FTC Nixes Blockbuster-Hollywood Pact

A plan by <A HREF="http://www.blockbuster.com/">Blockbuster Inc.</A>, the world's #1 video chain, to turn its major rival's stores into Blockbuster franchises, has been blocked by the <A HREF="http://www.ftc.gov/">Federal Trade Commission</A>, the <A HREF="http://www.wsj.com/"><I>Wall Street Journal</I></A> reported December 10. Blockbuster had planned to put its name on Hollywood Video's approximately 1500 stores.

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A Little Wine to Go With That DVD?

Francis Ford Coppola wants to make you an offer you can't refuse: the five-time Academy Award-winning writer/director and winemaker says he is now turning his creative talents to the Internet and e-commerce. His Napa Valley winery, Niebaum-Coppola, has recently launched a new <A HREF="http://www.niebaum-coppola.com">website</A> that proffers videos, food, and wine, along with contests for movie items from Coppola films.

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DVD Software Breaks Greatest Weekly Sales Record

Last week, we announced the <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?583">stats on DVD players</A>, which have proven to be one of the hottest format launches in consumer-electronics history. This week, we follow up with recent numbers on DVD software. The results show that, four weeks before the all-important Christmas holiday shopping season, shoppers spiked DVD software sales as they snapped up movies and music videos over the Thanksgiving weekend.

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Actress Madeline Kahn Dies in New York

Madeline Kahn, the comic actress whom Mel Brooks described as "one of the most talented people that ever lived," died in Manhattan on Friday, December 3, of ovarian cancer. She was 57.

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The Best and Worst Cult Movies of All Time Exposed

In addition to the predictable numbers generated by megabuck-grossing films like <I>The Matrix</I> and <I>Titanic</I> (see <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?587">related story</A>), we figure that <I>SGHT</I> readers might also be interested in what's at the opposite end of the list. After rummaging around, we discovered the website for <A HREF="http://www.awcm.com">The Amazing World of Cult Movies</A>, self-described as "the Internet's definitive reference source for the celebration of alternative cinema."

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HDTV Rollout Not Slowing Big-Screen TV Sales

The popularity of DVD and home theater is driving sales of big-screen television sets to new heights&mdash;despite the fact that the rollout of digital television may make them obsolete in the near future. Sales of big-screen sets are up 13% over 1998, according to the latest statistics from the <A HREF="http://www.cemacity.org/">Consumer Electronics Association</A>. Ninety percent of the approximately 1 million units sold in 1990 were equipped to display only NTSC analog signals&mdash;or "legacy video," as industry insiders call it.

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Sharp Ups the Ante with $50k LCD Rear Projector

The video-display war got a lot hotter on December 3. That day, <A HREF="http://www.sharp-usa.com/">Sharp Electronics</A> debuted its SharpVision LC-R60HDU CG-Silicon rear projector, the first such display to incorporate the company's revolutionary continuous-grain silicon (CG-Silicon) LCD technology. The 60"-diagonal display has more than 3.93 million pixels, and is said to offer unprecedented brightness, clarity, and color accuracy from any viewing angle. Perfection doesn't come cheap, however. The new projector costs a cool $50k.

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A New Era in Television?

A recently released study has found that the high price of digital television sets, high capital investment costs, lack of advertising support, and scant offerings from broadcasters have restrained the penetration of digital television since its rollout in November 1998. But the report concludes that "despite its anti-climactic beginning, digital television still represents an important and potentially lucrative market in the consumer television industry."

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DirecTV Gives Thumbs Up to Satellite Home Viewer Act

The Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of 1999, <A HREF="http://www.guidetohometheater.com/shownews.cgi?575">recently passed</A> by Congress and expected to be signed into law by President Clinton, will usher in a new level of competition to the television broadcasting industry&mdash;and a new era of service for viewers, according to direct-broadcast satellite service <A HREF="http://www.directv.com/">DirecTV</A>. The bill allows DBS companies to provide signals from local TV stations, just as cable companies have always done.

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Pioneer Planning to Release DVD Recorder

Last week, <A HREF="http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/">Pioneer</A> announced that next year it will be the first to offer DVD recorder/players and recordable DVDs to consumers in North America and Europe. According to Pioneer, the new machines will allow recording times of up to six hours, indicating that the recorder will compress the video beyond the MPEG-2 compression found on commercially released DVDs.

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