NEWS ARCHIVE - 5th - 11th DECEMBER 2005


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9th December 2005

Apologies for the lack of News updates this week. Hopefully you'll find something in today's bulletin to brighten your weekend!


Warner Home Video has an exciting array of Oscar-winning films due in February...

A two-disc edition of Sidney Lumet's incendiary 1975 bank-robbery-gone-wrong thriller Dog Day Afternoon will be released by Warner Home Video on February the 13th.

The film, which was based on a real-life robbery in Brooklyn, in 1972, will be accompanied by two hours of bonus material, including an in-depth documentary, Based on a True Story (72m); an audio commentary by Lumet; a featurette celebrating Lumet's career (10m); and four other documentaries focussing on The Story (10m), Casting The Controversy (13m), adapting the story for the screen (Recreating The Facts, 21m), and After The Filming (about the film's release, 9m); and a theatrical trailer.

The film will be in "widescreen 16:9" format, with optional English subtitles (no details about the audio configuration were announced). RRP for the set is £19.99.

A two disc edition of the Robert Redford / Dustin Hoffman thriller All The President's Men will be released by Warner Home Video on February the 13th.

The film, about the two journalists who broke the Watergate scandal, has been newly re-mastered, with enhanced audio (sadly, there were no additional details about this).

The disc will include a commentary track by Redford; a half-hour documentary, Telling The Truth About Lies: The Making of All The President's Men; featurettes titled Out of the Shadows: The Man Who Was Deep Throat (16m), and Woodward and Bernstein: Lighting The Fire (18m); an archive featurette titled Pressure and The Press: The Making of All The President's Men (10m); a vintage Jason Robards interview from a chat show, Dinah!, hosted by Dinah Shore (7m); and a gallery of trailers for films directed by Alan J. Pakula. The RRP is £19.99.

Four Oscar-winning films will make their UK DVD debut on February the 13th, courtesy of Warner Home Video, just in time for the 2005 Oscar ceremony. They are...

David Lean's Ryan's Daughter will be released as a two-disc set which will include an audio commentary by cast and crew members; and an "extensive" four-or-five part anniversary documentary (the press release has contradictory information). The film will be presented in 2.4:1 widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and optional English subtitles. The RRP is £19.99.

Paul Newman stars in the prison drama Cool Hand Luke, alongside fellow Oscar-winner George Kennedy. The film will be in "widescreen 16:9" format (make of that what you will). The RRP is £15.99.

The 1945 pot-boiler Mildred Pierce earned Joan Crawford an Academy Award for her portrayal of a woman struggling to provide for her daughter. The disc will include a documentary about Crawford titled The Ultimate Movie Star. The RRP is £15.99.

The 1937 adventure Captain's Courageous was nominated for Best Picture, Best Screenplay and Best Film Editing Academy Awards. Its star, Spencer Tracy, won an Oscar for playing the role of a humble fisherman, who rescues and has to care for a spoilt rich boy (child star Freddie Bartholomew) who's fallen overboard from a luxury liner. There are apparently no extras. The RRP is £15.99.

Here's the sleeve art for three of the titles...

Optimum has announced four interesting titles with strong cult appeal: Guillermo Del Toro's Cronos; Colin Eggleston's 1978 eco-horror movie Long Weekend; and two Studio Ghibli titles, Miyazaki's Porco Rosso and Isao Takahata's Pom Poko.

Long Weekend used to make regular appearances on TV during the eighties, and probably made quite an impression on anyone who saw it. The film, about a young couple who go on a camping trip, where they are terrorised by the forces of nature, will be presented in its original theatrical ratio of 2.35:1. There are apparently no bonus features. RRP for the disc is £15.99. Look for it from January the 16th.

Long Weekend was released on DVD in its native Australia recently, by Umbrella. Their disc had an excellent new transfer, a commentary track, a trailer and stills gallery, so the Optimum version is up against strong competition. The film is also due to be released in the US by Synapse.

