Archive for September, 2006

Warner Bows ‘The Lake House’ Simultaneously on DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray

Thursday, September 14th, 2006

The Lake House
Today Warner Home Video announced that they will be releasing 'The Lake House' simultaneously on standard DVD, HD DVD and Blu-ray formats.

With a September 26th street date, Warner will be the first studio to release titles in all formats. They will also be releasing the film as a combo disc, with a high definition DVD on one side and SD DVD on the other side, priced at $39.99. The Blu-ray version will be available for $34.99 SRP. And a standard DVD will cost $28.98. The bonus materials will be available on all versions, though Warner did not disclose if they would be in high definition on the HD DVD and Blue-ray versions.

'The Lake House' is a time-travel romance starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, and is a remake of a recent Korean film. Warner may be banking on the geek appeal of the film’s plot and Keanu Reeve’s Matrix pedigree to appeal to the early adopters who are currently the biggest segment of the high definition player owners.

In theatrical release this past summer, 'The Lake House' took in $52.3 million domestically and $49 million overseas, coming in at #38 for 2006.

Lionsgate and Warcon Records promo ‘Saw III’ with Live Musical Event

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

Saw IIILionsgate and Warcon Records teaming up next month to put on a ‘Saw III’-themed live music show in support of the upcoming feature film and soundtrack.

“A Musical Evening Inspired by the Soundtrack of SAW III” will kick off at New York’s Webster Hall on October 19th. The evening will feature appearances by bands from the film’s soundtrack, with headlining acts to include Helmet, The Smashup and Hydrovibe. Shawnee Smith, who stars as “Amanda” in all three ‘Saw” movies, will emcee the show, and other cast members will be on hand for appearances as well.

A special ‘Saw’ museum will also be set up on the premises, which will include actual film props, torture devices, and the creepy ‘Billie’ puppet. There’s also an opportunity to join a “Circle of Blood” fan club, which will entitle members to gain early access to the venue for a meet and greet with cast members and the bands and a big bag of ‘Saw’ swag.

The informational site for the event is here. Advance tickets are also available through Ticketweb.

The ‘Saw III’ soundtrack will drop on October 24th, and the film hits theaters on October 27th. The ‘Saw’ franchise has grossed Lionsgate over $247 million to date in worldwide box office and has sold-through over 1.8 million DVDs, according to Nielsen Videoscan.

Apple Announces Feature-length Downloads for iTunes

Wednesday, September 13th, 2006

iTunes movie downloads
In a special presentation yesterday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the new iTunes movie store, which will enable users to buy and download feature-length films.

The initial slate of 100 movies includes an offering of titles from Disney-affiliated labels Pixar, Miramax, Touchstone, as well as Disney-branded films. A forthcoming deal with Lionsgate is expected, but was not announced during the presentation. The films will be priced at $14.99 for new releases and $9.99 for catalog titles, but customers who pre-order new releases can order them for $12.99. The video files will use the H.264 codec and will be at 640 x 480 resolution, which is “near DVD” quality and suitable for viewing on standard TV sets.

Apple also gave a sneak preview of a new product tentatively called “iTV,” which is a set-top box that will enable users to stream downloaded movies, music, and photos from a computer to a consumer’s television set. The wireless box will also have HDMI output, which should be able to address the studio’s piracy concerns. The iTV release date is slated for sometime in 1Q 2007.

When compared to the lackluster release of Amazon’s Unbox service last week, the Apple offering looks like an improvement if they can secure a wider base of content partners. However, the pricing structure for DRM-hobbled, low-quality video without packaging or special features seems too high. For example, for $20 dollars, you can pick up Miramax’s ‘Kinky Boots’ DVD on Amazon, and for that price you will get DVD quality video, Dolby 5.1 sound, two featurettes, deleted scenes, commentaries, and foreign language tracks. You can play it on any DVD player in or out of the home, and if you wanted to, an individual with minimal technical knowledge can rip a DRM-free version to play on their iPod (albeit illegally). Therein lies the real problem: creating a downloadable product that offers consumers the same level of choice for the same price as a physical product, or reducing the price to reflect the true value to the consumer.

Perhaps the recent conjecture is right - maybe the studios aren't interested in seeing downloads cannibalize DVD sales just yet.

RKO and AMC Theaters Partner for New Film Series

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

AMC Theaters LogoAccording to Variety, AMC Theaters and RKO Distribution have announced plans for a recurring film series next year.

Called the “RKO Distribution Film Series,” the six film slate will run for 12 weeks in 16 markets starting next February. Each film will play run exclusively at AMC theaters for a minimum of two weeks. If the films take off, they could be held over or expanded according to the agreement. If the series is successful, a second slate of six films will bow in August.

The deal falls under the recently launched AMC SELECT program, which is designed showcase specialty and independent films at 72 AMC theatres in 39 markets across the country. AMC has dedicated at least one screen at each participating theatre to indie programming. Recent titles that have run under the AMC SELECT moniker include ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ and ‘A Prairie Home Companion.’