High-Def Digest's Nate Boss Shares His Blu-ray Predictions for 2011

Posted Fri Dec 10, 2010 at 10:40 AM PST by

Predicting the Future with Nate Noss

What fun is it waiting for news to happen, and reporting it? With all the sensationalism in the media, it seems more fun to create news than report it, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to stick my neck out and make some predictions, some bold, some brazen, some fairly safe, and others that may seem outright ridiculous, concerning the direction Blu-ray is headed in 2011, from studio decisions to actual disc functionality.

Please note, the comments and predictions in this article are not official confirmations or declinations concerning Blu-rays. No studio has been solicited for information, no rep or retailer consulted. That would make these a bit less like predictions and a bit more like news stories. Any opinions in this article are solely my own, and I would easily bet that many will disagree with the future that I have seen after eating that tainted sour cream and onion potato chip.

You still with us? If so, check out the Blu-ray predictions for 2011, from HDD's very own Nostra-dumb-ass!

This will be the year of the crappy catalog title, also known as the year of Ishtar
Yeah, I'm among those upset that titles like 'Lawrence of Arabia,' teased since the first trailers of upcoming Blu-rays, are still nowhere in sight, while bona fide disasters like the reviled 'Ishtar' are being fast tracked. This may very well be the theme for 2011 on Blu-ray, where shlock and shit rule the day. 2010 was full of huge names getting releases, and we really can't expect that kind of output every year, particularly when titles like 'King Kong (1933)' went completely under the radar! So, dearest Blu-ray fanatics, I do hope you enjoy 'Santa's Slay,' 'Howard the Duck,' 'Alone in the Dark,' 'Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever,' 'Son of the Mask,' 'Battlefield Earth,' 'The Village,' 'Bio-Dome,' 'Ed,' 'Beautician & the Beast,' 'Private Parts,' 'Vanilla Sky,' 'Just Married,' 'Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle,' 'The Cat in the Hat,' '8 Crazy Nights,' 'Richie Rich,' 'The Flintstones,' ' Wild Wild West,' the 'Deuce Bigalo' "films," and 'Little Nicky.' We're already getting 'Barb Wire,' so really, it's not too much of a stretch to think this may be a garbage year for the most part. Just be thankful 'Spice World' is so far off the radar it may as well have been destroyed.

BD-Live may actually give us a few real exclusive features this year
Now this is one of the most risky guesses on here, since, really, BD-Live has been a bane to Blu-ray. The promise of added features has been used so sparingly that this promise really looks like a bold faced lie right about now. One time community screenings with people involved with a film, all that does is force a day of release purchase, and down the road, bam, worthless. Giving me new trailers in front of a menu rather than old ones locked to a disc screws up load times for people, and I'd rather have none at all. I will go so far as to say that there will be a good use finally here, not just a silly flash game, but I have no idea what as of yet. Perhaps we'll get more cool stuff like with 'Survival of the Dead,', downloadable commentaries that integrate themselves into the rest of the menu. Maybe an entire plethora of extras where we can customize what features we want on a disc. That'd be great.

The first new release title to hit a 66 percent share
It's big news whenever, on week of release, a new day and date title has its Blu-ray release outsell the DVD, creating a 50 percent or greater share of its sales. This was, long ago, considered a very important number, to show the number of Blu-ray consumers and what the purchasing pattern was, how much pull this new format had. But 50 percent is so last year. I want to venture a guess as to the first time we'll see a Blu-ray new release take a 66 percent share or greater, outselling DVD by a margin of 2:1.

I don't think it will happen in 2011, but it will in 2012. That means 'Conan,' 'Transformers 3: The Dark of the Moon,' 'Captain America: The First Avenger,' 'Cowboys and Aliens,' 'Green Lantern,' 'X-Men: The New Class,' 'Thor,' 'Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides,' or even 'Drive Angry 3D' ('Drive...Angry...3D!!!') will pass that magic number. I know, not too daring a guess, but I don't see it happening.

