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Kevin Krock, editor
There is a bit of a lull in the DVD news between summer and the holidays, but as the end of the year draws to a close, the 2003 DVD release announcements start to roll in. Here are the press releases for a couple of the more interesting Disney DVD titles due for the first quarter of next year:

VISTA SERIES Two-Disc DVD Set: WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT

15th Anniversary of Landmark Film Loaded With Fun Bonus Features, Newly Restored With Digital Sound, Available March 25

A milestone of film innovation and the recipient of four Academy Awards, the live-action/animated film Who Framed Roger Rabbit gets the lavish treatment it deserves with a deluxe VISTA Series 2-disc DVD set (in both widescreen and full frame formats) and an Exclusive Video Bonus Edition, from Touchstone Home Entertainment on March 25, 2003. Suggested retail price: DVD $29.99, VHS $19.99.

The VISTA edition of Who Framed Roger Rabbit has been designed to present this groundbreaking film in the most complete edition possible, with something for every viewer. Created in concert with the filmmakers, the VISTA DVD of Who Framed Roger Rabbit is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound with the most pristine digital presentation of the film available. The DVD includes loads of bonus features that go behind the scenes and provides a new look at the movie that broke the rules of live action and animated films.

The VISTA DVD of Who Framed Roger Rabbit includes:

DISC ONE: FAMILY FRIENDLY

• Full-frame version of the film

• Three Roger Rabbit Shorts

"Tummy Trouble"

"Roller Coaster Rabbit"

"Trail Mix-Up"

• "Who Made Roger Rabbit" – A family friendly feature that looks at the making of the film

• Set-top game: "Trouble In Toontown"

DISC TWO: FOR THE ENTHUSIAST

• Widescreen Version

• Audio Commentary with director Robert Zemeckis and fellow filmmakers

• Deleted scene – "The Pig Head Sequence"

• "Behind The Ears" – an in-depth look at the making of the film

• "Toontown Confidential" – pop-up style trivia

• Set top gallery – "The Valiant Files"

• "On Set!" - cinema verite look at the making of a scene from the film

• "Before and After" – featurette look at a scene with and without animation

• Toon stand-ins – how to rehearse a scene for Toons

Who Framed Roger Rabbit is truly a unique, landmark film. A zany comedy that crosses from Hollywood to Toontown and back, the film’s fast-paced story is told through a breathtaking mix of live-action and animated film action. Directed by Robert Zemeckis ("Cast Away," "Forrest Gump"), Who Framed Roger Rabbit’s all-star cast includes Bob Hoskins ("Last Orders"), Christopher Lloyd ("Hey Arnold! The Movie," TV’s "Taxi"), Joanna Cassidy (TV’s "Six Feet Under") and more. Legendary vocal actors Mel Blanc and June Foray, who have given voice to countless cartoon characters, lend their talents to the film. The animated cast includes a veritable who’s who of famous "toons," including many classic characters from the Walt Disney Studios and Warner Brothers Studios.

The VISTA DVD series (Vision, Imagination, Style, Theme, Artistry) is a partnership with filmmakers that presents the definitive version of the filmmakers’ cinematic vision, with premium picture and sound enhancements, and in-depth supplemental bonus programming derived from collaboration with the filmmakers.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit benefits from a wide range of star filmmaking talent. The movie is executive produced by Steven Spielberg ("Minority Report") and Kathleen Kennedy ("Signs"); produced by Frank Marshall ("The Bourne Identity") and Robert Watts ("On Deadly Ground"); and associate produced by Don Hahn (Disney’s "The Lion King") and Steve Starkey ("Cast Away").

Street Date: March 25, 2003

Rated: "PG."

Bonus features unrated and subject to change.

