After being a relative no-show at CES in terms of new title announcements, Universal Studios Home Entertainment today came out swinging, promising 100 titles exclusive to HD DVD this year and reiterating its commitment to remain the sole major studio not to back rival Blu-ray.
In an apparent effort to counteract the studio's slim showing at CES, which had left many passionate early adopters disappointed by the studio's lack of any concrete title announcements, Universal today issued a late-breaking press release promising 100 new titles on HD DVD in the coming year -- at least 40 in the first half of 2007 alone, and all will be exclusive to the format.
Though the press release does not provide the whole list of titles nor any confirmed street dates or disc specs, it is a nice preview of what HD DVD fans can to look forward to in the months ahead. Among the titles confirmed in the release include:
Day-and-date (with standard-def DVD) releases: 'Children of Men,' 'The Good Shepard' and 'Smokin' Aces'
Catalog releases: 'Scarface' (1983), 'The 40 Year-Old Virgin,' 'Bruce Almighty,' 'The Bourne Identity,' 'Meet the Fockers,' 'American Pie,' 'Inside Man,' 'Pride & Prejudice' (2005), 'The Big Lebowski,' 'Liar, Liar,' 'Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels,' 'Brazil,' 'Erin Brockovich,' 'Shaun of the Dead,' 'Dawn of the Dead' (2004), 'Slap Shot' and 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
TV on HD DVD: 'Battlestar Galactica: The Complete First Season'
We here at High-Def Digest contacted Universal to follow-up on the release and inquire about the persistent web rumors that the studio may not remain exclusive to HD DVD. The firm word back from the studio is that they have "no plans" to support Blu-ray, nor Warner's controversial Total Hi-Def hybrid disc format, which also debuted at CES. However, they will continue to aggressively push HD DVD/DVD combo discs; the studio estimated as many as 90 percent of its 2007 HD DVD releases will be combos.
In addition to the titles unveiled in the press release, Universal also informed us that they will release at least some of their classic Alfred Hitchcock catalog to HD DVD this year, with the first title expected to be his 1960 masterpiece 'Psycho.' Noticeably absent from the 2007 release list, however, are any blockbusters by Steven Spielberg, most of whose major hits are Universal titles, including 'E.T.,' 'Jaws' and 'Jurassic Park.'
Regardless, today's announcement is a much-needed, positive boost for the format and its supporters. Will it be enough to counteract Blu-ray, which still enjoys broader software support, including the exclusivity of three major studios (Sony, Fox/MGM and Disney)? Well, that's why they call it a format war. Stay tuned!
All of the above titles have now been added to the "Release Dates Pending" section of our complete HD DVD Release Schedule.