Studios will start to re-release more titles based on their shared stars or writer/directors
On DVD, there are countless box sets themed by director or a particular actor. Some are in digipaks, some in slim cases in a little box (the excellently priced Fox 3 film actor packs, for example), while others are massive box sets. We're not seeing too much of that on Blu-ray, save for some random two pack pairings. This will change. As more and more titles are released, expect to see more sets like the Action pack or the Family pack, only with the same actor as the shared theme, at a reasonable MSRP. Brad Pitt, Keanu Reeves, Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, George Clooney, they're all fine candidates for a first wave, with huge filmographies already on Blu-ray. Imagine a box set of 'Snatch,' 'Seven Years in Tibet,' and 'The Devil's Own' or 'A River Runs Through It' (or even all four) for $15 per movie MSRP. What about 'Good Night, and Good Luck,' 'Michael Clayton,' and 'Syriana' (or in the ideal world, 'The Good German')? 'The Number 23''The Majestic,' and 'Yes Man?'

Studios will double dip on older Blu-rays, with some actually having an upgrade in video or audio quality
I don't see Fox doing this so much, but Warner, Sony, Paramount, and Lionsgate all have plenty of older titles in serious need of some sprucing up (and not with the DNR tool). 'Saw' and 'Crash' are the obvious choices, due to their mixed qualities, though the equally needy 'First Blood' probably won't see a re-release for a few years, even if it deserves it. If 'Punisher: War Zone' wasn't so awful, 'The Punisher' would also have been a target. As is, I bet Lionsgate wants to forget those. 'House of Flying Daggers' would be nice, and is easily the best film that would elicit the most repurchases in the lot of early garbage Sony titles. Paramount seems to think putting new cover art on ugly discs is all they need to do, and perhaps they'll realize that while that may confuse and fool some consumers, it only makes them lose points, and actually do the right thing for 'The Italian Job (2003)' or 'Dreamgirls'. Warner may even realize that musicals like 'The Phantom of the Opera (2004)' need lossless audio. Who knows? That would depend on them caring about catalog titles, and they make it obvious these days that they don't.

All that talk of there being no further 'Avatar' rereleases until the retail 3D version will be undermined by James Cameron's quest for more money, because apparently Avatar is the greatest...film...ever. That sound you hear will be my head banging against my desk until I damage my brain enough to actually enjoy this excessive poor man's Dances with Smurfs.

Leslie Nielsen lives on in our hearts, minds, Blu-ray players
This may seem kind of harsh and/or cold blooded, but the death of a celebrity often brings about a rush from those who can make money from the passing. Nielsen's death is one of biggest celebrity passings of 2010, and having happened so late in the year, it still can upset those of us who were fans of his work in film that spanned six decades. That also means he'll be that much more of a hot, sellable property. Nielsen's filmography has seen very little action on Blu-ray domestically, with very few of the more memorable titles available. Even the 'Mel Brooks Collection' passed on giving us 'Dracula: Dead and Loving It,' though I don't really blame Fox for that one. It seems that most of the Nielsen films already out on Blu are the worst in his filmography (though we do have 'Creepshow' and 'Forbidden Planet'). 2010 would have been a good time for a 30th anniversary release of 'Airplane!,' and since that didn't happen, expect either this title or the 'Naked Gun' series to arrive on Blu-ray. Yes, that would require Paramount to actually release a catalog title or two (or three or four), but even they may make an exception to their release strategy to bring us some of the many Nielsen films in their library.

Sports releases will become more prevalent (will also become more 3D-y)
Image recently released the first entire series of a sports championship tournament, while the WWE and UFC have both put out a few entire events on Blu-ray. MLB? They're still doing the World Series films, but with the upcoming Ultimate Jordan release actually having entire games from the GOAT, perhaps they'll finally bring us some of the most classic games in history (2004 ALCS, anyone?). Hockey? No one in America seems to care, and Blu-ray will continue to ignore it, as well. The Super Bowl may finally see a Blu-ray release, and if I may be so brave, the big game, or a compilation of select footage from the playoffs will find its way to Blu-ray 3D. 3D sports have their channel(s), and they will have their Blu-rays, as well.