Cronos, Del Toro's debut film, about a mysterious device that turns its owner into a vampire, will be presented from a "restored print" in 1.85:1 ratio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and English subtitles (hopefully better ones than those available on the Region 1 disc, which were intended for the hard of hearing). The disc will also feature a five-minute Making of... featurette; an interview with Del Toro; and a short film by the director. (Sadly there's no sign of the commentary track that's on the US disc, which you can pick up for peanuts). Optimum's disc, which is due on February the 13th, has an RRP of £15.99.

Two Studio Ghibli classics will be released by Optimum on January the 30th: Porco Rosso and Pom Poko. Both titles will be known to anime fans. Technical details were not released, and there was no mention of any bonus features. Both discs have an RRP of £19.99.

The first series of the Sky One drama-comedy series Mile High will be released on DVD by Target Entertainment Drama (an imprint of Anchor Bay (UK)) on January the 30th.

The series features various soap refugees, including James Redmond (Casualty, Hollyoaks), Sarah Manners (Casualty; Hollyoaks), Naomi Ryan (Coronation Street), Jo-Anne Knowles (Hollyoaks) and Tom Wisdom (Coronation Street). You have to wonder if they had a casting director, or simply relied on a swift shufty through the pages of TV Quick.

The four-disc set will feature a choice of Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo or Dolby Digital 5.1. It has an RRP of £24.99.

The second season of the terrific sitcom Arrested Development will be released by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on January the 23rd. The three-disc set will feature eighteen episodes, which include guest appearances by Ben Stiller, Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Heather Graham and Liza Minnelli.

The press release is sketchy about the bonus features, but does say that they will include deleted scenes and commentaries. RRP for the set is £34.99.

Blue Dolphin will release Israel's entry into the 2001 Academy Awards, Time of Favor, on DVD February the 6th. The film, a love story that won six Israeli Academy Awards, has an RRP of £17.99. No technical details were available.

An extended version of Cathy Henkel's 2005 documentary The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan will be released on DVD by Ventura International on February the 6th.

The documentary features tributes and interviews from friends, family, fans and colleagues, and previously-unseen home movies.

The disc will also feature "alternative commentaries" by the director and Spike's daughters; six mini-documentaries; bonus home movie footage "and more".

The disc will have an RRP of £15.99.

Paramount has set up a promotional micro-website for the Special Edition DVD release of Star Trek - Nemesis (see the News entry for the 28th of November for more details). You can find the site here.

Sony will release the epic fantasy mini-series Sword of Xanten on DVD on January the 9th. The series will be presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and optional English subtitles. The series, which was based on the same Germanic and Nordic mythology as Wagner's Ring cycle and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, features West German star Benno Fürmann, Terminator 3's Kristanna Løken, Fun's Alicia Witt, Julian Sands, Samuel West, and Max von Sydow.

The disc includes sixty minutes of extra footage, plus a bonus disc featuring five behind-the-scenes featurettes. The disc will have an RRP of £19.99.

Tartan has re-scheduled the release of Vital, a "body-horror from Japan's Cronenberg" (Tetsuo: Iron Man's Shinya Tsukamoto). It will now be released on February the 20th. Several additional bonus features have been added to the disc since it was originally announced: it will now feature an exclusive commentary by Midnight Eye's Tom Mes (author of books on Miike and Tsukamoto); an interview with Tsukamoto; cast and crew Q&A; behind-the-scenes documentary; making the props featurette; music video (Cocco's Blue Bird); and footage from the film's world premiere. The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format, with a choice of Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 tracks. The Region 0 disc will have an RRP of £19.99.

Other Tartan Asia Extreme titles have been re-scheduled: the limited edition Battle Royale 2: Revenge two-disc set will now be released on March the 27th; Tell Me Something will be released on April the 24th.

The controversial drama Harry and Max will be released on DVD by TLA Releasing on January the 23rd. The movie, which is about the incestuous relationship that develops between two brothers, made its debut at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.

The disc will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio and optional English HoH subtitles. The disc will include a commentary track by director Christopher Munch; behind-the-scenes footage; a stills gallery; and trailer. The RRP is £19.99.

