Microsoft comments on rumors that they’ll be putting Blu-Ray players in Xbox 360s and the MPAA’s best anti-piracy agents have bounties on their heads. Read more of this week’s DVD news, plus find out what’s new in stores!
This week in DVD news:
Format Wars: Episode II
Microsoft has denied a recent rumor that they’d be putting Blu-Ray players into their Xbox 360 consoles following Blu-Ray’s victory over HD-DVD in the format wars of 2008. Too bad, because the debunked rumor sparked the salivary glands of next-gen home entertainment nuts worldwide when it broke last week via the Chinese-language Economic Daily News. For now, Xbox 360 owners will have to make do with their in-console HD-DVD players — but hey, at least HD-DVDs will go on sale soon!
Then again, Blu-Ray releases are looking sweeter and sweeter as former HD-DVD supporters Paramount and Universal start catching up their slates. Coming soon from Paramount are catalog titles Face/Off, Next, and Bee Movie (all May 20), with recent releases Cloverfield and There Will be Blood following shortly (June 3). The Spiderwick Chronicles will be their first day-and-date Blu-Ray release on June 24.
Likewise, Universal has announced that their first day-and-date release will be Neil Marshall’s Doomsday, hitting shelves in DVD and Blu-Ray on July 29.
Format Wars: Episode III?
Perhaps the HD-DVD-Blu-Ray squabble was small potatoes compared to what’s on the horizon: downloadable viewing vs. DVD. (Duh-duh-duhhhhhhhhn!) Lobbying the first volley in a sure-to-be skirmish was Apple, who announced last week that new releases would now be available for purchase and download to iTunes, superseding the need for physical DVDs. Somewhere, Blockbuster execs are weeping, free microwaveable popcorn in hand.
In happier news for DVD executives, Malaysian forces “smashed” an illicit DVD-pirating ring last week, destroying an operation that could have yielded “seven million pirated discs, potentially generating criminal revenues of more than US$22 million,” and arresting all three (three!) men running the joint. Long live legitimate DVD production! In a separate article, such busts are credited to two crack MPAA agents in particular: a pair of black Labradors named Lucky and Flo. The two DVD-sniffing dogs are so good that they’ve had doggie hits put out on them to the tune of $30,000, reports the Houston Chronicle.
— South Park: The 11th Season hits DVD August 12 — you know the one. The season with Guitar Hero! In the spirit of the episode called “Guitar Queer-o,” the Comedy Central release will reportedly come with all-uncensored episodes and three downloadable Rock Band songs.
— DigitalBits names the best titles of 2007, with the Blade Runner: 5-Disc Collector’s Edition taking top honors. (Watch it in Blu-Ray/HD for details remastered with pinpoint precision.)
— Mark your calendars for September’s release of the most so-wrong-it’s-hilarious show on TV: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Season 3. The three-disc release with all 15 episodes will retail for $39.98 and include 3 featurettes, a gag reel, two episode commentaries, and more.
— In the market for DVDs of your favorite shows not yet released on DVD? LA Times Gold Derby blogger Tom O’Neill has taken time off of waging war against LA film critics to play consumer guide for shoppers. He’s got the skinny on Emmy screeners for sale on EBay for such hot television shows as Entourage, the complete TNT/TCM/TBS slate, and The Closer, which sold to the highest bidder for $7.49 in cool, hard, Paypal dollars. Read more here.
Finally, drool over this piece of DVD swag: a desktop-sized bust of Christian Bale as Batman to be packaged with the Blu-Ray version of Batman Begins…but only in Japan. (Via Gizmodo.)
Click for this week’s new releases!
Fans of the unusual should delight in Todd Haynes’ experimental casting of six different actors as American icon Bob Dylan; in the edgiest move of all, he cast a woman (Cate Blanchett) to play Dylan in his electric era, a performance so daring it earned her an Oscar nod. How audacious!
The Weinstein Co. has given us the gift of the 2-disc release, and we should all be very grateful. On the first disc, jump to select songs in the flick complete with on-screen lyrics (Dylan is, like, such a poet) and hear Haynes’ in-depth commentary. Then pop in disc #2 for an I’m Not There bonanza, including an unreleased 18-minute flashcard trailer, a la “Subterranean Homesick Blues”; a tribute to Heath Ledger; Ben Whishaw and Marcus Carl Franklin’s audition tapes; and the Dylanology guide to all things Bob Dylan.
Eva Longoria’s first major jump from Desperate Housewives to the big screen was a critical and commercial dud in February — but hey, you can rent/buy it this week on DVD! After all, with summer blockbuster season kicking off (thanks, Iron Man!) you probably need a quiet night in, and a romantic comedy about a dead bridezilla haunting her ex on earth sounds like just the thing to hit the spot…
Over Her Dead Body boasts both a widescreen version and a full screen version. Silly me, you wanted bonus features — okay, first, you’ve got a widescreen version of the film… and then there’s also a full-screen version. Of the same film. And nothing else.
A romantic comedy starring Hilary Swank? Yeah, right. The former Next Karate Kid — and, yes, two-time Oscar-winner — makes for the genre’s perhaps most ill-suited lead as a widow getting motivational letters from her dead husband (Gerard Butler).
What could be worse than actually watching P.S. I Love You? Watching a music video by James Blunt (one of a few extras on the release).
The man formerly known as O’Shea Jackson (rapper-turned-urban comedy fixture Ice Cube) here scores his fourth rotten movie in a row, to which we say, for shame, Mr. Cube. You can do better. Even with SNL’s Tracey Morgan and dapper-haired comedian Katt Williams in tow, the comedy about church-thieving losers earned too little laughs from critics. Then again, it also stars Flavor of Love‘s New York (Tiffany Pollard) in her first movie role…so it was good for something.
There’s actually a lot here, including outtakes, a pop-up trivia viewing option, and commentary from first-time writer-director David E. Talbert. Disc also includes the unusual treat of Talbert’s on-set wrap speech.
Daring in a way only indie films seem to be these days, Teeth brings the urban legend of the vagina dentata to the screen. What is vagina dentata? If you have to ask, maybe you shouldn’t watch this horror comedy — which if you haven’t guessed, is rated R. Pic stars newcomer Jess Weixler and the kid from Nip/Tuck.
Director Mitchell Lichtenstein’s commentary should prove most insightful. Fun fact: He’s also an actor (he played Simon, the gay boyfriend in The Wedding Banquet) and is the son of pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Shocking as it is, the latest star vehicle for Paris Hilton did not strike gold with critics. We could count the number of critics who gave it a fresh review on, well, three fingers. The tale of a hot girl and her disgusting BFF made $1,301,176 to date — which leaves a little over $7.6 million to go if it’s going to make up its losses in home video sales.
In the disc’s most distinctive extra, Paris Hilton puts makeup on lead actor Joel David Moore. We’d rather eat paint chips for two hours.