA Music video DVD titles from CAV."
The WEA catalog is also carried by other software distributors.
Warner Home Video, which currently has the largest catalog of DVD movie titles, has restricted distribution to seven cities since deliveries began last March. WEA had been subjected to those restrictions along with HBO, MGM/UA, New Line, and Warner Home Video. At press time, there was still no word on national release of other Warner group titles.
Titles in the current WEA Music DVD catalog include: Eric Clapton: Unplugged ($24.99 suggested retail); Madonna: Girlie Show ($24.99); and R.E.M. Road Movie ($24.99)
WERE COMPLETELY FALSE!
Although we make an effort to verify all news stories prior to their appearance in our Cool Stuff columns, it seems we royally screwed up last month. We reprinted a report we had received regarding Toho's cancellation of their entire laserdisc line in order to switch to the DVD format - this story turned out to be completely false, and I apologize for any confusion this may have caused. This story has been floating around for quite some time, and I recall seeing it reprinted as fact in several other publications since it's first appearance last year. Unfortunately, we fell for this nonsense as much as the rest of you.
Many thanks go to Dan Reed, publisher of Kaijú Review and Uchusen Quarterly, who set us straight on this matter. According to the folks at Toho Video, they have absolutely no plans to release any titles on the DVD format anytime before the year 2000. Any policy changes after that point will be dictated by the then-current market trends. Apparently, the Japanese DVD collecting public makes up such a tiny percentage of the overall market that Toho believes such a switch at this point in time would be "foolish"..
We also understand that the only reason Godzilla and related titles have slowed down in terms of LD release is because the entire catalog is already available - in fact, most of the Godzilla titles (the older ones) have been re-released in re-mastered editions. A few non G titles are being held back for either commercial or "political" reasons. Two examples of the latter are MATANGO and JUJIN YUKIOTAKO, which were removed from the catalog after Toho received complaints from special interest groups in Japan.
Anyway, we hope this clears the matter up once and for all, and we again apologize for the misinformation.
MULTI-ANGLE ADULT DVD TITLES
Adult software distributor Vivid Entertainment will ship "the first" two X-rated movie titles for the DVD format this month.
Announced for release were Bobby Sox and Where the Boys Aren't No. 9, both of which take advantage of the user-selectable multi camera angle formatting features available for DVDs. Each title has a suggested retail price of $29.95.
Earlier this year, the DVD Alliance voted to rush players to market long before many issues were resolved. I'm sure you are aware that Disney, Fox, Paramount and Universal, among others, are still "sitting on the sidelines" for a variety of reasons. Needless to say, we would have preferred if some of these anxious manufacturers would have waited just a little longer... for shortly after these first-generation machines were produced, the authoring software that includes DTS-encoded information was developed, and could have been implemented inside these DVD players.
We ask you not to be "fooled" by the DTS demo disc that is available for evaluation, because this disc was encoded with a special process that fits the DTS-encoded information onto the disc as if it is a normal 2-channel PCM soundtrack (similar to the laserdisc tracks)... so that current players can demonstrate how great the DTS version sounds compared to any other technology in the world.
But the possibility still exists that current first-generation machines might not recognize the upcoming DTS-encoded soundtracks without modification. At the same time, it is our hope that many of these manufacturers will offer some form of affordable upgrade, so that "early adopters" will not have to purchase a whole new machine. For we certainly appreciate how some people will be upset when presented with this reality.
Nonetheless, which situation is worse... that 100,000 people will eventually have to upgrade their machines, or that millions of people will be limited to highly-compressed audio soundtracks forever?
We are sincerely sorry for the confusion and the future hassle that sometimes comes with the willingness to be an "early adopter". But we highly recommend that DVD customers begin viewing their audio/video system more like a computer than a piece of "electronics"... for there are many more performance improvements coming over the next decade (similar to how PC's are continuously upgraded).
For as we travel further into the "digital domain", we all stand to benefit much more from the unlimited potential of "upgradibility", than we do from the feeling of security that our purchase will last forever.
Reports have come in that DTS demonstrated the first DTS-encoded movie DVD discs at the recent Hi-Fi '97 convention.. Although none of the four demo discs are available commercially, DTS Technology marketing director David DelGrosso said about a dozen DVD movie titles would be announced sometime in June or July - along with music concert titles - with targeted November availability.
The announcement will be made in conjunction with unspecified "hardware partners" and will include decoder/software bundles.
Although the discs demonstrated were titles from Universal, which owns about 30% of DTS, Universal hasn't yet committed to the DVD format and might not participate in DTS's June-July announcement, DelGrosso said.
DTS-encoded movie DVDs will be positioned as premium DVDs that will maximize audio and video datarates by using two sides of a disc or two or more discs to present a movie whose video would be identical to D2 video masters and to the original soundtrack masters, DelGrosso claimed. Targeted retail is $49.95 to $79.95, depending on the title.
The discs will also contain either two-channel PCM or two-channel compressed Dolby AC-3 per DVD specs, but they won't likely offer 5.1-channel Dolby Digital soundtracks, he said.
He also noted that the number of DTS laserdiscs commercially available to dealers will reach 26 by August 1 from 16, and like the planned DVD discs, will be sold through DTS hardware outlets.
CONTENTS AND A MINI REVIEW
Many thanks to Eric Gustafson for providing us with the following information. If you're even the slightest bit of an anime fan, make sure to visit Eric's amazingly in-depth shopping guide to Los Angeles (it's guaranteed to make sure that you never have any money left!). And again, if anyone can provide poor Laser Rot with a copy of this demo disc, we'd be eternally grateful..
Since I bought my DVD player at the West LA Good Guys store, I called them upon reading on your page that the sampler was being given away. After getting transferred around the store, I finally got upset enough to go nasty on one of the hapless transfers and got to speak to a manager.
To make a short story even longer, he was gracious enough to accept that I'd dropped $700 in his store only a couple of months before and generously provided me with one of the samplers.
The disc consists of theatrical trailers for the various movies, except in the case of the Live Entertainment titles - these are represented by what seem to be very poorly chosen scenes from the movies in question - I know I have no desire to see Cutthroat Island or The Arrival, now that I've seen the clips, which is probably not the intended effect.
Most of the trailers are presented in Pan & Scan, the exception being The Birdcage, which looked like a 1:85-to-1 letterboxed image.
2-channel Dolby Digital, english only, no subtitles. Menu consists simply of the options to jump to the Toshiba promo, the Panasonic promo, or choose from a list of movies.
Chapter # & Content:
Curiously, printed on the disc itself is the Dolby Digital logo, but only the Dolby Surround logo is on the keep case. Region 1, 40 minutes, 1 side, 1 layer.
Not terribly exciting stuff. It's kinda cool having a buncha trailers on one disc, though.
The following laserdisc titles were cancelled during the month of July 1997:
The following DVD titles were cancelled during the month of July 1997:
The following laserdisc titles were discontinued during the month of July 1997:
Last Updated: 11/30/97