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(Archived Posts 1/10/08 - 12/20/07)
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UPDATE - 1/10/08 - NOON PST)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has just released a brief
statement with regards to its HD-DVD support. EVP of HD strategic
marketing Ken Graffeo says the following: "Contrary
to unsubstantiated rumors from unnamed sources, Universal's current
plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format."
It's worth noting that nothing in this statement negates the
possibility of Universal announcing Blu-ray support (in addition to
HD-DVD) in the future. This is similar to Paramount's recent
official comments that they intend to continue supporting HD-DVD as
well, which does not preclude possible future Blu-ray Disc support.
One would expect a similar statement out of Toshiba and/or the
HD-DVD Promotions Group soon as well. Regardless, it shouldn't take
a rocket scientist to realize that they're being careful about their
phrasing so as to keep their options open. We'd frankly expect both
studios to continue releasing HD-DVD product for some time,
regardless of any Blu-ray plans they might announce in the future.
By the way, we contacted The Weinstein Company and Genius Products
today. A spokesperson told us that the company hadn't firmed up
their HD plans yet.
Meanwhile, the bad mainstream press for HD-DVD keeps mounting. The
New York Times' technology
section features a report entitled
DVDs Fall Like Dominoes" today. And The
Wall Street Journal's Digital
Digital column goes a step further with
HD DVD - He Dead..." It will be interesting to see how
all these press reports out of CES, in the wake of Warner's Blu-ray
move, will impact the high-def hardware and software sales numbers
over the next few weeks.
One other completely unrelated note this afternoon: We wanted to
take a moment to acknowledge
passing of legendary explorer Sir Edmund Hillary today. He was
88. Hillary became famous midway through the 20th Century, when he
and Tenzing Norgay conquered the summit of Everest in 1953. Now that
took some balls. MSNBC
also has a piece up on Hillary this afternoon. We doff our
caps in his honor.
(LATE UPDATE - 1/10/08
- NOON PST)
Okay... our very own Adam Jahnke has just updated his
Theatre column with a look back at the best and worst
films of 2007. It's well worth a read, so do check it out.
Also this afternoon, BCI has just announced the 2002 animated
revival of He-Man and the Masters of the
Universe as a 3-disc DVD release due on 2/19 (SRP
$26.98). You'll get the first 13 episodes of the series, along with
the original Morals segments
for each episode, the World of He-Man
documentary, a Heroes sketch
gallery, audio commentary on 5 episodes (with director Gary Hartle,
story editor Dean Sefan and writer Larry Ditillo, moderated by Ian
Richter) with extended video discussion after the episode ends, 3
episode animatics, scripts for all the episodes, video of the
Comic-Con panel and much more.
Meanwhile, more retailers are weighing in on the high-def format
war this afternoon. Trans World Entertainment is pleased with
Warner's decision to go Blu-ray
to Home Media. President/COO Jim Litwak had this to
say today: "Finally, the customer has an
understanding of where this business is going to go and will not be
confused. Blu-ray becomes the new DVD format, which is particularly
exciting. We like that a lot." Trans World owns and
operates the retail chains fye, Suncoast, Wherehouse and Second
And one more major German distributor just went Blu-ray only...
Highlight Video. The details
here at CineFacts.de (in German of course - here's
rough English translation).
The news is coming fast and furious, but our CES stuff is on the
way. Stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
1/10/08 - 10:30 AM PST)
The big high-def news so far this morning is that
Variety has confirmed that Paramount has an escape clause
on their contract with HD-DVD, and that Universal's contractual
period for exclusivity has ended. This means both studios are free
to decide to go neutral or Blu-ray only at any time. The piece says
that while these studios aren't quite ready to throw in the towel
yet, and neither is Toshiba, retailers are likely to force their
hand based on sales.
On that note,
spoke with a number of retailers at CES who, contrary to
Toshiba's claims of being supportive, seem afraid of the format war
continuing to drag on. Says Wal-Mart's senior vice president in
charge of electronics, Gary Severson: "It
would be our hope that by this Christmas there would be a clearer
choice for the customer, instead of battling back and forth."
Best Buy CEO Brad Anderson adds that Warner's decision makes it
"a lot easier to see the likelihood that
we get to one format, and it makes it easier for us as retailers to
help push it to that one format." None of these
retailers are likely to immediately remove HD-DVD from their store
shelves, for fear of angering those consumers who just purchased the
format over the holidays. However, you can be certain that they'll
be watching sales figures and will react accordingly.
In order to better assess retailers' possible next moves, we
contacted a variety of local Orange County, CA retail locations
yesterday (including Best Buy and Circuit City stores, as well as
Frys Electronics and a couple of specialty retailers) for an
informal poll, and have learned that since Warner's decision on
Friday, Blu-ray Disc hardware has begun outselling HD-DVD hardware
dramatically, jumping from 3 to 1 early last week to a factor of
roughly 20 to 1 (on average) over the weekend. Sales people are now
more confidently recommending Blu-ray to their customers as the
preferred of the two formats, and there have apparently been returns
of HD-DVD decks. Said one Best Buy employee yesterday of HD-DVD:
"We'll keep it around until it goes on
clearance, but in a couple months, it probably won't be there
The number of HD-DVD players
for sale on eBay appears to have spiked over the weekend as
It gets worse for HD-DVD today. Constantin Film AG (one of
Germany's top indie film companies) has announced that it too will
go all Blu-ray in the wake of Warner's move,
to the Hollywood Reporter.
Finally, research firm
and Solutions is now predicting that Blu-ray will win the
high-def format war by the end of 2008. We suspect it won't take
nearly that long.
Back with more in a bit. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 1/9/08 -
5:30 PM PST)
So this is interesting. I'm sitting here working on our CES
coverage, when a reader e-mails this over: USA
Today's Ed Baig
with Microsoft CEO Bill Gates this week, and asked him about
the format war in light of Warner's decision to go Blu-ray only.
Here's the relevant part of the exchange...
"Q: Warner's announcement backing
Blu-ray high-definition DVDs suggests the death of the HD DVD
format, which Microsoft has supported. What's your reaction?
A: There has been a lot of back and forth. The announcement before
that was Paramount putting exclusive support behind HD DVD. HD DVD
did well over the holidays. The other trend we're seeing is that
direct download over broadband I think the greatest example
of that is XBox Live (is) becoming an important choice. Over
time, that will be the dominant way that people get their movies."
I've got no particular comment on this, other than that I think
it's interesting that Gates is already trying to shift the focus off
HD-DVD and toward downloading via Xbox Live in light of Warner's
decision. Make of that what you will.
On a related note, based on conversations with Microsoft officials
at CES this week
Generation is now reporting the following:
"The fate of HD-DVD is not critical to
the success of the Xbox 360, according to senior Microsoft
officials, who have noted that the company would consider supporting
rival technology Blu-ray if it were victorious in the
high-definition format war."
is reporting that some members of the BDA are now shifting
their marketing focus away from fighting the format war against
HD-DVD, to instead focus on promoting Blu-ray's advantages over
(LATE UPDATE -
1/9/08 - 4:30 PM PST)
Just a quick update... the
Times is now reporting that Warner's switch did in fact
trigger Paramount's out clause with HD-DVD. Here's the relevant text
from the story:
"Warner Bros.' decision last week to
start making movies exclusively for Blu-ray players, rather than HD
DVD, triggered an "out" clause in Paramount Pictures'
contract with the HD DVD camp. An industry source said there was a
significant possibility that Paramount would exercise that clause.
It plans to decide within a month.
Paramount officials said they would continue to support HD DVD, a
format for displaying videos in higher quality whose backers include
Toshiba Corp. and Microsoft Corp. Universal Pictures, which has been
a strong supporter from the beginning, issued no public statement on
the matter here."
Meanwhile, the same story reveals that Toshiba has been in meetings
with its retail partners about their continued support of HD-DVD:
"Toshiba said Tuesday that retailers
have expressed their commitment to HD DVD during private meetings at
the show, which is the world's largest consumer tech gathering."
As to whether or not retailers would abandon HD-DVD immediately,
the story offer this comment:
"Industry executives said it would be
unusual for retailers to abandon any format so soon after Christmas,
for fear of sparking a flood of returns."
