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Universal Bows Two-Sided Blu-ray, DVD Disc

1 Dec, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

In an industry first, Universal Studios Home Entertainment will start issuing double-sided discs with the Blu-ray Disc of a movie on one side and the standard DVD version on the other.

Universal is premiering the “flipper” disc with the Jan. 19 release of The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, for $29.98 each. That date also marks the first time the three films have been available on Blu-ray individually.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau said the flipper disc should help ease the consumer transition from DVD to Blu-ray Disc. At the same time, it should instill consumer confidence in the high-definition format by allowing consumers to buy titles now and convert to Blu-ray down the line.

“Universal’s flipper discs are the perfect way for consumers to future-proof their collections while still enjoying their favorite movies on all their existing DVD players,” Kornblau said. “The flipper disc offers an easy way for viewers to convert to Blu-ray now or at any time in the future, confident in the fact they will be able to experience their home entertainment purchases in the highest quality picture and sound when they do.” 

The move also can be seen as an acknowledgement that even consumers who have bought a Blu-ray Disc player, most likely to go with the home theater setup in their family or living room, still use DVD players in their bedrooms and their cars. As a result, even consumers who have Blu-ray Disc players still sometimes buy the DVD version of a movie because they can play it anywhere.

The challenge of portability for Blu-ray was put front and center by Mike Vitelli, EVP of Best Buy’s customer operating groups, during November’s Blu-Con 2.0 conference. Russ Crupnick, entertainment industry analyst for The NPD Group, said Universal’s flipper disc will be attractive to consumers with a Blu-ray player in the living room but a DVD player elsewhere.

Other studios are addressing the same issue through combo packs that include DVD and Blu-ray on separate discs.

Crupnick also noted that the retail price — not Universal’s $29.98 SRP — will have to compete with what’s offered for standard Blu-ray, “so that consumers see a value in the packaging.

“I don’t think there's a willingness to pay a premium, especially for catalog,” he said.

Universal said it is evaluating opportunities for using the flipper disc for both catalog and new-release titles. The studio previously had employed the flipper disc concept with HD DVD, the failed rival high-def format the studio once championed.

Bourne Bonuses

Universal is packing both sides of the discs with exclusive content. All three will feature U-Control, the studio’s signature Blu-ray navigation feature accessible while the film runs, allowing for picture-in-picture; a “Bourne Card Battle Strategy Game”; dossiers; location analyses; and Blackbriar and Treadstone files. All three films will include the BD Live-enabled My Scenes Sharing feature.

For The Bourne Identity, four featurettes explore the birth of the character by novelist and Jason Bourne creator Robert Ludlum. Both the DVD and Blu-ray sides will include deleted and extended scenes, alternate opening and ending scenes, a Ludlum profile, a screenwriter interview, interviews with the cast, a music video, commentary and other featurettes. The Bourne Supremacy will have a commentary, deleted scenes and a total of 11 featurettes. The Bourne Ultimatum will include a Blu-ray exclusive “Be Bourne Spy Training” challenge, and both sides will offer deleted scenes, a commentary and five featurettes.

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