Manufacturers and studios backing the HD DVD format have formed the European HD DVD Promotional Group, Ltd. Members Toshiba, Microsoft, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Studio Canal plan to release 100 HD DVD titles into Europe before summer, rising to 600 by the end of the year. The group believes this will give them numbers over Blu-ray.
The Euro-HD DVD catalogue will include Dreamgirls, Babel, and Enemy at the Gates (Paramount); Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Happy Feet and The Matrix trilogy (Warner); and Casino, Ray and The Holiday (Universal).
A large selection of foreign language titles have also been announced, including Les Choristes, La Grande Vadrouille, L’Armee des Ombres, Das Parfum, Graf Montenegro and La Tigre e la Neve; their inclusion is the result of a deliberate strategy to gain the support of local independent studios
Says Ken Graffeo of Universal Studios Home Entertainment: “HD DVD is the most recognized brand name worldwide for high-definition packaged media, and we have a strong group of companies behind it.”
According to Screen Digest, only 3,000 dedicated HD DVD and Blu-ray players have been sold to date across Europe, with the HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 adding another 15,000 units. The European format balance will shift dramatically though when Sony introduces a million Blu-ray enabled PlayStation 3s into the territory.
The first 500,000 PS3 buyers who register their consoles online will be sent the BD of Bonf hit Casino Royale free of charge. Sony says it will sell 6 million consoles this year. The HD DVD group expects to sell around 2.5 million HD DVD players worldwide in 2006.