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NOVEMBER 16-30, 2005: NEWS ARCHIVES
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November 30, 2005 - Disney has formally announced next January's wave of four live action catalogue films making their proper Region 1 Disney DVD debuts. Two of the four -- the hellish 1981 dramedy The Devil and Max Devlin and 1969 made-for-TV comedy My Dog, The Thief -- will be presented in their original aspect ratios (1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen for Devlin, and 1.33:1 fullscreen for Thief). The other two films, which were released exclusively to the Disney Movie Club earlier this year, -- 1987 canine adventure Benji the Hunted and 1991's period drama Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken -- will both receive the same reformatted fullscreen treatment they did in the DMC. No bonus features are mentioned for any of the four, which will each carry a suggested retail price of $19.99.
Disney has also released a fact sheet for the upcoming Volume 1 DVDs of "Goof Troop" and "Quack Pack". Though this reveals little about the 3-episode February 14th DVDs that mark the format debut of these early-to-mid 1990s animated television series, we have established the page to be updated when more information comes in. For now, enjoy a look at large cover art for these low-priced compilations.
Finally, the studio has issued an announcement for The Greatest Game Ever Played. This document informs us of a release date change (the golf drama has been pushed back to April 4th) and it confirms all the bonus features we first mentioned yesterday. The Shia LaBeouf-headlined film will be presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 and accompanied by an audio commentary with director Bill Paxton and author/screenwriter Mark Frost, the featurette "Two Legends and the Greatest Game" on the real life Francis Ouimet and Harry Vardon, a making-of piece titled "A View From the Gallery", and a vintage interview with Ouimet from 1963. Cover artwork for Greatest, (more than a little reminiscent of The Rookie) is here.
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• Save $6 when you buy two Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVDs
November 29, 2005 - More than nine months have passed since the first pair of Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh DVDs were released, but no follow-up volumes have yet been issued to the general Region 1 public. This week, however, Target outlets are offering a pair of exclusive 2-packs holding a direct-to-video Pooh film (your choice of Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving or Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year) and All For One, One For All, a third volume in the series which presents mostly intact episodes of the Emmy-winning late '80s/early '90s animated series "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh." All For One was the first volume released in the United Kingdom (Region 2), where the series is called The Magical World of Winnie the Pooh and Disney is currently up to Volume 8. (More info on those here.) You can view the circular listing here, but to purchase either 2-pack, you'll have to visit one of the nearly 1,400 Target outlets around the country, as the offer is not available online. Thanks to "joltman" and "Kingpopper" for bringing this to light on the UD forum.
Also on the UD Forum, British Board of Film Classification watchdog "2099net" has uncovered the passing of nearly an hour and a half of bonus material on February's "50th Anniversary Edition" Platinum Edition, Lady and the Tramp. The Disc 2 supplements "Lady's Pedigree: The Making of Lady and the Tramp" and "Finding Lady: The Art of Storyboards & The Original 1943 Storyboard" will run over 52 minutes and just under 25 minutes, respectively, at PAL speed on the Region 2 release. See the breakdown here.
The latest issue of UD's free e-mail newsletter was sent out this morning. It included compact write-ups on the past week's updates (arranged by order of importance), holiday coupon codes, and more. To receive this weekly mailing and gain access to past issues, send a blank e-mail to UltimateDisneyemail@example.com.
Today is the final day to save 10% on everything at film memorabilia website MovieGoods.com. Their exhaustive catalogue offers posters, stills, prints, and more from almost every film ever to land in theaters, assuring you'll find a good gift for the person who has their share of DVDs. As a starting point, we've put together a Recommendations List, with twelve hand-picked popular and affordable posters of past and present Disney films, from The Little Mermaid to The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Use the coupon code THANK5 to save. This code expires at midnight. See the list and get more information here.
