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Studios Releasing Flood of HD Titles

19 Aug, 2006 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Studios are aggressively pumping high-definition discs into the market. They're hoping to dazzle the 28 million U.S. households expected to have HDTVs by the end of the year into upgrading their home theater systems with the new breed of next-generation HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc machines.

“Collectively, the studios are putting their best foot forward,” said David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “It obviously drives interest in the format and gives consumers plenty of reasons to go high-def.”

An analysis by The DVD Release Report shows a total of 140 next-generation titles are either already in stores or in the pipeline for release in the next couple of months — 83 in the HD DVD format, which launched in April, and 57 on Blu-ray, which debuted two months later.

Most of them are catalog titles, just as in the early days of DVD, although several spring and summer theatricals also are high-def bound. Among them: Universal Studios' The Break-Up, coming Oct. 17 as an HD DVD/standard-DVD combo disc; Paramount's Mission: Impossible III, which arrives Oct. 30 on both HD DVD and Blu-ray; and Warner's Poseidon, due Dec. 12 on HD DVD only.

Of the three studios that are releasing titles on HD DVD, Universal is in the lead, with 17 titles already in stores and another 23 due by Oct. 24. Warner has 20 titles in stores and five more with announced release dates, while Paramount has 10 in stores and another on the way. Four other suppliers also are in the game: HBO Video and Eagle Rock Entertainment, each with one release slotted; DVD International, with two; and BCI Eclipse, with three.

On the Blu-ray side, Sony Pictures has 13 titles in stores (four of them from MGM) and 10 more due by Oct. 17. Lionsgate has five out and nine in the pipeline, including Reservoir Dogs (Oct. 24). Warner has released four titles and has a fifth, The Lake House, due Sept. 26. Paramount has MI3 in the pipeline while Eagle Rock has five music videos coming Oct. 3.

Several other titles had been earmarked for Blu-ray release but have been postponed to allow more time for remastering, due to the high level of quality expected by early adopters, according to studio executives.

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