Eerie Storytellng at its Best
D<I>avid Bennett, Angela Winkler, Mario Adorf, Katharina Thalbach, Daniel Olbrychski. Directed by Volker Schlöndorff. Aspect ratio: 1.85:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 142 minutes. 1979. Image Entertainment/Kino Video K104. Rated R. $39.99.</I>
Outside-the-Border Filmmaking Pulls Away Billions from US Economy, Report Verifies
One of every four film productions conceived and set in motion in the United States is now largely produced out of the country---the result of studio executives obsessed about extracting the highest possible profit at the lowest possible cost. About 23,500 entertainment-industry jobs and $2.8 billion worth of TV and movie projects were taken offshore or over the border last year, according to James Bates in the June 25 <A HREF="http://www.latimes.com/HOME/BUSINESS/UPDATES/RUNAWAY/lat_runaway990625.h... Angeles Times</I></A>. The phenomenon, known in Hollywood as "runaway" filmmaking, could ripple through the entire US economy with an effect of as much as $10 billion.
Recordable DVD News This Week
Last week, the DVD Forum announced that its Steering Committee has formally approved the physical format of the DVD-RAM discs for 4.7 gigabytes (GB) as version 2.0. The Format Book for version 2.0 (Physical Specifications) will be published in the third quarter of this year. The DVD Froum says that the 4.7GB DVD-RAM format will be compatible with the existing 2.6GB (v.1.0) DVD-RAM format, as well as with other DVD formats established by the DVD Forum. The new 4.7GB format is expected to impact both PC and audio/video applications.
Film Studios Announce Cutbacks, Layoffs, Reorganizations
Bad news always comes in threes, goes the old adage. This folk wisdom proved true in Hollywood in late June as three major film studios announced cutbacks, layoffs, reorganizations---and the possible cancellation of a massive studio-building project.
Electronic Cinema Debuts in Beautiful Downtown Burbank
I have seen the future, and it is digital. On June 18, cinematic history was made as <I>Star Wars: Episode 1---The Phantom Menace</I> became the first movie in the U.S. to be publicly screened from a digital source rather than a film print (see <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?430">related story</A>).
A Chekhovian Tragi-Comedy?
H<I>olly Hunter, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, Martin Donovan. Directed by Richard LaGravenese. Aspect ratio: 2.35:1 (letterbox). Dolby Digital 5.1. 100 minutes. 1998. New Line Home Video N4726. Rated R. $24.95.</I>
HDTV Plasma-Display Market Expanding
A plasma display's compact physical size, perfectly flat screen, and pixel-sharp picture answer many prayers for home-theater enthusiasts. There are a few downsides, however, including a lack of true blacks and prices equal to a new small car. But one of the biggest drawbacks so far is far too few pixels to properly present an HDTV image. To solve this problem, several manufacturers are creating larger displays with higher resolutions.
Last Rites for Divx, Clear Sailing for Open DVD
Divx is gone. <A HREF="http://www.divx.com/">Digital Video Express</A>, the <A HREF="http://www.circuitcity.com/">Circuit City</A> subsidiary that launched the pay-per-view DVD format less than a year ago, announced on June 16 that it would cease operations. Blaming lack of support from film studios and retailers, Circuit City decided to bow out early rather than continue to fight a losing battle. "We regret that a lack of support from studios and other retailers will prohibit consumers from receiving the exceptional benefits of the Divx system," says W. Alan McCollough, president and chief operating officer of Circuit City Stores, Inc. A refund program for Divx buyers is underway, company officials stated.
Showtime to Offer HDTV Programming
According to a June 14 report on the <A HREF="mailto:email@example.com">OpenDTV news list</A>, <A HREF="http://sho.com/">Showtime Networks</A> will begin delivering original HDTV programming early next year. Concerts, movies, and sports will all be produced in either 1080i or 720p. Showtime has not yet decided which format will get the ultimate nod, but Mark Greenberg, executive vice president for corporate strategy and communications, says his company is leaning toward 1080i as offering the biggest bang for the buck. Also undecided is whether HDTV signals will be delivered over dedicated channels or will share bandwidth with existing services.
Digital Video Recorders Coming Soon to a Living Room Near You?
Every year, as summer sales for consumer-electronics products drag a little, manufacturers and retailers wonder which products will be the trend-setters in the upcoming holiday season. According to a report just released by <A HREF="http://www.idc.com">International Data Corporation</A> (IDC), the hot niche for 1999 will be a new product category: digital video recorders (DVRs) from companies like <A HREF="http://www.replaytv.com">RePlay Networks</A> and <A HREF="http://www.tivo.com">TiVo</A>.