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No HD-DVD Movies Until April 243

Jed from Pan and Scan writes "It's official: when the first HD-DVD players are released on March 28, there will be no movie titles available in the new high-def format for at least another three weeks, and far fewer than initially announced. Warner, the only studio that was planning on having HD-DVD movies to accompany the format's much ballyhooed debut, will now release just three initial HD-DVD titles -- and not until April 18."
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No HD-DVD Movies Until April

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  • Movie Selection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DorkusMasterus ( 931246 ) <> on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:02PM (#14942623) Homepage
    The Last Samurai, Million Dollar Baby and Phantom of the Opera? Did they just have a monkey throw a dart at the board for those picks?

    I can understand Million Dollar Baby and I'm glad The Last Samurai was picked, as that was a very underrated film. I'm still surprised they chose that instead of say, a blockbuster, or a major academy award winner. But Phantom of the Freakin' Opera?! WTF?
  • by spacebird ( 859789 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:03PM (#14942638)
    Hard to do, I know.

    But... no releases for three weeks? That's three weeks of wasted advertising, shelf space, and cost to retailers, and while the first three movies are all great movies, how many people will pay over a hundred bucks for a new player and another thirty to watch a movie they probably own already in marginally better quality?

  • unnecessary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minus_273 ( 174041 ) <aaaaa@SPAM.y[ ] ['aho' in gap]> on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:12PM (#14942721) Journal
    am i the only one who sees the transition to HDDVD as being unnecessary? VHS was a standard for much longer and when the transition to DVD did come, there was a clear difference between the two both in quality and level of technology. HDDVD and BluRay seem to me like things which are being forced on us by cotent and hardware companies. I guess like CDs they will eventually be popular, but i dont see it happening any time soon.
  • by tedgyz ( 515156 ) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:13PM (#14942737) Homepage
    I am sick and tired of these format wars. Consumers suffer the brunt of the cycle of corporate fighting. Beta vs. VHS anyone?

    Like Richard Pryor [], I choose "None of the above!"
  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:15PM (#14942751)
    I did it with DVD and LaserDisc

    Don't buy in to the new standard until it gets as common as the old one. (therefore I bought zero laserdiscs)

    I am not a whore for quality, but I do own like 400 movies in VHS and DVD. Honestly I could care less about HD-DVD (even though my projector is capable of better than DVD quality).

    It suprises me that marketing would have me think that the average consumer cares about practically inperceptable differences in picture and sound quality. I noticed the jump from VHS to DVD, but honestly I cannot even tell the difference between the picture quality (not size) at the movie theater and at my home theater with DVDs on an 8 foot projection, and lets face it, an 8 foot projection is pretty much the limit for a home theater.

    I just don't think there will be much difference to the average consumer besides branding and price.
  • Re:Movie Selection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by flyingsquid ( 813711 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:15PM (#14942752)
    Since the selling point of HD-DVD is the picture quality, you should go with special effects pictures and summer blockbusters where you can really show off the picture quality on a big TV. "The Matrix" is a perfect example- its the kind of movie where even if you'd seen it before, you'd want to watch it again just to soak up the visuals, and it would show off the capability of high definition. Launching your platform with dramas makes little sense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:15PM (#14942754)
    Both HD-DVD and Blu-ray players are backward compatible AFAIK, so whats the problem?
    And a high-def version of a movie isnt covered by the same license as the DVD version either way.
  • by black mariah ( 654971 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:18PM (#14942799)
    Shut up, shithead. The fee structure is pull your fucking head out of your ass and quit being a pathetic cockbite. Moronic fuck...
  • by Elvis Parsley ( 939954 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:27PM (#14942877)
    ...(a lost battle around here, I suppose), but what about pr0n? That industry always seems to be out on the cutting edge.

    I ask purely for information, of course. No, seriously.
  • Re:Movie Selection (Score:2, Insightful)

    by coffeechica ( 948145 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:32PM (#14942924)
    Actually, including Phantom of the Opera makes sense. I'm more puzzled about Million Dollar Baby.

