NEWS AND UPDATES
"...that should learn us /
There's a divinity that shapes our ends, Rough-hew them how we will --"
(5.2.10ff)

May 7, 2007
It's official! Warner Bros. has announced the release date of Hamlet. It will be released on August 14, 2007 in DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray formats. I learned of the release date about a week ago but was obligated to hold the information until Warner made the official announcement.

Click Here to read the official press release.

February 27, 2007
A vigilant Hamlet fan caught this exciting chat that happened with Warner Bros. executives George Feltenstein,
George Parker, and Ronnee Sass last night on the
Home Theater Forum.
chat. last night.

<DougH> YO - Any news on Branagh's HAMLET?

<WARNER> BRANAGH'S HAMLET is done, and will be out before the end of the Summer. In SD, HD-DVD and Blu-Ray!

February 24, 2007

Jude from the Branagh Compendium has sent me the following update on the DVD. Thanks again to everyone who has been visiting the site!

2/6
"I work for Warner Bros. Yours and my wish is just around the corner. We just finished the video work on Hamlet. Now just have to get the menus and special features done. It's coming soon on HD-DVD."

2/15
"The HD-DVD version will not be playable on regular DVD players, I am sorry. As far as a word about a standard def version I have heard nothing.
Though I do imagine it will be available in all formats in 2007 seeing as how it is a 10th anniversary edition. I am glad to see people are looking forward to the product."

According to another comment Ken has been led to believe the release of the DVD is to coincide with HBO's showing of As You Like It. Well, that may have been moved from April to August and from theatres to a premiere on HBO.

January 26, 2007
Happy New Year! Thank you to everyone who donated during my last fund raiser. I apologize for the site being down during the transfer to a new hosting service. Unfortunately, our forum and half of my updates from last year were lost in the process; However, that will not stop us. I am waiting to hear back from Warner Bros. regarding the release since the holidays are now over. Hopefully I will have something new to report soon. As of right now, I have no plans to do another Valentine's Day Email Blast. I may change my mind after Warner responds to my latest inquiry. Thanks again for visiting the site and stay tuned for updates. . . I can't believe this has been going on for over two years!

October 17, 2006

The latest news from Ronnee Sass at Warner Bros. :


"I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you and the many fans of Kenneth Branagh's HAMLET for the support and patience shown in waiting for the release of this wonderful film to DVD.

We, too, have been most disappointed that we could not have brought this film to DVD sooner. The good news, after a great deal of time, expense and great care, the transfer is complete. We are working on the special content and we do plan on releasing HAMLET in 2007. We are doing all with special attention and good conscience and I'm hopeful all will come to believe it was worth waiting for."



May 20, 2006

Update!
After months of patient waiting, I finally have something to report! The new transfer of the film is nearing completion, but it has taken a very long time both because of its length and the fact that it comes from a 65mm negative. My Warner sources report that the initial transfer was completed last week. The next phase of the project, the removal of dust and scratches during the digital remastering process, should be completed in about 30 days. Once the master is ready for disc authoring, they will schedule a release date. Things are looking good so far! Unfortunately, I don't have any definite news to report on the supplementary materials to be included with the DVD, but Warner did make it a point to tell me that this remastering has been extraordinarily expensive, but worth it.

February 16, 2006

Nathan sent me an email today with this posting by Bill Hunt, editor of
The Digital Bits:

"We've had a lot of people asking about this title lately, so we're very pleased to tell you that Warner is currently hard at work on a long-awaited DVD release of Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet. The title is (as yet) unannounced, but we've confirmed directly with the studio that they're working to get the disc on store shelves before the end of 2006."

February 13, 2006

The Second-Annual
Valentine's Day Email Blast has begun. The link will be active into the afternoon on February 15th, U.S. Central time. Remember, please be polite and sincere. Our intention is simply to communicate to WB that there are still many loyal customers anxiously awaiting their product.

February 6, 2006

WB's Ronnee Sass continues to assure us that Hamlet will be released within the next 12 months. Of course, as the Executive Director of Publicity for Warner Home Video, it is in her best interest to tell avid Hamlet fans favorable news. Similar logic also suggests that it would be very bad publicity to disseminate inaccurate information. I tend to believe her sincerity. Here is text from her most recent responses (with potentially slippery language in boldface).

"Our commitment to releasing HAMLET is 100% but remastering and production schedules may force a delay. It will be out within the next 12 months -- we must be able to have the time necessary to release it properly. We do hope you understand. Please be patient. It will be worth the wait."

