Hopefully the next generation format’s week to put in Thunderdome can bear some real fruit.
Well for the sake of relevance, Tuesday is THE week to be a supporter of the next generation formats. On the HD-DVD side, the Matrix films see their debut from Warner, with the extras from the Ultimate Matrix Collection for those who want them, and IMEs on each of the films. Meanwhile, Blu-ray buyers get to see both Pirates of the Caribbean films on two-disc editions, with Blu-ray exclusive content, and…there’s also the underrated Mel Gibson film Apocalypto. All of these films have TrueHD and PCM for their respective formats, and both are at least currently exclusive to their respective formats. Here’s hoping that there’s some winner among sales this week so this format war crap can come to an end soonest.
But it’s not like that’s the only material coming out this week. If you’re on either platform, you get your choice of outstanding titles this week. Paramount strolls out a two-disc edition of Flags of Our Fathers, along with the Japanese version of the Iwo Jima battle in Letters From Iwo Jima, which comes with a TrueHD track on both formats (Flags does not). Wait, there’s more! The first two Mission: Impossible films get released as standalone titles, the only difference between the two is the HD-DVD versions get Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks, while the Blu-ray versions don’t. Format neutral buyers can also decide how they want to see Freedom Writers. HD-DVD buyers also see The 40 Year Old Virgin, The Skeleton Key and Smokey and the Bandit, while Blu-ray supporters can decide if they want to get Closer.
Hardware-wise, both camps have fired some shots across the bow, both of which being pretty interesting. On the Blu-ray side, Panasonic has announced their second generation player. It’s basically a player with all the latest and greatest audio formats supported (1.3 HDMI is also apparently in there too), it’s got both Pirates films in the box and costs only $599. And Toshiba has started a $100 rebate campaign yesterday which will run for a month, meaning you can get a player at the vaunted $299 price if you wish. So the movement is encouraging, we’ll see if either camp can score some eager response from it.
And there’s even some substantial disc release news to speak of! Warner will be releasing the swords and sandals epic 300 on both platforms on 7/31, with both discs boasting a TrueHD track and Warner getting an IME, whereas Blu-ray does not. Disney has let slip that The Chronicles of Narnia will come to Blu-ray in the “late summer or early fall”, and there should be more forthcoming from the house of mouse after their Pirates of the Caribbean event last week. In TV news, Warner is releasing Season Four of Nip/Tuck on both formats on 9/4, while Season One of Heroes will come out on HD-DVD one week prior. In movies, Premonition arrives on 7/17 to both formats, and later debuting Jailhouse Rock and Viva Las Vegas on 9/18. HD-DVD buyers see the Sea of Love and Darkman on 7/31, while Blu-ray folks can look at Dr. Strange on 8/14 and a remastering effort on The Fifth Element on 7/17.
That’s it for me this week, and as always high definers, keep the brightness low and the resolution high!