Track DVD Releases on UpcomingDiscs.com

By: Charles Bowen

As the writers and editors on your entertainment staff will be happy to tell you, DVDs are now the preferred medium for home-based movie lovers. At traditional video rental stores like Blockbuster, discs are rapidly replacing video tapes on the shelves.

Meanwhile online, hot new companies like Netflix.com are threatening to eat Blockbuster’s lunch by offering rental discs by mail. Retail giant Wal-Mart recently announced that it will offer a similar DVD-by-mail rental service.

And to meet America’s new hunger for DVDs, the movie and television industries are accelerating the release dates for their productions on disc, putting the pressure on entertainment reporters to keep up with what’s new and hot.

A new site on the Web called UpcomingDiscs.com offers to be your free tipsheet on what’s out and what’s coming out. Not only can you see what video releases are just around the corner, you can peruse the editors’ reviews and chat with other impatient fans in the forums. The site also covers TV series on disc and the latest in upcoming video games.

To check it out, visit http://www.upcomingdiscs.com, where the center section of a newsy introductory screen provides quick reads on the latest movies to be released on DVD, most with thumbnail graphics of their covers. The left column of the home page offers links to featured reviews, usually lesser-known films that have grabbed the attention of someone at the site. The right-hand column has multiple links to “Editors Picks,” “New Reviews,” and “Top Reviews.”

Along the top of each page is a navigation bar with links to reviews, releases, articles, discussion forms, top lists, contests, newsletters, links, games, covers, and more. Of particular interest to journalists in a hurry will be the site’s search engine. Located in the upper right side of each page is a data-entry box with an adjacent “Search” button. Enter a keyword to search the site’s backlog of reviews and articles on releases. It appears to be somewhat limited — use titles or portions of titles, not actors’ names, for instance — but it’s fast.

The site also can sort its major material in interesting ways. For example, select the “Reviews” link from the navigation bar and the resulting screen lets you browse articles by genre (action, drama, comedy, science fiction, television, etc.), studio (Columbia-Tristar, Fox, MGM, and so on), category (box set, double disc, THX Mastered, etc.) and series (special edition, collector’s edition, limited edition, superbit). Similarly, the Releases option on the navigation bar produces a page that offers to break out the data by release date, genre, or studio.

Other considerations for using UpcomingDiscs in your writing and editing:

1. Of particular interest to your entertainment writers, I’d think, will be the site’s e-mail newsletter. It’s a bi-weekly that contains fresh release announcements, industry news, and reviews. Click the “Newsletter” link on the navigation bar to sign up.

2. If you write about the site in your news columns or Internet features, you might want to alert the kids to the site’s coverage of new video games. Clicking the “Games” link on the navigation bar takes you to a page from which you can browse the material by titles, platforms, publishers, genre, or levels of difficulty. The same section could be bookmarked by the entertainment editor as a research tool for those end-of-the-year Christmas features, by the way.

3. Also you might want to tell readers about the site’s section devoted to freebies. The “Contest” link on the navigation bar reports regular give-aways by the site.

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