In time for their release date, we have reviews of two more Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVDs. The Muppet Christmas Carol finally presents the gang's beloved adaptation of Charles Dickens' timeless tale in widescreen and with a great transfer to boot. Unfortunately, the decision to include an unsightly fullscreen presentation as well has resulted in the loss of the fine making-of featurette from the film's previous DVD, and leaves director Brian Henson's audio commentary and the oft-restored "When Love is Gone" song both available only for pan-and-scan viewing. The Great Muppet Caper, the Muppets' second feature film, doesn't amount to any upgrade from the 4-year-old, now-discontinued Columbia TriStar disc. Remastering efforts have yielded little detectable difference in picture/sound and it is accompanied by just a "Pepe's Profiles" piece as far as bonuses go. Still, the funny and engrossing movie is highly recommended for those who don't already have it.
November 28, 2005 - Today's new review presents our first look at the Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition re-releases Disney is giving four Muppet films this week. Our first subject is the gang's debut big screen outing: The Muppet Movie. Did the Muppets' jump from the small screen to theaters pose problems for them? Is Disney's new DVD worth an upgrade for those who have Sony's discontinued DVD of the film? Read our detailed review for answers to these questions and many more.
November 27, 2005 - Disney's superhero action/comedy Sky High comes to DVD this week. UltimateDisney.com has you covered with our detailed DVD review and an interview with Michael Angarano, the actor who portrays the film's protagonist, Will Stronghold. Though its premise is reminiscent of several things, Sky High turns out to be a pleasant surprise - funny and clever, with appeal well beyond young viewers. Its DVD boasts first-rate picture and sound, but goes a little light on bonus features - offering a pair of featurettes, a blooper reel, an alternate opening, and music video. Earlier this month, star Angarano (whose credits include Seabiscuit, Almost Famous, and "Will & Grace") spoke with UD about making Sky High, being a film veteran at age 17, and more. Brains, Brawn, and Beyond: DVD Review / Interview.
November 24, 2005 - Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!
November 23, 2005 - Over a month has passed since Disney formally announced Lady and the Tramp, leaving many UD readers itching for some new titles worth marking calendars about. Over the weekend, Amazon.com added a bunch of listings, which we've looked into and found out about from a number of reliable retail sources. Together, these not-yet-announced discs fill that need for Disney DVD anticipation. In the wake of this month's box sets, '90s cartoon TV series "Goof Troop" and "Quack Pack" will make their format debuts in low-priced, 3-episode Volume 1 DVDs, each arriving on February 14th and carrying a list price of just $14.99. Such a route makes it unlikely for the two series to be released in their entirety by volume, as 65 "Goof Troop" episodes and 39 "Quack Pack" episodes were produced altogether. The only "bonus" these discs will tout is Disney's FastPlay system, which recreates the limited interaction of VHS.
Coming March 7th from Studio Ghibli: Hayao Miyazaki's latest critically-acclaimed fantasy Howl's Moving Castle, the long-awaited re-release of Miyazaki's beloved 1988 drama My Neighbor Totoro, and Miyazaki-produced, Yoshifumi Kondo-directed Whisper of the Heart. Each will contain the original Japanese audio and noteworthy Disney-supervised English dubs, in addition to 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen presentations and a bevy of extras to be announced. Also on March 7, Disney will usher in Meet the Orchestra - First Instruments, the 20th entry in the bestselling Baby Einstein series, for tots 1 and up.
Finally, due March 14th and somewhat of an oddity is the first "Unrated Edition" for a Walt Disney Pictures film: Remember the Titans: Director's Cut. Though the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced 2000 football drama reportedly began filming with an R rating in mind before winding up a mostly family-friendly PG, don't expect a far grittier cut to be presented. From the sounds of it, the six deleted scenes from the film's widely-owned current DVD will be edited back into the film. Released alongside an unrated edition of earlier Bruckheimer/Denzel Washington drama Crimson Tide, this extended cut of Titans will likely be accompanied by the same previous bonus features, an identical $19.99 SRP, and, of course, the obligatory slipcover.
Modest-sized cover art has been added for "Goof Troop", "Quack Pack", and Remember the Titans. See them all in Upcoming Cover Art.
