Editors note: An earlier version of this story broadly attributed Warner's decision not to support IME on Blu-ray titles to "delayed release of Blu-ray's BD-Java authoring environment." As has since been correctly pointed out to us, primary support of BD-J is in fact present and functional in all Blu-ray Disc players.
Instead, it is secondary audio/video support of BD-J (a hardware feature
especially useful in providing picture-in-picture features) that remains less prevalent, although the BDA recently announced that it will become mandatory in new player models released after Oct 31st, 2007. We regret the error.
Warner Home Entertainment is bringing 'Blood Diamond' to Blu-ray and HD DVD this summer, in two separate-but-unequal versions sure to generate controversy amongst early adopters.
Unlike the studio's usual policy of releasing identical Blu-ray and HD DVD releases of a title on the same date, Warner will instead debut 'Blood Diamond' about a month apart, with the Blu-ray hitting stores first on June 5, followed by the HD DVD on July 3.
What's more, while both versions will share identical tech specs, including matching 1080p transfers, supplemental content will be far from identical. The basic suite of extras are the same, including a filmmaker's commentary, four featurettes and a music video; however, the HD DVD will include a raft of exclusive cutting-edge features not included on the Blu-ray release.
The HD DVD of 'Blood Diamond' is the first announced next-gen title to include web-enabled extras, including allowing viewers to use their players to offer opinions in Warner's online polls, as well as view other special features such as maps of conflict pertaining to war-torn areas in Africa.
Furthermore, the HD DVD boasts an In-Movie Experience (IME) video commentary with additional behind-the-scenes and interview footage. And for the first time on 'Blood Diamond,' Warner will include the new Focus Points feature that takes the viewer to exciting in-depth featurettes and production diaries.
Despite the considerable differences between the Blu-ray and HD DVD, Warner has set an identical list price of $28.99 for each.
Warner's decision to offer such an impressive suite of extras on the HD DVD of 'Blood Diamond,' yet withhold them from the Blu-ray, marks a significant departure from the studio's previously "format agnostic" approach of issuing identical versions on both formats. The impetus for this decision likely stems from the fact that many Blu-ray Disc player models do not currently support secondary audio/video, a hardware feature useful in providing picture-in-picture support. But while historically the studio has simply held off on releasing IME-enhanced titles to Blu-ray altogether (making titles such as 'The Matrix Trilogy' and "Batman Begins' exclusive to the HD DVD format), their decision to downgrade the Blu-ray for 'Blood Diamond' instead is sure to generate controversy.
We've posted full specs for both versions of 'Blood Diamond' to our Blu-ray Release Schedule and HD DVD Release Schedule, under June 5 and July 3, respectively. Stay tuned for final details in the days ahead, including box art. Watch this space!