UltimateDisney.com: The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD
MARCH 16-31, 2005: NEWS ARCHIVES
March 31, 2005 - Our new review today is the first of four covering April's DVD debuts of classic live action films. Dick Van Dyke stars in Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N., a 1966 castaway comedy based on a story by Walt Disney himself. Both the movie and the DVD leave a fair amount to be desired. On a related note, Amazon.com has discounted all four of the April 12th catalogue DVDs to $14.99.
The correct spelling of "Hayley Mills" now adorns the front cover of Summer Magic. Likewise, minor changes have occurred in the cast credits for The Barefoot Executive and Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N..
March 30, 2005 - April 12th's catalogue DVDs have come in and we can now confirm that the initial aspect ratio information on The Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin was correct. This 1967 western/comedy is presented in its original 1.66:1 ratio and is enhanced for widescreen televisions. The other three films making their Region 1 debuts the same day (Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N., Million Dollar Duck, and The Barefoot Executive) are each offered exclusively in 1.33:1 fullscreen and none of the discs contain bonus features. You can expect full, detailed reviews of the movies, the nature of the so-called "fullscreen" framing, and video/audio quality in the days ahead. For now, you can read more about this and upcoming waves of Disney's live action catalogue DVDs here.
March 29, 2005 - Revised and potentially final cover art for the G-rated direct-to-video in-between-quel Tarzan II has been revealed:
An interesting 4-page article on the Animation World Magazine website provides a history of Disney's polarizing direct-to-video sequels. It also offers new information on several of the currently in-production follow-ups and "inbetween-quels" like Kronk's New Groove, Cinderella III, the shelved-but-not-dead Dumbo II and that movie about Tinkerbell (sic). Thanks to 'toonaspie' for pointing us to it on the forum.
Cover art has been added at last for the "Special Double Trouble Edition" of 1998's The Parent Trap, which will be released in two months. Click here to view it.
More quietly discontinued DVDs have been discovered. The live action sequel 102 Dalmatians joins its long-out-of-print predecessor, and the mixed bag 2-pack with both Glenn Close films is also now no longer available. This means that all four Disney movies with the word "Dalmatians" in the title are out-of-print on DVD.
March 28, 2005 - In today's new review, Aaron Wallace covers the last of last week's numerous DVD releases, JoJo's Circus: Take a Bow!, which houses four short circus-themed episodes of the Playhouse Disney series. He concludes, while the series isn't quite as educational as some, the satisfactory disc earns a recommendation.
March 27, 2005 - Today's new DVD review looks at Sacred Planet, Disney's picturesque but unfocused IMAX documentary on Earth's natural beauty, which will be released on April 5th.
Neato National Treasure disc art has been added.
A couple of Disney DVDs have recently been discontinued without any fuss. The Gold Collection DVD of Pocahontas is going out of print to make way for May's 2-disc 10th Anniversary Edition. Also vanishing is the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - 3-Disc Gift Set which was released last November and reviewed here. A similar fate is not being given to Pirates' original 2-disc Collector's Edition release; it received a price drop in February and should now be available everywhere for less than $20. As usual, the now out-of-print DVDs will remain available until existing stock runs out.
March 26, 2005 - Aaron Wallace has reviewed Disney Learning Adventures: Mickey and the Beanstalk, which provides the Ludwig von Drake-hosted version of the classic 1947 short both uninterrupted and with preschool activity asides. The DVD doesn't deliver the educational entertainment promised, as the too-simplistic exercises offer frustrating departure from the disc's highlight cartoon.
We have updated our Coming to Theaters section with information on 13 Disney films due in 2006 or beyond, including premises, cast/crew, and production updates. The projects covered include the recently-discussed Pirates and Santa sequels, two films in the works from Lilo & Stitch's creators, the Swiss Family Robinson remake, a fourth Mighty Ducks installment, and a couple of CGI-animated comedies.
March 25, 2005 - While Disney has disappointingly revealed that most of the 8 live action catalogue DVDs coming this spring will be presented in fullscreen, new information from the studio states that Summer Magic (due May 3rd) will be issued in 1.75:1 anamorphic widescreen. With six apparently reformatted discs due in the next two waves, it's good to know that the most popular preorder of the catalogue class (list to the left) should be done right.