"We are actively working on this release but still don't have a firm release date. It's likely to be out in the next 12 months or so."


February 2, 2006

Thanks to Andy who emailed me the new header quote for this page; I found it very appropriate to the current situation we face. Well, aside from the groundhog's bleak forecast of another six weeks of winter, I received a call from a source close to Mr. Branagh. She explained: yes, they had been in contact with the Warner Family about the Hamlet DVD project in late December and that both parties were very excited. Ken was coming up with ideas of what he would also like to put along with it (some ideas specifically mentioned were a discussion panel of various other actors who have played Hamlet, along with some other interview things). However, last week they received an unexpected email explaining that they, Warner Bros, may "have to" move the release of it until 200 and . . .EIGHT!!! What?!? So, I propose that on this Valentine's Day, as we did last year, we politely remind Warner Bros. of the people who are still awaiting this DVD. Although I don't want to rush the project into a ship-shod release, I feel that (and have seen on too many occasions to count) projects get shelved for decades. Remember "The Manchurian Candidate" by John Frankenheimer starring Frank Sinatra? It was originally released in 1962 and not re-released on video until 1987!!!

January 28, 2006

I spoke with Ronnee Sass at Warner Bros. again, and she claims to have no further updates on the project right now. I will keep the pressure on and see what transpires. Thank you to everyone who has sent in donations to help offset the cost of running the site. As a poor graduate student, I really appreciate it. While waiting for Hamlet, be sure check out this cool list of 101+ reasons to watch Branagh's Hamlet that was recommended to me by Jude Tessel of the Branagh Compendium.


December 27, 2005

The new year is fast approaching, and I will be contacting Warner Brothers sometime in January to check the progress of the Hamlet DVD. In the meantime, watch Warm Springs if you haven't already. It is awesome! I don't want to give anything away, but keep your eye on Daisy . . . she steals the show. Also, be sure to have plently of Kleenex on hand because you may get a bit misty.

The cost of keeping this site up and running is becoming prohibitive, but so many people visit it I don't want to shut it down. If you have found this information useful, please make a small monetary donation (of any amount) to help offset my hosting costs.


 
October 7, 2005

UPDATE: Today I spoke with Tamar, Mr. Branagh's assistant, and she has confirmed that Warner is planning to release the film next year. She explained that their contact at Warner is currently engrossed in the upcoming Harry Potter release, but after that project is completed, they will begin work on the Hamlet DVD project. She explained that this works out just fine because Ken is very busy with other projects right now anyway. I think this is tremendous news! To hear that Warner has been in touch with Branagh's people about Hamlet is encouraging. When I began this quest last year, it seemed as if Warner had completely forgotten the film.


September 17, 2005

Thanks again for all of the emails that I continue to receive. It's really interesting and exciting to talk to people from all over the globe who love Hamlet. Also, if you haven't seen it yet, I recommend picking up a copy of "In the Bleak Midwinter" (Original UK Title) or "A Midwinter's Tale" (Euphemized American title because the original title was too depressing--ahh Hollywood). It was Branagh's self-funded precursor to his Hamlet film that follows the story of a low-budget, avante garde production of Hamlet. It features actors from the "real" Hamlet film with the exception of Branagh who is doing the writing and the directing. It's really funny, especially if you have ever been involved with theater in any capacity.

September 6, 2005

I heard back from Ronee Sass today, but sadly she said that there was no new news on the DVD release of Hamlet. To be fair, she had told me to contact her early next year. I was just getting anxious (as I know many of you are). I


August 27, 2005

Hello Hamlet fans! I am still maintaining the site. I apologize that the forum was down for awhile. I had to upgrade some elements of the script to get it going again. In case you haven't heard, Warm Springs comes out on DVD on August 30th, 2005. I didn't get to see it when it came out so I will definitely be picking up the DVD. I also think it is about time to touch base with Warner Bros. and check the progress of the Hamlet DVD. I will post anything new that I find out.

March 27, 2005

Just writing to let everyone know that I am still here. Emails continue to pour in since our apparently successful campaign: all of which have great suggestions regarding features and packaging for the DVD. I will continue compiling these ideas and forwarding them to the pertinent people developing the product at Warner. While I am not sure what kind of money and resources they are dedicating to this project, a few well-placed and accurately-timed suggestions might do the trick. I am also happy to report that my other successful quest has been achieved...I have been accepted into a Ph.D. program with financial backing. Hooray! I hope I will still be able to find time for Hamlet next year!


