Los Angeles — Shortly after Paramount and DreamWorks SKG revealed a decision to exclusively support the HD DVD format, the Blu-ray Disc camp fired back with an announcement of new catalog titles and 29 new Blu-ray Disc releases planned by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment (TCFHE) and MGM.
The “aggressive global Blu-ray Disc release strategy” will run through the end of the 2007 calendar year, the studios said.
The block of worldwide releases include six day-and-date BD/DVD new theatrical releases from Fox including the $241 million box-office family film “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” and the $335 million box-office action thriller “Live Free Or Die Hard.”
Also planned are four day-and-date BD/DVD releases for the U.S. only from MGM, and 19 releases from both studios including, Fox’s first TV release on BD — “Prison Break.”
Fox said it also intends to release at least one state-of-the-art title per month featuring numerous BD “firsts.’
These will include picture-in-picture capability, enhanced viewing and surround sound modes with the ability to mix and match picture and sound, direct access to in-movie features through one of the four colored buttons on the BD remote and BD-Java interactive multiplayer challenge and trivia games.
Some of the fourth-quarter new releases will also offer BD-Live functionality, the studios said. This will enable some BD players to connect to the Internet to access title specific Web-enabled interactive features and games and “Web-exclusive” downloadable content with the ability to connect and interact with other broadband BD users worldwide.
The capability is similar to that recently launched in such titles as “Blood Diamond” and “300” in the HD DVD format.
The studios said the BD format is averaging nearly 70 percent market-share per week of all high-definition titles sold this year and, in the United States, it is out-performing HD DVD by a margin of 115 percent.
“Given that Blu-ray has consistently outsold HD DVD all year, and this is the case for any titles released by any studio in both formats, we believe that the time is right for us to accelerate our activities and help convert the nearly 60 million high-definition households worldwide into Blu-ray households,” stated Mike Dunn, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Worldwide president. “By the end of this calendar year there will be expansive availability of technically vibrant releases featuring never-before-seen, advanced BD-J interactivity as well as a broad offering of playback devices at attractive prices that will prove to any doubting consumers once and for all that Blu-ray is the only way.”
He continued: “And as Blu-ray continues to grow stronger, it has become survival of the fittest which is most apparent in the retail landscape where our eager and growing global Blu-ray consumer base has caused a shift that is forcing the allocation of more space to the format that is selling the best.
And, in many recent instances of note, top retailers in North America are choosing to promote the Blu-ray format exclusively in their stores.”
Certain new upcoming catalog releases from Fox and MGM will include new BD-J interactive features including an “Alien Scavenger Hunt” in “Independence Day” that challenges players to earn points by identifying the correct number of aliens in select scenes to unlock additional bonus features; a “Global Warming Trivia Track” in “The Day After Tomorrow,” where users must correctly answer questions about global warming to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising and being destroyed; and a historical and geographical pop-up map in “Master & Commander” that tracks the location of Captain “Lucky” Jack Aubrey and his enemies.
The new catalog BD releases include the following:
Title, North American Release
“Master & Commander,” Oct. 2.
“The Day After Tomorrow,”Oct. 2.
“From Hell,” Oct. 9
“The Fly (1986)” Oct. 9
“Edward Scissorhands” Oct. 9
“28 Days Later,” Oct. 9
“Robocop (MGM) Oct. 9
“Amityville Horror (1979) (MGM) Oct. 9
“Battle of Britain (MGM) Nov. 6
“A Bridge Too Far (MGM),” Nov. 6
“I, Robot,” Nov. 13
“Die Hard,” Nov.
“Die Hard 2: Die Harder,” Nov.
“Die Hard with a Vengeance,” Nov.
“Red Dawn (MGM),” Nov.
“Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” Dec. 4
“Independence Day,” Dec. 4
“Cast Away,” Dec. 4
“Ronin (MGM)” Dec. 4