UltimateDisney.com: The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD
FEBRUARY 16-28, 2006: NEWS ARCHIVES
See Upcoming Schedule for the latest announcements. / Tuesday's New Release Chart
February 28, 2006 - The latest issue of UD's free semi-weekly newsletter was sent out today. It's a great way to stay on top of the site's offerings even when you forget to visit the site. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to UltimateDisneyfirstname.lastname@example.org.
On Sunday, we passed along newly-discovered release dates from a newsletter for Disney investors, with the stipulations that the dates were subject to change and that some already had. Today's item is proof of that. Riding its unprecedented popularity on iTunes and in the soundtrack market, BVHE has reportedly bumped up the Disney Channel original movie High School Musical to May 23rd. This news comes from USA Today, which reveals that the telemovie's extras will include multi-angle dance lessons by director Kenny Ortega, an option to watch the film with song lyric subtitles, "behind-the-bleachers footage", and music videos for "We're All in This Together" and (previously unreleased) "I Can't Take My Eyes Off You." We can expect an official studio announcement soon. Thanks to "LizzieMcGuire" for alerting us to this article.
February 27, 2006 - Disney has fleshed out their initial fact sheet for next week's wave of Studio Ghibli DVDs and turned it into a full-blown press release. The extended announcement goes into detail about the bonus features that are included on two-disc sets Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Whisper of the Heart. Unfortunately, UD has yet to receive review copies of these and next week's other anticipated releases, which is why critiques remain yet to come.
Believe it or not, UD has now amassed 400 DVD reviews. Aaron Wallace's critique of the Disney World concert program Jim Brickman at the Magic Kingdom: The Disney Songbook takes us to our current total. He deems the Walt Disney Records DVD "a very nice complement" to the related album released last fall. The concert, which aired last November on PBS, offers renowned pianist Brickman's inspired new takes on classic Disney tunes as well as some of his previous hits, many with the help of guest vocalists. It also boasts two brief, but enjoyable bonuses. Read the full review.
The eyes of most Disney fans turn this week to one DVD: Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition. True to tradition, the 2-disc set is Buena Vista Home Entertainment's only new release of the week. But A&E Home Video brings out "Ellen" The Complete Season Three, the subject of our 399th DVD review. Aaron Wallace calls the oft-reshuffled Touchstone sitcom's third season "the funniest and most adventuresome of them all." While video and audio are consistent, this is the show's first set to depart from cast and crew audio commentaries, leaving an under-5-minute blooper reel as the only extra beside the returning text biographies. Nevertheless, the critic concludes, "If you're going to check out any of 'Ellen''s five seasons on DVD -- and you should -- then this is your best bet. Read on...
With Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition being released to DVD tomorrow, today is our last opportunity for preview. We had enough foresight to realize this, so it works out that today's seven new screencaps from the 2-disc set take us up to 51 overall, marking the 51st anniversary that the film is celebrating. Check out the last set here.
February 26, 2006 - The Walt Disney Company holds over 75 years worth of production artwork from its impressive body of cartoons in a building called the Animation Research Library (ARL). The secretive repository is home to roughly 65 million pieces of art representing nearly all of Disney's animated shorts, featurettes, and feature films, a catalog which makes the ARL the largest collection of animated art in the world. This closely-guarded resource has been invaluable to the studio's artists (and DVD content producers) over the years and largely off-limits to the public. But, recently the ARL opened its doors for an unprecedented tour by select online outlets. UD was fortunate enough to be among the invited and our California correspondent "Pluto Region1" got a first-hand look at the magic preserved within. Among the treasures she observed were three-dimensional character models, background paintings which needed rescuing, and plenty of art from Lady and the Tramp, much of which can be seen on the DVD. She recounts this rare experience in Touring the Disney Animation Research Library: A Report From An Undisclosed Location, with over 20 pictures of the facility's remarkable offerings.
