UltimateDisney.com: The Ultimate Guide to Disney DVD
DECEMBER 16-31, 2005: NEWS ARCHIVES
See Upcoming Schedule for the latest announcements. / Monday's New Release Chart
December 31, 2005 - We're closing 2005 with a hat trick. On this New Year's Eve, we bring you three new DVD reviews. First, Aaron Wallace looks at The Santa Clause 2, which deserves entry into your holiday DVD collection in spite of some thematic missteps and an obtuse tone to most of its many bonus features. While not an immediate classic like its predecessor, Tim Allen and his largely returning supporting cast keep this sequel festive enough with an enjoyable balance between humor and adventure plus a keen treading of North Pole magic and real world woes. Aaron also critiques "That's So Raven": Raven's House Party, the recently-released compilation of the Disney Channel's most popular current series. While the recurring warnings about the costly nature of themed volumes and the show's repetitiveness again apply, this third disc is deemed the series' best yet, providing five episodes that are bound to satisfy any fan who is not waiting for the expected box set treatment. Finally, MichaeLeah and Captain Hook cast their attentions back to The Horse in The Gray Flannel Suit, Disney's 1968 live action film which stars Dean Jones and Kurt Russell. Like many of its kin, this little comedy/drama is treated to no extras and a non-theatrical aspect ratio, and it does not eke the most memorable magic from the studio's formulas.
Slow-to-buy, eager-to-save fans of the Walt Disney Treasures should be happy to know that BestBuy.com now has the new tins for just $19.99 each (an unusual 40% off retail price): The Chronological Donald, Vol. 2, Disney Rarities, The Adventures of Spin & Marty, and Legendary Heroes.
December 30, 2005 - According to Home Media Retailing's market research division, Disney/Pixar's The Incredibles is the top-selling DVD of 2005, with a total of 17.38 million units purchased. Behind that CG-animated family/action/comedy blockbuster and solid sales performances by National Treasure (the 7th most popular DVD of the year) and 2005's Platinum Editions Bambi and Cinderella (#8), Buena Vista Home Entertainment claimed the second biggest share of the home video market, accounting for 14.8% of sales. The studio is expected to boast a big 2006 as well, with the not-yet-announced spring DVD releases of now-in-theaters hits Chicken Little (March 21) and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (tentatively slated for April 4th), the fourth quarter DVDs of the highly-anticipated Cars and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and the Platinum reissues of long-unavailable animated favorites Lady and the Tramp (February 28) and The Little Mermaid (October 3).
It took over five months, but the first installment of our long-promised Disneyland 50th Anniversary Report has now been posted. This debut portion covers a longtime Disney fan's first visit to a Disney park, which coincided with the golden anniversary celebrations and summer's typically full slate of park offerings. Part travelogue, part review of the various attractions of Disneyland Park, and part guide to making the most of an Anaheim visit, this article attempts to capture the "sights, sounds, and sensations" produced by Disneyland last July with reflections, impressions, and nearly 20 unique pictures. The two remaining parts will appear in the near-future and cover Disney's California Adventure, Disney's presence on Hollywood Boulevard, the 50th Anniversary day festivities, and Walt Disney Records' colossal box set A Musical History of Disneyland. For now, click here to read Part 1.
We're gradually getting back into the swing of providing you detailed DVD reviews on a regular basis. Today's new critique by Richard Gray looks at the promising Disney Parks-exclusive disc titled Disneyland Resort: Happiest Homecoming on Earth. Billed as "The Official Celebration Edition", the only thing this disc commemorates is the the time you wasted $30 on a DVD which is lacking even next to the promotional park DVDs that Disney gives away for free. Just how disappointing is this program? Read the review for amusingly harsh and disappointingly true criticism from an ardent Disneyland fan.
December 28, 2005 - Over 65 DVDs from Buena Vista Home Entertainment will be undergoing price reductions in the first four months of 2006. While the majority of those come from the now Weinstein-less Miramax branch, several noteworthy live action Disney discs will now be available at bargain bin prices, including a pair of '70s Special Editions and others from the '60s through the present decade. In addition, a handful of Pixar, IMAX, and Valentine's Day-ready titles are expected to be discounted for seasonal promotions. See the full list here.
