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.
While John Hughes, who died Aug. 6 at age 59, is generally credited with inventing the teen-movie genre, it’s hard to believe he directed only eight films. All are available on DVD: 1984’s Sixteen Candles (Universal), 1985’s The Breakfast Club (Universal) and Weird Science (Universal), 1986’s Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Paramount), 1987’s Planes, Trains & Automobiles (Paramount), 1988’s She's Having a Baby (Paramount), 1989’s Uncle Buck (Universal) and 1991’s Curly Sue (Warner).
Only a handful dealt with teenagers, but were iconic enough to cement Hughes’ reputation for the subject. This feat is parodied by Not Another Teen Movie, which is set at John Hughes High School.
Another tribute occurs in Kevin Smith’s Dogma, which features Jay and Silent Bob hanging out in Illinois after attempting to relocate from New Jersey to Shermer, Ill., only to discover that Shermer is a fake city made up by Hughes to serve as the setting for most of his movies.
Hughes also wrote, among other films, 1983’s Mr. Mom (MGM), 1986’s Pretty in Pink (Paramount), 1990’s Home Alone (Fox) and 1992’s Beethoven (Universal), not to mention the first three “Vacation” movies (an Ultimate Collector’s Edition of Christmas Vacation will be released Nov. 3 from Warner)
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.
Fans of "Farscape" who haven't already snapped up the show on DVD will get a second chance Nov. 17 when A&E Home Entertainment releases Farscape: The Complete Series Megaset, just in time for the show's 10th anniversary. The 25-DVD set will include all 88 episodes (but sadly, not the followup TV movie The Peacekeeper Wars, the rights to which are owned by another studio) for $149.95. Extras include commentary on 29 episodes with the cast and crew, several documentaries and retrospective featurettes, more than 90 minutes of deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes interviews and more.
Also due Nov. 17 are individual boxed sets for the four "Farscape" sesaons at $49.95 each.
The series chronicled the adventures of John Crichton, an astronaut from Earth who is sent through a wormhole to the other side of the universe. The show ran from 1999 to 2003 on Sci Fi Channel, which creatures designed by Jim Henson's Creature Shop. The show starred Ben Browder and Claudia Black, who later co-starred together on "Stargate SG-1."
One of the notable news items out of Comic-Con this past weekend was confirmation that HBO’s vampire hit “True Blood” would spawn its own beverage.
On the show, TruBlood is a synthetic blood that weans vampires from feeding off humans, allowing them to join society openly. In real life the drink will be blood-orange soda, served in bottles like the ones on the show.
The marketing gimmick should come as no surprise and takes full advantage of a spike in the show’s popularity. Ratings for the second season are more than double that of the first, and the first-season home video is among the top TV DVD sellers ever, according to tracking site TVbytheNumbers.com.
And on the heels of the show’s success, author Charlaine Harris, who wrote the books upon which the show is based, signed a contract to write three more books through 2014.
A casual observer might assume “True Blood” is riding a new wave of vampire popularity sparked by “Twilight,” but I don’t think so. Judging by the negative reaction to “Twilight” at the “True Blood” panel at Comic-Con, I think the show benefits from being the perfect counter-programming to the vampire romance films. While there is undoubtedly a sizeable overlap in the fan bases for each franchise, I suspect old fans of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (and I count myself among them) are gravitating toward Alan Ball’s show, which is nearly as smart and seems to employ a more similar and respectful vampire mythology than the Stephenie Meyer novels.
• At the “Battlestar Galactica” panel July 24, they announced the prequel series “Caprica” would debut on Syfy Jan. 22, 2010. The DVD of the unrated pilot is already available.
Battlestar Galactica: The Plan hits DVD and Blu-ray Disc Oct. 27. The movie was directed by series star Edward James Olmos and if the preview is any indication, it seeks to explain away every plot hole (or a lot of them) from the recently concluded series. Olmos suggested the movie would make people watch the show again in a new light, and was adamant that they buy the Blu-ray version of the series.