Universal will continue their stance against offering a trade-in program
Disney did it, despite not having a hand in the competing HD DVD format. Warner has done it, again and again, with their Red2Blu and DVD2Blu programs. Universal? Not a snowball's chance in hell will they ever offer up their catalog of Blu-rays for an exchange program to help get their Blu-ray releases out there to consumers, so they can be inundated with annoying tickers and BD-Live updated pre-menu trailers. Oh, and perhaps the films, too. Considering their hefty slate of HD DVD releases in a short period of time (and the super low price point they often fetch now) versus their reluctance to release Blu-rays, it seems this is one studio who only has one foot in the door. The way they treat their catalog, I hope the other foot is above a Mega Shark tank. The fact that we'll see two Mega Shark films on Blu-ray before we see nearly hundreds of HD DVD ports is just ridiculous. More on 'Mega Shark' later...

The year of John Cusack (not to be confused with the year of the crappy catalog title)
John Cusack is awesome. Under-appreciated, funny, and always being rained on in his films. That will not change. What will change, though, is the fact that we'll see a few films from this talented actor on Blu-ray in 2011, and I don't mean 'Martian Child,' 'cuz that's just mean. 'Must Love Dogs,' 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,' 'High Fidelity,' 'Pushing Tin,' and 'Eight Men Out' are my predictions for the upcoming year, meaning, sadly, 'Grosse Point Blank' won't find its way on the format (one prediction I'd love to see proven wrong!). Respect the Cusack.

Wal-Mart will continue its drive to bring cheaper discs to shelves...at your cost
Low prices are great...but not when you end up getting less for it. The non-digibook release of 'The Exorcist' forgoes an entire cut of the film, and I'm quite sure it still sold quite well. With more upcoming massively expensive releases from Warner Bros (like 'Citizen Kane' or 'Ben Hur'), expect to see Wallyworld (or even Target) bringing out skimped versions at low price points, as an alternative to high costs and horribly bulky boxes, but expect to have more digibooks released in Amaray cases, more combo releases being forgone for less money, and a few more multi-disc sets missing a few discs. The retail giant is all about price point, not value per dollar, so this seems inevitable.

Fox continues to make questionable TV on Blu-ray decisions
The here one season, gone the next "strategy" that Fox employs on their TV on Blu-ray releases has confounded and angered consumers, but Fox will make more confusing and outright ridiculous decisions on their TV releases. After releasing two standard def upconverts for 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia,' they won't release season six on Blu-ray, which is, ironically, the first season filmed in high def. Why make this bold statement? They've shown they don't know what they're doing when it comes to television, so this is just about par for the course. And yes, I'm still pretty sore about 'Burn Notice,' why do you ask?

The Artisan catalog will bring some buried goodies to Blu-ray
Man, wouldn't it be great if we got Blu-ray releases of 'The Boys From Brazil' (not the awful UK import), 'The Limey,' 'Suicide Kings,' 'Thinner,' 'Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2,' 'Glengarry Glen Ross,' or 'On Golden Pond?' I think so, and with Lionsgate constantly pushing their inexpensive waves of Blu-rays every other month, expect to see a few of these hit Blu-ray in 2011. The Artisan catalog isn't exactly full of untapped wealth, as most of the great titles are already on Blu-ray, but this one still has a few damn good films waiting to be rediscovered, especially since many never got DVD rereleases, with the only copies being long, long out of print or just utterly horrible releases.