The plot thickens. The key thing to note is that it seems as if the
remaining HD-DVD supporting studios plan to take their time making
any major decisions, which is smart. It gives them time to develop
their own plans, to see what the fall out from CES is, etc. So don't
expect any more major announcements in the next couple of weeks at
least. As we said earlier, everyone take a deep breath, and let's
just have patience while we all wait to see how things play out in
the next month or two.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of other CES coverage coming, so stay
(LATE UPDATE - 1/9/08
- 3:30 PM PST)
Before we start with the CES stuff, let's have a quick round-up of
the latest DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD announcements that have happened
while we've been away...
First up, 20th Century Fox has set a Walk
the Line: Extended Cut DVD for release on 3/25. The film
will feature 17 minutes of additional footage. The 2-disc set will
also include audio commentary with co-writer and director James
Mangold, the Johnny Cash Jukebox
feature (8 extended musical sequences from the film with new
introductions, including Lewis Boogie,
Get Rhythm, You're
My Baby, Jukebox Blues,
Rock and Roll Ruby, That's
Alright Mama, Jackson
and Cocaine Blues), 2 more
deleted scenes with optional commentary, the film's theatrical
trailer and 7 behind-the-scenes featurettes (Becoming
Cash/Becoming Carter, Sun
Records and the Johnny Cash Sound, The
Cash Legacy, Folsom: Cash and
the Comeback, Ring of Fire:
The Passion of Johnny and June, Cash
and His Faith and Celebrating
the Man in Black: The Making of Walk the Line).
Meanwhile, Fox will release Ice Age: The
Meltdown - Special Edition on 3/2, followed by a trio of
film noir classics on 3/11, including Dangerous
Crossing, Daisy Kenyon
and Black Widow.
On the Blu-ray front, while at CES Fox was previewing an Alien
vs. Predator vs. You BD-Live interactive game (more on
that later). We hear that the original Predator
is due to street on Blu-ray around the time that Alien
vs. Predator: Requiem hits DVD and Blu-ray this spring.
As far as Sony, the studio has revealed the DVD release of My
Kid Could Paint That on 3/4, with Conspiracy,
Tales and Married... with
Children: The Complete Eighth Season all following on
At their booth on the show floor at CES on Monday, Sony heavily
promoted the forthcoming (and TBA) release of Men
in Black and Godzilla
on Blu-ray Disc. Godzilla
producer Dean Devlin was on hand to talk about how much he liked the
format, in a demonstration hosted by film critic Leonard Maltin
(again, we'll have more on that later).
In other news, Universal has announced the standard DVD release of
a series of Universal Cinema Classics:
Screwball Comedies titles on 4/22 (SRP $14.98 each),
including Easy Living, The
Major and the Minor, Midnight
and She Done Him Wrong. Trailer
Park Boys: The Movie has also been announced for DVD
release on 4/22.
Buena Vista has set its Tinker Bell
CG animated movie for release on DVD and Blu-ray on 10/26. Soap fans
will be pleased to learn that General
Hospital: Night Shift - The Complete First Season is
being released on DVD on 2/22. Twitches
Too arrives on DVD on 1/29. And Dan
in Real Life will reach DVD and Blu-ray Disc on 3/11.
Meanwhile, in case you weren't already aware, Michael Bay's The
Rock and ConAir
arrived on Blu-ray Disc yesterday, and Tony Scott's Crimson
Tide is set to follow on 2/5.
DreamWorks (via Paramount) will release Bee
Movie on DVD and HD-DVD on on 3/11. There will be a
single-disc DVD (SRP $29.99) a 2-disc collector's edition ($39.99)
and the HD-DVD version (also $39.99).
Also coming from Paramount on 4/1 is Becker:
The First Season, followed by Matlock:
Season One and a Perry Mason:
50th Anniversary Edition on 4/8, College
Hill: Interns and Melrose
Place: The Fourth Season on 4/15, Laverne
& Shirley: The Complete Fourth Season on 4/22, and
Beverly Hills 90210: The Fourth Season,
Cheers: The Ninth Season and
The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones:
Volume Three - Years of Change on 4/29.
Finally, Warner has announced the 2-disc DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD
release of Twister on 5/6.
Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers
and Tom and Jerry: Tales - Volume 1
will street on 2/19. NFL Super Bowl XLII
follows on 2/26. Def Comedy Jam: Hughley
arrives on 3/11 from Warner for HBO. Also on tap for HBO is Autopsy:
Postmortem with Dr. Michael Baden on 3/18. Warner's Bette
Davis Collection: Volume Three box set streets on 4/1
(SRP $59.92), featuring In This Our Life,
The Old Maid, All
This and Heaven Too, The Great
Lie, Deception and
Watch on the Rhine. HBO's Martin:
The Complete Fourth Season streets from Warner on 4/1,
with Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry
6 following on 4/8. And finally, Macon
County Line and The Bridges of
Madison County: Deluxe Edition street on DVD on 5/6.
Here's cover art for Fox's I, Robot
and Independence Day on
Blu-ray (3/11), Warner's Twister
(5/6 - on DVD and Blu-ray), Buena Vista's The
Rock, Crimson Tide
and Con Air on Blu-ray, and on
DVD Paramount's The Adventures of Young
Indiana Jones: Volume Three - Years of Change and Fox's
Walk the Line: Extended Cut...
(EARLY UPDATE - 1/9/08
- 11:30 AM PST)
Okay... first things first. I've gotten literally thousands of
e-mails from readers these past few days, and it's going to take me
a while to sort through them all. So if you're trying to get a hold
of me, please be patient. As you can imagine, the work load is
pretty huge at the moment.
Now then... I'm finally back from CES, I've got a good strong cup
of coffee in hand, and I'm settling back into the home office here
in Orange County. I got in late yesterday afternoon, but found that
I needed to take some time to get back into a head-space conducive
to work. I actually hate flying to and from Vegas. It's quick and
convenient, sure, but there's just no time to shift gears mentally.
It's rush, rush, rush to get ready, then you're on a plane and by
the time you've gotten your drink and taken a deep breath, you've
landed and it's time to hit the ground running. Driving from L.A. to
Vegas is so much more civilized. You can listen to a little music,
watch the passing desert scenery. By the time you get there, you're
ready to go.
So anyway, needing a little personal time, I spent the evening up
in Hollywood last night at Amoeba Music on Sunset, where I got the
chance to meet guitarist Andy Summers from The Police, which some of
you may know is a band of which I'm fond. I shook his hand, chatted
for a few minutes, and he signed a copy of his book and the band's
tour program for me. He seems like a very nice guy. It's always a
pleasure when you meet people you've admired and respected for a
long time and actually find them to be decent human beings, as
opposed to egomaniacal jerks, you know? Doing what we do here at
The Bits, you meet a lot of
well known people, and I can tell you that it's surprisingly rare
when you're not disappointed in that kind of situation. As a cool
little bonus, I learned that while a new Police album isn't certain,
it is an actual possibility now - more so than when they started
this reunion - so that was just icing on the cake. A good time was
had by all, as they say. Or at least by me, which was the idea.
Alright... that's naturally not what any of you want to hear from
The Bits this morning, so
let's get a little update on the high-def situation.
Media has confirmed that HBO is following Warner and New
Line to Blu-ray exclusivity, as we expected. Things are still moving
internally at Paramount and Universal. But at least for the moment,
Paramount is denying that they're giving up on HD-DVD, and of
course, sites like Ain't
it Cool are latching on to that. So naturally, enthusiasts
all over the Net are confused today. First, you'll notice neither
studio is denying that they plan to go Blu - just that they're not
giving up on HD-DVD at the moment. Second, look... we love the guys
at AICN, including Harry. I
mean that straight up, no bullshit. He's a good guy and he does a
lot for movie fans online. But with all due respect, he's been a
little bit behind the curve with regard to this high-def format war
all along. So we'll leave it at that. I needn't remind any of you
that before the holidays, Warner was still officially claiming that
they were going to continue to support both high-def formats, and we
all know how that turned out now.