Pom Poko has received a PG rating from the MPAA for "violence, scary images, and thematic elements." This 1994 Miyazaki-produced film is one of those expected to arrive in the next wave of Disney's Studio Ghibli DVDs before year's end, which this news supports.
While the Disney-distributed US release is still five months away, Vanguard Animation's CGI carrier pigeon comedy Valiant opens today in the UK. For more on the film, you can read our thoughts on the film or check out the official UK website for the trailer and more.
March 23, 2005 - A popular line of spinning tops is behind Beyblade: The Movie - Fierce Battle, a new DVD released this week by Miramax and the subject of our latest review. There's a daily television series and apparently a phenomenal fanbase attached to Beyblade, and while it's well presented on DVD, Fierce Battle is a loud, confusing, and unstimulating anime film.
A still of the bonus features menu and "Hide 'N Seek" game from the Pooh's Heffalump Movie DVD can be viewed here.
An update on Vintage Mickey DVD: this 90-minute disc is now known to contain the classic black-and-white shorts "Building a Building" and "Plane Crazy" in addition to the previously-confirmed "Steamboat Willie" and "Mickey's Revue." For more on this and the three other general Disney DVDs due on July 12th, click here.
For "before they were famous" pictures of Mickey Mouse Club cast members Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, and Ryan Gosling, check out this thread.
'englishboy' points out on the forum that BestBuy.com has heavily discounted The Emperor's New Groove: Collector's Edition. At $16.99, the two-disc set is being sold for nearly 60% off its $39.99 SRP.
Some news on live action Disney sequels is worth mentioning today. A press release announces a marketing deal between Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and the Volvo Ocean Race. It provides our first look at mock poster art for the film that is now in production and 15½ months away from theatrical release. Meanwhile, Variety reports that Disney has signed on Santa Clause 2 director Michael Lembeck and star Tim Allen to begin shooting The Santa Clause 3 this November to hit theaters November 2006.
Disney movies will be available to in another format as soon as this spring. No, it's not Blu-Ray, but Sony's new handheld PlayStation Portable (PSP) device. Read more.
||Tuesday's New Releases
March 21, 2005 - Monday means a new week, which in turn means a new Weekly Update Video (WMV, 913 kb), this one from both snowhite8 and pinkrenata!
March 20, 2005 - We have two new reviews for you today of this week's new DVD releases. JoJo's Circus: Animal A Go-Go presents four short episodes of the likable Playhouse Disney series that encourages youngsters to get up and move. Disney Learning Adventures: Mickey's Around the World in 80 Days is content to keep its young viewers seated and often bored, in spite of the two fun "Mouse Works" shorts that make up the bulk of its running time.
Ice Princess performed a bit below expectations at the weekend box office, grossing an estimated $7.0 million since Friday. That was enough to finish 4th in the nation, one peg below The Pacifier, which showed its strong legs by taking in an additional $12.5 million. That makes the PG-rated action/comedy, having earned over $72 million to date, the third highest-grossing film of 2005 so far.
Need another reason to join the Disney Movie Club? Well, here is an interesting one, though not really the most convincing. The DMC has begun to offer DVDs of movies otherwise not available in the format. The first three titles in this "Exclusive Collection" are live action films Benji, the Hunted, Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken, and 2000 telemovie Mail to the Chief. Now, as the latest mailings point out, each of these three has been released to DVD internationally. What's troubling is that the first two (Benji and Wild) are both available in their original widescreen aspect ratios on Region 2 DVD, whereas the Club discs are apparently reformatted Fullscreen. Each exclusive DVD is priced at $19.95 for current club members and is available to sign up with. It's unclear if these DVDs foreshadow general Region 1 releases in the near future or if they'll be identical to those that presumably end up in retail. Thanks to UD reader Peter for the head's up! (Join the Disney Movie Club / Discuss the DMC / Browse List of International Exclusive Disney DVDs)
March 19, 2005 - You can file this news under "Odd." A year ago, Disney's 1959 live action comedy The Shaggy Dog and its '70s sequel The Shaggy D.A. were announced as coming to DVD on August 3, 2004 with a fair amount of bonus features including cast commentaries. They were since delayed and nearly 12 months later, no release date has been assigned. The most logical explanation is that Disney is holding these DVDs back to coincide with either the theatrical or home video release of their upcoming The Shaggy Dog remake starring Tim Allen. No date has been set for the new film, but most signs are pointing to early 2006 and some to the already hit-heavy holiday '05 slate. But now Disney has released cover art for their two delayed comedies, and The Shaggy Dog's proclaims that it will offer both colorized and the original black-and-white versions on the same set. Whether or not this artwork or the originally-announced specs are final, with a fairly complete slate planned through September, one shouldn't expect these DVDs anytime soon.
