Synapse Films has picked up three cult classic horror films from Britain’s Hammer Studios for their first Stateside DVD release later this year.
Twins Of Evil, Hands Of The Ripper and Vampire Circus will all be making their way to store shelves sometime in the third quarter of 2010 with brand new high definition transfers. Additionally, Synapse will also be bringing out a box set of all 13 episodes of the television series Hammer House Of Horror.
Special features for the discs have yet to be finalized, but knowing the folks at Synapse they will be impressive. The company is reportedly considering a Blu-Ray release for the three films, but have not made a definite decision yet.
If you were like me, you were probably disappointed with the Joe Johnston helmed remake of The Wolfman when it was released earlier this year. With the film’s pacing problems and haphazard editing it was easy to believe the rumors of creative differences during post-production between Johnston and the studio. But was Johnston’s original version better than the one that appeared in cineplexes? We’ll get a chance to find out on June 1 when the film is released on DVD and Blu-Ray disc with both its theatrical release and director’s cuts edits.
Additionally, the disc with contain two alternate endings and a number of behind the scenes featurettes.
Intriguingly, at a run time of one hour and 59 minutes, the director’s cut is 16 minutes longer than the one that ran in theaters. Hopefully it will fill in what felt to be missing character moments that would have given more reason for the the audience to care about what was happening to them.
With over $2.6 billion taken in at the box office, Avatar has become the box office champion and it looks like 20th Century Fox is going all out to milk a few more bucks out of director James Cameron’s science-fiction epic with a three different home video releases over the coming months.
April 22, and it is no coincidence that that day is also Earth Day, will see Avatar released in a barebones DVD and Blu-ray. Without any extras taking up valuable storage space on the discs, more information can be allotted to the film’s transfer, hopefully translating into a crisper viewing experience.
But if you’re anxious to see some behind-the-scenes features, trailers and cut footage, you’ll have to wait until next November when will release an Avatar “Ultimate Edition.” While there’s no official word yet as to the exact specifics of what will be included, knowing Cameron I expect the disc to have an exhaustive look at the making of the film. I wouldn’t be surprised if this “Ultimate Edition” was a two or three disc release.
Of course, one of the main attractions of Avatar is its 3D photography and that will be available in an upcoming 3D home video release. This edition, however, is being delayed until 2011 when the studio hopes that more people will have adopted the 3D television monitors which are just starting to become available.
In the over ten years that DVD has been with us, one title has continued to not make the transition to the digital format, much to the consternation of film fans- The African Queen. But now, the romantic adventure story starring Katherine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart is finally making its way to DVD and Blu-Ray on March 23rd.
As if to make up for the incredibly long wait for John Huston’s classic film, Paramount is kicking out with a 4K HD transfer from the film’s original three-strip Technicolor negatives, restored in a process similar to the one Warner Brothers used for their Wizard Of Oz and Gone With The Wind restorations. The studio’s press release further elaborates-
To ensure that the restored picture matched the filmmakers’ original vision, Paramount arranged a screening of an MPAA archive print for the film’s original cinematographer, Academy Award winner Jack Cardiff*, whose comments were recorded live during the screening. That same archival print was later screened alongside the newly restored version so that the restoration team could ensure that all of Cardiff’s notes had been addressed.
The DVD and Blu-Ray versions will both be available in a standard, single disc edition or a limited edition box set. Both editions will contain the new documentary Embracing Chaos: Making The African Queen, while the box set will include an “audio disc recording of the original Lux Radio Theater broadcast of The African Queen, a reproduction of Katharine Hepburn’s out-of-print memoir The Making of The African Queen or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind, a Senitype film frame reproduction and postcard reproductions” of images from the film.
Every now and then real world events collide with the manufactured realities of Hollywood films. Casablanca got a boast at the box office when its 1943 release happened to coincide with a highly publicized meeting between Allied commanders Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt in the titular city. On the other end of the spectrum, promotional materials for 2002′s Spider-Man which featured the World Trade Center were hastily recalled in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
This past summer, a short scene involving La Toya Jackson was snipped out of Sacha Baron Cohen’s Bruno just days before its release, following the death of Jackson’s pop star brother Michael Jackson two weeks earlier. And given the scene’s dependence on La Toya’s relationship with her brother, it is easy to see why the scene was trimmed. While stories circulated that the scenes would not be restored to the film, it was never precluded that the sequence wouldn’t appear as a DVD extra, which is exactly what has happened. The scene, which we have as a preview of the upcoming DVDand Blu-rayrelease, is indeed a special feature on the home release scheduled for November 17.
Ever wonder what Nero was up to for the two decades or so that passed between his first appearance in JJ Abrams’s Star Trek film and when the main story kicked into gear? Me too. Well, it turns out that the time-travelling Romulan was a guest of the Klingons. And while where we see where the Klingons have been keeping Nero in the clip below might be considered by that warrior race as their version of Club Med, I don’t think I want to be visiting it any time soon.
The clip is just one of nine deleted scenes that will be among the special features that will appear on the two disc DVD set and three disc Blu Ray editions that will go on sale November 17.
If there was a favorite moment from the Watchmen graphic novel that didn’t make it into Zack Snyder’s epic film adaptation, there’s still some hope you might get to see it. Warner brothers has announced that the Director’s Cut of the film making its way to DVD in a Two-Disc Special Edition and Blu-rayon July 21, will have 25 minutes cut back in to the film, for a total run time 3 hours and six minutes.
The studio’s press release is touting that the footage will include “more Rorschach and a scene of Hollis Mason’s death.” By “more Rorschach,” are they hinting that we may see some more of the interplay between Rorschach and his prison psychiatrist? Personally, I’m hoping to see more of the newspaper vendor and the kid, which would add a bit more poignancy to their fate in the film’s finale.
