My Two Cents
Tuesday, 11 August 2020 16:50

Ghost in the Shell 4K official, Criterion’s Essential Fellini, Warner follow-up, and Disney responds

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All right, so... I’ve got some interesting follow up on our Disney and Warner news from the past few days.

First though, we’ve got another review for you and more announcement news...

Tim has just turned in his thoughts on Steve Beck’s Thir13en Ghosts (2001), coming soon to Collector’s Edition Blu-ray from Scream Factory. Check that out here.

In release news, Lionsgate has just officially announced the 4K Ultra HD and Digital 4K release of Mamoru Oshii’s landmark anime Ghost in the Shell (1995) on 9/8, as expected. The 4K presentation will include Dolby Vision HDR and Dolby Atmos audio (in both English and Japanese, along with the original Japanese 2.0 LPCM audio), as well as both new and legacy special edition material. [Read on here...]

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Both the 4K and enclosed Blu-ray will include feature-length audio commentary with Mary Claypool (animation writer and English language scriptwriter), Eric Calderon (animation producer and writer), Richard Epcar (voice of Batou), and Charles Solomon (animation historian and critic), along with a pair of brand-new featurettes (Accessing Section 9: 25 Years into the Future and Landscapes & Dreamscapes: The Art and Architecture of Ghost in the Shell). To this, the Blu-ray will add the original Production Report and Digital Works featurettes, as well as the theatrical trailer. Given the Blu-ray includes new content, I’ve asked the studio if the HD presentation is remastered as well and I’ll post an update when I hear back. Meanwhile, you can see the cover artwork below.

Meanwhile, Paramount has set Most Wanted for release on Blu-ray and Digital on 9/22. The film stars Josh Hartnett.

Lionsgate has added The Shadow of Violence to their September slate on DVD and Digital on 9/1.

Screen Media has The Outpost coming on Blu-ray and DVD on 8/18.

RLJE Films will release Z on VOD, Digital HD, DVD and Blu-ray on 9/1.

Gravitas Ventures is releasing Ron Cicero and Kimo Easterwood’s new documentary Happy Happy Joy Joy: The Ren & Stimpy Story on Blu-ray and DVD on 10/13. I’ve seen this and it’s pretty good. If you were a fan of Ren & Stimpy, which was a groundbreaking and provocative piece of TV animation in the 1990s that (along with Batman: The Animated Series) influenced everything that came after it, you’ll find the documentary fascinating. But be aware: It’s also pretty disturbing the more you learn about creator John Kricfalusi’s personal issues and troubling behavior behind-the-scenes. You can see the trailer here.

And Sony will release The Burnt Orange Heresy on Blu-ray, DVD, and Digital on 9/25.

But here’s the big announcement today: Our friends at The Criterion Collection have just revealed Essential Fellini, a 15-disc Blu-ray box set that includes 14 of the director’s best films newly-restored, along with short and full-length documentaries, commentaries, and a pair of illustrated books. The films will include Variety Lights (1950), The White Sheik (1952), I vitelloni (1953), La strada (1954), Il bidone (1955), Nights of Cabiria (1957), La dolce vita (1960), (1963), Juliet of the Spirits (1965), Fellini Satyricon (1969), Roma (1972), Amarcord (1973), And the Ship Sails On (1983), and Intervista (1987). The director’s short film Toby Dammit (1968) will also be included. You can see the cover artwork above and also below.

Criterion's Essential Fellini Blu-ray box set

All right, now then... a bit of follow up on those news stories about Warner and Disney from the last couple days. Let’s start with Warner Bros. first...

Per AT&T CFO John Stephens in Media Play News today, the layoffs at WarnerMedia are “not about a need to adjust anything, but rather to make WarnerMedia perform better going forward.” He’s quoted as saying: “The biggest thing, the most exciting thing for us [going forward] is HBO Max.” What this means for home entertainment is as yet unknown. WarnerMedia has not, apparently, disclosed its home entertainment financials this week. So we’ll have to wait and see. Though so far, I’ve not heard from any friends yet in the rank-and-file at WBHE who’ve lost jobs. Fingers crossed, that continues to be the case. My best to everyone at the studio—we’re thinking of you.

