Displaying items by tag: The Future of Physical Media

One of the most interesting aspects of having served as the editor of The Digital Bits website for over twenty years now, is that I’ve had a front row seat to some pretty dramatic changes in the home video industry.

At 53, I’m old enough to remember watching movies on black-and-white televisions—square analog displays that required the viewer to adjust a pair of “rabbit ear” antenna to get a decent picture. Like some of you, I saw the advent of cable television and the arrival of VHS and Betamax videotape—a technology the film industry fought tooth-and-nail to kill until its profit potential finally became obvious.

And of course, as a longtime film enthusiast, I’m someone who strongly embraced the Laserdisc format back when it was the only option for watching movies in their original widescreen aspect ratios at home.

I founded The Digital Bits in late 1997 (it actually began as an industry newsletter shared by email in late ’96) in part because I knew that DVD would be a hit. Having worked at a record store a decade earlier, when Compact Discs took the music world by storm, it was obvious to me that consumers would embrace the idea of movies on a disc that was—to them—essentially identical to the CDs they already loved. [Read on here...]

Published in Articles

There’s some new release news to report today, and then we’re going to return to the topic of physical media in the wake of the news about Samsung on Friday.

But first, late on Friday afternoon, Criterion announced their May Blu-ray release slate, which is set to include William Wyler’s The Heiress (Cat #974 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 5/7, an updating of David Mamet’s House of Games (Cat #399 – Blu-ray and DVD) and Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (Cat #975 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 5/14, Claire Denis’ Let the Sunshine In (Cat #976 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 5/21, and Agnès Varda’s One Sings, the Other Doesn’t (Cat #978 – Blu-ray and DVD) and David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (Cat #977 – Blu-ray and DVD) on 5/28. We’ve updated our Criterion Spines Project page here at The Bits to include these titles and you can read more about them here.

Speaking of Criterion, we also learned on Friday that the Russian film studio Mosfilm has completed a new 2K restoration of Sergei Bondarchuk’s epic 1966-67 film adaptation of War and Peace. The 7-hour/4-part series is legendary in cinema history as the biggest production ever mounted, besting even David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia by having an essentially unlimited budget, a bottomless supply of props and costumes from the country’s state museums, and a cast of thousands. The film was shot on Russian Sovscope 70mm film stock, but unfortunately it’s suffered from preservation issues over the years. That’s meant the only good options available for viewing in recent years have been DVD versions of modest quality. [Read on here...]

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