We remain convinced that both Paramount and Universal are moving
towards announcing Blu-ray Disc support soon, and we have real
reason for that belief, not the least of which is that our sources
in this situation are second to none - a fact which should be
readily obvious by now. Announcements could happen tomorrow, they
could happen next week, they could happen next month. We'd be
surprised if it took longer than a month or two. We're hearing that
Universal may not announce until February at the earliest, as we're
given to understand that their contract period with the HD-DVD camp
expires at the end of January. So everyone needs to just take a deep
breath and relax. We know that's hard, given how fast things have
been moving this past week. Rest assured, sources continue to tell
us that Paramount and Universal are going Blu, but sorting out all
the legal details and organizing the logistics takes time. The
Warner move was apparently well planned, but Paramount and Universal
have only just started that process. They may or may not continue
releasing HD-DVDs for a time - we'll have to wait and see. But
retailers are now seriously pressuring these studios to go Blu, and
we'd be surprised if many mainstream stores still have HD-DVD
hardware and software on their shelves come next Christmas. I
suspect that Paramount especially wants to be able to announce a few
actual titles when they announce their Blu-ray support, and it takes
time to get all that ready. Keep in mind that things have been
extremely chaotic within the home video industry this week. So
everyone just take a deep breath and try to calm down, while we wait
for things to play out.
One other quick note: We've gotten a number of e-mails over the
last couple of days in regards to our idea of the BDA offering
HD-DVD fans some kind of incentive to go Blu. The reactions from
HD-DVD fans ranged from, "What a good idea..." to "Thank
you for suggesting it..." to "Screw YOU and the horse you
road in on!" Conversely, some Blu-ray fans welcomed the idea,
while others felt HD-DVD fans had rolled the dice and now they have
to deal with it. It's all just another indication of how unfortunate
this format war really has been, and how badly it's damaged the
online enthusiast community. All you need to do is read any of the
various online home theater discussion forums this morning to see
just how much healing needs to happen right now. Fortunately, this
format war is now virtually over... and not a moment too soon. The
real shame is that it was prolonged by the HD-DVD camp six months
longer than it should have been, the result of which is that
thousands of people picked up HD-DVD players over the holidays and
many of them are now pretty unhappy with that decision, and feel
like they've been duped. You can bet there are a lot of HD-DVD
players being returned to stores right now, and eBay is suddenly
flush with them. No surprise.
Finally this morning, we wanted to let you know that our very own
Russell Hammond has updated the
DVD Cover Artwork section as usual, with lots of great DVD
and Blu-ray artwork (and yes, HD-DVD too) as well as Amazon
pre-order links. Enjoy!
We're going to start posting a bunch of stuff from CES later this
afternoon and throughout the rest of the week, so be sure to check
back. Stay tuned...
Well... we've had SOME confirmation this morning of the details of
Times story from last night. While the studio isn't yet
commenting, reliable industry sources are telling us that Paramount
is indeed preparing to end their HD-DVD support and announce a
return to the Blu-ray fold. Details are currently being finalized,
and an announcement is expected as soon as they're complete.
Paramount's first new Blu-rays will almost certainly include many of
those titles that were cancelled last year, but that were already
packaged and ready for shipping, so you could see them in stores
very quickly once the studio announces.
Meanwhile, sources are telling us that Universal has also been
talking with the BDA, and is looking to follow Paramount and
Warner's lead as soon as possible.
On a related note,
Online in the U.K. is now reporting that as many as 20
additional firms currently backing HD-DVD are also considering
defection in the wake of Warner's Friday announcement, including
Fujitsu, Lenovo, Kenwood and Pony Canyon (which is a major Japanese
film and music studio).
What's more, word is starting to circulate at CES that major big
box retailers will begin winding down in-store support for HD-DVD as
soon as these studios go public with their decisions. We're told
that the industry's major retail partners are already pressuring
Paramount, DreamWorks and Universal to go Blu following Warner's
Rumors are also beginning to circulate here (see
piece at the New York Times) that Apple's Steve Jobs
may announce the addition of Blu-ray Disc drives to their Mac
desktop lineup at next week's Macworld Expo in San Francisco.
We would caution you to keep in mind that all of this should be
considered unofficial until the studios make their actual
announcements. Things are moving very fast, and the situation is
highly fluid. Still, it really looks like this is the end for
HD-DVD, and the end of the format war overall. We'll keep you up to
date with new developments as they break.
Okay... we're going to have a lot more on all the high-def format
developments at CES tomorrow, and over the next couple days. I'm
working on my reports now, but it's going to take a while to cover
it all. I conducted interviews with a number of studio and industry
executives today, the text of which we'll be posting here. But
first, I've got two pieces of VERY major news to report this
First, at the BDA press conference a short time ago, I asked
Warner's Ron Sanders if his studio's decision to go Blu-ray only
extended to New Line and HBO as well (as there's been some lingering
uncertainty online). He once again diplomatically suggested that
each affiliate company will be making their own decisions and
announcements. So at the Digital Entertainment Group reception
afterwards, I spoke directly with a senior New Line Home
Entertainment executive, who confirmed that not only is New Line
following Warner's lead, Pan's Labyrinth
is the studio's last HD-DVD release. Their next major title will
likely be The Golden Compass,
on DVD and Blu-ray only later this year.
But there's more. Get this:
Financial Times of London is now reporting that
Paramount DOES indeed have an out clause in their contract with the
HD-DVD camp - one that would allow them to switch sides in the event
that Warner were to abandon HD-DVD. Now that this has occurred, the
FT says that the studio
intends to exercise that option, meaning that Paramount is about to
go Blu-ray only as well. It's unknown whether DreamWorks has a
similar clause, but it seems unlikely that they wouldn't. Keep in
mind, we have yet to confirm this officially with either studio. But
if it's true, this would leave Universal the sole remaining major
studio supporter of HD-DVD. On that note, when Universal reps were
the Wall Street Journal about their high-def format
plans in the wake of Warner's decision, they had no comment (note
that in the same WSJ piece, a
Paramount spokesperson yesterday said the studio still planned to
support HD-DVD). Our guess is that if the FT
report IS accurate, you'll see some kind of official statement from
Paramount imminently - possibly as early as tomorrow. We'd also
guess that if this does pan out, there's a better than outside
chance Universal could quickly announce Blu-ray support too. We'll
Quite a day! Not only has this situation just gotten a whole lot
more interesting, this format war may TRULY be about to end, once
and for all. Stay tuned, folks...
Well... the Microsoft counterstrike for HD-DVD never materialized
this evening. I spent a couple hours waiting in line to get into
Bill Gates' big CES opening keynote presentation, and it ended up as
much ado about nothing with respect to the format war at least. The
house was packed as you'd expect, but not a single time in the
entire hour did Gates or his associates mention the HD-DVD format,
which is interesting, because VERY reliable sources had informed us
that, prior to Warner's Friday announcement, as much as 30 percent
of the presentation was originally devoted to HD-DVD developments
connected to the Xbox, Xbox Live, etc. Neither did Gates announce
any kind of ultimate Xbox 360 with a built-in HD-DVD drive, though
he did reveal that British Telecom and other CE companies will be
partnering with Microsoft on Xbox-based media devices.
Instead, the focus of the presentation was on Microsoft's plans for
"the next digital decade" in which Microsoft devices and
software will allow consumers to access their media (photos, music,
movies, etc) over a variety of devices and in any location, from the
home, to cell phones, to your car and so forth. Software was
demonstrated that, for example, can assemble a series of separate
digital images into a single extrapolated panorama. Other software
was teased that can recognize faces and locations, so your cell
phone will one day identify where you are, show you where you want
to go using Virtual Earth and 3D maps, help you find nearby services
(like restaurants and stores) and even let you buy movie tickets
over your Windows enabled portable device, all via highly intuitive,
more natural interfaces. These same devices will recognize your
voice commands, touch, gestures and even your facial expressions.
The overall concept is that you're always connected, your devices
always recognize you, and your media goes whereever you do. You can
share your media with friends online, and everywhere you go you'll
find hot-links to contextual online content.
I hadn't been to one of Gates' keynotes before, and this was
apparently his last (as he's stepping down from his role at
Microsoft to get more involved with his foundation), but it was
largely geared toward hard-selling Microsoft products and services
with the help of various celebrity appearances, video clips, etc.
