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Insights from home entertainment industry experts. Home Media blogs give you the inside scoop on entertainment news, DVD and Blu-ray Disc releases, and the happenings at key studios and entertainment retailers. “TK's Take” analyzes and comments on home entertainment news and trends, “Agent DVD Insider” talks fanboy entertainment, “IndieFile” delivers independent film news, “Steph Sums It Up” offers pithy opinions on the state of the industry, and “Mike’s Picks” offers bite-sized recommendations of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases.
HBO Home Entertainment is doing everything it can to keep “The Sopranos” fresh in people’s minds. And why not? It was one of the cable network’s most successful shows.
The limited-edition complete-series boxed set just earned the title of the DVD Critics Awards’ top DVD of the year, as well as best multidisc collection.
Nov. 17 (order date Oct. 13), HBO is releasing a slimmer version of the complete-series DVD set at $299.95. The new packaging seems to have more economical accordion sleeves as opposed to the bulky coffee-table style of the collector’s edition. Personally I think the collector’s edition is a bit more elegant, but at $100 less, the new configuration should help the show find its way into many more homes.
HBO also is putting the first season of the show on Blu-ray Disc Nov. 24 (order date Oct. 20) at $69.98. Since some of the later seasons are already on DVD, the studio is getting around to completing the set. At this rate, don’t be surprised to see a complete-series Blu-ray set by next Christmas.
By: John Latchem
“Futurama” fans rejoice. Not only is your favorite show coming back on the air, but a complete collection of all the episodes is coming to stores Oct. 13 (prebook Sept. 2).
(I guess it won’t be “complete” once the new episodes hit on Comedy Central next year, but that’s just how this game is played, isn’t it?).
The 19-DVD Futurama: The Complete Collection — 1999-2009 includes all 72 episodes that aired on Fox, plus the four made-for-disc movies commissioned by Comedy Central once the cabler picked up the broadcast rights.
The set was previewed at the 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International in July, when 500 copies were available for online purchase. The discs come in packaging that resembles Bender’s head. He’s the show’s main robot character, for those who don’t know. Pretty sweet.
The set is being offered at $199.98.
According to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, only 25,000 copies of the new set are being produced. It looks like the box contains all the discs that are already available, so many collectors who already picked up the seasons sets and the movies won’t miss out, unless they really want the new packaging. However, it looks like Fox will make available limited numbers of empty Bender heads for collectors who already have everything. More details on this aspect to come.
By: John Latchem
Perk up guys. Clerks is coming to Blu-ray!
One problem Blu-ray Disc faces in replacing DVD as the home entertainment medium of choice is conversion of catalog titles. Since many of these titles weren’t shot with HD in mind, an upconverted DVD is usually acceptable to most people, rather than shelling out another $20 for a few extra lines of clarity.
An example often cited as a movie that wouldn’t need a Blu-ray conversion is Kevin Smith’s 1994 indie opus Clerks. Even Smith acknowledges that there probably isn’t much point to upgrading the grainy black-and-white film, which wasn’t very visually interesting to begin with. It’s all about story, and most of the DVDs of the film have done a good job presenting the experience of the film. Is a Blu-ray upgrade really going to matter?
Well, it looks like we’re going to find out. According to Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s preliminary release calendar, Clerks is slated for Blu-ray release Nov. 17, as is Smith’s third film, 1997’s Chasing Amy. The films will be available individually and as part of a Kevin Smith boxed set, which might also contain another Smith film produced by Miramax, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Criterion released the Chasing Amy DVD, which just ported over the extras from the Laserdisc, so it will be interesting to see if any new extras made it onto the Blu-ray. Smith told a Comic-Con crowd in 2007 that he had prepared 10th anniversary extras for Amy, but later said Criterion wouldn’t double-dip the title, so he was waiting for a chance to put them on Blu-ray. Perhaps a few 15th anniversary extras might make it onto the Clerks BD as well. What else can they do, colorize it?
