With a week to go before its dual-format high-def release, pre-orders for 'Planet Earth: The Complete BBC Series' have broken new ground on Amazon's top sellers list. Meanwhile, recent Amazon rankings appear to indicate a turnaround in HD DVD sales.
'Planet Earth' has been Amazon's most ordered high-def release on both formats for a while now, but this past weekend saw it hit new heights on Amazon's overall list of top selling DVDs, with the HD DVD edition topping out at #4, while the Blu-ray edition hit a high of #17 in the same timeframe.
The unusually strong Amazon sales for 'Planet Earth' exceed even the famously high levels set by the 'Casino Royale' Blu-ray, which ultimately hit a high of #7 on the Amazon chart shortly after its release last month.
But while it should be emphasized that the Amazon chart represents Amazon sales only and isn't necessarily indicative of the market as a whole, these strong numbers for 'Planet Earth' (and for the HD DVD edition in particular) are noteworthy none the less.
First off, while some pointed to 'Royale' on Blu-ray as an anomaly, arguing that the disc's high sales numbers were more a function of the film's appeal and accessibility to the PlayStation 3 audience, 'Planet Earth's strong sales on both formats would appear to indicate otherwise. Not only isn't the disc a gamer-friendly action spectacular like 'Royale' (although it's sure to boast some stunning visuals), but the multi-disc set carries a relatively steep Amazon price of $69.95, compared to more accessibly-priced single disc Blu-ray edition of 'Royale' at $26.95.
Secondly (and perhaps of most interest to industry-watchers and early adopters alike) the strong sales for 'Planet Earth' on HD DVD coincide with what would appear to be an impressive sales recovery for HD DVD -- at least as measured by Amazon. While the format has taken a drubbing compared to its high-def rival since the start of 2007, its Amazon rankings over the past three weeks seem to suggest a comeback:
Note that while the most recent spike in the chart above (from this past weekend) is likely attributible to a coordinated "buy-a-thon" on the part of some online HD DVD supporters in honor of the format's first anniversary this past Sunday, setting that aside, the format's overall Amazon trending would appear to indicate that its poor performance vs Blu-ray over the first few months of the year may in fact have been (as its backers have long argued) more attributable to a dearth of new releases than anything else.
Of course, without anything backing up this assertion besides Amazon ranks, all of this remains idle speculation. But after months of bad news, it's speculation that's likely to be music to the ears of HD DVD format backers and their supporters. Stay tuned...