Aspect Ratios: Widescreen 1.85:1 formatted for 16x9 screens and Fullscreen 1.33:1

Sound: DTS and Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound

THX Certified

French Language Track

Spanish Language Track

Feature Run Time: Approximately 104 minutes

Suggested Retail Price: DVD $29.99; VHS $19.99

In WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT, gumshoe detective Eddie Valiant (Bob Hoskins) is on the job in both Hollywood and Toontown, and the line between reality and fantasy gets blurred as Eddie tries to solve a major "who dunnit." He’s thrown for quite a set of curves when he meets Jessica Rabbit, the sultry "toon" who whispers "I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way." When Eddie gets mixed up with the fast-talking "toon" Roger Rabbit (Charles Fleischer, TV’s "House of Mouse") he finds himself crossing paths with such characters as the hilarious Baby Herman (Lou Hirsch, "Tom & Viv"), Benny the Cab, the sinister Judge Doom (Christopher Lloyd) and more, in a wacky adventure of a lifetime.

I like the looks of that release, but it will be interesting to see if Disney makes the same subtle cuts they did in the first DVD release. Also, I hope the animated shorts remain intact, as there are a few brief scenes that evidently got in without "approval." I guess we will just have to sit tight an wait until March.


The second release is for those of you with preschoolers... like myself. I "get" to wake up at 6:45 am with my 4-year-old and 18 month old on weekend mornings, and inevitably, the TV ends up on the Disney Channel. At some point (I just don’t remember when things happen at that time of the morning after a week of 5 am work mornings), this surprisingly fun and informative cartoon comes on and both of my children love it.

Of course, I’m talking about Stanley, the show about the inquisitive little boy who explores the animal world through his "Big Book of Everything." Now, Stanley is making his way to home video:

New From Playhouse Disney! PREMIERING ON DVD & Video

STANLEY

Animated Daytime Emmy Winner Focuses on Learning, Fun and Lots of Animals

"SPRING FEVER" & "HOP TO IT" Two Fun-Filled Preschool Adventures

Available on March 11, 2003

Playhouse Disney’s newest hit series STANLEY is making its DVD and Video debut! Kids will have a blast as they jump into "The Great Big Book Of Everything" with Stanley and his friend Dennis the goldfish, who won a Daytime Emmy for outstanding performer in an animated series, as they explore an exciting, animated world of animals and learns important lessons along the way.

From Walt Disney Home Entertainment, STANLEY’s first two exuberant and educational videos are available on March 11, 2003, priced to own at $19.99 (S.R.P.) each for DVD and $12.99 each for VHS.

STANLEY uses animals to teach lessons that are important for every day life. In "Hop To It" Stanley learns how to clean his room by acting like a kangaroo. In "Spring Fever" Stanley and his pals look for the signs of spring. By working together, Stanley and his friends learn from the earth’s special creatures about the secrets of the seasons.

Both of STANLEY’S first two titles are available on DVD with exclusive features that help preschoolers learn about more animals and build skills on vocabulary, sound recognition, numbers, and counting. Also included on both the DVD and VHS is the Baha Men music video of the Stanley theme song.

It sounds like it is pretty much a direct port of a couple of television episodes, but at least the price seems to reflect that. On paper, it looks like it might be worth a look.


Finally, on the rumor front, unfortunately, there is not a lot to mention. Lilo & Stitch is due in early December as a single disc edition, but there is still no official word that a collector’s edition will be released in January. Also, Sleeping Beauty is due in the first half of 2003, but details are very sketchy. It sounds like it will be similar to the Peter Pan and Hunchback releases: some bonus material, but not a full-blown collector’s edition. I hope I’m wrong and they put all the Laserdisc box set material on it, but details should be available soon. I will pass on the word as soon as it is available.

That is all I have for now, but stay tuned for more in the near future!


You can e-mail Kevin at: dockrock@mouseplanet.com

DVD News

ALSO PUBLISHED TODAY:

Kevin Krock takes a look at new DVDs including Walt: The Man Behind the Myth

Al Lutz reviews the new Chuck Jones DVD

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