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Tartan slaps on the woad

HD DVD/Blu-ray/DVD

Source: DVD Times

In a move that certainly surprised me and, I suspect, will have surprised a lot of others as well, UK independent DVD studio Tartan Video has announced support for Blu-ray, and will be debuting high definition editions of Paul Verhoeven’s Black Book (also due out in the US from Sony a month later) and Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal on August 27th, with Park Chan-Wook’s Oldboy to follow on September 24th. Expect AVC encodes, DTS-HD Master Audio and, it would seem, some but not all of the extras from the standard definition variants. The RRP for each, by the way, is a rather bloated £29.99, seemingly because Tartan intends to package the standard definition version on a separate disc in the same case.

I hate to say it, but the pessimist in me suspects that this may be the beginning of the end for HD DVD. This time last year, I never in a million years dreamed that any of the independents would back Sony’s format, but with this, and the announcement of Starz/Anchor Bay’s decision to launch a Blu-ray line via MGM, suggests that one of HD DVD’s key advantages - cheaper manufacturing and licensing costs - really isn’t enough to entice the little guys. All I can say is that Sony must be offering some major incentives to these smaller studios (one commenter suggests that they may be supplying free authoring services) to get them on the bandwagon. I’d still like to think that HD DVD can get its act together and reclaim some of the momentum that it lost in its disastrous decision to basically sit back and do nothing at the beginning of the year, but I’m beginning to have serious doubts… especially as, for me, the news of support by Tartan and Anchor Bay is worth a thousand 20th Century Foxes.

 
Posted: Saturday, July 14, 2007 at 2:06 PM | Comments: 2
Categories: Blu-ray | Cinema | DVD | HD DVD

 
Comments

1.

"I hate to say it, but the pessimist in me suspects that this may be the beginning of the end for HD DVD."

I'm getting that feeling too. On the face of it, the fact that Tartan and Anchor Bay have gone with Blu-ray doesn't seem a big deal as their actual sales are tiny compared with the majors.

But it's those independent labels the more serious/hardcore film buffs are interested in - and if the likes of Synapse, BU, Artificial Eye, even Criterion were to go with Blu-ray, I think those, er, buffs might finally make the jump into HD (although to be honest, I'm personally less interested in the whole thing than I was a year ago).

I wonder if the HD DVD camp have already secretly given up the fight? As you mentioned, they seem to have made no effort pushing the format this year. Pity.

Posted by: Philly Q, July 14, 2007 7:23 PM

2.

I wouldn’t say they’ve made no effort at all this year (if they’d completely given up, Warner probably wouldn’t have released the expensive-to-produce Matrix collection, and Universal would have stopped shovelling out catalogue titles like they were going out of fashion), but I think they mistakenly believed they could rest on their laurels during the post-Christmas slump, which unfortunately turned out to be the very time that the Blu-ray camp started making their big announcements (less than 50% of which seem to have actually come to pass, but still…), and also had a crowd of people who had got PS3s for Christmas but found themselves with no games to play on them.

Unfortunately, I think that a lot of this has boiled down to a war of words. The Blu-ray camp have repeatedly lied, making false claims about one format or the other, claiming that the war is over (the old “if you repeat it enough times it becomes true” philosophy), and announcing titles that they probably never had any intention of releasing. After CES, a lot of people simply lost faith in HD DVD, simply because they didn’t announce a slew of titles. Fox, Sony and Disney promised big things, and got the kudos for it, but ultimately released very few of the titles they announced.

HD DVD has a lot of great stuff: the combined libraries of Universal, Paramount and Warner for one thing. Unfortunately, Blu-ray has all that and more besides, minus Universal. I hate to point fingers, but if Warner and Paramount hadn’t backed down on their initial plan to support HD DVD only, we wouldn’t be in this situation.

Posted by: Whiggles, July 14, 2007 7:33 PM

Comments on this entry and all entries up to and including June 30th 2009 have been closed. The discussion continues on the new Land of Whimsy blog:

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