February 25, 2005

It's been awhile since I had posted anything; so I though it would be a good idea to give an update. Ronnee Sass said that I can contact her later this year to get an official release date. At which point, I will be sure to post it. Until then, I will be watching my laserdisc of Hamlet.

February 15, 2005

I almost can't believe it. I just received an email from Ronnee Sass, Executive Director of Publicity at WHV, who has responed to the barrage of emails in a most unexpected and pleasing way! Writing that "It's been good to see the interest and anticipation of so many people over our release of Hamlet on DVD," she continued her response by revealing that Warner plans to release a fully remastered, 10th Anniversary commemorative edition of the film in 2006. (Read the complete letter here). I am pleased to announce that after months of phone calls and emails, I have an answer that I deem satisfactory. I appreciate all of the support that I have received from my new friends all over the globe. I suggest that we plan a big premier of the film for next year...what do you think Ken-Friends? Could we get Branagh to come to a private screening somewhere?

February 14, 2005

Today we launched the Valentine's Day "Email Blast" campaign. Unfortunately, my ethnocentric thinking failed to take into consideration the multiple time zones encompassed by this endeavor. As a result, I posted the link a day early (according to U.S. central time) and kept it up almost a day after. The response was tremendous! The website recorded 10,000 hits that day and nearly 1000 emails were sent to Warner Brothers. Thanks to everyone who participated in the event! The good news is my website is still up, and I am not in jail!

February 10, 2005

In honor of Valentine's Day, on Monday, February 14th, you will be able to tell Warner Brothers how much you love Hamlet! There will be a massive one day email campaign to eight people at Warner who have the authority and/or clout to make this project move along quicker. This may be the largest effort of its kind in web history. My hope is not to simply "send a bunch of emails," but rather, to allow Warner Home Video a glimpse of exactly how many people across the world are waiting for this DVD. Since I have created this site, I have received emails from across the globe from people just like me who have been waiting YEARS for this film. With the "fast and furious" release of poorly written "monster" movies or trite romantic comedies, I am thoroughly discouraged that perhaps the finest film adaptation of Shakespeare is inaccessible to a whole new audience of soon-to-be Shakespeare fans. I heartily believe that Hamlet has a power to connect with people--especially teenagers--in a way that "Julius Caesar" and other Shakespeare plays cannot. With every year that passes, another generation of student's is deprived of the opportunity to really enjoy Shakespeare. Branagh's Hamlet is really a "film"; not simply a filmed version of a stage production. It is a spectacle!

February 3, 2005

My attempts to glean any more information from Warner seem to have reached their limit. All roads lead to Barb Brogliatti who spouts the potentially untrue and obviously vague "on the 'release schedule'" answer. However, this will not stop our cause. While I await word from NPR on their coverage of this issue, I will be orchestrating a concerted email blast to the key players at Warner. I will be posting the details of the plan to the forum, so be sure to sign up!

February 2, 2005

After weeks of searching, I have found my very own copy of the Hamlet laserdisc. Thank the maker for Ebay. The seller from Toronto, Canada had it included in an auction with a load of other movies. After my beseeching email, they modified their auction and allowed me to buy the Hamlet on its own. Thank you!



February 1, 2005

A second person at Warner has claimed that Hamlet is making its way through the normal creative channels before production. Michael Radiloff, VP of Theatrical Catalog Marketing at Warner Bros., explained, "It's moving forward. Release date still to be determined."

 

January 31, 2005

Contacted NPR (National Public Radio) in regards to the Hamlet DVD Saga. Recommended it as a story idea for the US nationally syndicated show "All Things Considered." Here was the pitch:

"In the nearly 10 years since its theatrical release, Kenneth Branagh's star-studded, full-text production of Hamlet has been one of the most glaring omissions in the world of DVD home video. After a corporate merger, cloaked in a veil of mystery, myth, and corporate doublespeak, rumors have abounded regarding the circumstances that preclude the DVD release of this much anticipated film. Can one website along with legions of loyal Kenneth Branagh fans spur the sluggish media juggernaut AOL Time-Warner to announce an official release date? Will this media giant redeem their integrity and provide Shakespeare the respect he deserves?"

 

January 30, 2005

Replying to my intense skepticism that there were no legal issues surrounding this release, Barbara Brogliatti again replied:

"I have talked to these folks as well as various legal counsel. There are no legal encumbrances...and weren't any.

It had to do with getting all the creative elements, production of the dvd and appropriate scheduling."

