This release provides an interesting case study...
I'm an HD DVD supporter and I am not here to bash BD.
Here's my two-cents read of it:
If the director or the producer thinks the film goes better with an intermission, IT WILL have an intermission. No disc - no matter how big - will change that. Some consumers may hate that, but that will not make this release to be a commercial failure. Studios would not be raking in the cash they make with 2, 3, 4, 5 disc sets (costing up to $80) if people did not like those editions. Proof? DAWN OF THE DEAD 5 DISC SET and the upcoming BLADE RUNNER. In fact, I'd say all studios would love to be able to pull that off with every film they've got if they could. LOL
BD supporters keep bashing HD DVD saying it does not have enough space. Well... depending on what you want to do, there's never enough space. I don't like to change discs either. But changing discs (like changing VHS tapes) is minor detail as old as home video itself. It happened with Betamax, VHS, Laserdiscs (I remember movies split across four sides in two discs!!!) and it will be happening in both HD DVD and Blu-ray too. I know it should not make sense... but there you are... the market...
Abnormally long films of 4 almost hours are not the rule. They are exceptions. And no format (not even Blu-ray) was build for those exceptions. Add the fact that 90% os consumers expect to find extras on their movies and even BD50 won't be enough.
Kingdom of Heaven is a great example: (according to Hi-def digest) one BD50. 190 minutes. One soundtrack. No extras. So we'll keep seeing releases like this split in two discs. 100 minutes of film + the usual amount of extra material PER DISC.
This the Industry practice and nothing can change that.
I have a hard time believing this BD release is getting hurt by the supposedly oh-so-weak HD DVD specs. And HD DVD disc "currently" goes up to 30Gb. If the studio really wanted the highest specs preserving the compatibility with the "weaker" format, that would be no problem: just take full advantage of 2x30 and it's ok with Blu-ray since you'll have 2x50.
Only then the argument that the full glory of the BD edition was being cut by HD DVD would be acceptable.
But that's not what it seems to have happened. They opted to keep things squeezed under 2x25 and throwing away the 2x5GB extra found on HD DVD - meaning the one who got hurt here was HD DVD because of the inferior specs of the BD discs used. that's an interesting (and very overlooked) trend: squeeze it under 25 so you don't have to go for 50. I believe that does not need to happen with HD DVD since the relationship 15Gb to 30Gb somewhat mirrors the 5Gb to 9Gb relationship when we think of the usage in average films (90-120 minutes long).
But "who gets hurt by the other's specs" is not the important issue.
The important issue is that BD supporters really believe we live in a world disconnected from economy. It seems strange to me that there is enough BD50 discs to high profile under 2-hour titles and NOT to this title (who could really use BD50) since it would be using two discs.
And why not use 50+25? - Like some future releases are being announced.
If you ask me, what I think about BD50, I'd say it is a great thing. But sometimes, even great things do not get widely adopted even if they are great.
The BD50 yields have been covered on the insider's threat many times and - I may be wrong - BD50 has the risk of falling into a big catch22: if left to the market, it's too expensive to justify it's use... and because it is not that used, it's price does not go down (as much as BD25).
The odd choice of discs on this edition does not seem puzzling for me. On one side it shows that BD50 is still an expensive commodity. On the other side, it shows that HD DVD is not inferior.