8/27/99 Well, it's official. The Indiana Jones Trilogy was finally announced by Pioneer on Tuesday. All three movies will be out October 26. In addition, all three titles will be in Dolby Digital and contain "bonus interviews" with George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. Also, this announcement confirms that Raiders of the Lost Ark has been renamed to Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don't know why George Lucas insists on tampering with his old, successful movies. Why doesn't he retouch his old unsuccessful movies? How about fixing up movies that really need help like Radioland Murders and Howard the Duck? Luckily, the announcement makes no mention of added CGI Nazis. You can preorder these discs at any Laserdisc retailer.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find any information on the Disney titles I mentioned last week so it appears that the fans of Disney animation have to wait a little longer to get their animation fix on Laserdisc.
8/20/99 Yesterday, Pioneer Entertainment issued a press release announcing 4th quarter laserdisc releases. Personally, this press release surprised me because last month Pioneer issued a press release stating that the transition to DVD was complete. I guess many people complained to Pioneer about the last press release (I was one of them) because this one contains some encouraging statements about Laserdisc. Rick Buehler, Vice President of Sales and Marketing said, "We are every sensitive to all of our longtime laserdisc consumers who have supported us throughout the years. We feel there will always be an interest in the laserdisc format and contrary to recent articles and reports, we will continue to release this format for as long as there is a demand.'' This is good news to be sure. Image Entertainment has also stated similar feelings to me in their responses to the emails I sent them. Now only if Sony would get off their butts and license out their titles to Image or Pioneer (not that they have been turning out amazing movies since closing their infamous Laserdisc plant and ceasing Laserdisc releases, but you never know what the future might bring) . . .
The titles mentioned in the press release include The General's Daughter, The Mummy (already announced, visit my links page to preorder this laserdisc), American Pie, South Park: The Movie and The Blair Witch Project. As usual, extras were not mentioned in the press release although The Mummy, which has already been announced, will be released as a extras-packed Signature Collection title.
I sorry to say that there is no rumor update this week. I have been busy updating my sister site (Shopping for Textbooks) since most colleges and universities are going to open soon. If you need any textbooks, please visit my sister page because you can reduce your textbook bill by a quite a bit. For instance, varsitybooks.com is running a special deal. If you visit their site using the link on my page, you can save $10 dollars on orders over $100.
In addition, I also updated my homepage. I'm trying to make it more than a simple page listing the two sites I run (hopefully, I will add more sites as time goes by). For instance, I've made it possible to search the web using the Hotbot search engine just by filling out a textbox on my homepage. Also, you can also look up the TV schedule for your area on my homepage as well. Check it out and email me if you really like it (or you really hate it).
Well that's all for this week. Next week I'll try to find out if the Disney titles announced for DVD (101 Dalmatians, Mulan, Peter Pan, Simba's Pride (''Lion King II``), The Jungle Book, The Little Mermaid, Lady and the Tramp and Hercules) will be released or re-release (since many of them were recently on LD) on Laserdisc anytime soon.
8/13/99 It's Friday the 13th (incidentally, none of the Friday the 13th movies are on DVD) so I'm not going to make any rumor updates today because I'll probably jinx the titles I mention. They might get canceled or something . . .
It's also the Master of Suspense's (Alfred Hitchcock if you didn't know) birthday. If he were alive today, he would be 100 years old. Personally, I would love to see a Signature Collection release of a restored Rear Window. Rear Window is my favorite Hitchcock movie.
Today, I received a reply to the email I sent to Garrett Lee at Image Entertainment. I complained about the lack of extras found on recent Laserdisc releases (especially egregious since extras show up on the DVD or VHS version). Examples of this disturbing trend are Shakespeare in Love (extras on Region 2 DVD and upcoming special edition Region 1 DVD) and Saving Private Ryan (extras on upcoming VHS). He explained that the extras are supplied by the studio based on demand by the retail chains. According to Mr. Lee, the remaining Laserdisc retailers do not want extras. As an example, he mentioned the special edition of Giant (with James Dean) which was originally supposed to be 8 sides. However, too few retailers wished to support the title at that price point so the title was significantly trimmed. With LD's waning sales figures (ironically because of poor retailer support) studios are reluctant to produce any LD-only extras.