Thanks to UD reader Peter, who referred us to the recently-published latest issue of Disney's Investor Relations Newsletter (PDF), we have news on a number of upcoming Disney DVDs as well as confirmations of a few on which we've passed earlier rumblings. Some of the release dates are in conflict with what has been announced by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, so the usual "subject to change" grain of salt applies until official press releases are issued. If they hold up, however, currently-in-theaters films Glory Road and Eight Below will be heading to DVD on June 6th and 13th, respectively. The vaguely-previewed Dumbo: Special Edition remains slated for June 13th, while the Disney Channel's recent hit movie High School Musical will arrive the same day. Once pegged for April, Leroy & Stitch, the feature-length direct-to-video conclusion to "Lilo & Stitch: The Series", will now bow on June 27th.
In addition, a pair of critically-drubbed but high-grossing Touchstone films are due to be revisited as Special Editions on June 6th: Tom Cruise's Cocktail (1988) and Adam Sandler's The Waterboy (1998). That same day, a debut DVD volume of "Power Rangers Mystic Force", the 14th incarnation of the long-running series, is set to land, presumably holding five episodes as the "S.P.D." discs before it did. A more recently flogged Touchstone film, Annapolis, will head to DVD on June 27th, while more military academy mayhem can be had in ESPN's telemovie Code Breakers, due June 13th. "Home Improvement": The Complete Fourth Season is also listed for June 13th. This last date may be bumped up a bit, but it is definitely scheduled to hit in time for Father's Day. In fact, information from retail sources reveals that the first three seasons of the hit Touchstone family sitcom will be undergoing temporary price reductions (TPRs) in late May, in conjunction with the paternal holiday and Season 4's DVD debut. The same time, TPRs are also in order for ESPN's male-oriented series "The Playmakers" and "Tilt": The Complete First Season for Father's Day, and Pixar two-disc sets Toy Story: 10th Anniversary Edition and Toy Story 2: 2-Disc Special Edition to mark the big screen release of Cars. Finally, while they won't be making their prescribed release dates, nondescript DVDs of the Disney Channel series "JoJo's Circus" and "Kim Possible" are also apparently on the way for 2006.
Veteran Disney actors Don Knotts and Darren McGavin passed away over the weekend in their early 80s. Knotts and McGavin teamed up in the '70s comedies Hot Lead & Cold Feet and No Deposit, No Return. Knotts is also fondly remembered for his starring roles in The Apple Dumpling Gang, its sequel The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again, Gus and Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. Most recently, he voiced Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Chicken Little. McGavin's credits include A Christmas Story, The Natural, Billy Madison, and 1991 Disney TV movie Perfect Harmony.
February 22, 2006 - Thumbnail cover art has been posted for Volumes 1 and 2 of Walt Disney's It's a Small World of Fun as well as large artwork from the next two volumes of Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh. All are now available to preorder from Amazon at $10.99 each.
It's been over a year since the first wave of Growing Up with Winnie the Pooh DVDs was released, but a second batch is finally coming soon. It's Playtime with Pooh and Love & Friendship will become the fourth and fifth volumes in the series to reach the US. Due May 23rd, these discs will each hold an hour of the award-winning late '80s/early '90s television series "The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" (presumably, again with the opening credits sequences removed). Unlike the first two volumes, they will carry a list price of just $14.99 a piece. Volumes 1 and 2, along with the Sing Along Songs DVDs of Brother Bear and Home on the Range, will be repriced to carry $14.99 SRPs the same day. The third volume in the series, All for One, One for All, remains available in limited supply at North American Target stores where it was released exclusively as part of a holiday 2-Pack. A total of eight volumes are available in the United Kingdom, where they are called "The Magical World of Winnie the Pooh."
February 21, 2006 - It's not too encouraging when a DVD press release talks about 2,000 new licensed merchandise products and says next to nothing at all about the DVD itself, but that is precisely true of Disney's just-issued announcement for The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition.