The death of the Sapphire Series
I have to wonder, will Paramount issue any more of their greatest films under this moniker, after the negative publicity associated with every other release? My bet is no. Their unreleased Academy Award Best Picture winners are not of the home video bestseller ilk ('Wings,' 'Going My Way,' 'The Greatest Show on Earth,' 'Ordinary People,' 'Terms of Endearment'), while 'The Godfather Part III' will probably see its first standalone release as a simple dump title. They blew through their greatest modern releases way too fast for this to be a viable line, and don't have the goods to keep it up as being a best of the best elite collection. So, hopefully, that means there may also be no Paramount recalls in 2011. Fingers crossed.

Tartan will release more titles, enough to rival the Shaw Brothers and Dragon Dynasty lines of Asian cinema.
With the purchase of Tartan and release of a few titles (The Vengeance Trilogy, '9 Songs'), Tartan has made a very minor splash on Blu-ray in the states. There are some releases in Europe ('Paranoid Park,' 'A Tale of Two Sisters') that need to find their way here, fast, and one of those (Sisters) should happen in 2011, alongside a few of the other Tartan Asia Extreme titles. This line needs to prove it's more than just Park Chan-Wook and hardcore sex on Blu-ray, and it has one hell of an awesome stable of quirky, entertaining titles to do it.

'Mega Shark vs Crocasaurus' (vs Steve Urkel) will be utterly awesome on Blu-ray. This isn't as much a prediction as a statement of fact. Hopefully the next sequel has Mega Shark vs Wolverine, Darth Vader, or Seth Rogen.

Star Wars will fail to meet expectations, because they were impossible to meet from the start
This is in line with the DVD releases of the pivotal sci-fi films, that pissed off fans by not offering original cuts of the films. That will happen yet again. If it doesn't, and by some miracle we get the original versions, again they'll have way inferior audio compared to the new editions that insert Gungans on Bespin (just wait...). It's inevitable. That said, even the spruced up new excessive editions will fail to truly impress. It's 'Lord of the Rings' syndrome.

Lower price points will be adopted for catalog titles. One studio will drop new release MSRP's
Warner is starting to announce 19.99 MSRP catalog titles, and Universal just announced some with a 14.99 list. Lionsgate was the first big studio to push 19.99 suggested retail price, and they'll be one of the strongest pushers of 14.99 or less, as they're by far the most preemptive price dropper. Universal big release catalogs are suggested at 26.99, and that too will drop even further. That $10 shelf at some stores will soon turn into a bin. Meanwhile, Lionsgate or Anchor Bay will push new releases at 29.99, and not just the obscure ones that few people would buy anyways.

Universal will continue to offer films on BD-Live to stream instead of actually giving them Blu-ray releases
Replicating discs is expensive, apparently, and so is programming menus and designing cover art. Universal seems to be pushing the ability to download their films instead of buying them, going so far as to stream the newest season of 'The Office' to purchasers of the sixth season.

Paramount will continue to offer less catalog titles than nearly any other studio
I know, real daring prediction there, but Paramount needs to be called out for the fact that they're sitting on tons of titles, and are only releasing the huge names at a slow clip, instead of giving consumers choices on some of their favorite smaller films. Heaven forbid we actually get the big budget sequels to titles already released on Blu-ray in America, when they've been out in other countries for years ('Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life,' anyone?). Their focus seems solely on the latest and greatest, giving no credence to the titles that have kept them in business all these years, and I don't see that changing in 2011.

Disney will continue to offer less catalog titles (at catalog pricing) than any other studio, and instead focus on DVD bundles
Paramount doesn't give us anything, and Disney instead kind of insults us, rereleasing catalog and former new release titles in combo packs, rather than giving us titles we don't already have. They did a wave in 2010, are doing another in early 2011, and this will be their theme for the year, giving Blu-ray haters ammunition by saying that even one of the big boys has to bundle DVDs to try to sell discs, on every title they release. Really, did we need a second SKU for 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua,' when non-Platinum/Diamond animated titles like The Rescuers, Three Caballeros, and 'Aladdin' just sit and rot?

