Blu-ray booster 'Casino Royale' was March's top next-gen title, handedly surpassing HD DVD's biggest seller for the month, 'The Departed.' Meanwhile, HD DVD backers say they're looking to a fourth quarter of more titles and cheaper players to close the sales gap with their rival.
According to Video Business, industry sources peg the month's high-def top title as Sony's 'Casino Royale,' which sold 59,000 copies on Blu-ray. (As reported, the studio shipped a record 100,000 units of 'Royale' to stores last month.)
HD DVD's leader was again Warner's 'The Departed,' which saw 16,000 copies move over retail counters. Though clearly trailing 'Royale,' it was still higher than the 13,000 HD DVD units of 'Departed' that sold in February.
But while HD DVD backers have pointed to the "PS3 factor" and a smaller number of HD DVD titles on the market as reasons for their less-than-stellar sales performance vs Blu-ray since the start of the year, according to Video Business, they are now counting on a fourth quarter of new titles and cheaper players to close the gap. Exclusive to HD DVD, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is planning its most aggressive line-up of titles yet for the upcoming holiday season, while a wave of low-cost, import HD DVD players are expected to fill store shelves and combat the onslaught of the PS3.
"[The] fourth quarter is really going to be a telling time," said Ken Graffeo, Universal executive VP of marketing and head of high-definition, of the format's planned marketing assault of more titles and cheaper players. "It comes down to bringing it to the general audience at a price that they're willing to pay,"
Opponents say that the window of opportunity may be fast closing for HD DVD, however, with the Blu-ray camp citing lessening retailer support and limited fourth quarter shelf space likely to squeeze HD DVD out of storefronts.
"We think retailers will start to dedicate more space to Blu-ray, rather than split it half and half," Sony worldwide president David Bishop said. "That will further send a signal to consumers that it is the dominant format."