On Christmas night, a two-hour installment of The History Channel's "Modern Marvels" series aired which was devoted to Walt Disney World. That program will be released to DVD by A&E Home Video on March 28th and is now up for preorder at Amazon.com at 25% off SRP.
The United States Librarian of Congress announced yesterday his selection of 25 "culturally, historically, or aesthetically" significant motion pictures that are entering The National Film Registry for 2005. The most recent work inducted into the canon is Disney/Pixar's pioneering 1995 buddy comedy Toy Story. It joins Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Fantasia and 447 others as a group which will be preserved as an important indicator of American creativity. You can see the full list of new selections here. Thanks to "battlebeast3" for the head's up.
December 24, 2005 - Buena Vista Home Entertainment has upgraded a fact sheet to a press release for the February 14th Volume 1 DVDs of "Goof Troop" and "Quack Pack". The revised announcement now contains the titles of the six episodes that will be included on the two bargain discs that mark the '90s 'toons format debut.
With a U.S. gross of over $130 million in just two weeks, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe has already become Disney's highest-earning film of 2005. The earliest rumblings of its DVD release pin the big screen adaptation of C.S. Lewis's acclaimed fantasy novel for April, where it is expected to arrive in three different versions: separate but similarly loaded 16x9-enhanced 2.35:1 widescreen and 1.33:1 cropped editions and a more collectible deluxe edition which will carry a list price of $10 or so more than the studio's standard $29.99 tag. More specific details and a firm date likely won't be announced until sometime in the first two months of 2006. It is also not yet clear how (if at all) the cancelled companion DVD Adventure Through Narnia (which was slated for release earlier this month) will resurface. We'll share more when there's more to share.
December 23, 2005 - Disney has issued a fact sheet for their March 7th Studio Ghibli DVDs Howl's Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro and Whisper of the Heart. The announcement simply reiterates everything we've already told you about these 2-disc sets over the past few weeks, but it makes things more official and also reveals additional information on the films and their noteworthy English voice casts. Click here for full details.
The studio has also formally announced "Little House on the Prairie", the 2005 Wonderful World of Disney mini-series we mentioned would be coming to DVD on March 28th. It appears to be without bonus features and the six hours touted run only a little over four with commercials excised, but the 2-disc set may be worth checking out for those who'd like a different take on the Laura Ingalls Wilder books besides the widely-seen 1970s-'80s NBC hour-long drama.
Disney has again bumped The Greatest Game Ever Played and the long-previewed Pooh's Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin. Both DVDs will now street on April 11th, not April 4th.
The Motion Picture Association of America has slapped Stick It!, Disney's upcoming comedy about teenaged female gymnasts, with a PG-13 rating for "some crude remarks." The film, slated for theatrical release in the spring, will either become Walt Disney Pictures' second PG-13-rated movie or will be ushered to the company's less family-friendly Touchstone Pictures division.
Holly from Seattle has been randomly selected as the winner of our Disney Christmas Movies Trivia Challenge. She will receive The Nightmare Before Christmas: Special Edition. Thanks to all who entered. The contest page has been updated with the answers to the ten questions.
December 22, 2005 - 'Twas three days before Christmas and after focusing nearly a full year's attentions onto DVDs and CDs, we turn to the written word. Richard Gray covers ten visual and text-based publications in Noteworthy Disney Books of 2005 and Essential Old Favorites which are worth consideration by any Disney fan as either a last-minute Christmas gift or a post-holidays addition to your library of books. The selected titles deal with a range of topics, from Walt Disney himself to the Walt Disney Company, from the anniversary-celebrating theme parks to the artwork and storytelling of Disney and Pixar films. Read the article.
