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ARCHIVED NEWS - 5th to 11th JANUARY 2004

January 9th 2004

Universal is releasing the homegrown Aussie movie version of Ned Kelly on the 9th of February. The film, which stars Heath Ledger, Orlando Bloom and Naomi Watts, is a loose interpretation of the Ned Kelly legend (about a small gang of young ruffians who were persecuted by a vindictive police force, becoming folk heroes in the process). 

Ned Kelly has had an odd distribution history. It was released in Australia back in March 2003 (and has been available on DVD there since August). It was released to UK cinemas in September, but won't be released in the US until March! 

The film is accompanied by a look at Ned Kelly in Popular Culture (14m), a couple of trailers, Artist to Feature Comparison (storyboard-to-film gallery), The Real Kelly Gang (photo gallery), and a Poster gallery.

The press release neglected to include technical specifications, but the sleeve image sports the DTS logo, so it looks like the UK disc will be identical the Australian disc (which is coded for Regions 2 and 4), which has a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, and a choice of Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 audio tracks.

The seventh season of Stargate SG-1 continues with Stargate SG-1 Volume 32, which will be released by MGM on February 2nd (postponed from 23rd January). As usual, the disc will contain four episodes (Fallen, Homecoming, Fragile Balance and Orpheus).  Volume 33 (pictured) is due on February 23rd, and will contain the episodes Revisions, Lifeboat, Enemy Mine and Space Race.

Both titles will feature the usual commentary tracks, behind-the-scenes featurettes and trailers. RRP for the Stargate SG-1 discs is £19.99.

Other MGM releases for February 2nd are Michael Moore's comedy Canadian Bacon (£15.99), Exodus (£15/99), Allan Quartermain and the Lost City of Gold, the Richard Chamberlain version of King Solomon's Mines, The People That Time Forgot, Solomon and Sheba, Mike Figgis's Liebestraum, David Mamet's House of Games, Scorpio and Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye. None of the discs appear to contain anything more than a trailer, and have an RRP of £12.99 unless otherwise noted. MGM do not include technical spec's on their press releases, and the details on their promotional sleeves are frequently in error. Here are a couple of sleeves...

January 8th 2004

DD Video have announced that they will be releasing a number of vintage British horror movies this year, beginning with The Creeping Flesh, which is due in March. 

Other titles will include Night of the Big Heat and The Curse of the Crimson Altar. Christopher Lee, who stars in all three films, is currently recording commentary tracks for The Creeping Flesh and Night of the Big Heat, as well as video interviews. The discs are also expected to come with trailers and the company's lavish 24-page booklets. You can discuss this in this thread at Roobarb's DVD Forum.

Fox has sent over copies of the Buffy The Vampire Slayer - Slayer Collection DVDs (which were featured in the News page for December the 19th). You can see some of the menu screens for the set here.

The first season of Irwin Allen's cheesy science-fiction series Lost in Space, originally broadcast in 1965, will be released on DVD in the UK on February 23rd.

The eight disc set will contain all twenty-nine episodes, in their original black and white format. The set will also contain the unaired pilot episode, No Place To Hide (which doesn't feature two of the series' most beloved characters: the robot and Doctor Smith), and the five-minute presentation Allen created to sell the series to potential advertisers. The set has mono 2.0 audio, is presented in 4:3 ratio, and carries English HoH subtitles. RRP is £49.99. Click here to see a selection of menu screens.

January 7th 2004

Paramount will release a two-disc Special Edition of Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country on March the 1st. The set, which has an RRP of £24.99, will be presented in exclusive slipcase packaging. Bonus features include a commentary by Nicholas Meyer and screen writer Denny Martin Flinn; text commentary by Michael and Denise Okuda; six Making of... featurettes, original cast and crew interviews, A Conversation With Nicholas Meyer; Klingons: Conjuring the Legend; Federation Operatives (actors from the film in other Star Trek roles) ; Penny's Toy Box (a look at the original props); Together Again (interviews with William Shatner and Christopher Plummer); The Perils of Peacemaking (a look at the events of the film, and how they relate to real-life events in the Soviet Union); trailers; 1991 Convention footage with Nicholas Meyer; production gallery; storyboards and a tribute to the late DeForest Kelley.