Bill is nothing if not the ultimate software guy - a 21st century
Barnum. But again, there was not a single mention of HD-DVD.
One last note this evening: That idea I floated yesterday, that the
BDA should offer an olive branch to HD-DVD consumers? I mentioned it
to senior BDA executives this evening, and I think you can safely
say that they're going to move forward with something along these
very lines in the weeks ahead. We'll post more when we can, but the
idea was definitely warmly received. In fact, plans are already in
the works. We'll post more on this as things develop.
We'll be back tomorrow night with more on the BDA's press
conference tomorrow evening, and any other interesting news that
comes out of the show tomorrow. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE - 1/5/08
- 7 PM PST)
I actually posted this earlier today, as part of my original
comments this afternoon, but we've gotten such a strong positive
response to the idea, that I felt it was important to break it out
into its own post this evening for emphasis.
I was thinking last night about how HD-DVD fans must be feeling
right now, in the wake of Warner's announcement of their intent to
go Blu-ray only later this year. We've gotten more than a few
e-mails from them over the last 24 hours, as you might imagine, and
they're understandably feeling a bit down right now. I have to say,
however, that with just a few exceptions, they've been very classy
today in accepting what most of them acknowledge is the defeat of
their preferred format with good grace.
Given that, I think it would be wise at this point for the Blu-ray
Disc Association and its member studios and manufacturers to make a
peace offering of sorts to HD-DVD supporters. Warner and the rest of
the BDA should make some kind of offer to HD-DVD enthusiasts that
would allow them to exchange a few of their HD-DVD discs for Blu-ray
versions of the same titles, or to provide some kind of additional
discount on Blu-ray players to those who have purchased HD-DVD
players prior to December 31st 2007, to help them migrate to Blu-ray
more easily and painlessly. It would be a nice gesture. It's not
like both camps aren't giving tons of free discs away already in "buy
one get one free" offers. It might cost the BDA a little up
front, but the goodwill it would generate among enthusiasts would be
worth the expense, I think. It would be a nice way to welcome HD-DVD
consumers into the Blu-ray fold, and it's a way to help put this
format war foolishness - and the acrimony that it's inspired online
- behind us. It's worth considering.
Our next post will be tomorrow, with a little luck, from CES. Stay
(EARLY UPDATE -
1/5/08 - 1 PM PST)
Okay... first things first today. Disney has issued a pre-CES press
release with details of a few of the Blu-ray titles they're planing
to release around the world in early 2008. Here's the text (we've
highlighted the individual titles):
"WALT DISNEY STUDIOS HOME ENTERTAINMENT
ROLLS INTO 2008 WITH BLU-RAY
WDSHE Expands Blu-ray Line-Up with First Platinum Blu-ray Release,
BD-Live and Full Motion Picture-in-Picture
Also Announces the Extension of Disney's Magical Blu-ray Tour
Burbank, CA, January 4, 2008 - Walt Disney Studios Home
Entertainment (WDSHE) announces an exciting new line-up of Blu-ray
initiatives in 2008, an ever-expanding Blu-ray slate and new
technological-advancements in bonus feature materials, all which
guarantee a superior high-definition home entertainment experience.
"This is an exciting time for Disney as we not only announce
the release of our first Platinum Disney animated classic on Blu-ray
with Sleeping Beauty, but also allow consumers to create an
entirely new home entertainment experience with stunning new bonus
features and amazing interactive capabilities like never before
seen," stated Bob Chapek, President of Walt Disney Studios Home
For the first time ever, WDSHE will begin releasing its treasured
animated classics on Platinum Edition Blu-ray Disc launching
with Sleeping Beauty in the fall of 2008. Taking advantage
of the numerous technological advancements of the Blu-ray format,
these all time favorites have been revitalized to include
exceptional high-definition picture and sound quality and compelling
interactive content such as virtual games, full motion
picture-in-picture and online shopping capabilities via BD-Live
Sleeping Beauty will be WDSHE's first Platinum Edition
Blu-ray Disc and will feature a Virtual Castle, utilizing the new
BD-Live technology, as well as the interactive game Maleficent's
Challenge which puts viewers face-to-face with one of Disney's
greatest villains. Sleeping Beauty Blu-ray Disc will also
feature an all-new enhanced home theater mix in 7.1 surround sound.
Disney/Pixar's Finding Nemo Blu-ray Disc will debut the
first Cine-Explore featuring full motion picture-in-picture
(BonusView). This interactive visual commentary with director Andrew
Stanton, co-writer Bob Peterson and co-director Lee Unkrich allows
the viewer to dive deeper into the making of Finding Nemo without
ever leaving the film. For kids and families, there is the all-new
BD-Java enabled learning mode "Mr. Ray's Ed-venture."
Hosted by Dory, Marlin and of course Mr. Ray, viewers will learn all
about sea life and have the opportunity to earn stickers for their
virtual sticker book by answering "quizlettes" while
watching the movie. Viewers can also go to their sticker book at any
time and create their own scene. Finding Nemo will also
feature an all-new enhanced home theater mix in 7.1 surround sound.
As part of its continued worldwide Blu-ray release strategy, WDSHE
will be announcing the addition of many exciting movie titles to
their 2008 Blu-ray line-up in North America, Europe and Asia.
In North America, WDSHE will be releasing new theatrical titles to
Blu-ray Disc day-and-date with DVD including The Game Plan
(Walt Disney Pictures) on January 22; Gone Baby Gone and
Becoming Jane (both Miramax) on February 12; and Dan In
Real Life (Touchstone Pictures) on March 11. WDSHE will expand
its catalogue titles on Blu-ray Disc with the releases of The
Rock (Hollywood Pictures) and Con Air (Touchstone
Pictures) on January 8; Crimson Tide (Hollywood Pictures) on
February 5; The Rookie (Walt Disney Pictures) on March 4;
Hidalgo (Touchstone Pictures), Coyote Ugly: The Double
Shot Edition (Touchstone Pictures), Unbreakable
(Touchstone Pictures), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The
Witch and The Wardrobe (Walt Disney Pictures) and National
Treasure: Collector's Edition (Walt Disney Pictures) in spring
In Europe/Australia, WDSHE will roll out Blu-ray Discs in 2008
beginning with The Recruit (Touchstone Pictures) in January;
and Dark Water (Touchstone Pictures) in February; Underdog
(Walt Disney Pictures) and Starsky & Hutch (Buena Vista)
in February; Coyote Ugly (Touchstone Pictures) and The
Rookie (Walt Disney Pictures) in March; Hidalgo
(Touchstone Pictures) and Gone Baby Gone (Miramax) in April;
Signs (Touchstone Pictures), There Will Be Blood
(Miramax), Shall We Dance (Miramax), Ladder 49
(Touchstone Pictures), The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The
Witch and The Wardrobe (Walt Disney Pictures) and National
Treasure: Collector's Edition (Walt Disney Pictures) in May; and
The Game Plan (Walt Disney Pictures) and Unbreakable
(Touchstone Pictures) in summer 2008.
Japan will see WDSHE release Blu-ray titles starting with Hollywoodland
(Miramax) in February; The Rookie (Walt Disney Pictures),
Hidalgo (Touchstone Pictures), Meet The Robinsons
(Walt Disney Pictures), and Starsky & Hutch (Buena
Vista) in April; The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch
and The Wardrobe (Walt Disney Pictures), Coyote Ugly
(Touchstone Pictures) and National Treasure: Collector's Edition
(Walt Disney Pictures) in May; and Unbreakable (Touchstone
Pictures) and Signs (Touchstone Pictures) in summer 2008.
Following overwhelming consumer response WDSHE is also announcing
the extension of Disney's Magical Blu-ray Tour, sponsored by
Panasonic, to eight additional North American cities. The first stop
will be to Toronto, Canada the weekend of January 25th and continue
on to Nashville, Denver, Dallas, Raleigh-Durham, Hartford and
conclude with Chicago at Unity 2008 in July.
The results of the 2007 tour not only reaffirmed consumers
continued desires for high-definition picture without compromise but
reaffirmed the need to be educated on how to achieve the ultimate
high-definition home entertainment experience beyond just owning an
Okay... so that's that. Now let's get down to business...
I woke up this morning to a series of e-mails, from a few people
reporting to us some "very disturbing news" in the hopes
of summoning our outrage. It appears that reports are starting to
leak online today that Warner was offered as much as $500 million
for their move to Blu-ray exclusivity. Now, I believe we told you
all last week that money was being waved around (in our 12/31 post -
here and scroll down a bit). What the HD-DVD camp wants to
sweep under the carpet today is how much THEY offered. The HD-DVD
camp's strategy in the wake of their failure is to discredit Warner
by leaking details of the deal to the HD-DVD friendly online media.
The idea is to make Warner feel as much heat as Paramount and
DreamWorks felt after THEY took money to flip HD-DVD exclusive last
year. I checked out a couple of these sites this morning, and saw a
bunch of this sort of thing: "If this is
true, we are shocked and outraged to learn that Warner took as much
as $500 million from the BDA!" This is no small amount
of hypocrisy. You see the HD-DVD camp offered Warner (and Fox as
well) a very similar sum of up-front money these past few weeks to
flip to THEIR side. In other words, the HD-DVD camp got beat at
their own game. Now they're embarrassed and angry, so they're
leaking information to try to dust up outrage among the faithful
online. It should surprise no one that format wars are a dirty,
messy business. But we'd like to remind people today that this
format war was FORCED on the industry, on enthusiasts and on
consumers, by the very same high-level power mongers who are now
pointing fingers, and using online enthusiasts to play their spin
games. The fact that their reaction today is to circle the wagons
and wage a P.R. war online tells you everything you need to know
about the egos involved, and how little they actually care about
doing what's right for consumers.
On that note, here's another difference between what Warner has
done and what Paramount and DreamWorks did last year: Warner
actually intends to release all the HD-DVD titles they've announced
and that consumers have already pre-ordered. Further, they intend to
keep releasing new HD-DVD titles until the end of May. Anyone out
there remember what Paramount and DreamWorks did? They pulled out of
Blu-ray suddenly, with no warning to retailers or consumers, and
simply cancelled several titles - some that were already pressed and
shipped to stores. Anyone remember these?
So do all the people that pre-ordered them. The HD-DVD camp can
spin all it wants. In the meantime, Warner knows they've made the
right decision. And if the senior home video leadership at
Universal, Paramount and DreamWorks has ANY concern for their
customers as a whole, they'll set their egos aside and close the
book on this stupid format war by announcing Blu-ray support. It's
time to move on, folks.
Finally today, what would one of these format war posts be without
another mention of Michael Bay. Here's what he had to say
his website yesterday about the Warner news:
"Well another studio down. Maybe I was
right? Blu ray is just better. HD will die a slow death. It's what I
predicted a year ago. Now with Warner's down for the count with Blu
Ray. That makes it easier for Wal-Mart to push Blu Ray. And whatever
Wal-Mart pushes - wins. Hd better start giving out those $120
million dollars checks to stay alive. Maybe they can give me some so
I can give it to my Make-A-Wish charity, just to shut me up. Have
faith people Transformers will come out in Blu-ray one day!
Oh my. Stay tuned...
(LATE UPDATE -
1/4/08 - 8 PM PST)
I guess with news this big, you just can't stop reporting it until
it all plays itself out.
has posted an in-depth piece on Warner's decision to go
Blu-ray exclusive, complete with two new key pieces of information.
The first is no surprise: New Line has confirmed that it's going
Blu-ray only along with Warner. The second perhaps shouldn't be
surprising either, but here it is: The North American HD-DVD
Promotions Group has officially cancelled its Sunday press event at
CES. Also in the piece, Warner Home Video president Ron Sanders says
that his studio will continue to release HD-DVD titles until May
31st, to honor its previous agreements with the HD-DVD camp. The
article ends with the following, also no surprise:
"Warner's shift toward Blu-ray is
expected to hasten the demise of HD DVD." Indeed.
Meanwhile, industry observer "Media Wonk" (aka Paul
Sweeting) has also posted
interesting feature over at Content Agenda, in which a
couple of points that we've been making lately here at The
Bits are confirmed by Warner's Sanders. First, Blu-ray
stand alone players outsold HD-DVD in December. Here's the quote:
"One of the things you see in the NPD
data for this fourth quarter was that even with a $100 [price]
premium, Blu-ray set tops outsold HD set tops in December. Even with
Toshiba having the lowest-cost player in the market, software sales
remained 2 to 1 in favor of Blu-ray."
Second, many avid movie buyers have stopped purchasing DVDs while
they've been waiting for the format war to end...
"We're seeing research now that shows
that consumers are starting to delay purchases because of the format
war, not just on high-def but standard-def purchases as well. That's
As to the talk of being motivated by financial inducements, Sanders
"There is absolutely no incentive from
either side that would have changed the decision we made based on
what we were seeing in the consumer data. The worldwide DVD business
is about $40 billion. Any incentives we might have been offered
would have paled next to the lost profits from that business if we
get this one wrong."
For the second time this post, indeeeed.
Also on the Blu-ray front this evening, 20th Century Fox has
released street dates for several new catalog titles, some of which
had been delayed from last year. Included are Man
on Fire (due next week on 1/8), Wall
Street and Me, Myself and
Irene (2/5), Ice Age
(3/4) and ID4 and I,
Robot (3/11). Additional titles and dates are expected to
be announced on Monday at CES.
(LATE UPDATE -
1/4/08 - 4:30 PM PST)
Well, I suppose it's time for a little editorializing this
afternoon. It's funny... I'd actually been working on this whole
elaborate pre-CES argument as to why Blu-ray was going to win the
format war in 2008, when the Warner news finally broke this morning.
We knew it was coming, of course, but we'd expected that Warner
would wait until after CES to announce it, to allow their partners
at Toshiba to save face. The fact that they decided to drop the news
instead on the eve of CES tells you everything you need to know
about how confident the studio feels about their decision. In the
meantime, here's Toshiba's official response:
"TOKYO, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire/ -- Toshiba
is quite surprised by Warner Bros.' decision to abandon HD DVD in
favor of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts
in place between our companies concerning the support of HD DVD. As
central members of the DVD Forum, we have long maintained a close
partnership with Warner Bros. We worked closely together to help
standardize the first-generation DVD format as well as to define and
shape HD DVD as its next-generation successor.
We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in
spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market
as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have
outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007.
We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the
other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps. We
remain firm in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to
the wants and needs of the consumer."
Toshiba must now be the last company in this industry to seriously
Let's call a spade a spade: What Warner has done today is to
effectively pull the plug on this format war. Think about it. Their
decision to go Blu-ray exclusive is the only change they could have
made that makes any kind of business sense. It's become clear now to
nearly everyone in this industry that the continuation of this
format war - while it's certainly helped to drive hardware prices
lower - has now become the sole major roadblock to high-def discs
moving past the early adopter market and into more widespread
Warner could have done one of three things: Go Blu-ray exclusive,
go HD-DVD exclusive, or stay neutral. It's apparent from their
statement this morning that Warner knows as well as we do that this
format war is confusing consumers and hurting the chances for
high-def packaged media in the long run. While early adopters online
have been happily back-biting each other these past two years, most
folks elsewhere on planet Earth have just issued a collective yawn.
Meanwhile, those non-early adopter consumers who are actually
interested in high-def discs have sat on the sidelines waiting for
the axe to fall on one of these formats. So for Warner, staying
neutral just wasn't an option anymore. The question then becomes, if
you're going to make a change in strategy, you want to make one
that's going to impart genuine forward momentum on the situation.
Warner going HD-DVD exclusive would have effectively created a 50/50
split in Hollywood studio support for these formats, resulting in an
even bigger stalemate than already exists, and probably closing the
door completely on either of these formats ever gaining widespread
acceptance. On the other hand, Warner going Blu-ray only makes that
studio split 70/30. It effectively gives Blu-ray exclusive access to
70% of Hollywood studio content. And that's not only a game changer,
it's a game ender.
Of course, there's already finger-pointing in some quarters,
including comments that "large sums of money were obviously
involved" to get Warner to switch. If anyone thinks payoffs
were the sole reason for Warner's decision, they don't know as much
about this business as they'd like to think. It's well worth nothing
that BOTH camps these past few weeks were offering extraordinary
up-front payments and other incentives to Warner to go exclusive to
their format - sums that make the Paramount/DreamWorks deal to go
HD-DVD exclusive look like unsalted peanuts. Warner clearly took the
deal that offered them not just short-term gain, but also the best
potential long-term benefit as well.
You can bet that Universal, Paramount and DreamWorks aren't going
to want to be left holding the bag. Now that the industry momentum
towards Blu-ray is clear, sales of Blu-ray hardware and software are
surely going to increase, and none of these studios are going to
want to be left out. Their shareholders simply won't allow it.
Paramount and DreamWorks almost certainly have have out-clauses in
their deals with the HD-DVD camp. Steven Spielberg has repeatedly
made his desire to move DreamWorks back to Universal clear, and he's
also a committed Blu-ray Disc backer - Universal going Blu is almost
certainly going to be a sticking point in the negotiations,
especially when you consider that Spielberg has TWICE now required
the HD-DVD camp to retract statements claiming that his Universal
films were coming soon to that format. And our sources are now
telling us that Universal - knowing Warner was about to go
Blu-exclusive - has already begin taking steps to prepare for their
own future Blu-ray efforts. Our guess is that Universal in
particular will go format neutral, to put the best P.R. spin on
their situation. But we'd be VERY surprised if all three studios
don't announce their own Blu-ray Disc support by mid-2008 at the
latest, so as benefit from 4th quarter holiday sales. In fact, we're
betting those announcements happen much sooner.
Even before the Warner news, Blu-ray Disc software was outselling
HD-DVD here in the States by nearly a 3 to 1 margin, and it's an
even greater margin around the world. Despite the HD-DVD camp's
claims that low priced hardware was the key to winning this format
war, stand-alone Blu-ray Disc hardware has now begun to outsell
HD-DVD hardware here in the States, despite its average higher
price. The overwhelming majority of consumer electronics
manufacturers back Blu-ray over HD-DVD. A huge portion of the
computer industry backs Blu-ray as well. And now Blu-ray has 70% of
the Hollywood studios, a percentage that will certainly increase by
year's end. As Blu-ray sales increase, economies of scale will kick
in, meaning that hardware and software prices will continue to drop.
Blu-ray hardware prices are already lower than ever - now under
$300. Every Blu-ray supporting company is going to want to prime the
pump for sales in the weeks and months ahead, so there will be
plenty of deals and sales to be found. And you can bet that
retailers will very soon start to seriously favor Blu-ray in their
stores and with their customers, if they aren't already - retailers
have wanted an end to this format war more than anyone. And all
those technical details that have been sticking points with a few
early adopters - like audio specs, online interactivity and region
coding - will work themselves out with Blu-ray just like they did
with DVD over time.
We've been telling you all for two years now, here at The
Digital Bits, that the smart thing to do as consumers was
to sit this format war out. But we've also been saying - much to the
irritation of some online - that our many years of experience in
this industry suggested to us that, if you WERE going to take a risk
on high-def discs, Blu-ray Disc was the better bet. It was, and it
The bottom line has finally become obvious to all: Blu-ray
Disc is now the clear choice for mainstream consumers.
So when you head out to buy your new flat-panel HDTV in the weeks
ahead, go check out those spiffy new Blu-ray Disc displays too.
We're confident that you'll be glad you did.
One other thing is abundantly clear today as well: CES is going to
be absolutely fascinating this year. We'll probably post something
on Sunday night from the show itself, so be sure to check back then.
In the meantime, have a great weekend, everyone. Peace out.
(LATE UPDATE -
1/4/08 - 12:45 PM PST)
It's no bullshit, folks. We've confirmed it. Warner IS going
Blu-ray Disc exclusive. Here is their official press release:
WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT TO RELEASE ITS
HIGH-DEFINITION DVD TITLES EXCLUSIVELY IN THE BLU-RAY DISC FORMAT
BEGINNING LATER THIS YEAR
Decision Made in Response to Strong Consumer Preference for Format
(January 4, 2008 - Burbank, CA) - In response to consumer demand,
Warner Bros. Entertainment will release its high-definition DVD
titles exclusively in the Blu-ray disc format beginning later this
year, it was announced today by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO,
Warner Bros. and Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home
"Warner Bros.' move to exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc
format is a strategic decision focused on the long term and the most
direct way to give consumers what they want," said Meyer. "The
window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if
format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively
distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market
success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most
Warner Home Video will continue to release its titles in standard
DVD format and Blu-ray. After a short window following their
standard DVD and Blu-ray releases, all new titles will continue to
be released in HD DVD until the end of May 2008.
"Warner Bros. has produced in both high-definition formats in
an effort to provide consumer choice, foster mainstream adoption and
drive down hardware prices," said Jeff Bewkes, President and
Chief Executive Officer, Time Warner Inc., the parent company of
Warner Bros. Entertainment. "Today's decision by Warner Bros.
to distribute in a single format comes at the right time and is the
best decision both for consumers and Time Warner."
"A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and
indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology
from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue
stream that it can be for the industry," said Tsujihara. "Consumers
have clearly chosen Blu-ray, and we believe that recognizing this
preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment
experience accessible to the widest possible audience. Warner Bros.
has worked very closely with the Toshiba Corporation in promoting
high definition media and we have enormous respect for their
efforts. We look forward to working with them on other projects in
# # #
Blu-ray now has 70% exclusive access to Hollywood studio content.
Didn't we say this format war would finally end in 2008? Not a
moment too soon as far as we're concerned. Our bet is that Universal
and Paramount announce Blu-ray support by mid 2008, if not sooner.
No studio is going to want to be the last one holding the bag now.
You sure can't say we didn't tell you this was coming, folks.
(LATE UPDATE - 1/4/08
- 12:15 PM PST)
Well... here could be your big story out of CES on the format war
front: Reuters is now reporting something that we've heard was in
the works for a few weeks now, specifically that Warner is soon to
announce that they're going Blu-ray Disc exclusive. You can read the
at USA Today. More on this soon as we have it...
(EARLY UPDATE -
1/4/08 - 11:45 AM PST)
There's a bit more news on Universal's Battlestar
Galactica: Season Three today. Our friends over at
Show on DVD have learned (and again, we've confirmed) that
the 6-disc set due on 3/25 WILL include all of The
Resistance webisodes. That's definitely great news for
fans. The set will also include deleted scenes from the various
episodes, all of Ron Moore's podcast commentaries, 2 new
commentaries (one for Hero and
one for the extended cut of Unfinished
Business) and David Eick's video blogs.
In other news today, our industry sources are telling us that for
the 52nd week in a row, Blu-ray Disc software has outsold HD-DVD
software. For the last week of 2007, the margin was reportedly 61 to
39 according to Neilsen/VideoScan. This means Blu-ray software sales
have outpaced those of HD-DVD for the entire calendar year of 2007,
with no signs of slowing down.
We're also hearing today that stand-alone Blu-ray Disc hardware is
now outselling stand-alone HD-DVD players, on the strength of the
recent price drops by Sony and Samsung, as well as the introduction
of Panasonic's new BD-30 profile 1.1 player. You can expect to hear
more on all this, as well as word of strong sales of Sony's PS3 in
November and December, at CES on Sunday and Monday.
Also at CES, word is that Microsoft's Bill Gates may use his
keynote address on Sunday to announce some kind of new open
architecture plan for the Xbox 360, that would allow other
manufacturers to produce 360s like PCs. First up may be a new joint
venture with Toshiba to produce an "ultimate" version of
the Xbox 360 featuring a DVR and built-in HD-DVD drive, designed to
go after Sony's PS3.
CES is certainly going to be interesting, and we'll be there on
Sunday and Monday to cover all the details. So be sure to check back
over the news few days for late-breaking updates.
We'll be back with more later this afternoon, so stay tuned...
Bet you folks in Iowa are probably glad to finally get all this
raucous caucusing over and done with today, yes? Well, more power to
you. There's nothing quite like democracy in action. After you turn
out for your candidates of choice, eat a slice of rhubarb pie for
me. And if you're looking for a warm meal while you're out, Sarah
recommends the cheeseburger chowder at the
Row in Pella (also in Oskaloosa and some other places in Iowa
Meanwhile, as you might expect, we've got a couple more title
announcements for you this afternoon.