The latest issue of UD's free e-mail newsletter was just sent out. It included an exclusive coupon code for UD readers. To receive this weekly mailing and gain access to the archives, e-mail UltimateDisneyfirstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATED! UltimateDisney.com's Contest #12 ended last night. The response to this giveaway of 5 Disney Park-exclusive DVDs was one of the greatest a UD contest has ever garnered - thanks to all who entered! After several hours of sorting through the entries and validating the credentials provided, we're happy to announce a winner. Newsletter subscriber and site reader Itai of Kfar Sava, Israel is the randomly-selected Contest #12 winner. He will receive a set of 5 Disney Park DVDs - Magic Kingdom, Disney Studios, EPCOT, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Disneyland: Commemorative Edition - from the Park merchandise website ShoptheParks.com. UD readers in the United States can now participate in our just-launched Contest #13 to win one of five copies of next month's "Gargoyles" Season 2, Volume 1, holding 3 discs and 26 episodes of the popular mid-'90s animated television series. There are three ways to win - a site Scavenger Hunt, a "Gargoyles" trivia contest, and the creativity-friendly "Caption This!" - and anyone with a US address can enter all three. For more information and to enter, visit Contest #13: Gargoyles Giveaway.
Today, Aaron Wallace has a review of "The Golden Girls" The Complete Third Season. This 3-disc box set, the '80s sitcom's third in a year, follows a trend started by its two predecessors. In spite of perhaps too strong a reliance on flashbacks, the 25 episodes hold up as a "delightful collection", but Buena Vista's DVD release stumbles with "acceptable but imperfect picture and sound and a poor excuse for bonus features" that should again leave fans yearning supplements that honor their show merely to grumble or look elsewhere. Read on.
Today is Tuesday which means new DVDs are now available at your store and snowhite8 is here to sort you out as this week's new home video offerings from Disney. Watch the latest installment of her Weekly Video Update series (1:05, 848 Kb, WMV).
The laughs flow steadily in "Home Improvement" The Complete Third Season, the subject of our latest DVD review, which is available today. The Tim Allen family comedy series was the top-rated of all non-news programs in its third year and it holds up quite well, offering no shortage of entertaining storylines for its cast of characters. Disney's 3-disc set delivers fine video and audio quality plus commendable design and packaging, but it again comes up short in the bonus features department. Still, at its discounted release price, it amounts to just over $1 per episode, making this satisfying collection something no fan of sitcoms should be without. Read the full review.
November 21, 2005 - In UD's newest interview, Aaron Wallace catches up with Don Grady. Grady launched a career in show business (as Don Agrati) in 1957 as a cast member on Walt Disney's popular daily variety series "The Mickey Mouse Club." Three years later, he took on a leading role in "My Three Sons", playing Fred MacMurray's middle son Robbie Douglas in what would become one of the longest-running sitcoms ever. While Grady left acting more than twenty years ago, this decade has brought him back to Disney. Now a musician, Grady's diverse list of credits includes scoring theme park attractions at Universal Studios, films, television series, and bonus features on more than a dozen Disney DVDs. Most recently, Grady has teamed up with Walt Disney Records to create original compositions for a pair of Disney Princess-themed CDs. In From Mouseketeer to Musician: An Interview with Don Grady, the former actor/current composer reflects upon his two television hits, tells about a career come full circle, and discusses the just-released Disney's Princess Christmas Album. Read on.
This month has seen more of the Disney studio's television series come to DVD than any other. In UD's latest review, Renata Joy covers "Tales from Avonlea" The Complete First Season, a 3-disc set holding the first thirteen episodes of the hour-long Disney Channel period drama. Loosely adapted from the writings of Lucy Maud Montgomery, this series consistently pleases with its character-driven small town tales. While Disney's Season 1 box set is less than half the price of Sullivan Entertainment's Canadian equivalent, it disappoints in nearly every other regard. Picture and sound quality are remarkably weak for a barely teenaged show, there's nary a bonus feature to be found, and several minutes are trimmed from most episodes.
