Eternal format wars
Universal continued its somewhat tepid support of HD DVD today by announcing two new titles for release on April 24th: Michel Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the Eddie Murphy masterpiece The Nutty Professor. Given how much I enjoyed the former, I’ll definitely be picking up its high definition incarnation; as for the latter, well, let’s just say my life has already been “enriched” by that particular title, and it’s not an experience I feel compelled to repeat. Slightly more encouraging is the appearance of several highly regarded titles on the HD DVD Promotion Group’s Release List, including E.T. - The Extra-Terrestrial, Jaws, Jurassic Park, Psycho and The Shining. Obviously, without release dates, this can’t be taken as an official announcement, but it does imply that there is at least an intention to release these films on HD DVD at some point in the future.
In other news, I pre-ordered the upcoming Blu-ray release of Casino Royale (due out on March 13th). This will likely be my first ever Sony Blu-ray disc, given that they own very little worth bothering about (yes, believe it or not I’ll be passing on Little Man and Click), and, given the reports I’ve been hearing, I’m not expecting great things. Then again, they’re apparently going to switch from MPEG2 to MPEG4 AVC for this title, which means that it will hopefully not be the compression nightmare that many of their earlier titles were. I’ve also taken out a one-month subscription to LoveFilm, which means I will be able to rent the small number of region-free Blu-ray discs released in the UK in order to get a feel of what the format has to offer in terms of image quality. Obviously, this discounts all Fox titles, which are coded for Region B, as well as Sony’s releases of recent films (their policy is to make catalogue titles region-free).
Posted: Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 9:45 PM
| Comments: 11
| HD DVD
It's a shame things are how they are. Ideally, due to the region coding you'd want to be purchasing the Blu-Ray titles, and renting region free HD-DVD ones, but considering how little there is on Blu-Ray worth watching, let alone keeping, it just results in a problem for the consumer.
Posted by: Anonymous, January 30, 2007 11:54 PM
I wonder when Sony will get around to releasing some of their classics from the Columbia catalogue like Lawrence of Arabia and Bridge on the River Kwai.
Both would look absolutely stunning in HD but maybe their length (particularly Lawrence) is prohibitive at the moment. I can't imagine much chance of extra features going by current Blu-Ray trends.
Out of curiosity do you happen to know what the longest film released on either HD format is so far?
Posted by: , January 31, 2007 9:33 AM
I believe Bridge on the River Kwai is coming at some point this year, at least in the UK, but I’m not sure about Lawrence of Arabia. Sony, at the moment, seems to have little interest in releasing the classics - they’re more concerned with giving us titles like xXx and Hitch. Likewise, Fox and Disney don’t seem to be interested in giving us anything older than the 90s - it’s only Warner and Universal, especially Warner, that have really shown an intent to release a broad range of titles.
I believe the longest film available in HD at the moment is probably King Kong, at 187 minutes.
Posted by: Whiggles
, January 31, 2007 9:39 AM
Thanks for that.
Surprising there is no mention of Lawrence of Arabia as it makes sense to release both this year as it is the 5oth anniversary of Bridge on the River Kwai and the 45th anniversary of Lawrence of Arabia.
They are both being re-released in SD very soon as well.
Posted by: , January 31, 2007 1:12 PM
"Universal continued its somewhat tepid support of HD DVD"
Interested by your choice of phrase there Mike. Given that Universal is the only major supporting HD DVD only, do you think HD DVD is starting to lose the "war", or are both formats failing to take off?
Posted by: Philly Q, January 31, 2007 2:51 PM
“Universal continued its somewhat tepid support of HD DVD”
Interested by your choice of phrase there Mike. Given that Universal is the only major supporting HD DVD only, do you think HD DVD is starting to lose the “war”, or are both formats failing to take off?
I suspect Universal will get up to speed as the year progresses - after all, they have claimed that they will deliver 100 titles before the end of 2007 - but I do find their initial line-up and announcements to be rather disappointing. I don’t think the war is going to be won or lost in the near future, but rather continue in a state of stalemate for a while. But yes, you’re right that its entirely possible that neither format will see mainstream adoption any time soon.
By the way, we received a Panasonic Region B Blu-ray player and some test discs to review this afternoon. One of these is Fantastic Four. It looks very underwhelming, and, considering this is one of the format’s flagship titles, this doesn’t bode well.
Posted by: Whiggles
, January 31, 2007 2:56 PM
Sorry, I'm not really up to speed with HD yet and was wondering what the situation is with region coding and standard DVDs. I heard the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players should be able to play standard DVDs but will the region 1/2/3 etc coding still be in place or are all standard DVDs effectively region free now that the HD players are using region A, B etc?
Posted by: colinr, January 31, 2007 6:14 PM
How does the DTS-HD Master sound on "Fantastic Four"?
Posted by: gva1116, January 31, 2007 6:21 PM
Sorry, I’m not really up to speed with HD yet and was wondering what the situation is with region coding and standard DVDs. I heard the Blu-Ray and HD-DVD players should be able to play standard DVDs but will the region 1/2/3 etc coding still be in place or are all standard DVDs effectively region free now that the HD players are using region A, B etc?
Both HD DVD and Blu-ray players are region-locked for standard definition DVDs. HD DVD, however, is a region-free format.
Posted by: Whiggles
, January 31, 2007 6:29 PM
How does the DTS-HD Master sound on “Fantastic Four”?
I can’t decode DTS-HD Master Audio, but the “normal” DTS stream is among the best I’ve heard. Expect a full review at DVD Times in the next few days.
Posted by: Whiggles
, January 31, 2007 6:30 PM
Thanks! That sounds like a good reason to choose HD-DVD over Blu-Ray. I guess people will be working on a region hack or an upgrade to make the players all region for standard DVDs - or at least I hope they will be!
I'm wondering how this will work with those dual Blu-Ray/HD-DVD discs that I am hearing about? I suppose they will have to conform to this A/B region coding to keep the Blu-Ray camp happy?
Posted by: colinr, February 9, 2007 12:45 PM
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