Paramount, one of two major studios on the fence (the other is Warner), releasing both formats, seems to be leaning toward Blu-ray with some of their newer released. They’ve begun to take advantage of Blu-ray’s capacity advantage over HD DVD. On August 28th, Blades of Glory will be their first title with a lossless/uncompressed soundtrack, with PCM 5.1 – only on BD. The HD DVD release won’t get it. Two weeks later Face/Off gets high-definition extras – again, only on BD. The HD DVD release won’t – apparently due to the lack of room.
The recent Flags of Our Fathers release also saw a high bitrate AVC encode on the Blu-ray version.
This is a switch from the early days when Paramount would give HD DVD VC-1 encodes and Dolby Digital Plus audio, while they dumped the same title on BD in MPEG-2 with just Dolby Digital. It looks like they’re really starting to treat Blu-ray right, and use the advantages the format brings to provide superior releases.
And Optimum Home Entertainment, a UK distributor that was formerly in the HD DVD camp, announced Blu-ray releases of Wold Creek, Pan’s Labyrinth, and The Host due November 12th. So they’re now supporting both formats.
A lot of HD DVD fans have said how none of these announcements mean the end for HD DVD, and I agree. Just because Blockbuster went Blu doesn’t mean the end. Or just because BJ’s Wholesale Club or Woolworths won’t be selling HD DVD. But all of these stuff adds up. More and more we’re seeing retailers pulling back from HD DVD, if not directly embracing BD exclusively. And more and more content providers and studios are announcing Blu-ray exclusivity – and we’re not seeing that for HD DVD. Now we have a former HD DVD exclusive vendor adding BD. Most people still shop, and rent, in stores – and I say that as a geek that buys just about everything online and has for years. Online rentals are a small part of the market. ‘E-tail’ doesn’t even come close to retail. So the ‘it is still available on the web’ argument is really quite weak.
Death by a thousand cuts is still death. HD DVD needs to die so we can put an end to this war and heal the split in the market.