    They have The Last Samurai for the widescreen epic battle scenes to show off the quality of the format in this kind of movie. Phantom (or any kind of musical, Chicago or Moulin Rouge would have served just as well - Phantom is simply newer) is there to demonstrate the sound qualities. It's as close to opera as you can get while still being accessible for a "normal" audience. Plus, it's geared at the female half of the market. Musical fans can be as obsessed as Star Wars fans, and Phantom is one of the most popular musicals around.

    Million Dollar Baby is unexpected because it doesn't actually do anything for the format. I'd have expected a movie that shows off special effects. Like Matrix or Star Wars, as others have already said. Something with big explosions and preferably space ships.
  • by Mr. Cancelled ( 572486 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:34PM (#14942946)
    Based on how few people I'm aware of who have spent the cash on a new HDTV set, I predict that HD-DVD will be a failure in the USA, at least for the next few years.

    Similarly, when the HDTV broadcast deadline rears its ugly head, I think you'll see the cable companies offering digital to analog converters to allow their subscriberts (those who haven't upgraded their TV's) to continue getting their television, which means that their current DVD players will continue to meet their needs.

    Don't get me wrong... I think HDTV's great, but there hasn't been a compelling reason to upgrade to it, and based on HDTV sales, at least here in Michigan, I think most people are in the same boat.

    The economy's in the tank, jobs are scarce (particularly in my neck of the woods thanks for the ineptitude of GM, and their multiple plant closings), and people are understandably hesitent to spend a grand or more to replace e television that's still serving them well.

    Add in the higher media costs, the lack of uses, the lack of pre-recorded content, and the lack of players for the media, and it all spells doom for the format. If it's still around in a few years when more people have upgraded to HDTV (assuming old TV's continue to die, and the economy begins a turnaround some day), maybe it'll have a chance at becoming a standard then. For now, it's a waste of money for most people.
  • Re:unnecessary (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pixelate ( 916876 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:37PM (#14942966)
    Is it early to expect the market to begin the rollover to a completely new format (like VHS -> DVD)? Yes. But HDTV adoption is increasing steadily, and even non-tech-savvy consumers will start to notice that their DVD's look considerably worse on their new displays than the movies on TNTHD. Is the next-gen (whether its Bluray or HD-DVD) going to fail? No-- every HDTV that gets sold will also come with a natural sales pitch: You're not getting everything out of this purchase unless you're buying the HD-DVD player! Problem is, the sales weasels will be right.
  • Re:unnecessary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ZombieRoboNinja ( 905329 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:44PM (#14943030)
    I tend to agree. 90% of consumers are probably still watching non-hi-def TV's, and won't see any huge improvement in the clarity of next-gen DVD's. All they'll get out of this transition is more frustrating previews and ads they can't fast forward, etc.

    I'm guessing when they get their shit together and decide on a format, the studios will start releasing the "deluxe" DVDs (with special features, commentary, etc.) ONLY on the new hi-def format. After a couple years, they'll start offering some entire movies only on high-def DVD. In other words, they'll force the transition on us.
  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:44PM (#14943031)
    Congratulations! You are the first poster of what will no doubt be many to mention "DRM." You see, in any article about movies, you are required by law to mention DRM. Even though people are just repeating themselves, you will get modded up anyway by fellow pirates who hate DRM and want the freedom to make sure people don't get paid for their work.

    Instead of discussing HD-DVD's compression quality, or the films they chose, or Microsoft's backing, or its smaller size compared to Blu-ray, the discussion will instead become protracted DRM discussions for the ten millionth time.

    In other words, nothing new will be said in this discussion. Just giving you the heads up!
  • I gave... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fatboysmith ( 673609 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:49PM (#14943069) Homepage
    my father-in-law a DVD, the other day, of a George Jones concert to play in the dvd player, I gave him a few Christmas's ago. He called me the next day complaining that the disk would not play in his player. I stopped by his house later to see what was up. He walked me to his pickup truck and began fiddling with the CD player. The reality of this latest technology is that 80% of people don't know or care what HD or BluRay is. The other 20% knows what it is, but most likely won't be able to afford it until the price hits the gutter. The example I saw on /. the other day about a guy who bought a $5000 Plasma TV and a new DVD player, but refused to buy a $50 DVI or Component cable is the reality for the bulk of people. The NEED for the product doesn't exist. Most people are still in shock from the effects of DVD.
  • No Movies? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Braino420 ( 896819 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:51PM (#14943089)
    The studio will now release just three initial HD-DVD titles on April 18: .... and the big-budget screen update of 'The Phantom of the Opera.'