While I understand Mr. Lee's position, I'm not quite sure that he is right. Brick and mortar retailer support for LD dried up even before DVD was released (Camelot, Blockbuster, Suncoast/Sam Goody, Tower Records all bailed out quickly). For LD to survive, I think that they have to be sold to consumers directly (something Image is already doing with the purchase of Ken Cranes) rather than through traditional retail channels. For this business model to be successful, one must be in tune with what the consumers want. From what I see, LD consumers love extras. Criterion Collection titles and Signature Collection titles (especially The Frighteners box from what I see in the newsgroup) go for insane prices on E-bay. However, all titles do not have to be special editions. I'm sure no one is pining for a special edition of Batman and Robin. What Image should do is set up a section on their website for future LD releases. People can "vote" (i.e., submit preorders directly to Image instead of through a retailer) if a title should be a special edition or not (or even released or not). Preorder numbers should be posted because this would raise interest in Laserdisc in general (like Box Office numbers help the movie industry). Also, if a title needs more preorders, the fans of the movie can scare up extra orders by mentioning the movie in newgroups, etc. (free advertising for Image) in order to see their favorite movie released. I believe this system will result in less waste (no special editions of stinker movies) and a higher level of satisfaction among LDers.
Until this happens, all we can do is let the retailers know what our wishes are and continue buying LD titles by the boatload (Garrett Lee was pessimistic about LD's future. He said Saving Private Ryan, this year's most popular title, sold 1/10 what popular titles used to sell). Image and Pioneer will release LDs as long they can make a profit so don't be bashful about any ideas you have to increase sales.
Speaking of extras, Garrett Lee mentioned that Analyze This will have the Cyrstal/DeNiro commentary and The Matrix will contain "some extras" (probably what I mentioned on 8/2/99).
8/7/99 Last month, I was wondering what was so special about Virus: Special Edition on DVD. Well, I rented it yesterday and I must admit I was wrong. Virus: Special Edition is indeed a special edition. However, I must criticize Universal for their extremely misleading packaging. Features NOT listed on the package include important things such as the director's commentary (which I didn't have time to listen to), a making of documentary titled Ghosts in the Machine (I did watch it and thought it was interesting) and deleted scenes (deleted for good reason). In addition, the picture quality of both the movie and the supplements (with the exception of the deleted scenes which are horrible) is good. The picture was only marred by 16x9 downconversion artifacts (The severity of these artifacts vary depending on the player you use. They are nonexistent if you have a 16x9 display). Usually, the picture quality of the supplements on DVD is bad because the bit rate used on the supplements is less than the movie. However, Virus' supplements looked as good as the movie. The only exception was the deleted scenes. First of all, the source used is bad. In addition, it is compressed poorly. Numerous digital artifacts (blockyness, pixelation, etc.) are plainly visible. Virus: Special Edition is a dual layered DVD (there was a slight pause when the layer changed) so I guess they had a lot of room on the disc. However, they used this room to show a long commercial touting their DVD releases at the beginning of the movie (thankfully you could skip past it unlike those darn FBI warnings. I'm glad most laserdiscs have no commercials).
Anyway, enough about DVDs (I think I have made enough amends for bungling last month). Let's get back to Laserdiscs.
Here is the status of several laserdisc projects that might be of interest
Note: All of the Synapse Laserdiscs have been postponed with no new dates. Come on LDers, lets give Don May enough preorders so he can release more LDs in the future. I'd hate to see us lose another small Laserdisc producer (Roan, Criterion Co. and Elite have already left the market).
8/2/99 Image Entertainment has announced their October releases. Unfortunately, there are only three (!?) titles. Luckily those three titles are decent titles. They are: