and Commentary

Release Calendar

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Poll of the Month

In the past, all DTS titles had to be mastered by DTS.  However, DTS recently changed course and now their encoder is available to anyone willing to pay the licensing fee.  Therefore, more studios are able to implement DTS soundtracks with less cost and greater flexibility.  For example, Universal Studios has issued several DVDs that contain both DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks on the same disc.  Laserdisc's waning sales have meant few new DTS releases since it doesn't make financial sense to release two versions (DD or DTS) of the same film.  However, to save costs, it is possible to put both soundtracks on one Laserdisc although users without a Dolby Digital or DTS decoder will only get mono sound.  So, should Laserdiscs also contain both DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks?

Yes, release Laserdiscs with both Dolby Digital and DTS.
No, don't release Laserdiscs with both Dolby Digital and DTS.

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01/31/00 After weeks of rumors, its official.  Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is coming to Laserdisc (sort of)!!!   Episode 1 will be on Laserdisc . . . in Japan.  Pioneer Japan has announced that The Phantom Menace will be streeting in Japan on April 7th.  It will retail for  7800 yen (just shy of $80 dollars) although the cost of importing the disc to the US will raise the cost to around $110.  What does 7800 yen (or $110) buy you?  Well, the Laserdisc will be mastered by THX and will feature Dolby Digital.  It is, of course, widescreen and the movie will be spread across three sides (no information if side 3 is in CAV although it could be because the running time is only 133 minutes).  Usually, Japanese Laserdiscs contain the original language soundtrack (in this case English) while adding subtitles.  However, the announcement did not contain any details about whether or not an English soundtrack would be included.  Then again, all of the Japanese Laserdiscs of American movies contain English soundtracks with Japanese subtitles so its a safe bet that this one will too.  Note:  There will be no DVD (even in Japan - it says so on the bottom of the announcement).

Of course, this begs the question, will there be a  US  (=cheaper) Laser release?  After all, a few weeks after Saving Private Ryan was announced in Japan, Image announced the US version in order to capitalize on the strong demand.  Image's April releases (if any, there were no February or March releases) are due to be announced this week.

A casual check of retailers reveals that the following will be accepting preorders for the Japanese version of the Phantom Menace:

http://www.ilovelaser.com - $110
http://www.laserexchange.com - $110

01/29/00 There is a great article entitled "Son of DIVX: DVD Copy Control" at the Motley Fool financial news website.  It does a good job of summarizing the ongoing DVD copy protection battle I touched upon last month.  Apparently, the various DVD camps now have THREE different law suits going right now - yikes.

01/28/00 According to Ken Cranes, The Limey will join The Bone Collector as the only two Laserdiscs released  in March.  The Limey, starring Terrance Stamp as a recently released criminal searching for his daughter's killer and Peter Fonda as the most likely suspect,  will (likely) street on March 21 and retail for $29.98.  Yes, this movie is not letterboxed, but before you complain to Artisan and Pioneer (or not buy this title at all) be aware that the DVD is not letterboxed either.  This leads me to believe that this film was shot with a 1.33:1 ratio in mind.  Recent pan and scan Lasers like Stir of Echoes and Lake Placid (which would of retailed for $39.99!!!) died deserving deaths.  However, the Limey should not be lumped with these other Lasers.  It would be a shame to see this film with a "faux" letterbox just because the "unknowing" demand it (i.e. The Raising Arizona DVD is letterboxed although the Coen brothers shot this film using a 1.33:1 ratio).

While March is eerily bare, April will see the release of two more films.   Schwarzenegger's End of Days (LBX,DD) and Superstar (LBX, no Dolby Digital since this is a Paramount film) will join Kevin Costner's For Love of the Game.   End of Days is Schwarzenegger's "comeback" film after the disaster that was Batman and Robin.  Superstar is based on the painfully unfunny Saturday Night Live character Mary Katherine Gallagher (whose gimmick is smelling her armpits "like this" and falling down a lot).  The Mary Katherine Gallagher sketches always go on and on until they become tedious and boring.  Of course, the powers that be decided to stretch out this flimsy premise into a movie.  Both of these  Laserdiscs will retail for $29.98 although Superstar will street first on April 11 while End of Days follows on the the 18th.

01/18/00 - Finally, there will be at least ***one*** Laserdisc title released in March.  That title will be The Bone Collector (LBX,DD) thanks to Pioneer.  It will (hopefully) street on March 14 and retail for $29.98.  Preorders for this title are due on February 8th so if you want this Laserdisc, buy it before then.