    So, this is equivalent to being stuck with WaveRace when the N64 first came out?
  • by LaughingCoder ( 914424 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @01:58PM (#14943152)
    As the old saying goes, "People tend to overestimate what can be done in one year and to underestimate what can be done in ten years." I think that applies very nicely here. It took much longer for HDTV to take off than was originally believed. When I bought my first rear projection TV back in 1993 the salesman said "you should hold off and buy an HDTV-ready TV - everyone will be replacing their TVs by 1995 when HDTV broadcasting begins". I ignored his advice and, last year as I was replacing that old klunker I bought a 57" HDTV-ready widescreen. Personally, I believe HD-DVD will probably catch on, but it will take some time.
  • by angle_slam ( 623817 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:10PM (#14943278)
    If you can't tell the difference between SDTV and HDTV, you are blind. The difference is far from "practically imperceptible". E.g., a friend of mine was testing his new 62" TV. He was watching the NCAA basketball tourney. The first thing I noticed was that the picture looked like crap. He said that not all the games are in HD and switched to an HD broadcast to show me the difference. The difference is not small. SD looks blurry compared to HD (there is a reason Best Buy and the like always show HD content on the demo TVs--no one would buy a 60" TV if they were showing SDTV.
  • Re:unnecessary (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SteveX ( 5640 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:12PM (#14943306) Homepage
    If you have a good HDTV, it's necessary.. if you don't, it's not.
  • by tkrotchko ( 124118 ) * on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:14PM (#14943328) Homepage
    "Don't count on anything coming out until you get the official press release. And don't be surprised that those movies are not released for a long time if HD-DVD acceptance is lukewarm or colder."

    But if you're a movie studio, why not release on whatever platform anybody wants? It's not like Warner has to buy a pressing plant. What is the economic argument for not having lots of movies available in HDDVD, BlueRay, or whatever format somebody wants to sell?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:55PM (#14943722)
    I purchased an HDTV this year. I did a lot of research and listened to a lot of pitches and the American household rates that had an HD TV set, at the most boastful claim I heard, was about 15%. Most estimates I saw/heard were around 8%.

    Your statement is spot on. When DVD came out *anyone* with a TV would get a big quality/usability boost with DVD. With HiDef DVD there are but a tiny amount of households that would have a TV to even make use of this. I suspect the adoption rates on this are going to be rather meager until there is a "wow" factor people can see at stores.

    I do however, find it nice that the intro price for the player is $500 or less. Means the price should drop down rather fast as the adoption rate does begin to increase.

  • by netsavior ( 627338 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @02:57PM (#14943740)
    I did not say SDTV, I said DVD... DVDs come in 480i or Progressive scan or EDTV or whatever B.S. you want to call it... I watch HD movies on HBO and Progressive Scan DVDs and they are both loads better than standard resolution, but they are not very different from each other to me... and Progressive Scan vs HDTV, has no effect on the quality of my movie watching experience at all.

    I am just saying that to me, there is no value other than "the next cool toy" for increasing quality above DVD, and that is not motivation for me to buy into it.
  • by matt_maggard ( 320567 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @03:34PM (#14944006)
    I have been following the many stories on slashdot regarding HD-DVD/Blu-Ray with great interest. I am a huge film fan and am excited for the formats to shake out. The thing that totally surprises me is the posts from so many people. I'm not sure if you were all around or watching the launch of DVD but this current launch is looking exactly the same. Here are the posts I see repetedly:

    The $500 - $1000 hardware is ridiculously over-priced. When DVD launched, I remember salivating over the $1000 DVD players in the crutchfield catalog. DVD launched in 1997 (as I remember) and the hardware was expensive at first. My first player that I bought in 1998 wa $400. It took a couple years for prices to drop into the mainstream $100 level. This is the same thing that happens with every ne technology.

    The choice of launch titles is stupid. My first DVDs (bought off a little spinning rack which contained the whole store's inventory) were Unforgiven and Ronin. These seem very similar to the launch titles of today - oscar winner (Unforgiven/Million Dollar Baby) and mid-level action (Ronin/Last Samurai). My guess is that these are good 'testing the waters' titles. They aren't so old that the sales volume would be low regardless and they aren't your heavy hitters (the Matrix, LOTR) that you want to promote heavily once player penetration is high enough that the money spent on marketing will help sell a lot of units.