 

January 29, 2005

After badgering her quite a bit, I received a response from Barbara Brogliatti at Warner Bros. Who is she? Here's a blurb from an article I found--"Global media conglomerate Warner Bros. Entertainment has promoted Barbara S. Brogliatti to the position of executive VP and chief corporate communications officer...more"

 

Contrary to what I have confirmed from several sources, she stated

"I know of no litigation. [...] Castle Rock was acquired by Turner, who in turn was acquired by Time Warner. As a result, Castle Rock's production and distribution was taken over by Warner Bros., of which Warner Home Video is our home video distribution arm. The project is on the 'release' schedule and for creative as well as competitive reasons, we don't talk about our dates, our production, our marketing, our preservation needs, our added value extras, etc. until we have announced the street date. And even then, we wouldn't discuss proprietary business information. We all look forward to enjoying KB's Hamlet on DVD..."

 

Responding to her "looking forward to enjoying KB's Hamlet" (like we haven't been for ten years) response, I responded:

So, I can safely conclude/include these facts from our conversation:

1. There is currently no litigation/financial problems prohibiting a Warner DVD release of Hamlet.

2. The project is officially on the release schedule, with a projected date of release, but the specifics are confidential.

3. At some unknown point in the future, you will publicly announce the street date.

 

I also included these compelling reasons to release the DVD sooner rather than later:

1. Take advantage of the 10th Anniversary of the release of the film. This would be great for marketing purposes and make the 10 year delay seem to have a purpose.

2. Branagh's growing popularity as well as the upcoming releases of new films. (Alien Love Triangle releases Sept. 2005, Mission Impossible 3, etc).

3. Increased savvy in consumer market to produce counterfeit product. The lack of the availability of this title is well known-providing a gaping hole for the criminal element to illegally cash in on Warner's intellectual property and hurt incremental sales.

4. Competition is a non-factor regarding this film because it is the only full-text edition of Hamlet ever produced on film. People specifically seek out this edition due to the attention Branagh devoted to accuracy in performing the text.

5. Huge marketing opportunity to all universities, secondary schools, and
libraries. Due to the aforementioned reason, Warner/Branagh's Hamlet is
one of a kind.

6. Enormous international demand for the product due to Branagh's /
Shakespeare's worldwide popularity provide increased sales potential. Even Branagh's Frankenstein, initially considered a dud with a budget of
45 million and initial receipts of 20 million has now reached 116 million worldwide!

 

January 28, 2005

After three weeks of pressure, the Senior-Vice President of Worldwide Publicity for Sony Pictures (a.k.a. Columbia Tristar) finally relented by calling the legal department per my request. I can now officially say that Columbia Tristar no longer owns the rights to the film. It seems there is now no one to blame for this delay except Warner Bros.

 

January 27, 2005

The assistant to Kenneth Branagh's agent in the U.S. replied to tell me that they have no knowledge of and know of no one to contact regarding this issue.

 

Inspired, I sent out a flurry of emails to high ranking officials at Warner Bros. in hopes of getting anyone to take an active interest in our cause.

 

January 20, 2005

Well, the Senior-Vice President of Worldwide Publicity for Sony Pictures has responded today from his Blackberry. While he has no answer yet, he explained that he has been "asking around." He requested I give him until next week.

 

January 18, 2005

A big thanks to the folks at the Branagh Compendium for their plug of this site. The response has been tremendous! It is good to know that we are not alone. If you want some encouragement check out this link. Glynn worked diligently to get A Month in the Country starring KB released on DVD. Way to go!

 

January 10, 2005

I have heard back from both Warner and Columbia Tristar. Both contacts were unaware of this situation, but due to CES (Consumer Electronics Show) the key people are out of town. They have both promised to get back with me sometime next week.

 

January 5, 2005

I spoke with Kenneth Branagh's office this morning, and they are as perplexed as the rest of us about this situation. Though they couldn't give me the specific details of the problem, I was pointed in the right direction.

 

December 15, 2005

The UK Amazon website erroneously posted that it would be selling the 1996 Branagh DVD, but quickly retracted this statement when they were deluged with requests. It was actually the Nicol Williamson version from 1969. Can anyone say, "Oops!"

 

March 2004

(courtesy of Kenneth Branagh Compendium)

And the Hamlet saga has another new twist...there appears to be a Russian edition DVD available (how did that happen?). You can read about it (if your Cyrillic is up to it) here. According to a Ken-Friend (whose Cyrillic is up to it) the DVD features subtitles in Russian and Estonian. Clearly the Russians are far smarter than Warner Brothers... maybe not more legal, but they know a market when they see one. :-)