December 21, 2005 - The Wonderful World of Disney's spring 2005 mini-series "Little House on the Prairie" is coming to DVD on March 28th, 2006. The 2-disc set will contain all the installments of the studio's retelling of the pioneer life of Laura Ingalls, her family and neighbors. The 254-minute series will be presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound. Bonus features (if any) have yet to be announced, but you can now preorder the DVD from Amazon.com, which offers a 30% discount on the modest suggested retail price of $29.99. Cover art has been posted here.
|This Week's DVD Deals at Amazon.com (Free US shipping on orders > $25)
• Coming Next Monday: Toy Story 2: Special Edition ($16.98, 43% off)
• Christmas DVDs on Sale (Up to 35% off): The Santa Clause, The Santa Clause 2, Classic Holiday Stories, Holiday Celebration with Mickey & Pals, Disney Princess: A Christmas of Enchantment, Disney Channel Holiday, A Playhouse Disney Holiday, Very Merry Christmas: Sing-Along
• The Hot List (Amazon's most popular Disney and non-Disney DVD deals)
BestBuy.com Bargains (Support Ultimate Disney: buy online, free in-store pickup.)
• Up to 50% off: Disney Animation, High School Series Season Sets
December 20, 2005 - Despite what you may have heard, Meet the Orchestra is not the third film in the Meet the Parents series. It's the 20th DVD in the best-selling Baby Einstein line. Disney has issued a press release for Meet the Orchestra: First Instruments, which introduces tots 1 and up to -- you guessed it -- musical instruments in an orchestra and the sounds they make. Twenty-two instruments, a blue hippopotamus host, poetry readings by company founder Julie Aigner-Clark, Meet the Orchestra (available March 7th) has got it all. And we've got large cover art here.
Today is the final day to enter the Disney Christmas Movie Trivia Challenge, UD's final contest of the year. A free Disney Christmas DVD could be yours, if you know your stuff and/or know this site.
December 19, 2005 - Two new bonus features are in the works for the March 7th DVD release of Howl's Moving Castle. In addition to the usual "Behind the Microphone" English voice cast featurette, storyboards, trailers and TV spots, the two-disc set will contain an interview with Pete Docter (the director of the Howl's English dubbing and Pixar's Monsters, Inc.) and "Hello, Mr. Lasseter" depicting a meeting between writer/director Hayao Miyazaki and his friend/fan John Lasseter of Pixar. Click here to see the next wave of Studio Ghibli DVDs, including revised high-res cover artwork for Howl's.
Revised high-res DVD cover art is also now available for The Shaggy Dog and The Shaggy D.A.
As promised, the third installment of our series of reviews of Walt Disney Records releases is now here. Holidays 2005 CD Roundup critiques the nine latest albums from Disney's music branch: Disney's Princess Christmas Album; The Cheetah Girls' Cheetah-licious Christmas; Radio Disney Jingle Jams; Playhouse Disney: Imagine and Learn with Music; the Chicken Little soundtrack, Read-Along, and Karaoke albums; an Anniversary Edition re-release of The Muppet Christmas Carol soundtrack; and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe soundtrack. Click for individual reviews plus an overview.
December 16, 2005 - Disney has opened up an official website for The Shaggy Dog, with a plot outline, photos, some scary movable eyes, and the trailer from the forthcoming comedy remake starring Tim Allen.
Interested in forming your own opinion on next week's Disney DVD Once Upon a Mattress before it hits stores? Watch its long-awaited television debut Sunday night at 7 PM EST/PST. We hope to bring you our review sometime around then as well. You can read more about this Broadway-adapted musical comedy here.
Large DVD cover artwork has been added for Chicken Little.
The subject of our newest DVD review, Kronk's New Groove, is plenty of fun and stays true the original's winning zany spirit. While the DVD is pretty standard for a direct-to-video sequel, the movie is fairly humorous, sufficiently sharp, and worth checking out especially for those who enjoyed the previous film. Read the full review.
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December 13, 2005 - Disney has passed some information on to retailers about the DVD release of the studio's top-grossing 2005 film, Chicken Little. The CG-animated comedy will fall to DVD on March 21st (date subject to change) in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 presentation. Those hoping for a set dripping with extras on Feature Animation's jump to computer animation will be disappointed by the fairly sparse menu of bonus features: the making-of featurette "Hatching Chicken Little", deleted scenes (including three alternate openings), the interactive game "Where's Fish?", a Karaoke sing along, and music videos for The Cheetah Girls' "Shake a Tail Feather" and Barenaked Ladies' "One Little Slip." To date, Little has grossed more than $125 million domestically. Our tiny first look at cover art can be seen right here.