    The discs are way too expensive! This will get lower over time as well. Back in 98 there were no bargin bin $9.99 titles. The movies I bought were all around $25. It looks like the HD titles will be in the same ballpark. If the adoption is slow, expect them to stay there (basicall there will be consumer and videophile price levels) and if adoption is fast, watch them drop (to reach the widest consumer base).

    The quality is not worth the upgrade. I would say seeing is believing on this one. Thats what it took for DVDs nearly 10 years ago. Granted DVD also had the side benefits of not being a tape mechanism and all the problems with that format. This was a real benefit that the new HD formats won't be able to use as a feature.

    My DVDs work just fine! Do they expect me to re-buy my collection? While I'm sure the studios would love it if you did, no one is going to force you to. My interest mainly lies in new movies (why buy Superman Returns when it comes out on DVD instead of HD?) and replacing my absolute favorite films (LOTR will look amazing). I even read somewhere that films made before the 1970's used film stock that does not have enough resolution to make use of HD. I don't know if this is true but it is certainly possible.

    Too much DRM! Thats valid. There is a lot of DRM with this round. But when DVD came out there was no DeCSS yet. Everyone lived with the copy protection. Most people just want to pop the disc into the player and watch anyway. I don't like the direction that all the DRM is going either but to say that this is any different from DVD is not accurate.

    What this all boils down to is the same kind of launch that everything gets. The XBOX 360 is expensive and had somewhat marginal launch titles. I'm sure the PS3 will be the same and whatever the big thing is after that.

    The big question is how successful will the HD format be (once someone wins the format war). I expect it to be something akin to Laser Disc for the next 5 years. It would be imediately popular with film lovers but everyone else will wait until it gets cheaper and they buy HDTVs. This may take 5 or more years. Eventually I think everyone will just buy an HD capable player becaue the prices will be equivalent, and it will play all your old DVDs. It won't be the massive shake-up that DVD was but it will eventually flow into the next generation pretty smoothly. Everyone will gradually switch over when their TVs support it and the player prices come down. Everyone wil start to have a mixed DVD/HD collection and nobody will really care.

    Unless h.264 and massive broadband increases kill physical media first... :)
  • by Fedarkyn ( 892041 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @03:39PM (#14944050)
    Hollywood shows me that their executives are just looking at the wrong direction.

    I'm completely satisfied with my tv resolution. What I want is intelligent movies with a consisten end ingriging plot . The last one that I bought was Fight Club a long time ago.
  • Re:unnecessary (Score:4, Insightful)

    by debest ( 471937 ) on Friday March 17, 2006 @04:52PM (#14944675)
    After a couple years, they'll start offering some entire movies only on high-def DVD. In other words, they'll force the transition on us.

    That'll take a lot more than a couple of years for them to pull off. DVD adoption was extremely fast, because of the clear advantages that DVDs have over tape. And it still took about 8 years before you saw any movies that were not released in VHS as well as DVD.

    Now you're looking at a situation where the market will say "heck, HD-DVD/Blu-ray is expensive, and I have to buy an expensive TV as well? Screw that!" Adoption of these new players will be significantly slower than DVD, simply because the advantages are not nearly as obvious as DVD's were over VHS. To top it off, a common standard hasn't even been created, putting people off even more!

    A studio that tries in the next 10 years to release a movie exclusively to either HD format would be guaranteeing that movie's failure in rental and retail stores alike. There simply won't be enough people who will have the equipment to play it, and no single movie is enough of a "must see" to warrant the purchase of a new TV and disc player. If a distributor tried this before HD players are universal, they'd be sued by the production company for sabotaging post-theatrical sales.
  • Re:Nice selections (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Saturday March 18, 2006 @12:06AM (#14946638) Homepage Journal
    are you kidding? If HD discs have as much storage as they say they have, then it should be no problem to add extra features. However, just like on DVD's they will probably be encoded at a super low quality in and even in MPG4 to fit 2 hours of special features in a fraction of the disc space.

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