Exciting announcements abound this week (Fearless Director’s Cut! A new Little Mermaid movie! Gossip Girl on DVD!) while Nicolas Cage’s treasure-hunting adventure sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, tops new releases.

Jet Li’s Extended Fearless Comes to Region 1!

Jet Li‘s “final” wu-shu epic — not to be confused with regular old action films and Hollywood fluff like The Forbidden Kingdom, in which he continues to star — was a modest success with American audiences when it opened in 2006. But the original cut, which featured an additional 35 minutes of footage and an entire subplot starring Michelle Yeoh, was never released in the U.S. ….until now! Universal has announced the July debut of Jet Li’s Fearless: The Director’s Cut, which will include the original theatrical, unrated, and 141-minute director’s cuts along with deleted scenes and a featurette. Look for the two-disc release this July 8.

More dirty hidden images headed our way…

Similarly exciting news, different demographic: they’re making a new Little Mermaid movie! Prequel tale The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning will hit shelves August 26 and tell the story of how Ariel — redhead, ocean princess, collector of whose-its and whatz-its galore — became the girl she was, before she turned into a dissatisfied, soul-trading teenager who longed to become human, get legs, find love, etc.

OMG, kids!

The best show you won’t admit to watching (unless you’re a fourteen-year-old girl, in which case it’s mandatory viewing) is coming to DVD this August! See what’s got the Facebook generation abuzz by checking out the soapy goings-on among the posh Manhattan private school crowd. Extra features slated for the 5-disc package include unaired scenes, a gag reel, featurettes, and a download of the first source novel, as read by Christina Ricci. Like we said, OMG!

OMFG, nerds!

Lastly, earning the exclamation “OMFG” is news that Criterion has moved forward with their long-awaited release of the most notorious film not currently available on DVD: Salo. Pier Paolo Pasolini’s anti-Fascist tale of moral and physical degradation was told in such graphic detail that the film was banned in many countries; out of print for years, DVDs of Salo had been going for hundreds of dollars in recent years. Criterion now shares details of the two-disc August release, which will include a documentary about the film, a documentary about the final scene, new interviews, and more.

Click for this week’s new releases!

National Treasure: Book of Secrets

Tomatometer: 32%

Audiences just can’t get enough of globe-hopping treasure hunters, can they? Nicolas Cage‘s sequel to 2004’s Indiana Jones-ripping National Treasure eclipsed the success of its predecessor and is set to continue the trend as it comes to DVD this week. Cage reprises his role as Ben Gates, who now must defend his great-great-grandfather’s reputation, kidnap the President, find a city of gold, and uncover the titular tome.

Bonus Features:

The two-disc release includes commentary by director Jon Turtletaub and John Voight, deleted scenes, and tons of featurettes. Perhaps one of them explains why Oscar-winner Helen Mirren signed on for a part as Mama Gates, Ben’s historian mother.

George A. Romero’s Diary of the Dead

Tomatometer: 60%

Horror master George A. Romero gambled on his own storied zombie franchise in his most recent horror film, shot largely with handheld cameras in a cinema verite style — which could have been called “The Blair Witch Zombie Project.” Shot documentary-style by a gaggle of college kids who find themselves documenting a zombie outbreak, Diary provides expected levels of gore and suspense, heavily tempered by Romero’s own political bent.

Bonus Features:

Bonus menu highlights are five user-submitted short films that won a place on the DVD.

Night of the Living Dead

Tomatometer: 95%

Romero’s first cult hit is also returning to DVD this week in an all-new restored and remastered cut. The 40th Anniversary release features cast and crew commentaries, the “Last Interview with Duane Jones,” a gallery of stills, a DVD-ROM screenplay, and more.

Strange Wilderness

Tomatometer: 00%

Giving the miserable thriller One Missed Call a run for its money as the worst-reviewed film of 2008 is this “comedy”; it’s got fewer reviews in and made far less money, but the Tomatometer remains the same: double zeroes! When the hosts of a nature show become desperate for ratings, they go into the wild in search of Bigfoot.

Bonus Features:

Will a full menu of deleted scenes and featurettes make this worth your while? We doubt it.

The Flock

Tomatometer: N/A

This Richard Gere starrer was slated for theatrical release once upon a time — and really, haven’t we seen plenty of terrible thrillers come and go already this year? (Deception, we’re looking at you.) Director Andrew Lau, whose Infernal Affairs inspired Marty Scorsese’s Oscar-winning The Departed, makes his English language debut with this sex crime suspense flick, which makes its way straight to DVD this week.

Bonus Features:

Nothing says “bonus” like a supporting performance by Avril Lavigne, right?

The Muppet Show – Season Three

Tomatometer: N/A

“It’s time to play the music; it’s time to light the lights. It’s time to meet the Muppets on the Muppet Show tonight!” Season Three of The Muppet Show is available this week in a splendid four-disc collection, a must-own for any fan of Kermit and co.

Bonus Features:

Featuring the likes of Gilda Radner, Cheryl Ladd, Raquel Welch, and Sylvester Stallone, the expansive release has bonus material like the 1968 documentary “Muppets on Puppets,” vintage Muppet commercials, and an all new featurette in which key players reminisce on the origins of characters like Miss Piggy (watch a clip below).

‘Til next week, happy viewing!

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