Information from Disney now states That Darn Cat! will be presented in Fullscreen, with two-channel Mono tracks offered in English and French. Here's to hoping this data is wrong. Our Upcoming Schedule has been updated; Summer Magic is the only remaining DVD from this spring's live action catalogue with no aspect ratio information released. Thus far, the entire lot appears to be fullscreen and barebones (without bonus features, that is).
Howl's Moving Castle, the new Miyazaki film which Disney will distribute in the US starting this June, has received a PG rating for "frightening images and brief mild language."
March 18, 2005 - TLA Video has posted some information about what's to come on Cinderella. This confirms what we already knew (Fullscreen transfer, Mono and 5.1 soundtracks) and elaborates on bonus features including deleted scenes, reconstructed deleted songs, live action-to-film comparison of the opening sequence, a featurette on Walt Disney's Nine Old Men, a sneak peek at the upcoming Cinderella III, the documentary "The Cinderella That Almost Was", Cinderella stories from ESPN Classic, "House of Royalty", making-of doc "Rags-to-Riches", a 1922 Cinderella Laugh-o-Gram, and the DVD-ROM feature "The Royal Life." In addition, the site specifies a Disney Channel Circle of Stars remix music video of "A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes" and a Disney princess music video called "Every Girl Can Be a Princess." Thanks to 'disneyboy'.
The number of days until The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy arrives in theaters is 42, a number which should hold significance for anyone familiar with Douglas Adams' stories. In honor of this, the Touchstone sci-fi/comedy's official website Hitchhikers Movie.com has undergone a dramatic upgrade to its near-final form. The now elaborately-designed site features the three trailers, information on characters, 360-degree tours of sets, a couple of games, some inspired downloads, a gallery, a section of interesting facts, and the types of quirky touches you might expect. The film opens April 29th.
Ice Princess opens in theaters today. The G-rated transformation comedy seems intended for the same young female audience that embraced The Princess Diaries and mostly avoided Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. Diaries author Meg Cabot wrote the screenplay, and the film has received slightly more favorable reviews than negative. For more, visit our Ice Princess preview, now with new pictures.
It took Carolina three years to come to DVD from being filmed. That makes the month and a half it took us to review it seem not so long. This Julia Stiles-headlined Miramax dramedy never made it to theaters and if that doesn't tip you off, then our review will.
March 17, 2005 - The Cinderella: Collector's Gift Set is now up for preorder at Amazon.com with a 30% discount. Carrying a suggested retail price of $49.99, this box set includes the 2-disc Platinum Edition DVD, a companion book, character sketches by animator Ollie Johnston and a numbered film frame. Also up at 30% off: Pooh's Heffalump Movie (one of more than a dozen Disney DVDs due in May) and Adventure through Narnia (not 'Narvia'), which arrives on December 6, three days before Disney and Walden's highly-anticipated adaptation The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe opens in theaters.
Buena Vista Pictures has released a bit more on their upcoming 2005 films. We've updated the Coming to Theaters page with new pictures from Herbie: Fully Loaded, Sky High, The Greatest Game Ever Played, and Chicken Little. Chicken Little's voice cast has had several noteworthy additions including Patrick Warburton and Adam West. Disney has also confirmed that Hayao Miyazaki's latest film Howl's Moving Castle will open in a limited number of theaters on June 10th and nationwide a week later. Check here for more on all.
Voting has begun on UltimateDisney.com's next countdown. Visit this thread for details and to compile your list of the best Disney Heroes & Heroines.