Disney has just released the official one-sheet poster art for summer's much-anticipated sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and we've got it for you here.
Last Friday, we passed along information that the first season of "The Mickey Mouse Club" serial The Hardy Boys was expected to be making its way to DVD in this year's wave of Walt Disney Treasures. We've now gotten confirmation of this, as well as new information on the three other Treasures sets that are due, from a forum post made by someone involved in their production. The post hints that follow-up sets Silly Symphonies, Volume 2 and The Complete Pluto, Volume 2 are definitely in place, while the fourth set, tentatively titled Your Host, Walt Disney is currently in the process of having anthology episodes selected which prominently feature Walt himself beyond the introduction. Read the post and share your thoughts right here on the UD forum. Click here for more on the expected Wave 6 Treasures.
February 20, 2006 - Today brings a few assorted updates on new and upcoming Disney movies. Box Office Mojo reports that by studio estimates, Eight Below is expected to be the top-grossing film of both the 3 and 4-day President's Day weekend counts. If the numbers hold up, this would make the arctic adventure Walt Disney Pictures' 4th consecutive wide release to open at #1 (following Chicken Little, The Chronicles of Narnia, and Glory Road). With The Shaggy Dog heading to theaters in less than three weeks, Disney has enhanced the movie's official website to include buddy icons, wallpapers, a "What Kind of Dog Are You?" quiz, and an addictive Frogger-type "Chase the Cat" game. We've added newly-released pictures from the last two live action films coming this year, football drama Invincible and holiday sequel The Santa Clause 3. In addition, our paragraphs for films in the distance have been revised and new sections have been added for the part-2D-animated musical Enchanted and CG-animated fairy tale Rapunzel. See Upcoming Disney Movies for all these additions.
Next week, people will buy millions of copies of a DVD clearly labeled Lady and the Tramp: 50th Anniversary Edition. But Lady, released to theaters in 1955, turns 51 this year. Anyway, we got so many great screencaps from this 2-disc set (which we're simply referring to as a "Platinum Edition", for the sake of simplicity and consistency) that we're going to share with you exactly 51 that didn't make it into our review. Over the next eight days, we'll be bringing you these 51 images from all parts of the DVD at a higher resolution than they would have appeared in the review. Each day will provide six or seven new screencaps, but they'll only be around for that one day, so check back daily to catch 'em all. The first set of pictures can now be viewed here.
February 19, 2006 - By including titles from the Miramax Family division, the official Disney DVD website opens itself up to some obscure listings. One of the most obscure is Hugo the Movie Star, the subject of Aaron Wallace's latest review. Released to DVD last fall, Hugo is an animated feature film from Denmark which opened theatrically there in 1996. It tells the story of a rare animal that defies classification, which makes him a prime target for hunters and Hollywood executives. Though you wouldn't know it from the packaging, it's actually a sequel and the "bonus movie" included is Go, Hugo, Go, its full-length 1993 theatrical predecessor. Even with bargain pricing, this dud disc is not worthy of any more interest than what it's bound to garner from most. Both films are presented only in English dubs (featuring "Perfect Strangers"' Balki in the title role) and unpleasant fullscreen transfers. Though none of that may sound appealing, cinematic oddities lend themselves to interesting reviews and this one surely merits a reading.
February 18, 2006 - Our latest DVD review looks at Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition, covering this down-to-earth 1955 CinemaScope production with the type of detail you've come to expect. The movie itself holds up better than most, offering a blend of music, comedy, and romance that is quite difficult not to like. The DVD does not deliver an audio commentary, but it does provide a thoroughly satisfying 52-minute making-of documentary, a better than usual selection of games and activities, and a digital restoration which preserves the full 2.55:1 widescreen aspect ratio and enables the feature to absolutely dazzle. Needless to say, this set garners a recommendation for all, whether or not they have the film's 1999 Limited Issue DVD. Read the full review here.
