‘Hobbit’ Blu-ray gets 13 extra minutes of film

Martin Freeman in "The Hobbit"The extended Blu-ray edition of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is making its journey to market with 13 additional minutes in the film and a super-sized nine hours of extras. The upgraded home videos arrive Nov. 5.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Extended Edition” will be available as a five-disc Blu-ray set ($55 SRP) that features the Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray versions; a three-disc Blu-ray ($36); and a five-disc DVD ($35).

Warner Home Video is releasing a digital download of the extended film Oct. 22, giving hardcore fans an early look-see.

The theatrical version of the 2012 fantasy film was released to home video in mid-March.

The second film in the Peter Jackson trilogy, “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” opens in theaters Dec. 13.

Home video extras include a feature-length commentary with director Jackson and his co-producer/screenwriter Philippa Boyens.

The main extras are labeled “The Appendices,” described like so:

A multi-part chronological history of the filming of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” covering pre-production in the various departments of the film in the months leading up to the start of principal photography, the boot camp training for the main cast, the work done on set chronologically through the three shooting blocks and in the world of its digital effects.

The existing DVDs and Blu-rays of “The Hobbit” featured 15 “video blogs,” no doubt ported over to the extended package.

While Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” films followed author J. R. R. Tolkien’s trilogy structure, titles and all, the three-part “Hobbit” is a creation of the filmmakers. 1937’s “The Hobbit” was a single fantasy novel, with the other three books (1954-55) loosely described as sequels.

The film was a production of New Line Cinema and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. It drew generally good reviews and picked up a trilogy of Oscar nominations.

The film’s stars are Ian McKellen as the wizard Gandalf and Martin Freeman as the young dwarf Bilbo Baggins.

13 Hitchcock films debuting on Blu-ray

Alfred Hitchcock Blu-ray box set with Rear Window, VertigoThirteen films directed by Alfred Hitchcock will make their debut on Blu-ray as part of Universal’s Sept. 25 release of “The Masterpiece Collection.”

The headlines will be for the long-awaited Blu-ray bows of “Rear Window,” “The Birds” and “Vertigo.”

The other HD debuts appear to be “Saboteur,” “A Shadow of a Doubt,” “Rope,” “The Trouble With Harry,” “The Man Who Knew Too Much,” “Marne,” “Torn Curtain,” “Topaz,” “Frenzy” and “Family Plot.”

The remaining two films in the 15-movie set are “North by Northwest” (Warner) and “Psycho,” both previously rendered on Blu-ray discs.

The high-definition release of “The Masterpiece Collection” essentially upgrades and repackages the 2005 box set of the same name. The film titles are the same except for the “North by Northwest.”

Hitchcock Blu-rays

British version of Hitchcock Blu-ray gift set

The line-up of featurettes and documentaries will be familiar to owners of the 2005 as well.

At least 10 Blu-ray versions of films by the Master already have hit the home video market, with the bulk coming in recent months.

This year’s Hitch HD releases include Criterion’s new “The 39 Steps”
; Fox’s recent Selzneck & Hitch trilogy of “Notorious,” “Rebecca” and “Spellbound”; Paramount’s bow of “To Catch a Thief”; and Warner’s re-do of “North by Northwest.” Criterion rolled out “The Lady Vanishes” in December.

Universal’s Hitchcock HD set is sailing for the U.K., with Amazon showing an impressive box for the set (pictured). The Blu-rays are coming out in Britain on Oct. 1.

‘Chinatown’ surfaces on Blu-ray

blu-ray of chinatown movie“Chinatown” finally is flowing to Blu-ray, with Paramount setting an April 3 release for Roman Polanski’s neo-noir classic.

The Blu-ray features “a new high definition transfer” along with 2 1/2 hours of extras, Paramount Home Entertainment said.

The previous two DVD versions — from 2007 and 2009 — looked quite good, so “Chinatown” fans probably are in for a treat in HD. Audio is English 5.1 Dolby TrueHD.

The bonus features mirror those found on the title’s “Centennial Collection” DVD release of fall 2009. They include a feature commentary with writer Robert Towne and fan David Fincher; an HD version of the three-part, feature-length “Water and Power” documentary from 2009; the solid Laurent Bouzereau documentary of 2007 about the making of “Chinatown” and its legacy; and a half-hour appreciation from various filmmakers (also a rerun).

Towne, Polanski and star Jack Nicholson all rolled out for the making-of, but Faye Dunaway did not.
Towne appears on camera in the “Water and Power” docu. The theatrical trailer will be rendered in HD.

The Blu-ray’s “sport packaging” includes a version of the original “Chinatown” poster and a booklet, Paramount said.

‘Crime Story’ retold on DVD set

Ray Luca and Dennis Farina in Crime StoryMichael Mann’s gritty, compelling and sometimes ridiculous “Crime Story” was the producer-director’s 1986 follow-up to “Miami Vice.”

Set in pre-Miranda 1963, the NBC show followed Lt. Mike Torello (Dennis Farina) as he led a major-crimes unit specializing in making the Windy City too hot for hip gangster Ray Luca (Anthony Denison). In season 2, the action moved to Las Vegas, where Mann’s love of the slick ran rampant.

Image Entertainment has booked “Crime Story: The Complete Series” for Nov. 15. DVD only, alas. It’s billed as a 25th anniversary edition. Three discs. Audio is mono.

The DVD set (retail $30) is worth owning if only for the show’s 21-episode first season, stretching from the sizzling two-hour pilot directed by Abel Ferrara to the ridiculous A-bomb season finale. (In a bizarre case of a TV show committing suicide, the producers killed off key characters because they mistakenly believed the series had been canceled.)

“Crime Story” influenced generations of TV cops-and-gangsters series, most obviously “The Sopranos.” Martin Scorsese reportedly drew on season 2 for his “Casino.”

Talent on “Crime Story” was top-notch, from the writers to the supporting cast to the music men (Al Kooper and Todd Rundgren). The show’s opening never failed to deliver, with its killer theme song, “Runaway,” performed and revised by Del Shannon.

Guest stars in season 1 included Julia Roberts, Pam Grier, Ving Rhames, Gary Sinise, Vincent Gallo, David Caruso, Ray Sharkey and even Miles Davis.

In season 2, there were Stanley Tucci, Michael Madsen, Michael J. Pollard, Billy Zane, David Soul, Vincent Gallo, David Hyde Pierce and Dexter Gordon.

Anchor Bay (Image) previously released separate DVD sets of the first two seasons. They were discontinued last year. Audio and video were OK. Those DVD releases made some subs in the original music, probably repeated this go-round.

Hitler hates Netflix, to no one’s surprise

That Hitler clip from “Downfall” remains one of the greatest comic memes ever to hit the Web.

Well, to no one’s surprise, der fuhrer has a beef with Reed Hastings and Netflix. View on …

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