Still no cover art for May's The Parent Trap: Special Edition, but there is now disc art with double the Lohan.
New information has come in from Disney on six of the eight live action catalogue DVDs coming this spring. Unfortunately, all six of those are slated to be offered only in fullscreen. While that's the correct aspect ratio for the made-for-TV Heidi, the five others would have been exhibited in widescreen theatrically in the '60s and '70s. This pre-release information has been wrong in the past (and earlier information suggested that Bullwhip Griffin would be issued in 1.66:1 anamorphic widescreen), but if correct, it'd be a disappointing reversal from the dedication to original aspect ratios that Disney was showing late last year. No technical information is yet available on the Hayley Mills films Summer Magic and That Darn Cat!. See the Upcoming Schedule for all currently-known details.
Just how incredible were Tuesday's sales for The Incredibles? According to Reuters, 5 million copies were sold on its first day of release. That's about 3 million units less than Finding Nemo's record-setting release day in November 2003, but on par with Monsters, Inc. (September 2002) and still enough to easily make Pixar's latest film the fastest-selling DVD of 2005 so far.
March 16, 2005 - Missed out on the chance to get The Incredibles DVD signed? Don't worry, we did too. But Eric Charbonneau of BEImages was at the Virgin Megastores in both Los Angeles and San Francisco and he took pictures of the proceedings, where story supervisor Mark Andrews, composer Michael Giacchino, and writer/director Brad Bird spoke with fans and signed DVDs and more. You can see seven photographs from the two DVD launches here.
There have been lots of articles on Disney's plans to go forth with a Toy Story 3, but this one from the Orlando Sentinel is about the most thorough and up-to-date. It discusses the nondescript Glendale warehouse set up purely to make sequels to Pixar films and reveals our first clear premise of this potential follow-up ("the adventures of Buzz after he is recalled to the Taiwan factory where he was built").
Cinderella and Jasmine share the cover of Disney Princess Stories: Volume Three - Beauty Shines from Within, which almost certainly means a limited new short starring the former, and a '90s TV episode with the latter. September 6th is when you can expect this third entry into the environmentally-conscious series. (It recycles.)
March 15, 2005 - Buena Vista Home Entertainment has just issued one massive sales announcement that lays out many of the upcoming Disney DVDs that we've been wondering about. The announcement contains information on Cinderella, July 12th's Disneyland DVDs, August's live action catalogue, upcoming direct-to-video films Lilo & Stitch 2 and Pooh's Heffalump Halloween, the new Timeless Tales series of cartoon shorts, the next Disney Princess wave, DVD releases of 7 Disney Channel Original Movies including the Halloweentown trilogy, Season 1 sets of Touchstone Television hits "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives", and those previously-mentioned Touchstone and Miramax Special Editions. Read all here.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
The Incredibles - Pleasing in every way, from cinematic excellence to digital perfection, with a wealth of great supplements thrown in for good measure.
Bambi: Platinum Edition - While lighter in supplements than past Platinums, this set offers much insight to the final chapter of "Early Disney" and the film looks and sounds better than any other Disney film from its era on DVD.
Baby Monet: Discovering the Seasons - The 17th entry in the Baby Einstein series for toddlers.
Recent Touchstone, Miramax, and Buena Vista Reviews:
Finding Neverland - Miramax's delightful PG-rated drama triumphs in its look at what inspired author J.M. Barrie to write Peter Pan.
"Felicity" Senior Year DVD Collection - The 4th season of Touchstone's lackluster hour-long drama provides a conclusion, an atypical time-bending extension, and a healthy offering of bonus features.
"Popular": The Complete Second Season - Offering a blend of bitter personalities, teary-eyed drama, and a bit of the bizarre, the final 21 episodes of this hour-long WB dramedy provide an uneven and mostly unsavory viewing experience.
"Sweet Valley High": The Complete First Season - This syndicated half-hour show adapted from the popular book series plays its silly stories straightfaced. The 3-disc set offers a basic, unimpressive presentation, and the 22 episodes will be most diverting for those who tuned in ten years ago.
Ladder 49 - Well-directed and well-acted, this firefighter drama is a very good film and the DVD is nearly as strong.
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