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1st September 2006




And so it begins...

Fox has announced its first batch of UK Blu-ray discs! Their first batch of eight Blu-ray titles will be released in North America, Australia and Europe during November (on November the 14th in Europe).

Their initial titles, aimed at the format's early adopters and Playstation 3 owners, will be presented in MPEG4 format, which will come as something of a surprise and disappointment to the format's fans, who were hoping that the apparently superior VC1 codec would be used. The discs will be in 1080p format. The use of DTS HD Lossless Master Audio is very welcome, however!

The first batch is: Behind Enemy Lines, The Fantastic Four, Kingdom of Heaven - Director's Cut, Kiss of the Dragon, The Omen - 666, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Speed and The Transporter.

As if to quash concerns that the format isn't currently able to cope with long movies, the press release quotes director Ridley Scott, talking about the Blu-ray version of his latest film: "I reviewed my Director's Cut of Kingdom of Heaven, which is 3 hrs and 8 minutes thereabouts, on Blu-ray Disc and I was astounded. It was like looking through a window of clarity. It was the most impressive thing I've ever seen.” The Kingdom of Heaven disc is likely to be the first commercially-released dual-layer Blu-ray (50Gb) disc.

Spec's for the first batch, from the press release:

Behind Enemy Lines: Marked as one of the studio’s first three BD-J releases, Behind Enemy Lines features DTS HD Lossless Master Audio and MPEG 4 compression. The disc also includes commentaries by Director John Moore, Editor Martin Smith, and Producers John Davis and Wyck Godfrey, as well as selectable HD trailers of upcoming BD releases.

The Fantastic Four: Presented with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio, the HDMV Blu-Ray Disc of The Fantastic Four boasts commentaries by Ioan Gruffud, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis and Julian McMahon, and selectable HD trailers of upcoming BD releases.

Kingdom of Heaven - Director's Cut: To accommodate the full 3 hour and 5 minutes run time of Ridley Scott’s Director’s cut version of his epic masterpiece, Kingdom of Heaven is one of the industry’s first dual-layer BD releases and is authored in HDMV presented with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio.

Kiss of the Dragon: Authored in HDMV with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio, Kiss of the Dragon includes commentaries by Chris Nash, Bridget Fonda, and Jet Li, as well as selectable HD trailers of upcoming BD releases.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: One of the industry’s most advanced BD releases, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is authored in BD-J with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio and AVC (MPEG 4 compression) and includes commentaries by the cast and crew, a unique search index which allows the viewer to sort scenes from the movie into 72 categories ranging from actor (e.g., Shane West, Sean Connery) to character (e.g., Allan Quartermain, Agent Tom Sawyer) to locations (e.g., Paris, Venice), among others. Additional features include an interactive first person shooter game boasting 12 unique play modes, up to 99 bookmarks, an animated pop-up trivia track, and HD trailers of upcoming BD releases.

The Omen - 666: Authored in HDMV with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio, The Omen - 666 includes commentary by John Moore, Glenn Williamson and Dan Zimmerman, two featurettes and two extended scenes plus a BD-exclusive animated pop-up trivia track entitled “The Devil’s Footnotes,” which explores the history of the triple sixes (666).

Speed: This BD-J release boasts DTS HD Lossless Master Audio and MPEG 4 compression. Special features include commentary tracks and commentary chapter selections by Jan De Bont, Graham Yost, and Mark Gordon, as well as an animated pop-up trivia track, up to 99 bookmarks, a 56-category search index (see description on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and a java game entitled, Speed: Take Down, touting six game play modes. The title also includes HD trailers for upcoming BD releases.

The Transporter: Authored in HDMV and presented with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio, The Transporter Blu-Ray Disc features commentaries by Actor Jason Statham and Producer Steven Chasman, in addition to host of selectable HD trailers of upcoming BD releases.

It seems that the bonus features that are on the DVD equivalents, especially those exclusive to the UK editions (those on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, for example), generally won't be carried over to the Blu-ray editions.

More information about the different authoring standards (HDMV and BD-J) can be found here.

The studio has also announced its first day-and-date DVD / Blu-ray release: Ice Age: The Meltdown. This will be released on November the 13th.

The disc is authored in HDMV, and presented with DTS HD Lossless Master Audio. The bonus features - also in HD - include a new CGI short, No Time For Nuts, which was created exclusively for the DVD and Blu-ray discs; Crash and Eddie Stunts - three CGI shorts; The Animation Director's Chair; Lost Historical Films on the Ice Age Period; Scrat's Piranha Smackdown Sound Effects Lab; Crash and Eddie blooper; a director's commentary, and "much more".