Columbia Tristar has unveiled their provisional April release lineup, which will be led by straight-to-video sequel Starship Troopers 2 and three-disc Special Edition versions of Ridley Scott's harrowing Somalian war action movie Black Hawk Down, and David Fincher's tense urban thriller Panic Room.

There are no details of any of the releases, but here's the lineup:

5th April - Dawson's Creek - Complete Season Two Box Set, For Da Love of Money, An Evening With Kevin Smith, Laurel Canyon and Fraggle Rock

12th April - Annie Special Edition, Matilda Special Edition

19th April - The Missing Gun, Boston Kickout, Starship Troopers 2 / Roughnecks Box Set, The Dark Crystal Collector's Edition, Labyrinth Collector's Edition, Panic Room 3-disc Special Edition, Black Hawk Down - 3-disc Special Edition

Paramount has unveiled an impressive lineup for February, headlined by Angelina Jolie in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.

The Special Collector's Edition of Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life will be released on February 2nd. The disc will feature a commentary track by director Jan De Bont; seven deleted scenes and an alternate ending (all with optional commentary); five featurettes on the film's training, weapons and vehicles, visual effects, stunts and score; music videos by Korn (Did My Time) and The Davey Brothers (Heart Go Faster); Gerard Butler screen test; theatrical release website archive, accessible via DVD-Rom. The film will be presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. RRP for the Special Collector's Edition is £19.99. A box set containing both Tomb Raider films and an exclusive Lara Croft postcard pack will also be available, with the same features as the two individual releases. RRP for this set is £26.99.

Barry Levinson's fine period fantasy adventure movie Young Sherlock Holmes is being released on February the 2nd (the press release also says the 16th, so your guess is as good as mine at this point). The Steven Spielberg-produced film, known here as Young Sherlock Holmes and the Pyramid of Fear, pits Holmes and Watson in their first adventure, against a malevolent Egyptian religious cult. The film made cinema history for featuring the first computer-generated character in a feature film, created by Pixar. You may have heard of them. 

Paramount have a posse of Westerns on February 2nd, including Howard Hawks' American Civil War classic Rio Lobo, one of the last great Westerns, starring John Wayne. Wayne's 1971 Western Big Jake is also being released on February the 2nd. The film paired the Duke with his Quiet Man co-star Maureen O'Hara for the fifth time.

A Western of a different breed, Little Big Man, is also being released on February the 2nd. The film, which stars Dustin Hoffman as the sole, 120-year old survivor of the battle of the Little Big Horn, will be presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen ratio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio.

Elliot Silverstein's gritty 1970 A Man Called Horse attempted to redress decades of films depicting cowboys wearing the white hats with a serious Dances With Wolves-style attempt to show the other side of the coin. Richard Harris stars as an English aristocrat who is captured by, and adopted by, Indians. The DVD will have a 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer, and 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. RRP is £15.99.
Angelica Huston stars as Calamity Jane, alongside Melanie Griffith, Gabriel Byrne and Peter Coyote in the 1995 TV miniseries Buffalo Girls, which will be released on February the 2nd. 

Other Paramount releases for February the 2nd include the uplifting drama The Human Voices Wake Us (starring Guy Pearce and Helena Bonham Carter). Another compilation of episodes from the inventive CGI kid's series Jimmy Neutron, Jimmy Neutron: Confusion Fusion, will also be released on February the 2nd. You can make an appointment with Fran Drescher's The Beautician and The Beast on February the 2nd. The film will be supported by a commentary by Drescher (this gets a commentary, and Young Sherlock Holmes doesn't?!?!... jeez...). John Cusack stars in the 1985 teen comedy Better Off Dead, and alongside James Spader in the dark political thriller True Colours. Better Off Dead will be released on February the 2nd; True Colours is being released on February the 16th. Crocodile Dundee 2, the one where Mick "Crocodile" Dundee visits New York, will be released on February the 16th. The Carl Reiner-directed comedy Summer Rental, which starred John Candy as a man who takes his family on an eventful Florida holiday, will be released on February 16th, in 1.78:1 anamorphic ratio, with 5.1 Dolby Digital audio. Peter Bogdanovich's Daisy Miller, based on the Henry James novella, and starring Cybill Shepherd and Barry Brown, will be released on February the 16th. Alan J. Pakula's terrific paranoia thriller The Parallax View is being released on February the 2nd, as an HMV exclusive.

