All right, thanks for your patience while I was away at the end of last week. My father-in-law passed away, so my wife and I flew across the country to attend his memorial and see family.

But there’s a good deal to catch up on today news-wise, so let’s get right to it. First things first...

Yes, we are aware of the rumors that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is planning to bring The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films to 4K Ultra HD. They originated on the excellent 4K Filme.de website, which (I’m told) found the titles briefly listed on a Warner B2B website for German retailers. All six films were indicated for release on UHD (with the Extended Editions included) and with a tentative street date given of June 25, 2020. All right, now let’s put this in context...

First of all, there’s no doubt that Warner Bros. is going to release these films on physical 4K Ultra HD. These are literally their most demanded catalog titles on the format. Also, 2021 is the 20th anniversary of Fellowship of the Ring. And Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings prequel series, which reportedly begins production next month and will apparently be in production for two years, is likely to debut on Amazon Prime in late 2022. So the studio is certainly going to want to get those films ready for 4K release by then. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

So I spent a couple hours up in Hollywood yesterday afternoon to cover something pretty interesting…

At a press event at the Screen Actors Guild, members of the UHD Alliance, three major consumer electronics manufacturers, and leading Hollywood filmmakers officially announced a new partnership effort to implement Filmmaker Mode as an extension of the 4K Ultra HD spec.

The idea is to ensure that when you watch a movie at home in 4K on your new Ultra HD display, whether from a disc, stream, or cable/satellite broadcast, it will look exactly as it should. UHD Alliance research suggests that as many as 80% of people who buy 4K TVs never change the settings out of the box. This means irritating features like motion smoothing and unnecessary processing are being applied to the image by default – processing that actually takes the picture away from the filmmakers’ intent.

What the Filmmaker Mode will do is to allow the user – either with one push of a button on the remote, or with a very easy and obvious menu setting – to set the TV’s display parameters to most accurately display the 4K content. This would be a baseline setting for the image – any added adjustments signaled by HDR10, HDR10+, or Dolby Vision metadata would happen on top of that setting. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

I had the pleasure last night of attending a press screening of Damien Chazelle’s new Neil Armstrong biopic, First Man. So let me give you my non-spoiler review…

A little background first: As someone who’s been a lifelong supporter and aficionado of the space program, I’ve seen every film there is on the subject, from Apollo 13 and The Right Stuff to the most obscure documentary. I’ve listened to most of the CAPCOM recordings, I have DVDs and Blu-rays containing almost every foot of archival footage shot by NASA and the astronauts during their missions. I’ve been to NASA facilities, I’ve seen launches, and I’m fortunate enough to even know a few astronauts. It’s with that lifetime of experience that I can say this: First Man is the single most realistic dramatic film about the subject yet made.

The level of detail exceeds even Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 and by a good measure. In Howard’s film, great as it is, there are a couple of things that just aren’t quite right. For example, the mission patch plaques on the wall of Mission Control are painted versions of the souvenir patches sold to the public, not the actual patches the astronauts wore. The NASA emblems on characters’ flight suits are modern, not period accurate. They’re little things, sure, but for the knowledgable, they can throw you out of the moment. But Chazelle and his team nail all of those little details, right down to the tiniest stitch. It’s as if First Man was actually shot in the 1960s, a level of verisimilitude and immersion that’s rare, even for a film of this type. [Read on here...]

Published in My Two Cents

All right, we’ve been busy here at The Bits these last couple days. Just a quick note first: Tomorrow is my birthday, so I’m not working. I turn 49, if you can believe it, which I can’t. But that’s how these things go. In any case, to make up for it, we’ve got a bunch of good stuff for you all to enjoy today. So let’s get to it...

First, I’ve just spent the last six months putting Samsung’s launch 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the UBD-K8500, through its paces and I have my full review for you to check out today. Suffice it to say that there’s never been a debut player for any format (that I know of) that offers so much quality and performance for such a low price. If you’re thinking about upgrading to 4K Ultra HD and you’re looking for the best value for your dollar, this is the player for you. [Read on here…]

Published in My Two Cents

[Editor’s Note: Be sure to like TheDigitalBits.com page on Facebook for breaking news, site updates on the go, discussion with our staff and other readers, giveaways and more!]

All right, sorry for the absence there for a couple days. I got hit by some kind of flu on Tuesday night and figured it would pass quickly. Instead it just got worse each day – throbbing headache, fever, body aches, lungs full of muck – the whole smash. I spent all of Wednesday and Thursday in bed in a haze of sleep, cold sweats, and flu meds. Finally, today, I’m functional again and feeling more like a human being. Moral of the story is: Avoid this flu at all costs if you can. It’s no fun.  [Read on here…]

Published in My Two Cents

Bits Latest Tweets

The Digital Bits
Today on The Bits – @ShoutFactory’s Big Trouble in Little China reviewed, #ChristmasVacation at 30, #TwilightZone, Shout/Scream titles going out of print, new Kino & more thedigitalbits.com/columns/my-two…
The Digital Bits
Today on The Bits – @MichaelCoate and Thomas A. Christie celebrate thirty years of National Lampoon’s #ChristmasVacation thedigitalbits.com/columns/histor…
The Digital Bits
Bits #BD Review – @timsalmons re-boards the Pork Chop Express for @Scream_Factory's Limited Edition #steelbook #Bluray release of John Carpenter's Big Trouble in Little China. @BillHuntBits #johncarpenter thedigitalbits.com/item/big-troub…