MGM will re-release more Blu-rays with bundled DVDs than they will release new catalog titles
See above. The only difference? Disney is doing DVD packaging on only their Diamond Collection titles, while MGM is reissuing their back catalog in both DVD and Blu-ray packaging. Even stranger, they're putting out titles with new packaging that already were packaged with a bonus DVD. They're even splitting up box sets solely to put DVD copies in with each title. Why? It helps one realize why this studio is in such financial troubles. Who knows, we may see those 007 films...no, not the ones that haven't been released, but the ones already out, now with a bonus DVD from 1998! Yes! Watch out, folks, as 'The Battle of Britain,' 'The Usual Suspects,' the 'Robocop' sequels, 'Rescue Dawn,' 'The Amityville Horror (1979),' 'Lions for Lambs,' and 'Hannibal' all get redipped for no point. Seriously, four films I originally listed got DVD repacks under the radar, and I had to rewrite this. That shows you how no one, not consumers, or retailers, care for this release "strategy."

More previously released Criterion on DVD titles will hit Blu-ray
The most enticing Criterion Collection Blu-ray releases so far, in my eyes, have been the back catalog titles, previously released on DVD. They may not sell as well on Blu-ray, due to many Criterion owners already having them (particularly the big names), but there will be quite a few great releases from the Collection in 2011. If I had to pick ten (from spine #1-300)?
'The Hidden Fortress'
'The Lord of the Flies'
'Great Expectations'
'The Ruling Class'
'Short Cuts'
'Salo: Or the 120 Days of Sodom'
'La Strada'
'Hoop Dreams'
and 'Straw Dogs' (which is currently out of print, making it my most daring prediction, but with the remake in the works, this feels almost natural, based off studio publicity. And it's a damn good film, too, a highlight in this prestigious collection!)

Filmyard will finally enter the fray with the Miramax catalog they bought from Disney
And they won't release 'Pulp Fiction' or 'Jackie Brown' in 2011.

Best Buy will sell many more "exclusive" releases
Want Big Daddy, Mr Deeds, any WWE release, any DC animated universe title with the bonus figurines, 'The Last Airbender 3D' or the stereoscopic release of 'My Bloody Valentine 3D?' You have to go to Best Buy. They know they have us by the marbles, and they're going to continue to tighten their grip, nabbing more and more catalog titles for sale only in their stores. That said, they will also stock less of each, causing scalpers to make each title unavailable to the general public. Why stock less? Keep reading on the chain's "focus" on Blu-ray below...

Best Buy will take a smaller market share of the Blu-ray pie
I recently walked into the only local Best Buy within 90 miles, and what I saw made me pretty angry: the Blu-rays were no longer right in the middle of the store with the DVD racks. Instead, they were in a far back corner, tucked away. In their place? Mindless third party accessories that this joint buys for a buck and sells for fifteen or twenty. It's bloody shameful. Best Buy, you were the number one seller of Blu-ray titles in America, but apparently you'd rather be the number one seller of protective iPhone sleeves. Just remember: iPhone sleeve buyers don't buy up to ten in a week, or even two in a year, you bloody jackasses. Please, keep giving me reason to not step foot in your store.

Wal-Mart and Target will increase their Blu-ray stock
Keeping with the ebb and flow, these huge retail chains have been seeing their Blu-ray shelf space increase dramatically in the last few years, and it will continue, due to the fact that they don't place their movies next to the bathrooms and washer driers. Wal-Mart will even carry a few 3D releases, and not just ones that are in Disney combo packs.

The end of the 3D player exclusive disc, meaning the end of scalpers getting $200 to $500 for single films
Avatar 3D is already setting some auspicious records, selling for an average of over $400 on Ebay. It's insane. The Shrek 1-3 pack is fetching $200, while some early vouchers and hard copies of 'How to Train Your Dragon 3D' went as high as $250. Whoever thought 3D was cheap, was insane, as long as the majority of the catalog is locked to a consumer electronics company, or no longer in print, part of an obsoleted starter pack. In late 2011, we may see the end of these ridiculous situations, though existing exclusive discs may still take time to hit the format. Just wait, though, for the 'Toy Story' trilogy to be tied in with a brand, first, and remind us why we hate the greedy bastards on eBay.

