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Universal Studios Home Entertainment Fuels HD DVD Momentum with More Than 100 HD DVD Offerings Planned for Release in 2007

Posted on Friday, January 26, 2007 7:31 PM

HD DVD title announcements were pretty quiet at CES this year -- too quiet. Sure there was the press event where the North American HD DVD Promotional Group (imagine fitting that on a business card) announced new players and promised 300 titles in 2007. Warner Home Video did their part by making an announcement of some of the titles they planned on releasing during the year.

But that was it. No news from Paramount, and none from Universal. That got enthusiasts nervous, especially in the light of CES announcements from Warner Home Video, Lionsgate, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Buena Vista Worldwide Home Entertainment, and 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. Then, some ambitious folks from the Blu-ray group decided to declare a premature victory in the war they are waging on consumers. As you can imagine, those were fightin' words for those who take such things pretty seriously, and HD DVD fans were looking for some ammunition to fight back with, and started looking at Universal for some good news.

Adam Gregorich from the Home Theater Forum decided to make some contacts and see if he could get some information from Universal. He even solicited questions from the forum users. He reported back with some details from the conversation and a full transcript as well.

Now, Universal has issued a press release with an official announcement of their 2007 plans. You can read the full release below, but here's a short list of the titles that have been announced:

  • The Mummy Returns (already released)
  • Brokeback Mountain (already released)
  • Hollywoodland
  • Scarface
  • The 40-Year-Old Virgin
  • Children of Men
  • The Good Shepherd
  • Smokin' Aces
  • Bruce Almighty
  • The Bourne Identity
  • Meet The Fockers
  • American Pie
  • Inside Man
  • Pride & Prejudice
  • The Big Lebowski
  • Liar Liar
  • Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
  • Brazil
  • Erin Brockovich
  • Shaun of the Dead
  • Dawn of the Dead
  • Slap Shot
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Battlestar Galactica - Season 1

An interesting note in the press release was that 90% of their titles will be released as Combo discs, which feature both an HD DVD and standard definition DVD on the same disc. This allows flexibility by allowing consumers to buy the standard DVD to watch now, and then be able to watch the HD DVD side when they upgrade to high definition in their home theaters and living rooms. It also allows the same disc to be used not only in a high-def equipped system, but also on standard DVD players (portable players, bedrooms, and entertainment systems in the minivan). The one downside is that the Combo titles have traditionally been more expensive than their HD-only counterparts.

Titles are a very good thing, and I applaud Universal for giving movie fans something to look forward to in 2007. With 100 titles from Universal, they've completed one-third of the earlier promise of 300 new HD DVD titles for the year!

It's unfortunate that there's a format war to begin with, because the real casualties are the consumers who, more often than not, are forced to choose which format to purchase due to the high cost of owning both players. It's my position that the studios need to produce titles for both formats equally, and let the market decide which player works best for them and their budgets. This war doesn't look to be ending soon, so the studios are leaving money on the table by not producing movies in a format that their customers want to purchase.

Press Release

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Bringing further heat to the burgeoning HD DVD format, Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE) will release more than 100 new film and television titles in 2007. Perennial favorites such as Scarface and instant classics like 40-Year-Old Virgin, Battlestar Galactica S1 and Oscar®-winning Brokeback Mountain will be joined by dozens of new titles released day and date with the DVD.

Since the format’s inception in April 2006, USHE has released 60 titles on HD DVD, and currently boasts four of the top 10 best-selling HD DVDs year-to-date, including Casino, Serenity, Fearless and Miami Vice.

Tapping into the studio’s vast library, the 2007 slate kicked off on January 18th with the release of The Mummy Returns, followed by Brokeback Mountain, starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal on January 23, 2007. Following shortly thereafter will be such day-and-date new releases as Golden Globe®-nominee Hollywoodland on February 6. More than 90% of the planned 2007 Universal titles will be released as combo discs – which feature an HD DVD version and a standard DVD version of the movie on the same disc.

“With more than two million HD DVD players expected in the market in North America by the end of 2007, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is committed to expanding its portfolio of compelling HD DVD content and further igniting consumer demand,” said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “By releasing most of our titles as combo discs we effectively satisfy consumers’ multi-viewing habits, providing them with the most cost-effective option to watch their favorite films in either their DVD or HD DVD players.”

Among the additional new titles to be released in 2007 are the Oscar®-nominated, the critically acclaimed epic drama The Good Shepherd, and the high-octane Smokin' Aces. Also on deck for release this year are such highly anticipated catalog favorites as Bruce Almighty; The Bourne Identity; Meet The Fockers; American Pie; Inside Man; Pride & Prejudice; The Big Lebowski; Liar Liar; Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels; Brazil; Erin Brockovich; Shaun of the Dead; Dawn of the Dead; Slap Shot; and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Children of Men

About HD DVD

HD DVD is the only next-generation, post-DVD standard for high-capacity, high-definition optical discs, approved and supported by the DVD Forum. The DVD Forum develops and defines DVD formats. Its more than 200-strong membership brings together leaders in movies and entertainment, computing, consumer electronics and software. HD DVD is fast becoming the primary visual medium for the age of high-definition TV. The North American HD DVD Promotional Group, Inc. is an organization established to promote the HD DVD format and educate consumers in North America. For more information and a complete listing of HD DVD launch titles please visit http://www.TheLookAndSoundOfPerfect.com.

About Universal Studios Home Entertainment

Universal Studios Home Entertainment is a unit of Universal Pictures, a division of Universal Studios (www.universalstudios.com). Universal Studios is a part of NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news, and information to a global audience. Formed in May 2004 through the combining of NBC and Vivendi Universal Entertainment, NBC Universal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, and world-renowned theme parks. NBC Universal is 80% owned by General Electric, with 20% owned by Vivendi.

Source: Universal Studios Press Release

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