The press release didn't include a UK RRP for the Blu-ray titles, but the US SRP is $39.98.

31st August 2006


Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has formally announced their October releases.

Their key release is Ron Howard's recent blockbuster adaptation of The Da Vinci Code, starring Tom Hanks and Amelie's Audrey Tautou. The two-disc Special Edition DVD set will be released on October the 16th.

The film will be presented in anamorphic 2.40:1 ratio, with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio, and optional English and English HoH subtitles.

Bonus features include ten featurettes, including First Day on the Set With Ron Howard; A Discussion With Dan Brown; A Portrait of Langdon; Who Is Sophie Neveu; The Codes of The Da Vinci Code; The Filmmaker's Journey and "much more". The RRP is £24.99.

The West End arrival of the Monty Python musical Spamalot has spurred yet another release of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this time The Extraordinarily Deluxe Edition. The set will be released on October the 2nd.

The film has apparently been "visually re-mastered", and the set features "brand spanking new extras", including a sneak peek at Spamalot the Musical, in A Taste of Spamalot (a medley of eleven songs from the musical); a CD of the soundtrack; a spoof trailer based on The Da Vinci Code; and a Monty Python Quiz. Each set also contains a money-off voucher for a "delicious tin of Spam!" (it says here). Hopefully the press release is just pointing out the things that are new, and the bonus features from the earlier editions (the commentary tracks, etc) will be included, too! The RRP for the set is £19.99.

Director Kurt Wimmer's follow-up to the impressive Equilibrium, the curdled futuristic action film Ultraviolet, will be released on October the 30th. The film was subjected to a lot of post-production tampering by the studio, and it got slaughtered by the critics.

The film will be presented in anamorphic widescreen format, with DolbyDigital 5.1 audio, and optional English HoH subtitles.

The bonus features include a commentary track by star Mila Jovovich, a Making of... featurette and deleted scenes. The RRP is £15.99. Let's hope Wimmer has better luck with his next project!

Barry Sonnenfeld's RV (now subtitled Runaway Vacation, for the hard of thinking) will be released by Sony on October the 9th.

The film stars Robin Williams as an overworked executive forced to take a holiday in the Rockies, and Curb Your Enthusiasm's Cheryl Hines, as his long-suffering partner.

The disc will feature a commentary track by Sonnenfeld; deleted scenes; six featurettes; and a "Making of Behind The Scenes Diary". The RRP is £15.99.

A fabulous collection of bits and pieces created by the master of stop-motion animation is offered by Ray Harryhausen - The Early Years.

The two-disc set includes extant clips from several abandoned projects, including Harryhausen's take on SF classic The War of the Worlds. The set also includes an animated short in the style of the Mother Goose stories: The Tortoise and the Hare, which was recently completed under Harryhausen's supervision. Also included are art and photo' galleries, interviews and test and experimental animation.

The set is highly recommended to anyone interested in the history of film animation, and, naturally, to fans of the maestro. The RRP is £19.99.

A healthy batch of horror titles is on Sony's slate for October the 23rd, headed by the straight-to-DVD franchise sequel I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer. Also up: House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim; the Clive Barker-produced The Plague (which stars Dawson Creek's James Van Der Beek); the 1982 adaptation of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, (which features a fine British cast headed by Anthony Hopkins and Derek Jacobi); and - finally - one of Columbia's Hammer movies, The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb.

I'll Always Know What You Did Last Summer, House of the Dead 2 and The Plague are £19.99 each. The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb are £12.99 each. A box set containing the three I Know What You Did Last Summer films will also be available, also apparently with an RRP of £19.99. (There seems to be some confusion about the RRP for I'll Always Know... - some retailers are basing their price on an RRP of £12.99 (see Incoming for etailers listing it for as little as £9.74).

No technical details, or information about bonus features (if, in fact, there are any) were announced for any of these titles.

Artwork on House of the Dead 2, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (below) is provisional.



Other October Sony titles include The Hunt For Eagle One: Crash Point (2/10, £19.99), a five-disc Hart To Hart - The Complete Second Season box set (9/10, £34.99), and two Bob Hope films: The Lemon Drop Kid and Son of Paleface (30/10, £12.99 each).

Sony are also re-packaging twelve films in new packaging to make The Reel Collection. These two-disc sets will be housed in tin packaging, and offered with four glossy film stills with film facts on the back. The films are: Black Hawk Down, Boyz 'n' the Hood, Bridge on the River Kwai, Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind, Das Boot, Desperado ( and El Mariachi), Dr Strangelove, Hellboy, Jerry Maguire, Lawrence of Arabia, Layer Cake and Snatch.

