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Can Avatar Save Blu Ray?

Avatar is already the fastest selling Blu Ray of all time, knocking The Dark Knight from its perch. But what really struck me is how close the Blu Ray sales figures – estimated at 2.7m – are closing in on the DVD numbers – 4m. Could Avatar not only save the planet, but also the home media format?

Blue Ray?

There’s something oddly approproate about little blue people saving a little blue multimedia format, but we’ve heard murmurings for a while that home media in its convential format is in trouble. Whether it’s the piracy that distributors seem to irrationally fear, or the growth of television-on-demand or digital downloads, it seems that the home media library may become thing of the past, a fossil.

Sales haven’t really taken off. And it seems unfair for us to expect Blu Ray to take flight in the same way that DVD back in the day. The change from DVD to Blu Ray is tiny compared to the step up from VHS to DVD. It isn’t even a revolution in format, as disc-to-disc isn’t as big a leap from cassette-to-disc. Plus the fact we were all loaded ten years ago. At least compared to what we are now.

There’s also the simple fact that the difference isn’t as big as nerds like us seem to make it out to be. Don’t get me wrong – I wear glasses and I can still spot the difference in quality. But my better half and my mother are both oblivious to any difference in image or sound quality. And i think it’s fair to say they are more in tune with the everyman than geeks like myself or my father.

The solutions seem simple – at least from a marketing standpoint. Gimmicks, and lots of them! Now! More! Cinemas have pulled themselves out of a slump with 3D, and there’s speculation that home media may do the same. Of course, the word isn’t exactly good when we talk about home media centre 3D and I’m not sure everyone wants to wear those goggles in their home (particularly not when we stop and start movies as most families seem to do).

I don’t know if Blu Ray can be saved, but I think Avatar will be a shot in the arm. Even detractors such as myself have been screaming from the rooftops about the need to see it in 3D, as opposed to in 2D and I imagine there’s a hard sell on high definition as well. If there’s a movie that deserves Blu Ray (as much as that clause deserves to be a cliché), that film is Avatar. I imagine that, like the movie box office, we’ll see a slow extended burn on HD media for this particular film. It’s been so talked about and discussed there’s no need to rush out and see it – but there is a desire to see it.

14 Responses

  1. I for one am not buying this on DVD or Blu-ray, at least not as a vanilla disc. Chalk me down for one in November when the Special Edition comes out.

    Still I did catch a glimpse of this yesterday on a 55in LED and it looks fabulous.

    • Yep – the release schedule (like with Watchmen or Lord of the Rings) is so bloody cynical I can’t help but shake my fist. I’m fairly sure there’ll be a proper 3D super-dooper one out next year as well.

  2. According to Sony, In Q1 of this year only 9% of UK residents had the ability to watch a blu ray (PS3/Stand Alone player). Which is quite a small part of the market given how much advertising it’s had over the past few years.

    Although I love the format I do have a few gripes…

    i) Price – I am not going to pay ~£22 for a chart Blu Ray. Absolutely no way. Nu-huh. Never.
    ii) Quality – Because it’s ‘the next big thing’ everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon and churning them out, some of the transfers are absolutely terrible. There should be some form of quality control.
    iii) Compatability – some of the newer discs don’t play in the older players.
    iv) Extras – a lot of the Blu Ray Live features need to be downloaded, which hammers your broadband limit if you have one, and takes a while.

    In saying all that when you get a great disc like Inglorious Basterds, 2001, Watchmen, Dark Knight, The Fall it’s 100% noticeable and worth the upgrade. The picture quality needs to be good to notice a major difference between BD and a good upscaled DVD but you almost always notice the sound difference between the uncompressed BD and compressed DVD audio tracks, no matter how good they are.