February 17, 2006 - Buzz about a new wave of Walt Disney Treasures typically begins the moment the previous wave is released. In his interview with UD last December, Leonard Maltin hinted that we might see more Silly Symphonies in the near future. Now, we have some pretty solid inside information that one of the four Treasures tins coming out this year will be The Hardy Boys. A Hardy Boys fan has informed us that stars Tommy Kirk and Tim Considine recently recorded bonus material in Burbank for this forthcoming set. Two serials featuring the teenaged brothers of detective literature fame were produced over the second and third seasons of Walt's 1950s daily variety series "The Mickey Mouse Club." Like last December's 25-episode "Spin & Marty" set, the Hardy Boys set will include just the first serial ("The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure"), which online guides claim contained a total of 20 installments, each running roughly 10 minutes long. You can celebrate this news and speculate over the other titles in the UD Forum's active Wave 6 Discussion thread.
Before this weekend is done, you can bet you'll see a detailed, 2-page review of the Disney DVD that everyone seems to be excited about right now, Lady and the Tramp: 50th Anniversary Edition. In the meantime, the UD Shop's Top Sellers list has been updated to rank the 69 DVDs most purchased by readers of this site in 2006. Most of those have been reviewed and those that haven't may be forthcoming discs that have slipped past your radar. Check out the list and see how the tastes of the UD e-shopper match yours.
Over the next few weeks, Disney certainly appears to be going to the dogs. The end of the month brings a much-anticipated new DVD for Lady and the Tramp, while the second week of March provides long-awaited DVD debuts of The Shaggy Dog and The Shaggy D.A. as well as the Tim Allen remake in theaters. Today, Disney kicks off the canine cinema celebrations with the release of Eight Below, a PG-rated adventure based on real life and a 1983 Japanese film. The film tells of a team of sled dogs left to brave perilous conditions in Antarctica all on their own. Snow Dogs, it is not; the Frank Marshall-directed film has earned some of the best reviews of 2006 so far. You can read more about Eight Below, plus see pictures, the trailer, a film clip, and the official website right here.
February 16, 2006 - BVHE has officially announced the first two volumes of Walt Disney's It's a Small World of Fun. Arriving May 16th, each of these low-priced DVDs will contain, like most of Disney's recent DVDs, about an hour of animated shorts and no bonus features. The title applies to the fact that the shorts selected are set in various parts of the world, with six of the seven continents represented (sorry, Antarctica, but you've got your Disney love tomorrow). Volume 1 holds seven cartoons, including five that have appeared in the Walt Disney Treasures line, the segment "The Flying Gauchito" from The Three Caballeros, and "Grievance of a Starmaker" ("a special animated short that has not been seen before outside of Japan") making its English-language debut. Five of the six shorts comprising Volume 2 have already been on DVD, but only two have come in the Treasures line; "Peter and the Wolf" and "Pedro" originated in separate anthology films of the 1940s, 1952's "Susie the Little Blue Coupe" will finally not be relegated to the "bonus features" page, while Donald and Goofy's Middle East romp "Crazy With the Heat" makes its DVD debut. Click here to read the full press release with descriptions and locales of all 13 shorts.
Disney has released to the Internet a couple of new video previews: "Dinosaurs": Seasons 1 & 2 (press release), Little Einsteins: Team Up for Adventure (press release).
February 15, 2006 - Thirteen menus from the two discs of Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition have been posted here.
We've gotten in our review copy of Lady and the Tramp: Platinum Edition (and it is clearly labeled as such, despite different artwork sent to e-tailers). Among the Disney DVD news it bears is that the fall's two-disc The Little Mermaid: Platinum Edition will offer "behind the scenes, all-new games, secrets and more" (who'd have guessed?!), the upcoming Chicken Little will contain at least one Easter Egg (access instructions are offered), and June's Dumbo: Special Edition will include (not unlike the 60th Anniversary Edition) "an all-new rendition of 'Baby Mine,' sing along songs, two bonus cartoons, and much more." In addition, 2001 direct-to-video sequel Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure will be revisited as a Special Edition DVD this fall with such hard-hitting bonus features as an "all-new game and a new music video."