November 18, 2005 - Disney is boldly running with miscalculation for its slightly-revised Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition cover art. While the entirely absent "Platinum Edition" moniker should still appear atop the actual case to establish this as the seventh in Disney's popular semiannual DVD series, the "50th Anniversary Edition" label will be coming a couple of months too late for this 1955 animated classic's two-disc re-release. Oops. View both versions of the cover here.
The Walt Disney Company announced its Fourth Quarter 2005 earnings in a conference call yesterday afternoon and the session was marked by disappointments. Executives spoke of weaker than expected sales on the summer's direct-to-video sequels Tarzan II and Lilo & Stitch 2 and underperforming theatrical outings. In the highest growing area of home video (the Television on DVD market), the studio was said to have a "modest" library of titles creating little overall effect, despite Touchstone's "Lost" becoming the year's top-selling TV drama DVD. (Anyone else think a little promotion and effort might make more of the popular shows Disney does own? Like these and many others.) Most of the studio's hopes lie with four big budget films making their way to theaters over the next nine months (two-week box-office topper Chicken Little, next month's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, and next summer's Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest), but another four films were mentioned as being potential hits including comedy remake The Shaggy Dog and sports drama Invincible. As for the future of home video, in light of substantial and continued growth in number of releases on the market, the competition for shelf space and sales has intensified, leaving Disney to ponder potentially reducing the volume of content they release on DVD. The Company also expressed a desire to invest more in animation. You can listen to the hour-long conference call online here.
November 17, 2005 - Our latest in-depth DVD review covers the just-released Old Yeller: 2-Movie Collection, which pairs up Disney's beloved 1957 family drama with its little-seen 1963 sequel Savage Sam. Most stand to do better with the original film's terrific two-disc Vault Disney set. While most of the excellent bonus features have been ported over here, this new higher-priced set loses the cast commentary, lowers the average bitrate with extra compression, and only adds the same lackluster presentation of an unsatisfying sequel that it had on its own bargain bin DVD released in 2003. Still, for the slow-to-buy who have an interest in owning both films, this new two-disc set isn't bad. Read the full review.
Disney has issued a press release for "Grey's Anatomy": Season One, which comes to DVD next Valentine's Day in a 2-disc set. The first 9 episodes of the hour-long medical drama will be presented in 16x9 widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 and accompanied by exclusive unaired scenes, cast and creator audio commentaries, "Anatomy of a Pilot", an avant-garde trailer, and a behind-the-scenes featurette.
November 16, 2005 - With thirteen days until release date, we have updated the Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVDs press release with a baker's dozen worth of menus from the remastered re-releases of The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, The Muppet Christmas Carol, and Muppet Treasure Island. Click here to view all images.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• "Five Mile Creek": The Complete First Season - Fans of this early Disney Channel hour-long drama are bound to be disappointed by unacceptable picture, lacking audio, and a complete absence of bonus features. The series itself may be remembered more fondly than it deserves to be, with insufficient characterization and weak dialogue proving to be burdens, despite gradual improvement.
• "Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers" Volume 1 - Absent of the premise-establishing 5-part movie and any bonus features, plus picture quality is inconsistent and mostly lacking. On the plus side, the show is a lot of fun and the set provides more than ten hours of it at a reasonable price.
• "DuckTales" Volume 1 - While not without disappointments -- it is completely void of extras and the 5-part pilot is oddly absent -- the beloved series at the 3-disc set's center holds up as one of the finest animated creations to grace the airwaves.
• The 3 Wise Men - Traditionally animated film from Spain details the magi's intriguing trip to Bethlehem with a style that crosses the classic Biblical epic with the modern fantasy movie. While it's a somewhat interesting alternative to mainstream animation, the film does not add up and the Wal-Mart exclusive DVD lacks extras and the original Spanish theatrical version.
Recent Touchstone DVD Reviews:
• "Scrubs": The Complete Second Season - Fine DVD treatment continues for this Touchstone sitcom, as this 3-disc set boasts improvements in picture and sound, a lower retail price, and another great slate of extras including six commentaries and several interesting featurettes. The show at the center remains practically unchanged from Season 1; its fresh style, winning sense of humor, and talented ensemble all add up to one highly entertaining half-hour series.
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