RRP for the feature films is £15.99. The Jimmy Neutron disc is £12.99. Unless noted, the feature films will be presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 ratio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mixes.

Paramount will be releasing the eight episodes of season five of Sex And The City in a Valentine's Gift Set on February 2nd. The box will contain a limited edition Sex And The City vest top and shorts in a handbag-style plastic gift box. The set's RRP is £34.99. The discs are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. C'mon, guys, you can keep the lady in your life happy, plus you'll get to see Kim Cattrall naked! You know it makes sense!

January 6th 2004

I've been rather remiss at not forging stronger links with Network Video, who are releasing some terrific archive TV material. The company hasn't been easy to keep in touch with. I'm happy to say that this situation is going to change, and you'll be seeing much more from Network here this year!

To add to the problem, Network are more susceptible than most companies to last minute production delays, often as a result of the unusually complex licensing agreements they're subject to. They're also a company that often goes the extra mile to source content that other labels would simply let slip through their fingers, and they'd rather delay releasing something if it means adding a commentary or a rare clip, than release it without. Their long-term plans have been widely reported, and has led to a degree of impatience amongst fans of the various series that they have announced they plan to release.   

Anyway, here are the official details for the titles due this month...

The third season of the popular sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles will be released on January the 19th. The disc will contain all six episodes from the series, which was originally transmitted in 1986. The set will include a 1989 Wogan interview with actor Peter Egan. RRP for the disc is £12.99. Incidentally, has the first two series on offer at the moment, for £6.99 each, so if you need to catch up, you know where to go! 

Andrew Davies' terrific BAFTA-nominated black-comedy series A Very Peculiar Practice, which recently spearheaded a season of the writer's work on BBC4, is due on January the 26th. The series, about a naive young doctor who joins the staff of a university, and encounters the strange characters that populate the campus, starred Peter Davison, Barbara Flynn, David Troughton and the incomparable Graham Crowden.

The two-disc A Very Peculiar Practice - The Complete First Series set will contain all seven fifty-minute episodes, each digitally-restored (a phrase we allow to be used lightly on this site!) The set will also include commentaries with Davies, Davison and director Andrew Tucker, and two 1986 Breakfast Time interviews (with Peter Davison and co-star John Bird). RRP for the set is £24.99.

Network are releasing the entire first series of Michael Bentine's anarchic Thames TV series Potty Time on January the 26th. The two-disc set will contain twenty-six digitally-restored episodes, most - if not all - previously unreleased on video. The set will also contain two episodes of the 1954 series The Bumblies (which featured the first ever appearance of the Pottys); drawings and storyboards with a commentary by Michael's son Richard; and a photo' gallery. The RRP is £14.99.

Here's the sleeve art!


Not to be outdone Acorn Video have a good selection of titles for January, beginning with the recent ITV war series P.O.W. The two-disc set will contain all six fifty-ish minute episodes, in their original 16:9 ratio. The set will also contain a decidely modest selection of extras: a P.O.W. hooch recipe (let me guess, turnips?), production notes, filmographies, a P.O.W. slang dictionary and photo' gallery. RRP for the set is £24.99.

A 1980 adaptation of Leslie Thomas' Dangerous Davies - The Last Detective starring Bernard Cribbins, was one of the last programmes made by the once-mighty ITC Entertainment company. The film, which also features Heartbeat star Bill Maynard, Joss Ackland, Colin Baker, Bernard Lee, Frank Windsor and Maureen Lipman, will be presented in 4:3 ratio. The disc will contain cast filmographies, a Leslie Thomas biography and production notes. 

The charming BBC version of Nina Bawden's classic wartime novel Carrie's War, broadcast last week, is being released on DVD on January the 12th. The film features the currently ubiquitous Alun Armstrong, Geraldine McEwan and Pauline Quirke, not to mention At Home With The Braithwaites star Keeley Fawcett in the title role. The film will be presented in 16:9 ratio, and the disc will feature production notes, filmographies and a photo' gallery. RRP is £16.99.

A Family At War, the Granada Television series about the wartime adventures of the Ashton family was one of the most popular shows of its time, drawing audiences of more than 26 million viewers. The series, which starred Colin Douglas and Shelagh Fraser, ran for three seasons, between 1970 and 1972. Doctor Who fans might like to know that Patrick Troughton features in several episodes of the first season. 