"Gargoyles" creator/producer Greg Weisman has passed along the news that lower sales of the '90s cartoon series' Season Two, Volume One DVD release are "putting the release of Season Two, Volume Two at risk." If this news troubles you or if you're simply curious to learn more about last December's 3-disc set, you can check out our review or order through Amazon.com.
Having already undergone two release date changes, golf drama The Greatest Game Ever Played has now endured a cover art change, which moves it away from The Rookie and closer to...Robocop or something like that. See both covers here. The DVD is still scheduled to arrive on April 11th, marking a longer than usual 6½-month theaters-to-DVD release window.
February 8, 2006 - Disney has issued the much-anticipated press release for the April 4th DVDs of the blockbuster fantasy adaptation The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. This announcement confirms much of what was reported over the last few weeks, namely that you'll have your choice between a standard-priced single-disc edition (in widescreen or fullscreen); a two-disc Collector's Edition boasting nearly ten hours of bonus content, collectible art, and special wardrobe packaging; and a UMD containing merely the movie and bloopers. All DVD versions will offer two feature-length audio commentaries, a pop-up fun fact subtitle track, and outtakes. See the full press release for more information on everything pertaining to Narnia's DVD releases.
In a related story, many were intrigued or disenchanted by a column in last Friday's USA Today in which Wardrobe director Andrew Adamson was credited as saying that a DVD with an extended version of the film is also in the works. This, the first news of a potentially longer cut of Wardrobe, will not be among the releases offered this spring. We checked with Buena Vista Home Entertainment and discovered that while Adamson might have these ambitious plans somewhere down the road, no such DVD is currently in the works.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken - Thoroughly engaging 1991 live action drama tells of an adolescent orphan runaway girl who becomes part of a horse diving act during the Great Depression. Overdue, barren disc lacks even the 16x9 transfer offered in other parts of the world where it came to DVD sooner.
• "Quack Pack" Volume 1 - This random 3-episode compilation is bound to disappoint casual and diehard fans alike. The 1996 series lends itself more to the former, with Donald Duck's three nephews unappealingly reworked for adolescence and a slapstick comedy approach lacking the memorable writing that enveloped Huey, Dewey, and Louie in their earlier adventures.
• Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up - A snazzy soundtrack, involving adventure, and a balanced presentation of lessons all help make this outing "something that can be immensely enjoyed by youngsters and more than just tolerable for parents."
• Disney Princess Sing Along Songs: Volume 3 - Perfectly Princess - Employs the same formula of movie excerpts and girl-oriented design but lacks stature in its songlist, relying on tunes from six direct-to-video sequels, a cartoon TV series, and Miramax's Ella Enchanted to complement four classic numbers.
• "Goof Troop" Volume 1 - Fun '90s cartoon is given a customer-unfriendly disc. The sparse menu of 3 random episodes is bound to make fans feel conflicted.
Recent Touchstone and Buena Vista DVD Reviews:
• "The Golden Girls": The Complete Fourth Season - Though this set of episodes is the sitcom's best yet released, the DVD presentation again offers decent picture/sound and only one lackluster bonus feature.
• "Grey's Anatomy": Season One - Despite offering little variation on "E.R."-type hospital dramas, this hit hour-long series succeeds with involving stories and compelling characters. The two-disc set merits praise for a film-like presentation, a modest but satisfying set of extras, and a reasonable list price.
• "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" - The Most Inspiring & Unforgettable Makeovers from Season 1 - Other than the curious decision to provide only nine of the first fourteen episodes, this two-disc set offers an excellent presentation, with satisfactory bonuses and great audio/video. The show itself is a bit rough in its early days, being nasty as frequently as inspiring.
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