Before enticing HD DVD fans with the promise of titles by Hollywood's biggest director, perhaps someone at the HD DVD Promotions Group should have given Steven Spielberg a call first?
The possibility of some of Spielberg's biggest hits coming to HD DVD [post 454]first lit up the web following a January 29 update of the HD DVD Promotions Group official "Coming Soon" HD DVD release list. The web site added three of the director's biggest Universal blockbusters ('Jaws,' 'Jurassic Park' and 'E.T.') to its release schedule, causing a fast and widespread wave of excitement among early adopters. Fans not only continue to highly anticipate the first Spielberg blockbusters in high-def, but consider the combo of the director's top titles and Universal's HD DVD-exclusive support to be one of the format's biggest weapons against rival Blu-ray.
The Promotions Group, which is the official umbrella PR organization for the HD DVD Forum (which includes primary format backers Universal and Toshiba), updates its schedule routinely, and its "Coming Soon" list is considered one of the key indicators of new titles expected on the format.
Unfortunately, it seems the Spielberg trio was a bit premature. Today, the HD DVD Promotional Group has removed the offending titles from its list, and issued a full apology via its website:
The inclusion in the January 29 update of our 'Coming Soon List' of three Steven Spielberg classics was an error on our part. The HD DVD Promotion Group expresses sincere apologies to Steven Spielberg, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and HD DVD fans for this mistake. We will endeavor to prevent any similar mistake and to provide accurate information.
As for Universal's response to the news, they continue to express the same sentiments as always regarding any big A-list titles from top directors. A request for comment from the studio brought this now-canned response, first made by Ken Graffeo, EVP of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, regarding the studio's 2007 HD DVD plans:
Universal feels the key to getting a great HD DVD disc is filmmaker participation. They have been educating filmmakers about the possibilities for interactivity, picture and sound available with HD DVD. There are other challenges like scheduling that come into play when working on DVD/HD DVD releases with filmmakers. Universal is committed to working with filmmakers whenever possible to put out the best quality presentation they can.
At the risk of sounding cynical, we can't say we're particularly surprised by this news. As battle-scarred survivors of the early DVD days -- when Spielberg notoriously held off the release of any of his major titles from the format for years -- this is par for the course. Spielberg and fellow behemoth George Lucas have never been known to quickly embrace new home video formats, and we expect that won't change anytime soon -- especially with a next-gen battle raging, and no clear winner yet in sight.
Of course, we all want the biggest and the best movies on high-def as soon as possible, including those by Spielberg. So as we all continue to dream of next-gen dinosaurs and man-eating sharks, watch this space and we'll keep you posted on any further developments.