First, Warner has announced Color of the
Cross 2: Resurrection for release on DVD on 3/11 (SRP
Also, THINKFilm has set Gregory Nava's Bordertown
for release on 1/29.
And Koch Lorber has revealed the DVD release of 9
Star Hotel on 2/5, followed by The
Monastery: Mr. Vig and the Nun on 2/12 (SRP is $26.98
Here at the site today, we've got THREE new
for you. The first offers copies of Fox and MGM's
Daze. Next up, we have Universal's
Pie: Beta House,
Promises. And finally, you've got a chance to take home
copies of City Light's
All of these will run until Noon (Pacific) on Sunday, January 13th.
Click on the links to enter and good luck!
Around the Net today, there are a couple interesting stories to
check out. First,
Media is reporting that CyberLink's PowerDVD Ultra PC
software has been certified for Blu-ray profile 1.1 compatibility.
The software was already compatible with Blu-ray profile 1.0, as
well as the latest HD-DVD interactive specifications. It retails for
is reporting that Intel, Sony and Toshiba are teaming up to
develop the chips and technology required to wirelessly "beam"
high-definition video signals to flat panel displays from as far
away as 50 feet, presumably from future videodisc players and other
HD devices. Actual products using this capability, which will be on
display at CES starting on Monday, could find their way to stores in
time for Christmas 2008.
And the New York Times ran
feature story in its Business section over the weekend on how
most consumers are sitting on the sidelines in the high-def format
war. It's a pretty general piece and seems a little behind-the-curve
in terms of the latest developments, but interesting is this bit of
information from the text: "As an
indication of their owners enthusiasm, Blu-ray users are
buying twice as many discs as their HD DVD counterparts, according
to Tom Adams, president of Adams Media Research." I
don't think we'd actually heard independent confirmation of this
Speaking of Blu-ray,
is currently running a 2 for 1 deal on over 90 different
Blu-ray Disc titles from Warner, Fox, MGM and New Line. Be sure to
take advantage of it if you've already gone Blu.
(LATE UPDATE - 1/2/08
- 5:30 PM PST)
Okay... we've got a couple more quick announcements for you from
Warner Home Video. The studio has just set The
Waltons: The Complete Seventh Season for DVD release on
4/29 (SRP $39.98), including 24 episodes. They've also set a double
feature of The Canine Conspiracy
and The Cat Connection for
release on 4/15 (SRP $9.98 - for the BBC), and they've announced
Coleccion Pedro Infante: No desearas la
mujer de tu hijo for DVD release on 4/22 (SRP $14.97).
Also, our own Jeff Kleist has written
new editorial piece on the high-definition format war this
evening, offering some thoughts on the retail perspective of things,
as well as the notion of "letting the consumer decide"
which format will win. It's something a little different that the
usual take on the high-def war, so it's worth a read.
We'll be back tomorrow with more, so stay tuned...
(EARLY UPDATE -
1/2/08 - 11:45 AM PST)
We'll be back with more later this afternoon, but we wanted to jump
in here this morning with a couple of quick reports for you.
First up, several of the major Hollywood studio CEOs, in Home
Media's annual Hollywood Goes
High-Def pre-CES supplement this week (available online
- it's at the end of the regular issue), have offered a hint at the
titles they expect to bring to the high-def formats this coming
year. Think of it as a preview of some of the announcements to be
made at CES. On the Blu-ray side, Fox's Mike Dunn noted that his
studio will offer an aggressive slate of both new release and
catalog titles, and offered Aliens vs.
Predator: Requiem, 27 Dresses,
Horton Hears a Who, The
List, The Happening,
Babylon A.D. and What
Happens in Vegas as examples. Sony's David Bishop also
hinted at a broad slate of new and catalog titles, including
forthcoming films like Hancock
and Angels & Demons. On
the HD-DVD side, Paramount's Kelly Avery suggested that her studio
and DreamWorks would offer a diverse slate, including Bee
Movie, Beowulf and
Into the Wild. And somewhere
in between, Warner's Ron Sanders highlighted his studio's strong
line-up of theatrical titles, including I
Am Legend, The Bucket List,
Speed Racer, Get
Smart and The Dark Knight.
Also this morning, our friends over at
Shows on DVD have learned (and we've confirmed) that
Universal will release Battlestar
Galactica: Season Three on DVD on 3/25. The 6-disc set
(SRP $59.98) will include all 20 episodes, plus deleted scenes,
audio commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes and an extended
version of the episode Unfinished
Business. Here's a look at the cover art...
As you can see, we've also posted early temp art for Universal's
American Gangster on 2-disc
DVD and HD-DVD (a 3-disc DVD version is also expected be available,
with both the 158-minute theatrical edition and Ridley Scott's
unrated 176-minute extended edition, as well as a booklet). The
street date hasn't been announced yet, but it's expected to hit
stores in February. Watch for more details soon.
Elsewhere around the site today, we've updated most of the DVD and
high-def format stats we track (above).
We've also got a new
DVD Cover Artwork update from our own Russell Hammond,
featuring lots of new DVD, Blu-ray and HD-DVD cover scans and Amazon
Back later with more. Stay tuned...
Happy New Year everyone! It's hard to believe that we're almost
into 2008, isn't it? As always, time does fly.
We hope you've all had a great holiday season with family and
friends. Things here have been good. We've had some of Sarah's
family in for the last week or so. We've eaten a lot of good food,
seen some sights. We spent yesterday exploring Joshua Tree National
Park. We've also been watching a lot of movies here, as you might
In terms of release news today, I'm pleased to say that Warner has
revealed that they'll release The
Assassination of Jesse James on both Blu-ray Disc and
DVD/HD-DVD Combo format on 2/26, the same day as the standard DVD
version. The SRP for both high-def versions is $24.99. The only
extra is the "making of" documentary The
Assassination of Jesse James: Death of an Outlaw.
Warner has also set Michael Clayton,
starring George Clooney, for release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and
DVD/HD-DVD Combo format on 2/19. Extras will include audio
commentary by director Tony Gilroy and editor John Gilroy, along
with deleted scenes. SRP is $28.98 for the DVD and $35.99 for the
Also today, HBO has revealed the DVD release of Five
Days as a 2-disc set on 3/11 (SRP $29.98).
Meanwhile, Sony has set Pistol Whipped,
a 2-disc Storm Hawks Collector's Set:
Heroes of the Sky and Blood+:
Volume One for DVD release on 3/4, followed by an And
Justice for All: Deluxe Edition, Bats:
Human Harvest, Saawariya,
Bobby Deerfield, Outpost
and My Boys: The Complete First Season
on 3/11. Saawariya, Kevin
Smith's Dogma and Gattaca
have been announced for Blu-ray Disc release on 3/11 as well.
Finally, Universal has set The Woody
Woodpecker and Friends Classic Cartoon Collection: Volume 2
for DVD release on 4/15 (SRP $39.98). The 3-disc set will feature
some 75 remastered shorts plus "rare vintage bonus features
from the Walter Lantz archive." These will include 12
behind-the-scenes featurettes (Creating
Woody Woodpecker, Timing a
Cartoon, Character Movement,
Photographing Animation Cels,
The Animator's Job, Using
Backgrounds, The Inking
Department, The Painting
Department, Drawing with
Walter Lantz, Sound Effects in
Cartoons, Storyboarding Woody
Woodpecker and Creating New
Characters), 2 TV pilot episodes (The
Secret Weapon and Jungle
Medics), and episode 47 of The
Woody Woodpecker Show.