Menu screens for the next Doctor Who DVD, Mark of the Rani, can be seen here.

28th August 2006


Please remember to visit the Incoming page regularly. There are dozens of new titles, additions and corrections every week!


Network has officially announced the release of a new nine-disc Special Edition box set of the popular ITC action-adventure series The Persuaders! The set will be released on September the 18th.

In addition to the twenty-four fifty-odd minute episodes, which star Roger Moore and Tony Curtis (not to mention all the stalwart ITC guest stars like Patrick Troughton, Joan Collins, Ian Hendry and Terry-Thomas), the set boasts a wealth of bonus material, including new, exclusive interviews with the two stars. The bonus features, quoted directly from the press release (with minor formatting changes), are:

The Morning After – Remembering The Persuaders! - Documentary featuring Roger Moore (Lord Brett Sinclair), Tony Curtis (Danny Wilde) and crew members: Robert S Baker (producer), Johnny Goodman (executive in charge of production), Malcolm Christopher (production manager), Ken Baker (assistant director), Brian Clemens (writer), Roy Ward Baker (director) and Tony Spratling (director of photography) and others

• Commentaries on three episodes featuring contributions from Sir Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Robert S Baker, Johnny Goodman, Roy Ward Baker, Brian Clemens, Malcolm Christopher, Ken Baker and others…

• Interview with Tony Curtis on The Russell Harty Show (1974)

• Mute news footage of Tony Curtis ordering a Lagonda from Aston Martin (1974)

• News footage of Roger Moore and his design consultancy for a Bradford clothing manufacturer (1970)

• Dutch AVRO skoop documentary, made during filming of The Persuaders!

Top of the Pops promotional film for John Barry’s single of The Persuaders! featuring Pan’s People

• All four feature-film versions and trailers

• Stills gallery containing over a thousand images

• Ad bumpers

The Saint The Ex-King of Diamonds (with commentary)

• Ten promotional spots – five foreign, five mute UK

• Trailer and opening sequence for unreleased feature version of The Persuaders! film

• Mute textless main and end titles

RRP for the set is £59.99.

Network has also officially announced the details of its re-mastered, limited edition The Stones In The Park Collector's Edition DVD, which is being released on September the 25th.

The award-winning documentary has been "lovingly restored", and given a new Dolby Digital 5.1 audio mix. It's presented in 4:3 ratio. It will be packaged in a special slip-case.

The disc features three songs "never before seen" (Mercy Mercy, Stray Cat Blues and No Expectations); an episode of World of Action which features an interview with Jagger, who talks about his drugs arrest; and additional features that are "TBC".  The RRP is £14.99.

Univeral Pictures will re-release Roger Corman's 1975 cult favourite Death Race 2000 on September the 18th.

The film, which features Sylvester Stallone and David Carradine in a bloodthirsty coast-to-coast car race, has been available before. There's nothing in the press release to indicate whether this new version will improve on the rather shabby old version (last year's Region 1 version - from Buena Vista - had a commentary track, a ten-minute featurette and a trailer). Neither is there anything to indicate the technical specifications (the R1 version is 1.78:1). Hopefully Universal didn't blow their entire budget on the swanky new sleeve design (left). RRP is £19.99.

Yet another edition of The Hustler will be released by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment on September the 18th, this time as part of their Cinema Reserve collection of two-disc special editions.

The film will be presented in anamorphic 2.35:1 format, with Dolby Digital audio, and optional English HoH subtitles.

The bonus features are a commentary by Paul Newman, the director's daughter, Carol Rossen, and other cast and crew members; five Trick Shot Analysis by World Champion trick shot artist, Mike Massey; five featurettes; five How To Make A Shot; a stills gallery (nine images); and a theatrical trailer.

Apart from the new Cinema Reserve tin cladding, there seems to be little difference between this version and the one released in 2002 (which is currently available for less than a fiver in some places). RRP for the new edition is £15.99.


Kaleidoscope has announced that acclaimed writer / producer Robert Banks Stewart will be attending their September 2nd gathering, which will take place at the Amblecote Room, Stourbridge Town Hall, Stourbridge, West Midlands. Attendees to he event, which runs from noon to 7pm, will be treated to a wide array of archive television material, including the pilot of ABC's science fiction series Undermind, and an episode of Callan (both of which were written by Robert Banks Stewart). Entrace to the event is free (donations to Kaleidoscope's charity of choice - the RNLI - are encouraged! More details here:

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

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.


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