Hollywood has a blockbuster lineup of films coming this fall, not just to theaters but department stores and retailers, local merchants and online retailers.
A stream of box-office hits and classics, including the Indiana Jones films and Titanic, are queued up for release on Blu-ray Disc as part of a concerted campaign to cement the high-definition format's place in your living room.
The 6-year-old Blu-ray Disc is reaching a critical juncture in its growth process. Despite its video and sound superiority to DVD, the format is growing at a slower pace than expected. Meanwhile, the momentum of streaming video — the fastest-growing segment of the home video market — threatens to snuff out some consumers' love of movies on physical discs. Studios see streaming video's advance "and with every step it takes" it lessens the likelihood that "somebody goes and buys a Blu-ray movie or rents it," says Phil Swann, president of TVPredictions.com.
Studios "see their window closing — not real quick, but closing slowly," Swann says. … They want to "get these classic movies out there and sell them now, because we aren't exactly sure what the environment is going to look like a year from now."
About 42 million U.S. households have one or more Blu-ray Disc players, including a Sony PlayStation 3 game system, which plays Blu-ray games and movies. That means more than one-third of U.S. homes can watch Blu-ray movies. But at this point in DVD's lifespan, about half of U.S. households had a DVD player, including DVD-playing PlayStation 2 systems, according to market research firm IHS Screen Digest.
A look at some of the landmark films hitting Blu-ray for the first time in this fall's campaign to entice new Blu-ray adoptees and drive sales of discs to current Blu-ray consumers:
•September. Box-office leviathan Titanic — written, directed and co-produced by James Cameron— makes its maiden Blu-ray voyage Sept. 10. In addition to a standard Blu-ray edition, the No. 2 all-time box office film comes in a 3-D release, too ($54.99 for Blu-ray 3D; $44.99 for standard Blu-ray; prices are suggested and can usually be found discounted by 40% or more). The documentary Ghosts of the Abyss 3D, which chronicles Cameron's real-life return visit to the shipwreck, hits Blu-ray ($44.99) on Sept. 11.
Hollywood is also leaning heavily on the legacy of another filmmaker during the upcoming Blu-ray blitz: Steven Spielberg. Raiders of the Lost Ark and the other Indiana Jones films arrive Sept. 18 in Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures ($99.98). Released earlier this month: Jaws ($29.98), which Universal restored for the Blu-ray release. It looks better — and scarier — than when it set box-office records in 1975. "It's the movie that people remember. It's just really crystal clear and vivid," Spielberg says in a video segment on the new disc, about the restoration of the film. "The sight and sound is something I didn't even get when I made the movie."
•Sept. 25. a 15-film Alfred Hitchcock: The Masterpiece Collection from Universal ($299.98) that includes 13 new-to-Blu-ray films including Rear Window and The Birds.
And Bond 50, a $299.99 box set honoring the super-spy franchise's 50th anniversary collects all 22 films including nine new-to-Blu-ray.