In other news today, there are ongoing preparations for next week's
Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (which starts on Monday,
January 7th) happening around the industry. As always, we'll be
there to cover the details. You can bet there will be plenty of
format war news. Both sides will be trumpeting their holiday sales
and spinning the numbers to their advantage. The rumor mill is
buzzing wildly on the Net this week, with high-def enthusiasts
claiming on the various discussion boards that Warner is about to go
exclusive with one format or the other at the show. Most of it is
FUD as usual, but it is true that both camps are courting Warner
like the belle of the ball right now. We've heard word from our own
(and highly reliable) industry sources that insanely large financial
incentives are being waved in front of the studio by both sides. The
reason is simple: Both the Blu-ray and HD-DVD camps know that as
Warner goes, so (almost certainly) goes the format war. Could Warner
decide go exclusive to one of these high-def formats? Yes, it's
absolutely possible. In fact, we think it WILL happen sooner or
later in 2008. Warner knows that continuing to support both formats
is not what's going to grow high-def packaged media beyond the early
adopter market. Still, we don't believe this is likely to happen at
CES. If and when it happens, our guess is it will happen at least a
few weeks later. But it's going to be very interesting to see what
kind of presence Warner has at CES in the booths and presentations
of both camps.
On that note, early adopters sometimes e-mail us to ask:
"Why do you guys at The Bits
insist on supporting just one format? You should be pushing for all
the studios to support BOTH formats, and let consumers decide the
fate of this format war." What's ironic is that the very
people who say this to us often aren't actually choosing between
these two formats themselves! Most of them have purchased players
and discs in both formats, treating the format war like a bounty of
high-def riches. And since early adopters form the majority of the
high-def disc market at the moment, and most mainstream consumers
aren't buying in yet because they DO want a clear choice (and a
continued format war doesn't give them one), the result has been
exactly the stalemate you'd expect. Meanwhile, the disadvantages of
studios supporting multiple formats should be obvious to all by now.
Consider Warner's recent troubles these last few months: replication
delays, shipping delays, packaging errors, discs for one format
included in releases of the other format, technical glitches, title
shortages, retailers that have copies of a title on one format but
not the other (or neither). Supporting three formats (DVD, Blu-ray
and HD-DVD) has just not turned out to be very practical. When you
get right down to it, it's not good business either (even though it
might seem smart at first glance). The bottom line is simple: When
you try to please everyone, you often end up pleasing nobody very
well. Give Warner credit for trying, but we think they're going to
choose sides sooner or later... and they'd be wise to do so. We'll
have more on all this later this week.
We'll leave you on this last day of 2007 with new cover art. Here's
Warner's The Assassination of Jesse James
and Michael Clayton, along
with Sony's Gattaca, on
Blu-ray Disc, as well as Warner's In the
Valley of Elah (2/19) and New Line's The
Martian Child (2/12) on DVD, and finally Paramount's Into
the Wild on HD-DVD (also 2/12)...
Okay, everyone have a happy and safe New Year! We'll see you back
here on Wednesday to resume our regular daily news coverage. Peace
We're checking in here on this Christmas Eve Day with a special
update... and a bit of a holiday gift to all of you from our very
own Barrie Maxwell: a special holiday two-for-one column featuring
new installments of
Coming Attractions and
Classics and Beyond. We hope you enjoy them!
Also today, just one quick note: It seems that Warner's new Terminator
3: Rise of the Machines Blu-ray Disc (just released on
12/18) was mastered with 1080i video instead of the correct 1080p.
Warner is already working to correct the discs and you'll be able to
arrange a replacement by calling 800-553-6937. You can read more
at Home Media.
Okay... NOW we're closing out our posts for this week. We'll see
you back here on Monday, 12/31. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays
to all of you!
(LATE UPDATE -
12/21/07 - 2:30 PM PST)
Well... now that today's format war hijinks are out of the way (and
we're still shaking our heads in disbelief), we wanted to wish all
of you a Happy Holidays. We're going to be dark next week so that
all our hard-working staffers can spend a nice, relaxing and
well-earned break with their families. Rest assured, I'll pop in
with updates if there's any major breaking news to report. That
aside, we'll return with our regular daily posts on Monday, December
31st. In the meantime, we have a pair of Digital
Bits Holiday Cards for you:
for all you regular folks who could care less about the
high-def format war, and
those of you who share our take on where all this is going. We
offer each in the full and sincere spirit of the season. Enjoy. ;)
A quick note before we go: Sony's The
Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary Edition
is coming out on DVD as well as Blu-ray Disc on 4/8, just in case we
weren't clear about that yesterday. I think we've mentioned the DVD
release previously, but we only mentioned the Blu-ray version
yesterday, so we wanted to clear up any confusion.
Okay, with that... we bid ALL of you very Merry Christmas, a Happy
Holidays and what have you. May you all eat lots of great food,
watch lots of great movies and have a wonderful time with all your
family and friends. Safe travels to those of you hitting the road
this weekend, and a special shout out to all you folks serving
overseas, who are away from your families. We're really grateful
here at The Bits to have such
terrific readers as each and every one of you. So from all of us,
our very best wishes to you and yours.
See you on 12/31. Peace out!
(EARLY UPDATE -
12/21/07 - 1:30 PM PST)
Well, folks... it seems that the format war follies have officially
sunk to a new low. Unable to actually win on the strength of their
preferred format itself... now certain HD-DVD "enthusiasts"
have taken to hacking. And for a time this afternoon, they hacked
Blu-ray Disc.com website so that it redirected instead to the
HD-DVD promotion site. Can you believe that? We doubt that
this was endorsed by the HD-DVD camp in any way, but someone
certainly thought they were being terribly clever. You've got to
wonder about a format with supporters who resort to petty stunts
like this one. If that's all HD-DVD has left, stick a fork it. It's
I'm telling you... free HD-DVD players in cereal boxes. The day is
Fingers crossed, this format war is going END in 2008, folks. And
not a moment too soon as far as we're concerned.
Industry news seems to have slowed down predictably in anticipation
of the Christmas holiday next week, but we do have just a few more
quick announcements for you today.
First, Warner has set In the Valley of
Elah for release on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD on 2/19.
Features are TBA.
Fox has announced That 70s Show: Season
Eight for release on DVD on 4/1. The 4-disc set (SRP
$49.98) will contain all 25 episodes of the series' final season
along with a retrospective featurette (shot during the last week of
filming), a behind-the-scenes set tour with director David Trainer,
episode promos and more.
MGM has revealed the direct-to-video Stargate:
The Ark of Truth for DVD release on 3/11 (SRP $26.98),
which concludes the series' storylines from Seasons
Nine and Ten. Bonus
features will include audio commentary with writer, director and
producer Robert C. Cooper, actor Christopher Judge and director of
photography Peter Woeste, as well as the Stargate
SG-1: The Road Taken - Prelude to The Ark of Truth
Meanwhile, Anchor Bay has set He Was a
Quiet Man for DVD release on 1/15 (SRP $29.97). Extras
will include audio commentary by director Frank A. Cappello, deleted
scenes, the First Look: He Was a Quiet
Man featurette and the theatrical trailer.
TLA Releasing has set Frankenstein's
Bloody Nightmare, Rock &
Rule (single-disc version) and Red
Room for release on 2/19.
Universal has set Murder, She Wrote: The
Complete Eighth Season and Law
& Order: Special Victims Unit - The Sixth Year for
release on DVD on 4/1.
Paramount and CBS have set Love American
Style: Season One, Volume Two and The
Mod Squad: The First Season, Volume Two for release on
3/11, with The Untouchables: Season Two,
Volume One and The Wild Wild
West: The Fourth Season following on 3/18, and Wings:
The Sixth Season due on 3/25. Things
We Lost in the Fire has also been set for DVD and HD-DVD
release on 2/12. In addition, Melrose
Place: The Fourth Season, Nick
Jr. Favorites: Lullaby Time and SpongeBob
SquarePants: Pest of the West are all due on 4/15.
And Sony has revealed that The
Adventures of Baron Munchausen: 20th Anniversary Edition
will debut on Blu-ray Disc on 4/8. Special features will include a
BD Java "graphics and picture track," audio commentary
with director Terry Gilliam & co-writer/actor Charles McKeown,
The Madness and Misadventures of
Munchausen 3-part documentary, 3 featurettes (As
We Once Dreamed It, A Voyage
to the Moon and The Baron &
Bucephalos Charge the Turkish Gates) and deleted scenes.
Finally, several readers are e-mailing us today to say that they're
already getting their Pirates
Blu-ray replacement discs, so if you've called Buena Vista's
customer service number, you should be seeing your discs shortly.
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