The two disc Director’s Cut edition DVD will also the featurette “The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics,” the 11 online “making of” webisodes, the music video for My Chemical Romance’s “Desolation Row” and a digital copy for ripping onto your computer or video iPod. A single DVD theatrical cut of Watchmen will also be available with no special features.
The Blu-Ray edition will feature the director’s cut as well as the My Chemical Romance music video, the 11 webisodes and the “The Phenomenon: The Comic That Changed Comics” featurette plus two additional featurettes- “Real Superheroes, Real Vigilantes” and “Mechanics: Technologies of a Fantastic World.” The Blu-Ray disc will also feature “Maximum Movie Mode” which sounds like a multi-media version of the old DVD commentary track. It will include “Director walk-ons with scene analysis, picture-in-picture video from the cast and crew, side-by-side comparisons of the graphic novel and the film, timeline comparisons of our world events to those from Watchmen and photo galleries of production stills and storyboards.”
Of course, you can pre-order them from Amazon at the links above.
Last March, 20th Century Fox announced plans to strip DVDs and Blu-Ray discs being sold to the rental market (Blockbuster, Netflix and the like) of all special features content, in the belief that this will drive consumers towards purchasing the more fully loaded retail editions. Now, it looks as if Disney is gearing up for a similar move with their home video product.
AfterDawn is reporting that starting with the June releases of Morning Light, Confessions Of A Shopaholic and Jonas Brothers: The Concert Experience, the Mouse House will be making barebone editions available to rental company purchasers, while retail outlets will be able to purchase discs with “value-added material.”
There are a few differences with Disney’s program versus Fox’s. Whereas both versions of a Fox title carry the same price point, Disney is making the stripped down editions of their releases cheaper than the special features packed ones. Disney is also allowing rental companies to buy the more complete version of each release if they desire. Fox is not allowing that option.
I’m not sure that this strategy will have the long term gains that Fox and Disney may be hoping for. Blockbuster and other rental outlets rely on the revenue from selling older, previously-viewed DVDs. This secondary sale is perfectly within all copyright laws, and it gives stores a way to get rid of that wall full of Mama Mia! discs long after the demand for them dwindles down to a couple of rentals a week. Many consumers wait for these “previously viewed” sales in order to pick up titles at a substantial discount from what they would pay for a new disc at a retail store.
But by supplying rental outlets barebones releases, the studios seem to be banking that consumers will want only the “fully-loaded” editions and will flock to a retailer like Kmart or Best Buy to purchase. They may be right, and their retail sales may see a bit of a boast. But if rental chains start to see a decline in their “previously-viewed” DVD sales, they may be more reticent to order them from the studio when the title is first released. The situation becomes one of robbing Peter to pay Paul, at the risk of alienating their rental unit purchasing clients.
Have a favorite Warner Brothers film that you’ve despaired would never reach DVD because it just isn’t a commercial enough title for the studio to go to the expense of transferring it to the digital medium? Well, now you’re in luck, as Warner Brothers has announced a new initiative to make these lesser demand titles available on special order DVD.
The newly opened Warner Archive website is making available titles that might not otherwise ever get a DVD release through a new manufacture-on-demand program. (Think along the lines of Café Press’s business model.) Currently there are 150 titles available with plans to add 20 more a month. The titles range from silents all the way up to the 1970s.
I would imagine that this is actually an interim step for the studio, as they are probably in the process of converting their entire library to digital for eventual use in some sort of streaming/on-demand functionality in the future. This way, the studio still earns some income from these films while waiting for whatever digital delivery system they may be contemplating to be installed. The only drawback to these DVDs is that they will be barebones releases, with no supplimental materials to help justify their $19.99 price tag.
I have to admit that I was a little disappointed when I saw one title that is already available- the 1975 adaptation of pulp hero Doc Savage. Sure it is not a great movie. The script tries too hard to cash in on the long faded popularity of the campy Batman television series and the John Philip Sousa music is just too bombastic and “gee-whiz” for the film. The casting of the Doc Savage, former TV Tarzan Ron Ely, and his five adventuring friends is near perfect to their descriptions in the pulps. I was hoping that we would someday get a nice, tricked-out special edition with perhaps a commentary track from a pulp historian like Will Murray. But given the alternative of getting it in a no-frills edition and not getting it all… Well, I’ll take what I can get.
Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 groundbreaking classic Akira is coming to Blu-Ray disc at the end of the month, and news is starting to circulate about the restoration that the film has undergone for the upcoming release. From the sound of things, fans of the film have every reason to look forward to the new transfer. Blu-Ray.com, which has a comprehensive story on the work that was needed to be done on the film, reports-
Even though Akira had major restoration work done for the 2001 DVD release, including a 1080p theatrical quality master, advances in digital restoration and film transfer technologies have increased to the point where a brand new transfer was warranted. As with the audio, a new inter-positive was struck from the original film negative for a new scan into a digital intermediate (DI); the master computer file upon which all of the remastering work was performed.
The article does into detail (Warning: Some mid-to-high level tech talk involved) about how the film was restored. It also talks about how the restoration producers tackled one of the on-going dilemmas of transferring film to Blu-Rau- How to accurately represent the cinematic experience of a film in a medium that can substantially change the look of that film-
Even though modern audiences have grown used to computer painted animation it is very easy to go overboard during the cleaning process in an attempt to come closer to that look and feel, as has been the case with some Hollywood films where processing and noise reduction has been used to excess. Subsequently, AKIRA was given a thorough color correction and [restoration producer] Mr. Takei believes the restoration team has gotten very close to the luster of the original animation cels, restoring the picture to a condition that allows AKIRA to be experienced as its creators had intended.
The Blu-Ray release of Akira hits shelves on February 24. You can pre-order it at Amazon.com.