5th December 2005


There's a new review on the site today, courtesy of contributor Richard Spurr. It's of Universal's The 40 Year Old Virgin DVD, which is released today! Although at a casual glance it might look like another American Pie-like teen drama, it's actually a rather subdued comedy for grown-ups. It has a fine pedigree, too: it was written by Judd Apatow, creator of the acclaimed TV series Freaks and Geeks. Click on the sleeve image, right, or here to read the review. You can see a trailer for the disc here. A promotional website for the DVD can be found here.

Ceri has updated the Incoming page, adding numerous titles that should interest Zeta Minor visitors, including Network's The Champions box set, a Godzilla DVD from the BFI, and the first releases of Hill Street Blues and St. Elsewhere.

I've added links to a number of TV episode guides to the Cult Television index page. These are in Microsoft Word format.

I don't usually update the News page on Friday, or at the weekend, because then the information is only on the front page, as it were, for a couple of days. I made an exception last week, though, so if you missed the news about the Hammer DVD Guide update, the release of Frankenstein Reborn, Home Improvement - Series 3, The Golden Girls - Series 3, Wheels on Meals, The Asphalt Jungle, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, the first season of The Gilmore Girls, Gerry Anderson's Captain Scarlet, The Essential Steve McQueen, The Greta Garbo Signature Collection and Every Which Way But Loose / Any Which Way You Can, then check out last week's News.


Warner Home Video's sales and distribution deal with French film library Studio Canal has ended, resulting in dozens - perhaps hundreds - of DVDs being deleted (mainly British titles, from the sixties and seventies).

In lieu of a definitive list, I can only suggest which specific titles might be affected. It will include some movies released theatrically by EMI Films (like Sweeney!, Sweeney 2, The Deer Hunter, Highlander, Cross of Iron and the On The Buses films); some films distributed by British Lion Film Corporation / British Lion Films Ltd (including The Wicker Man, The Man Who Fell To Earth, the St. Trinians films, The Third Man, the two Peter Cushing Doctor Who films and I'm Alright Jack); and some films theatrically distributed by Associated British-Pathé Limited / Associated British Picture Corporation (including Ice-Cold In Alex, The Third Man, The Dam Busters, and the Cliff Richard films); and some titles from Anglo-Amalgamated Productions (including many early Carry On films and Peeping Tom). It will also include most of the Ealing Studios classics (including The Man in the White Suit, The Ladykillers, The Lavender Hill Mob, Kind Hearts and Coronets and Passport to Pimlico). Most of Warner Home Video's Hammer films will be affected. For more details, see the updates to the Hammer DVD Guide.

Studio Canal has licensed titles from their library to numerous labels, including Granada Ventures and 2 Entertain, so just because a film was made by a particular production company, or distributed theatrically by a particular company, it doesn't automatically mean that the DVD is going out of print: it's just the titles licensed to Warner Home Video.

It's likely that they'll be looking for a new sales and distribution partner, who will doubtless re-release many of the titles being deleted by Warner Home Video (particularly as many of them are perennial favourites). It's possible that some of the more obscure titles might not be re-issued, so if you wanted a specific title, you'd be well advised to pick it up now.

Of course many of the affected titles are available - and will continue to be available - in other territories (often in better editions, like Criterion's The Man Who Fell to Earth, for example).

It's also worth keeping in mind that DVD is a format whose days are numbered. (Certainly when you consider that films are usually licensed for lengthy periods, like five or ten years). We're in a difficult transitional period at the moment. Companies will be considering how they're going to move from DVD to whichever high definition format prevails. Within a couple of years new titles will be released in both formats. Will Studio Canal be licensing their titles for DVD and HD exploitation, or just DVD? If they're licensing for both formats, it's going to take a company with deep pockets to invest in titles that are likely to offer only modest return until the new format establishes itself! 


Tartan Films will release the Deliverance-style thriller Calvaire (The Ordeal) at the Odeon, Panton Street, London, on December the 9th. Tartan has kindly allowed us to use an interview with the director, and biographies, from the film's production notes. Click here to read them.

Last week's Zeta Minor News can be viewed here.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.

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