Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well... it's certainly been an interesting 24 hours around here, folks.While we spent the morning and part of the afternoon yesterday up in L.A. for a special feature story that we're working on for you, rumors broke online that Universal was considering going HD format neutral, and that they'd being supporting both Blu-ray Disc as well as HD-DVD with movie titles. That would mean that every major Hollywood studio would finally be releasing Blu-ray Disc titles, and it would effectively end the format war. We received dozens of mostly thrilled (but also a few panicked) e-mails from enthusiasts of both formats asking us if the rumor was true.
We've said before that The Digital Bits would welcome a move like this by Universal. This format war just isn't good for anyone, and Universal would instantly become the good guy to both retailers and consumers alike by ending it. People waiting for the war to end before jumping into high-def could finally do so worry free with Blu-ray, and those who already enjoyed HD-DVD could no doubt still enjoy new releases on that format as well (it's unlikely that every HD-DVD supporting studio would stop supporting the format entirely even if Universal went neutral). Everybody wins. Such a move would also be smart for Universal economically. They have to be watching the numbers like everyone else, and the numbers don't lie. Blu-ray is already outselling HD-DVD in software by at least a 2 to 1 margin, and there are several cheaper name-brand, fully-featured BD player models on the way. On top of that, when you consider that AACS has already been compromised, the extra layer of protection afforded by Blu-ray's (soon to be finalized) BD+ starts to look more attractive to the studios (for better or worse). Most indicators seem to confirm that Blu-ray has all the momentum right now. And we know that Universal has, rather prudently, investigated Blu-ray authoring and replication. All of that said, however, the rumor sounded just a little too convenient to be true. And strangely, it also sounded just a little too "truthy" not to have at least a grain of truth to it.
We've made our own inquiries with Universal, but in the meantime the folks Engadget have reported that they've heard directly from Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau that the rumors are false. Interestingly, however (judging by their post on the subject), even they don't seem to quite believe it. We'll certainly keep our eye on this fascinating situation to see what comes of it. When we hear back from Uni ourselves, we'll be sure to let you know.
By the way, while we're talking HD format support, we've spoken once more with reps from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, who say in no uncertain terms that their studio is NOT wavering in its support of Blu-ray Disc, despite the continued delay of those catalog BD titles (from both Fox and MGM) that were first announced at CES in January. Some of our other industry sources have informed us that work IS ongoing on additional, as-yet-unannounced catalog titles for BD release from both studios, which seems to confirm Fox's on-the-record statements to us. Given this, we do fully expect all of these titles to be rescheduled and announced for release in the weeks ahead. We would certainly expect Fox to have something more substantial to say on the subject at the EMA Expo in July, if not sooner. Rest assured, we will post the official details here as soon as they're available.
Okay, we'll be back this afternoon with a big Rumor Mill update... and maybe a review or two as well. Stay tuned...