High-def DVD enthusiasts chomping at the bit for next Tuesday's arrival of the first HD-DVD players and discs may have to wait a few days more, with growing indications that initial product shipments may not make it into some stores in time for launch.
After months of delays and false starts, things had been looking promising through much of this past week for next Tuesday's planned launch. Boosting hopes was Universal's last-minute announcement earlier this week of its first HD-DVD disc title, 'Serenity,' which the studio announced it would rush-release to coincide with the arrival of Toshiba's first players on Tuesday.
However, with only four days to go before launch, major online retailers are now reporting that they have yet to receive their initial product shipments, forcing last-minute revisions of availability estimates for customers. As of early today (Friday), online giant Best Buy had extended the estimated arrival time on their product pages for both of Toshiba's HD-DVD players
to a week-long window ranging from April 17 to April 24 -- possibly a week later than expected.
Signs are equally ominous for next week's debut HD-DVD disc shipments. Amazon late today issued a postponement notice on their pre-order page for 'Million Dollar Baby
,' one of Warner's initial three HD-DVD offerings, that reads: "Due to production issues, this title will not be available on April 18." (UPDATE
: Sometime on Saturday, Amazon updated their page to indicate that 'Million Dollar Baby' is now shipping on April 20).
Amazon's listings for Warner's two other initial HD-DVD titles -- 'Last Samurai
' and 'Phantom of the Opera
' -- continue to indicate an availability date of April 18.
Though none of the companies involved have officially announced delays of players or discs, PR reps for both Universal and Warner told us earlier today that they have yet to receive copies of any of the HD-DVD titles for distribution to the media -- this is in marked contrast to standard DVD releases, which are usually made available to the press for review ten days or more in advance of street date.
Certainly, the launch of any major new consumer electronics format is going to frenzied, and there are always speed bumps along the way. Whether or not any of these signs end up actually leading to a delay in shipping those shiny new HD-DVD decks and discs to stores this Tuesday remains to be seen.
Regardless, we'll keep you posted, and will be bringing you comprehensive reviews of the first HD-DVD discs as soon as possible. Stay tuned!