Now it's time for "corrections and retractions."  The Mother's Day Laserdisc is only called "gold", it really isn't a gold (or gold colored) Laserdisc in spite of what it says on the packaging.   In addition, to clarify, the Mother's Day Laserdisc does NOT contain the sticker, poster or Troma Times that were initially announced as extras.   I assume that it will contain what Ken Cranes says it contains (see 1/15/00 news update) although I haven't viewed the disc yet so I can't be sure.

01/15/00 - The contents of the Mother's Day Laserdisc has changed a bit from the initial annoucement.  Now it is supposed to conatain an introduction by Lloyd  Kaufman, "All I Know About Filmmaking I Learned From The Toxic Avenger", Aroma du Troma, "Terror Firmer" teaser, Troma Public Service Annoucements and  Sexy Tromettes merchandise promo.   Or at least, that's what Ken Cranes sez.  One thing is for sure, this is the director's cut of the film.

01/11/00 - Here are some new titles (that's right - new titles, not cancelled titles) to look at:

According to Ken Cranes. the oft delayed title, Mother's Day is finally coming to Laserdisc on January 18.  Furthermore, it will be a limited edition gold disc (I don't know if it is real gold or simply gold colored aluminum).  Also included will be a  mini-poster  signed by director Charles Kaufman along with a "I Love Toxie" sticker and a  copy of "The Troma Times."  Mother's Day may be a cheesy 80s horror film, but what the hey, check it out anyway before it instantly goes out of print.

Also, Blaine Young's Universal Page reports that the The Story of Us (LBX,DD) is coming to Laserdisc on February 15.  The Story of Us stars Bruce Willis and  Michelle Pfeiffer as a married couple wondering why they got married in the first place.  It sounded boring to me so I didn't watch it in the theaters but it was directed by the normally reliable Rob Reiner so it might be worth watching on video.  Plus the movie is in widescreen and includes a Dolby Digital soundtrack (unlike most of the cancelled movies in the last few monthes - Stir of Echoes, Lake Placid and Jack Frost).

Finally, Pioneer Entertainment announced that Kevin Costner's baseball pic, For Love of the Game (LBX,DD), will be making an appearance on Laserdisc on April 4.   For Love of the Game was directed by Sam "Evil Dead" Raimi whose movies always flop when he tries to be "serious".  Poor guy will be forced to make Zena the First Movie if he doesn't have a "serious" hit soon.

None of the above movies set the box office on fire when they were released, but it is actually good news that they are having a second life on Laser.   The fact that non-blockbuster movies are still being released on Laserdisc means Laserdisc is still semi-profitable.  This  means the likelyhood of seeing more (and better) titles is good.

01/07/00 - Another pan and scan title bites the dust.  Following last month's Lake Placid, Stir of Echoes has now been cancelled.   Makes you wonder why they release pan and scan titles now.  After all, Laserdisc led the way in the acceptance of letterboxing.  Why should we revert back to pan and scan?

Here's something to consider - Every single Laserdisc title in February will be released by Pioneer.   Image will release no new lasers next month (hmmmm).

01/06/00 - Lucasarts/Fox Home Video has issued a press release stating that Star Wars: Episode I will be on "VHS only."   Does this mean that there won't be a Laserdisc?  Maybe not.  First of all, every time the press release says "VHS only", it is quickly qualified by "no DVD" (and not "no Laserdisc")   Second, Fox Home Video does not release Laserdiscs anymore.  Like most video companies,  they have licensed out their Laserdisc production to another company (in this case, Image Entertainment).   Also, like most home video companies they have forgotten about Laserdisc (how many commercials have you seen on TV stating that a movie is "only on video and DVD" when it is also on Laserdisc).  If Lucasarts and Fox allow Image to release Star Wars: Episode I, you can bet that Image will release it on Laserdisc.  However, this is a long shot since the recent Indiana Jones debacle has shown that Lucasarts feelings about Laserdisc has cooled now that they can no longer ask for and get $60-$70 per movie (the orginal retail prices for the original trilogy).

Speaking of Image Entertainment, for the second month in a row, they have no Laserdiscs to announce (hmmm - makes you think).

Finally, take a look at the reviews page.  I recieved several emails requesting a blank (generic) review page so you can write reviews on titles not listed.  I'm proud to say that I (finally) have added that feature in spite of various technical hurdles (such as Perl's inability to create new files on the server). Also, my review page is now Y2K compliant.



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