Acorn is releasing the whole of the first season - thirteen fifty-minute episodes - across three two-disc discs on January the 12th. 

Set one, The Facts of Life, contains five episodes: The Facts of Life, To Die For Spain, Lines of Battle, The Summer Before The War and The Gate of The Year. Set two, The Breach in the Dyke contains The Breach in the Dyke, The War Office Regrets, For Strategic Reasons and The Night They Hit No.8. Set three, One of Ours, includes episodes ten to thirteen: One of Ours, Brothers in War, If It's Got Your Number On It and The End of the Beginning. These episodes take place between May 1938 and December 1940.The discs will contain a biography of series creator John Finch, cast filmographies, production notes and quotes. The three discs will be available individually for £19.99, or as a boxed set with an RRP of £59.99.

Here are the sleeve images...

January 5th 2004

Here's a piece of good news: the BBFC has introduced a new set of guidelines that will allow distributors to release more than one version of a film with different certificates, providing that certain packaging advice is given to avoid consumer confusion. This new policy means that previously-cut films can be re-released with a higher certificate than the original, and that new versions of uncut films can be released even if the new version would have a higher certificate. 

Recent releases that would have benefited from the new policy include the Indiana Jones Trilogy box set (which contains a heavily-cut version of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), and the otherwise-excellent DVD release of Cutthroat Island (click here, or on the sleeve image, left, to read the review).

While the move is generally to be welcomed, it brings with it one unfortunate restriction: a stipulation that a new version of a film should have appreciably different packaging from the previous release. This may preclude distributors from using the film's theatrical key-art for the new release, if it was used for the old version. 

You can read the BBFC's new guidelines on their website, here. Visitors to the BBFC website are currently being invited to participate in an online survey about their policies. If you have twenty minutes or so, you might like to take part - visit the BBFC here.

And now, over to Ceri Laing, for his comprehensive weekly report containing all the news that's escaped in the last seven days. Take it away, Ceri!  

Happy New Year everyone! To kick off 2004, there’s been an extensive update to the Incoming page and I've updated all the bargains to be had from the January sales, which you'll find on the Offers page.  

Let’s have a look at the highlights of the additions to the Incoming page, beginning with a round-up of recent films making their way onto DVD.

Entertainment In Video have the limp Kate Beckinsale vampires vs werewolves horror film Underworld, listed  for 9th February. Momentum are listing Confidence, and Buena Vista will release Seabiscuit on February the 23rd. Special features for Confidence include commentaries by the director, writer and cast members, deleted scenes, interviews and Anatomy Of A Scene featurette. Seabiscuit’s extras include a director commentary and featurettes - The 1938 Match Race - Seabiscuit vs War Admiral, Anatomy Of A Movie Moment and Bringing The Legend To Life

8th March sees Cabin Fever from Warner, the remake of The Italian Job from Paramount, and Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon A Time In Mexico from Columbia Tri-Star. The special features for the latter include deleted scenes with optional commentary, short film, trailers, multi-angle scene evolutions and featurettes - Film Is Dead, Sneaking Into Troublemaker Studios, The Anti-Hero's Journey and The Good, The Bad And The Bloody.

 22nd March should see Peter Weir's Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World and S.W.A.T. being released. Most of the retailers are also listing the revised date of 19th April for Kill Bill – Volume 1.  

Tartan go back to the well once again for a two-disc Battle Royale - Special Edition, on the 23rd of February. Disc one includes the Special Edition of the film, with additional footage, alternate ending and a choice of Dolby Digital or DTS 5.1 sound. Disc two has the extras, which include The Making of Battle Royale; press conference material; audition and rehearsal footage; featurettes; a documentary; rehearsal footage for the basketball scene; trailer; TV spots; Director's statement and on-screen filmographies.  

Animation fans who were dismayed to hear the widely-reported news that Warner Home Video was releasing two volumes of Looney Tunes - All Stars Collection (Volume 1 for 2nd February and Volume 2 for 9th February, both with commentaries, documentaries and featurettes) will be relieved to hear that they will also be releasing the much more comprehensive Looney Tunes – Golden Collection, albeit as a four-disc HMV exclusive. Details of the cartoons and special features included in this release are yet to be finalised. 

Buena Vista has raided Disney’s archives to cover Mickey Mouse’s exploits and Disney’s wonderful musical shorts in two releases – Walt Disney Treasures - Mickey In Living Colour and Walt Disney Treasures - Silly Symphonies, both due on May the 3rd. These are expected to closely mimic the infamous Region 1 releases, which have become very collectible.