    Here’s the list of the Blu Rays I’ve reviewed: http://paragraphfilmreviews.com/tag/bd/

    • Yep. I remember dad spending AGES looking for a Blu Ray that would “show off” or push the system to its limits. Actually the first one we found was the sound on The Strangers, a perfectly average film made borderline great by an amazingly deep soundscape (the picture wasn’t amazing, but the sound…). And then we bought Planet Earth, which is amazing. There have been cases where I’ve picked up the Blu Ray and wondered if they gave me a DVD by mistake.

      • This link’s been indispensable for me and my Blu Ray purchases: http://bluray.highdefdigest.com/reviews.html

        I usually try to check the site before I buy because I’ve had my fingers (and wallet) burnt too many times already. Not always 100% on the money but pretty damn close.

        Our work currently does a Blu Ray swap shop, a great way of seeing more films without paying up. Need to be people you trust lending discs to though.

        What’s your best discs been? I’m YEARNING to catch the Gamer BD, apparently the sound is AMAZING!

  3. If Avatar is the disc that’s gonna get the masses to investigate bluray, I don’t think it’s gonna get people too excited about the format. High Def, shmigh def – if it still does the same old stuff (in fact, all it really does is what VHS used to do) then why the heck do people need to jump on board?

    • Yep, I simply don’t think that it’s a big enough leap from DVD to Blu Ray to get people on board (in my opinion). But, then again, I was also skeptical about 3D in cinemas and look where that got me…

  4. The price for BLu-Ray is an obstacle. Secondly, to enjoy blu-ray, you need a sizeable High-definition TV else there is basically no difference with DVD. The investment is quite considerable and let’s face it, most people either don’t care or don’t have the means!

    • I agree with you on that, but I also think that the difference in quality (even on a big screen, if you can afford it) isn’t enough to get the regular joe on board even if prices were seriously dropped – you need buy-in and enthusiasm as well as a low price base.

      It’s great for people like you and me who know and love this stuff (and live by it), but Paddy the Plasterer or Joe the Plumber is more than likely just going to shrug his shoulders at those beautiful HD vistas.

  5. I think Avatar is just what Blu Ray needs, but I’m still not gonna buy in Blu Ray, DVD, VHS or whatever. Actually just bought my first Blu Ray last week – John Carpenter’s “The Thing”. Eager to watch that bad boy again.

  6. Dumb question from a dinosaur (only 28 years old, mind you): If Blu Ray’s out, then what’s next?

    • I have no idea. I’m dreading the fact that the next home media revolution will/is be(ing) driven by 3D. I don’t want to wear those funky headsets in my own home.

      • Here’s a 3D inspired rant I stuck up on another blog the other week:

        I’m totally sick of hearing about 3D TV (and films) already. For the past two years every magazine, tech show and major manufacturer has been progressively ramming it down our throats. It will never be a financial success because even a simpleton like me can see so many hurdles that no amount of hype could overcome: no official standard yet, compatibility issues with current home equipment, a ridiculous high price tag, stupid glasses (unless you watch it on your own on some TVs), negative effects on people’s eyes/brain, and most importantly – being nothing more than a faddy gimmick.

        It’s failed so often in the past: 1950s, 1970s, it chipped away all through the 1990s to no great effect. This is the fourth coming of 3D and as mentioned earlier everyone’s trying to cash in by doing it on the cheap and botching it – which isn’t doing the effect any favours. (Note: This is in relation to poor ’3D’ movies filmed normally then altered in post-production – Clash of the Titans!!)

        I simply can’t fathom why so many companies are ploughing millions into a doomed technology, that’s a niche of a niche. What’s even worse is that in the UK HDTV hasn’t even grown and matured much in the past few years.

        The whole idea is supposed to be a novelty, everyone seems to be forgetting that!

        (Sorry for the lazy copy/paste!!)

      • Ah no worries, it’s good to share. And I can’t really disagree with any of it, to be honest. I am not so sure it will fade this time, if only because cinema really needs it financially, rather than just kinda wanting it before. Once it gets in the home, it’s here to stay, I think.

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