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Of High-Def Opportunities Lost …

24 Sep, 2007 By: Stephanie Prange

As I perused the list of hits coming to the packaged media home entertainment market this fourth quarter, I couldn't help but think of what might have been had the industry coalesced behind just one high-definition disc format.

A buyer could get the high-definition version of both Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's Spider-Man 3, the top earner of the year, and Paramount/DreamWorks Home Entertainment's Shrek the Third (No. 2), on one format. Unfortunately, in reality these two top earners are available on two different formats — Spider-Man on Blu-ray and Shrek on HD DVD.

Box office titles Nos. 3 and 4, respectively, Paramount/DreamWorks' Transformers and Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment's Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, would have been available on one format as well. Unfortunately, in the real world, Transformers is on HD DVD and At World's End on Blu-ray.

Warner Home Video's Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, No. 5 on the box office list, fortunately will be available in both formats, as will the entire “Harry Potter” series. My only wish is that I would know which version to buy, given that I only want to own only one player. In an ideal world, I wouldn't have to make that choice.

My point here is that any rational consumer would be fed up with the high-definition disc market, which asks them to buy two players just to watch all the movies that they can easily get on DVD.

Is that a fair decision to ask the consumer to make merely for the opportunity to see movies in a slightly better resolution?

The cable companies are already looking to jump into that void with day-and-date DVD releases that I'm sure will include high-definition video-on-demand.

It's sad that the industry couldn't agree on one high-definition format for the fourth quarter of 2007. It promises to be one of the best ever, with a wallop of a box office punch from a lineup of titles that proved that the blockbuster is far from dead.

It's just unfortunate that the fourth quarter of 2007 may prove to be a lost opportunity to jumpstart the high-definition disc.

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