News about BBC releases is always leaked to retailers before the press releases are sent out, and digging around reveals that the special features for the superb Shooting the Past include a commentary with Stephen Poliakoff, Adrian Johnston and J. P. Kelly, a 20 minute documentary and a photo gallery, which makes it’s RRP a bargain at £15.99. As similar length documentaries have been submitted to the BBFC, hopefully Poliakoff’s Caught on a Train and Perfect Strangers will have the same treatment. All the Poliakoff titles are being listed for 9th February. The Blake’s 7 - Series 1 and Monty Python box sets have had their dates revised to 1st March, but only an idiot would bet on them appearing then!  There's been no word of the main content of the four-disc Python release (indicating a Best of... or Series 1?), but recent submissions to the BBFC include the programmes broadcast as part of BBC Two’s Monty Python Night from a few years ago, so these could be being lined up as extras. A documentary about Dennis Potter, which appeared on the R1 release of The Singing Detective, has been cleared by the BBFC, so I hope extras that appeared on the American release with be replicated on the UK version. Finally, the BBC's recent two-part production of Charles II is listed for 16th February: extras include a director’s commentary and documentary (probably the same one aired by BBC4 on December the 7th).

Some of the retailers and DVD magazines are listing further TV releases by Carlton during the first half of 2004. In addition to the previously listed Danger Man – Complete Series box set the remaining individual releases, Volumes 5 and 6, are also showing for 15th March. The Cadfael and Kavanagh QC releases continue together, with their respective Series 2 listed for 5th April, Series 3 for 17th May and Series 4 for 21st June. No date yet for the in-preparation Kavanagh QC - Series 5, but based on the schedule of the other series, it may appear in July. Finally, there is word of The Saint – Series 1 box set also for 17th May.

More titles from Network have appeared. Hazell – The Complete First Series, the series starring Nicholas Ball that first aired in 1978, and Two In Clover - Complete Series, the Sid James and Victor Spinetti back-to-basics comedy series from 1969-70, are both listed for the 16th February. The final series of the Richard Briers comedy Ever Decreasing Circles - Series 4, and a complete Ever Decreasing Circles – Series 1 - 4 box set are being listed for the 23rd February. Like the other Network releases I expect these dates to be provisional.

Budget label Prism has a couple of interesting film releases listed. The Magnificent 7 Deadly Sins, the 1971 Graham Stark-directed comedy anthology written by and starring a range of British comedy talent. The writers include Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, Spike Milligan, Marty Feldman, Barry Cryer, and Graham Chapman. The actors include Bruce Forsyth, Joan Sims, Bernard Bresslaw, Roy Hudd, Harry Secombe, Ian Carmichael, Geoffrey Bayldon, June Whitfield, Leslie Phillips, Harry H. Corbett, Bill Pertwee, Alfie Bass and Peter Butterworth. What’s Up Tiger Lily?, Woody Allen's re-dubbed Japanese film also gets a re-release on DVD courtesy of Prism. Both are listed for 2nd February and have a £5.99 RRP.

And a final round up: the 1980s American animated series Dungeons and Dragons is listed for 22nd March, from Contender, as a box set of Volumes 1-3 and Volume 1 individually; Stephen King’s The Stand for 8th March from Warner; and Michael Moore’s TV Series The Awful Truth from Channel 4 Video for 2nd February.

There’s also been some titles added to the In the Pipeline section. Most notably, some rumours of releases by BBC Worldwide and Acorn. As well as titles recently cleared by the BBFC, which include A Family at War Volume 3 and 1980s British cartoon series Henry’s Cat.

To bring this summary to an end, the update to the Offers page includes new sales from Amazon and Blackstar. The addition of new retailers, Benson’s World (VCI, Cinema Club and Doctor Who sales as mentioned Julian last week), DVDSource (who has some excellent bargains, including Network releases) and Virgin (although these are unfortunately only available in store, not online). In addition to this are some releases with good prices that are not in sales – Public Eye and Special Branch for £29.98 (£10.01 off) each on pre-order from Amazon and Upstairs Downstairs – Complete Series 2 – 5 box sets at £16.99 each from MVC.

Previous News entries can viewed be by following this link.



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