December 10, 2005 - Though the end of the year usually sees media companies go out with a bang and take their time to provide noteworthy content in the new year, Disney has a pretty eventful January based on the volume of the studio's DVD releases. Of course, 10-to-18-year-old Sing Along Songs volumes, budget cartoon compilations, and four somewhat obscure live action movies from the late '60s through early '90s don't attract as many UD readers as TV show season sets, special editions, and Walt Disney Treasures do. Nonetheless, we hope to cover every title put out in what promises to become an exciting year for Disney DVD with the type of detail and care you've come to expect from this site. Detail and care are nowhere to be found in the latest press release issued by Buena Vista Home Entertainment on the January 3 "preschool" release slate, but we fleshed it out a bit and have it for you here: January 2006 Preschool DVDs Press Release, covering the four Sing Along Songs volumes centered on popular Disney films (Mary Poppins, The Jungle Book, Peter Pan, and 101 Dalmatians), mid-'90s collection of animated Eric Carle adaptations The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Other Stories, the brand new Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up, and a price drop on Rolie Polie: Springy-Time Fun. Of greater interest to older fans of Disney animation is Walt Disney's Timeless Tales: Volume 3, arriving the same day with six significant shorts from the '30s to '50s, not cheaply available elsewhere on DVD.
Recent Disney DVD Reviews:
• Valiant - Following a quiet U.S. theatrical run, the UK's first CG-animated feature is treated to a barren disc. The film itself yields a fair amount of laughs and a generally good time with visuals quite impressive for its low budget. The light and breezy story may not break ground but it provides enough entertainment to justify a rental and a post price-drop purchase.
• "Gargoyles" Season 2, Volume 1 - Enduring mid-'90s cartoon holds up as an exciting and engaging saga of ancient stone creatures protecting present-day Manhattan from evil in its various forms. The series is treated to another fine DVD release, with the 3-disc set presenting the decade-old episodes with commendable picture and sound in addition to some cool bonus features.
• Walt Disney Treasures: The Chronological Donald, Volume Two - This set continues to chart the popular duck's career in big screen shorts from 1942 to 1946. One-fourth of the cartoons find Donald at war; the remaining offer a mix of the irascible one being riled and romantically pursuing Daisy. Video quality on the debuting films does not stand up to the Treasures' reputation for remastering, but bonus features are abound.
• Walt Disney Treasures: Elfego Baca • The Swamp Fox: Legendary Heroes - Pairs up three episodes from two late-'50s anthology series, each centered on the actions of an historic American figure. Having two shows share a set and including less than half of their short runs are not the most praiseworthy moves, but the vintage episodes have been satisfyingly restored and are joined by 2 solid featurettes.
• Disneymania 3 in Concert - Mixes performances of hit Disney song covers at California Adventure with artist interviews. Program of hit is marked by a weak set, musical repetition, factual inaccuracies, and no extras.
• Walt Disney Treasures: Disney Rarities - Thirty-one cartoon shorts distinguished by having been made mostly outside Disney's long-running series and without the studio's landmark personalities. Though video quality and bonus features both leave room for improvement, the collection is a largely pleasing one which is worthy of recognition.
• Muppet Treasure Island: Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition - Finally given a widescreen transfer, but fullscreen's return appearance requires the loss of the more than two hours of bonus features from the previous DVD. The film doesn't compare with the Muppets' previous literary adaptation or their best big screen work, but it does deliver a steady flow of memorable music and hearty laughs.
Recent Touchstone and Miscellaneous DVD Reviews:
• The Golden Girls: Lifetime Intimate Portrait Series - Low-priced disc compiles four episodes of cable network Lifetime's hour-long biography series which profile the leading ladies of "The Golden Girls." Warner has thrown a bone to those thrice disappointed by the lack of extras on Buena Vista's season sets.
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