Now then... Disney. Something interesting happened this morning: I got an official statement response to my post via “a Disney spokesperson.” It reads as follows...

“There are no plans to discontinue releases in a particular format. We evaluate each release on a case by case basis and pursue the best strategy to bring our content into consumer homes across platforms that meet a variety of demands.”

All right, let me put that into context for you. First there’s this: I am 100% confident in the accuracy of my reporting on Friday (see here). My sources are good on this and trust me when I say that I took the time last week to make damn sure of it. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind of that fact.

But this isn’t rocket science: Every single one of you out there knows that catalog film releases on physical 4K especially have been an afterthought for this studio. The only ones we’ve gotten are exactly what we reported: Marvel, Star Wars, or Disney/Pixar animated fare. Yes, Home Alone and Hocus Pocus are coming to physical 4K, but there are many more (and more obvious) live action catalog titles the studio could release on physical 4K from the Fox, Buena Vista, and Touchstone live action libraries... and they haven’t done so.

What I think happened is that the studio was focused almost entirely on their Disney+ launch, then the pandemic hit and suddenly theatrical, theme parks, and consumer products all tanked, and Disney has since then been focused almost entirely on stemming the bleeding. But the studio’s decision-makers didn’t just take their eyes off physical home entertainment media, their eyes were barely on it in the first place. Then my report broke, and got pretty widespread coverage, and someone at Disney said, “Oh, shit... we’d better issue a statement.”

You know what? Good. Because ignoring physical 4K and physical Blu-ray for their massive catalog library is a huge mistake. And maybe, just maybe, someone there at the studio is finally starting to realize it.

However, it’s going to take a lot more than a statement to convince me, other disc fans, and anyone else that Disney still takes physical media on Blu-ray and 4K seriously. The proof is in the pudding: When and if Disney starts releasing much-wanted Fox, Buena Vista, and Touchstone films on physical 4K and Blu-ray—not just digitally and not just on Disney+—then and only then will I believe it.

Patton, Tombstone, Aliens, Speed, Kingdom of Heaven, Master and Commander, The Abyss, True Lies, the Die Hard sequels, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Fight Club, The Rock, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon, The Nightmare Before Christmas, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, TRON, TRON Legacy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Rushmore, National Treasure 1 & 2, Big Trouble in Little China, the Pirates of the Caribbean films, etc, etc, etc. BRING THEM ON.

Enough said.

All right, here’s a look at the cover artwork for Ghost in the Shell 4K, the Essential Fellini, and the official cover artwork for Warner’s Full Metal Jacket in 4K (street date 9/22, and yes it IS now available for pre-order on Amazon). We’ll add the Criterion Amazon pre-order link when it becomes available...

Ghost in the Shell (4K Ultra HD) Full Metal Jacket (4K Ultra HD) Essential Fellini (Blu-ray Disc)

Finally today, these past couple of weeks have been exhausting. For you guys, I’m sure given the news, and certainly for me as I’ve worked hard to track down one industry rumor after another. This on top of our regular efforts to carry on with business as usual here at The Bits—news, disc reviews and the like—in spite of the chaos and loss of advertising revenue this pandemic has caused. I’ve even been doing extra work on the side to make sure we can keep the lights on here at the site, and so far so good. Unfortunately, that extra work has made it hard for me personally to get 4K reviews done, but I do hope to get back to that soon (Spartacus just came in—I had to buy that myself as Universal didn’t send it—and I expect to have Flash Gordon soon as well). Thankfully, Tim and Dennis have been doing yeomen’s work on that front here at the site in the meantime.

But given all this, it’s time once more for me to ask that if you believe in and appreciate the work we do here at The Digital Bits, please consider making a one time (click here) or recurring contribution (click here) to the site via PayPal. It makes a difference and we do appreciate it very much. So thank you in advance for your support. And my thanks to all of you for reading the site—you longtime readers and those of you who have only recently discovered us too. We’re grateful for all of you.

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That’s all for today. As always, stay tuned...

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)



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