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'Casino Royale' Blu-ray Disc Sells 100K Units

27 Mar, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment worldwide president David Bishop

The Blu-ray Disc format's upward trajectory of late continues with word that Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has shipped more than 100,000 units of Casino Royale, just nine months after the next-generation optical disc format was introduced.

It took DVD 11 months to reach that milestone with Air Force One, also a Sony Pictures release.

Casino Royale has done it in far less time and is clearly demonstrating the format's robust growth in the marketplace,” said Sony Pictures Home Entertainment worldwide president David Bishop. “We clearly feel that we are looking at HD DVD in our rear view mirror.”

A spokesperson for the North American HD DVD Promotional Group was not available for comment.

Bishop notes that Casino Royale also is the first high-definition disc to debut in the top 10 on cyber-retailer Amazon.com's top-selling DVDs list. Bishop says of the 100,000 units that were shipped to retailers March 13, more than 50% already have sold through to consumers.

At the same time, Home Media Research shows Blu-ray Disc sales to consumers have now topped the 1 million-unit market, with more than 700,000 of those units sold this year. By contrast, Home Media Research pegs cumulative HD DVD sales at 900,000 units, 310,000 of them being sold this year.

Bishop said more than 2 million Blu-ray Discs have been replicated since the format was introduced in late June 2006, and that sales of Blu-ray Discs have accounted for about 70% of high-def disc sales since the first week in January.

Casino Royale was released on DVD and Blu-ray on the same day. Its first week in stores, it sold nearly twice as many copies as all HD DVD titles combined that week. Bishop said Sony Pictures initially shipped 50,000 units to retailers, with another 30,000 reserved for reorders.

“We completely sold out after our second day of release,” he said, “so we were actually scrambling to meet the reorders, resulting in a delay in shipment by two or three days. We're at the verge of having a very excited new revenue stream for home entertainment.”

Blu-ray Disc is supported by five of the six major studios, while rival HD DVD is supported by just three. Of the three HD DVD-supporting studios, Paramount Home Entertainment and Warner Home Video also release titles on Blu-ray Disc; only Universal Studios Home Entertainment is exclusive.

Sony Pictures, Buena Vista Home Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment are only in the Blu-ray camp, as is minimajor Lionsgate.

But HD DVD launched first, in mid-April 2006, while Blu-ray Disc didn't come to market until late June — and then only with one player, from Samsung, and an initial slate of titles from just Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Blu-ray Disc sales didn't really ramp up until November, with the release of the PlayStation 3 console and its Blu-ray drive, as well as several other set-top players.

By late January, Nielsen VideoScan data showed Blu-ray Disc closing in on HD DVD.

Bishop said Blu-ray is catching on fast not just in the United States, but also “on a worldwide basis.”

“In Japan, 95% of activity is around Blu-ray, and in Australia it's likely to be around 100%,” Bishop said. “Even in Europe, where Casino Royale was part of a bundling package for consumers who bought PlayStation 3, the title has been selling well. In the United Kingdom alone, we sold 10,000 units in the first week.”

Casino Royale was not part of any bundling program in the United States.

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