These releases also mean collectors are two steps closer to owning the complete View Askewniverse film cycle on Blu-ray Disc (that would be Smith’s six films featuring Jay & Silent Bob: Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Dogma, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back and Clerks II). Once Clerks and Chasing Amy hit BD, only Mallrats will be lacking a Blu-ray release (Universal released it on HD DVD in 2007, so we know a high-def master is out there).
By: John Latchem
Disney’s Lost: The Complete Fifth Season Blu-ray set (due Dec. 8) will offer “Lost University” via BD Live. “Lost University” is an immersive bonus experience that gives viewers an interactive insight into the world of “Lost.”
Viewers will be able to join “Lost” executive producers Carlton Cuse, Damon Lindelof, cast members and a panel of experts for an array of courses delving into the themes and storylines explored on the show.
“Lost University” will be accessible through several portals, starting now with www.lostuniversity.org, where fans can enroll starting Sept. 22 (they even have a cute little logo with a polar bear). The “main campus” goes live Dec. 8, with the release of the fifth season.
Courses include Introductory Physics of Time Travel, History, Family Psychology, The Languages of “Lost,” Jungle Survival Basics, Deciphering Hieroglyphics, Art of “Lost” Seminar, Philosophy 101 and all things “Lost.”
The classes should get hardcore fans up to speed in time for the final season of the show, which starts in January 2010.
In other "Lost" news, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will release Land of the Lost, the big-screen remake starring Will Ferrell, Oct. 13 (prebook Aug. 25). The title will be available on DVD ($29.98) and Blu-ray ($39.98) and will include deleted scenes and featurettes. Director Brad Silberling told Agent DVD last month that any home video version would likely include a variety of outtakes generated by the improv antics of Ferrell.
The same day the studio will release the three individual seasons of the original 1970s series (Uni released a complete series earlier this year).
By: John Latchem
It looks like this fall is going to offer a decent selection of sci-fi and fantasy on Blu-ray Disc.
Hot off its announcement that Star Trek: The Original Series — Season Two would hit Blu-ray Sept. 22, Paramount also plans to release the four “Next Generation” movies the same day: Generations, First Contact, Insurrection and Nemesis. Each five-disc set is loaded with extra content, and the bonus disc is titled “Star Trek Evolutions,” which offers a number of featurettes about the franchise and something of a tribute to the defunct Las Vegas Star Trek Experience attraction. Two of the extras are called “Klingon Encounter” and “Borg Invasion 4D,” so it appears the ride film from the Experience has made its way to disc.
The set will run $69.99 on Blu-ray and $39.99 on DVD. A DVD set of the first six films will be released that day as well at $59.99, and individual copies of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: First Contact at $12.99 each for DVD and $24.99 each for Blu-ray.
Bowing Oct. 27 (prebook Sept. 30) at $29.99 is Stargate: 15th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Disc. This is Lionsgate’s second release of the 1994 film, which spawned three spinoff TV shows (the third, “Stargate Universe,” debuts Oct. 2 on Syfy.
The movie stars James Spader and Kurt Russell as two men who lead a team to a distant planet via an interstellar wormhole to fight the alien tyrant who rules the people there.
Lionsgate’s first Stargate Blu-ray came in 2006 and was among the first wave of BD titles to hit shelves. Extras from the first disc making their way to the re-release include a making-of featurette, an “Is there a Stargate?” featurette and commentary with director Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin, the creative team behind Independence Day.
New Blu-ray extras include a gag reel, a trivia game, a picture-in-picture “Stargate Ultimate Knowledge” function, and the featurettes “Deciphering the Gate: Concepts and Casting,” “Opening the Gate: The Making of the Movie” and “Passing Through the Gate: The Legacy.”
The disc also contains both the theatrical and extended cuts of the film.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Sept. 29 (prebook Aug. 27) releases to Blu-ray Disc Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal at $27.95 each. Each disc is loaded with extras.
By: John Latchem