Olmos also suggested, in a bit of self-promotion, that “Battlestar Galactica” was something of an unofficial prequel to the 1982 sci-fi classic Blade Runner, in which Olmos appeared. He said the notion of “all of this has happened before and all of this will happen again” made it a seamless transition. The connections are obvious as both deal with humanoid robots.
• Joss Whedon screened the “lost” episode of “Dollhouse,” called “Epitaph One,” which appears on the DVD and Blu-ray version of the first season July 28. The show was produced to round out the DVD when it looked like the show might not get renewed. “And then we forgot to get canceled,” Whedon said. He thanked the fans for their support and credited them for making season two possible.
“Epitaph One” is a very trippy episode that really plays with the series format, beginning with a post-apocalyptic future in 2019 and flashing back to the present to let the audience infer what might have happened. Whedon said the writers decided to honor the continuity of the episode, even if it doesn’t air, which should make for an interesting second season, though I’m sure many fans will accuse the show of ripping off “Lost” in terms of story-arc construction. Whedon reminded the crowd that the episode was based on memories that may or may not be accurate, thus giving the writers an excuse to follow the general direction laid out in the episode, if not following the new timeline precisely.
•Apparently “Twilight” backlash is in full affect. According to an Agent DVD mole camped out in Hall H, hundreds of fanboys awaiting the Avatar sneak peek booed any mention of “New Moon.” Maybe they’re upset at all the teeny boppers invading their convention. UPDATE 7/72/09: The backlash continued in the "True Blood" panel. A fan asked producer Alan Ball if the show would have a half-human half-vampire baby in it, and Ball seemed confused. When someone explained it was from the "Twilight" books, Ball attained a disgusted look on his face and retorted with an emphatic "no."
•Shout! Factory has slated Mystery Science Theater 3000 Vol. XVI for Dec. 1. The four-DVD set will include The Corpse Vanishes, Warrior of the Lost World, Santa Claus and Night of the Blood Beast, and it comes with a little Tom Servo figurine. This should go great with the Crow figurine that came with the 20th anniversary set.
•The Mattel booth was passing out promo DVDs for the new Cartoon Network series "Hot Wheels Battle Force 5," coming in the fall. I haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, but the art emits a strong superhero vibe.
•Also, several discs were previewed at the DVD Producers panel, which you can read about here.
Get more updates at Twitter.com/AgentDVD.
The 2009 San Diego Comic-Con International is upon us, and once again Home Media Magazine and Agent DVD are covering all the action.
Copies of the Agent DVD print magazine are being distributed at the Con, but if you can't make it, check out a digital copy at AgentDVD.com, and be sure to sign up for the new Agent DVD Monthly e-newsletter at AgentDVD.com/Newsletter. There could be a free Blu-ray player in it for you.
For those of you in San Diego, be on the lookout Saturday. Reaper Is Coming!
Thanks to strong DVD sales, “Futurama” is heading back to TV with new episodes. But, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the original voice cast wants too much money and may be replaced.
Obviously the fan in me wants to see a deal done to bring back the original actors. After all, if "Futurama" went through the troubles it did to survive cancellation and then return with new episodes, only to see its heart and soul, its talented voice cast, ripped away, then what's the point?
Part of me suspects this is all a work to generate publicity.
The irony here is that the cast members at the center of the controversy — Billy West, Katey Sagal, John DiMaggio and Maurice LaMarche — are all slated to appear at the Comic-Con “Futurama” panel on Saturday, according to the online show guide.
This would be the panel being promoted as “Futurama: Life or Death,” which promises to have a Fox executive announce live on stage if the network will bring back the show (Comedy Central, which owns the cable rights, has ordered new episodes it will show starting next year). They are even promising “paramedics will be standing by in case the intense excitement causes any panelists to collapse.” As if they’d go to all the trouble to have Fox say “no.”