Disney will find another annoying way to brand an existing product
Do you like Disney Files? What about Disney 3D? If you answered yes to either of these questions, you're feeding into the propaganda the mouse-ears company is pushing on the masses, by branding anything with their name. What will they rebrand next? Whatever new gimmick that's packed in with Blu-rays, that's what.

Criterion will not (and I repeat, will not) release a Blu-ray 3D release
This one should be obvious, right? The almost snobby collection is about film, not about fancy presentations, and I don't see this changing anytime soon.

Two more titles already released Criterion films on Blu-ray will go out of print
We already have a few Criterion Blu-rays that are no longer made, all three due to Studio Canal withdrawing the distribution rights, so that they can release their own lesser releases, so this wouldn't be a first. However, it would still sting and cause a run on a title, particularly if it is a popular one. Since I'm not privy to the contract lengths Criterion has with each film owner, I cannot begin to speculate what titles may go out of print, but, realistically, this could, and probably will, happen.

'The Fantastic Mr. Fox' and other Wes Anderson films will wander onto Criterion Blu-ray, confused what their purpose in life is
I was wondering when Criterion would release 'The Darjeeling Limited' due to the fact that they had every other Wes Anderson film in their catalog with the pickup of 'Bottle Rocket.' I thought the film being owned by Fox was an issue, but apparently not. Guess who owns 'The Fantastic Mr. Fox?' That's right. Fox owns 'Fox.' While 'The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou,' 'The Royal Tenenbaums,' or especially 'Rushmore' seem to be more obvious releases on Blu-ray, I would go so far as to believe that if we don't see 'Fox' in 2011, we may at least hear it announced. Fingers crossed, but until then, check out this amazing little film, if you haven't already!

No Eclipse
I really wish I were referring to the Twilight Saga here, but I'm instead talking about one of Criterion's sub-lines, the Eclipse series, that compiles numerous themed films (by era or by director), with a great low MSRP. So far, in almost two years of releasing Blu-ray, Criterion has not once even hinted at bringing any of their Eclipse sets to Blu-ray, and I'd go so far as to say they won't.

Lastly, no set of predictions is complete without offering a portent as to what I foresee of the release schedule in 2011!

15 Predictions on what catalog films are hitting Blu-ray in 2011
'Touch of Evil'
'Vertigo' (the only Hitchcock release for the year!)
'Any Which Way You Can'
'Night of the Living Dead'
'Blood Simple'
'Jersey Girl'
'Ghostbusters 2'
'Tristan & Isolde'
'Superman III' and 'IV'
'The Exorcist' sequels/prequels
'3 Extremes'
'Garfield' and 'Garfield: A Tale of Two Kitties'

15 Predictions on what catalog films are not hitting Blu-ray in 2011
'The Weather Man'
'Matchstick Men'
'Leaving Las Vegas'
'Raising Arizona' (I'm a Nic Cage fan, can you tell? I just don't see these coming any time soon.)
'Hamlet 2'
'Who Framed Roger Rabbit?'
'Team America: World Police'
'The Ace Ventura films'
'The Wicker Man'
'Chairman of the Board'
'Cool as Ice' (and this is a shame, as I really, really want this on Blu-ray. "Words of wisdom...drop that zero, and get with the hero!

What say you? Is this foreseer of Blu-ray discs and events to come full of wisdom, or full of something else? Visit our forums and contribute your own predictions for Blu-ray and 2011, sane or insane, logical or illogical, we want to hear what you think is going to happen!

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Tags: High-Def Retailing, Industry Trends, Predicting the Future, Nate Boss (all tags)