'Crouching,' 'Mnemonic,' 'Desperado' to help kick off hi-res bow

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment is launching a high-resolution line of DVDs offering enhanced video and audio but no extra features.

The first titles in the new SuperBit Collection being introduced Oct. 9 are “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Johnny Mnemonic,” “The Fifth Element,” “Air Force One” and “Desperado.”

The SuperBit versions of the films, using digital space on the disc usually set aside for special features, are being offered as a choice to consumers who want to test the full capabilities of their high-end home theater systems, said Alison Biggers, executive director of DVD marketing at Columbia TriStar.

The titles will retail for $27.96, about the same price as new DVD releases such as “Crouching Tiger,” but higher than the current price on the older titles with extra features.

‘Added value’

“We’re trying to push the envelope and come up with new ways to market our product,” Biggers said. “Now we’re able to offer a choice in DVD viewing between those that are currently available with added value and those that have no added value and pumped-up picture and sound.”

“If you’re not interested in the in-depth information but you want the movie to look as good as it can, this format gives you that option,” project manager Marshall Starkman said. “The big difference is that there is twice as much (digital) information dedicated strictly to the film on the new editions, and that translates to being able to see a lot more of the subtle details.

“You will see lovely costuming details that high-def can capture. In addition, if they’re using strings to fly around the screen, all those details will be there.”

The discs will offer a choice of DTS and Dolby 5.1 audio and will be compatible with a standard DVD player, Starkman said.

A three-pack SuperBit selection of “Crouching Tiger,” “Desperado” and “Fifth Element” also will be released and priced at $73.95.

“We selected movies that would really appeal to the DVD audience,” Biggers said. “Some are more suited to this format than others, and these have more action, a lot of visual impact and great sound.”

Biggers said Columbia is working with retailers to determine how the SuperBit Collection will be displayed in stores. Each of the titles being released in the format will contain a booklet that explains the technical specs of the process.

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