Those looking to pick up a copy of the just-released Watchmen on DVD or Blu-ray can head over to Best Buy for exclusive packaging. Best Buy has the Blu-ray Disc version for $24.99, the two-DVD director’s cut for $22.99 and the single-DVD theatrical version for $14.99. An exclusive Blu-ray with Dr. Manhattan box art can be had for $34.99, and a two-DVD set with special Rorschach art is $29.99. Best Buy also has Watchmen action figures for $12.99 each.
Target has the discs at $15.99 for the theatrical version, $22.99 for the director’s cut DVD, and $25.99 for the Blu-ray.
Amazon.com has a Blu-ray version in an exclusive Nite Owl ship replica at $89.99 (list price $119.99).
Gamers can get a copy of the Blu-ray as part of Watchmen: The End Is Nigh — The Complete Experience, which includes the movie on Blu-ray Disc and both parts of the Watchmen: The End Is Nigh video game for Xbox 360, all for $49.99.
Watchmen: The End is Nigh parts one and two are available as a standalone Xbox 360 video game for $29.99. Or, part two is available on its own for download on PC on July 29 and PlayStation®Network on July 30 for a retail price of $14.99, and on Xbox Live Arcade for the Xbox 360 on Aug. 26 for 1200 Microsoft Points.
It seems everyone is coming out of the woodwork with special Apollo 11 40th anniversary tributes, so why should I be any different?
I wasn’t yet born when Eagle touched down in the Sea of Tranquility July 20, 1969, but I have always been mesmerized by stories of the space program. Today, NASA in the 1960s seems like the perfect embodiment of the age, demonstrating a national solidarity amid an era of often overwhelming turmoil. In one decade, science-fiction became science fact.
But in its day, the race to the moon must have seemed like an impossible goal, resting on technologies and systems that had to be invented from scratch. John F. Kennedy’s twin speeches laying out the race to the moon — first to Congress, and later to a crowd at Rice University — to me rank up there among the most inspirational testaments to humanity’s desire to better itself, if only through a better understanding of its place in the cosmos, and to achieve the unachievable.
There are no shortages of home entertainment programming to celebrate the feat. Personally, I plan to pop in my DVDs of HBO’s From the Earth to the Moon. The dramatic re-creation of the moon landing takes place in episode six, “Mare Tranquilitatis.”
The segment was co-written by Al Reinart, who in 1989 had chronicled the journey of the Apollo program to the moon in his excellent documentary For All Mankind, which was recently re-released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc. (Read our review here).
Other recent and upcoming documentaries celebrating the moon landing include Image’s Moon Machines (DVD $24.98); Acorn’s Apollo 11: A Night to Remember (DVD $24.99), highlighting BBC coverage of the event; Mill Creek’s Journey to the Moon: The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11 (DVD $14.98); and Jeffrey Roth’s The Wonder of It All (DVD $24.99; Blu-ray $29.99), due Sept. 15 from Indican.
Of course, there was perhaps no journalist more closely identified with the space program than Walter Cronkite, who passed away last week at age 92. Cronkite’s iconic coverage of the Apollo program is memorialized in Timeless Media Group’s Man on the Moon With Walter Cronkite, on Blu-ray Aug. 4 at $19.98. A DVD version was released earlier this year.
The stars have aligned for Star Trek, so to speak.
The day Paramount announced its DVD and Blu-ray plans for the film (which hits disc Nov. 17), it was sitting at No. 47 on the all-time domestic box office chart.
But longtime fans will know that 47 is a significant number in the Trek universe and one of the franchise’s most enduring in-jokes.
The joke stems from an old Pomona College math class in which “47” was purported to be the most common random number in nature. The theory was a joke, but it caught on, and a Pomona College graduate named Joe Menosky went on to write for “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” where he spread his love of “47” like a plague. It has since spread into other movies and TV shows (a partial list of which can be found on Wikipedia).
And now as a matter of cosmic coincidence, the film sits at this enchanted spot on the box office list. (Though its $252.5 million take is about $3.3 million behind Monsters, Inc., which it may well pass, but still).
It’s enough to really make us question our place in the universe.
OK, maybe not.