The Blu-Con 2.0 Presidents Panel included (L-R) moderator Jessica Reif Cohen, Mike Dunn of Fox, Ron Sanders of Warner, Craig Kornblau of Universal and David Bishop of Sony Pictures. Photo: Home Media Magazine
(NOTE: This article was written yesterday, Nov. 4th, 2009. The Blu-ray Blog suffered some downtime offsetting its publishing by one day.)
I really wish I could have attended Blu-Con 2.0 yesterday but I’m playing in a new band and we’ve got a big show tonight. Rushing back to Montreal from Los Angeles this morning would have left me a bit exhausted for our performance tonight so I decided to skip out on Blu-Con this year in the hope that the conference would receive ample coverage from other outlets (I’m really looking forward to Bill Hunt‘s update on the Con on his site The Digitial Bits. He should have it posted later today!) So far, I’ve read a bunch of reports from Home Media Mag, Video Business and The Hollywood Reporter. Nothing too exciting or informative but I’ve got a few comments and suggestions to add to what’s been written, so let’s just dive into my round-up of articles that are out there so far:
Home Media Mag: Best Buy Exec: Portability Blu-ray’s Biggest Obstacle
“Mike Vitelli, EVP of Best Buy’s customer operating groups, compared consumers’ choice between DVD and Blu-ray Disc to buying a cup of coffee, but being charged a different price if you take it to go. … Calling portability the No. 1 obstacle for mass Blu-ray adoption, Vitelli said consumers today may be aware of Blu-ray and its benefits, but they’re still not familiar with it.”
I’ve got a beef with Mike, (His company, Best Buy owns Future Shop here in Canada. They are liars.) so I’m going to hold my tongue here. But lack of portability is an issue. It impacts me directly. I think it stinks that I can’t get an Apple laptop/notebook computer with a Blu-ray drive in it. Lame!
Home Media Mag: Studios Say Economy Accounts for Majority of Industry Trouble
“The home entertainment industry’s current malaise is 80% due to the economy, and the business should be back in growth mode by 2012. So say the home entertainment presidents of four of the six majors, speaking Nov. 3 at a Blu-Con 2.0 panel discussion moderated by Merrill Lynch senior analyst Jessica Reif Cohen. … Ron Sanders, president of Warner Home Video, said he expects sellthrough of physical discs, down just less than 14% so far this year, to rebound slightly before 2009 draws to a close, thanks to a powerful pre-holiday release slate. … (Mike Dunn, president of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment) maintains the economy accounts for 80% of the decline in disc purchases, with catalog exhaustion a further factor.”
You know why your industry is in trouble? Because everybody is aware of the price of an optical disc now (I know, Blu-ray discs are more expensive and nobody takes production, marketing and distribution costs into account. But I’ll tell you what – nobody cares. The perceived value is more important to the consumer.) It’s tough for consumers to validate spending the suggested retail price of $44.99 for a rom-com like The Proposal when they can rent it for a couple of bucks or download a rip for free. You guys have got to price media more competitively! And the double-dipping has got to stop! I have so many friends who won’t pick up a title they want because they’re afraid there’s going to be a better, more complete version the following year. Your short-sighted need for cash is killing your consumer’s desire to consume!
In terms of selling Blu-ray, it’s quality that matters. And quality restorations! I can’t tell you how many people I know who have been sold on Blu-ray by experiencing CBS/Paramount‘s dazzling transfers of the old Star Trek series or MGM‘s incredible Dr. No disc. More evidence comes in the new restoration of Wizard of Oz selling out at retail! Warner can’t keep the stores in stock! Don’t just count on the newest, flashiest Transformers film to sell the format. Spend the money on your catalogue films. Restore and remaster for HD. Sheesh. Excuse me while I take a break to watch my North By Northwest Blu-ray disc, newly restored by Warner (Keep up the great work guys!)
Home Media Mag: Scorsese: Blu-ray Is Incredible
“Celebrated filmmaker Martin Scorsese has emerged as one of Blu-ray Disc’s biggest cheerleaders, praising the high-definition format for faithfully recreating the theatrical experience better than any of its predecessors, including DVD. … The director of such films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Goodfellas and The Departed also applauded Blu-ray Disc’s superior audio capabilities, including the option of including the original mono or “crude stereo” soundtracks along with the enhanced sound choices. … Scorsese added that the clarity of Blu-ray allows classic movies to look new and crisp again, making them a lot more palatable to younger audiences.”
I dunno. Scorsese? I mean, his movies are amazing but he wouldn’t have been my first choice to speak about Blu-ray. But I get it. Big name, Hollywood director brings more heat to the Con. The crowd will love it. Press will love it. Me? From the coverage I’ve read so far, I think the keynote was a gimmick. It sounds like Scorsese has a genuine love for the format but, outside of raving about the how great Blu-ray can look and sound, I’m not sure he had a whole lot to add.
The Hollywood Reporter: Martin Scorsese talks up Blu-ray
“Meanwhile, Sony senior vp restoration and mastering Grover Crisp said Scorsese’s infectious enthusiasm for Blu-ray seems has been a boon for Sony and others working on disc remastering and special features.
“It has been great because he has also gotten other directors like Michael Mann and Christopher Nolan involved as well,” Crisp said.”
Okay. I stand corrected. Scorsese did have something to add. I guess he’s roping in other directors to the Blu-ray passion. That’s all right by me! It would’ve been nice if he’d spoken about extending the format beyond the presentation of film on Blu-ray. How about his take on what Blu-ray can do for special features? Or its connectivity – allowing fans direct access to filmmakers/studios? Or where he sees this format existing in a world quickly being overtaken by comparatively poorer quality, streaming or downloadable options? Or how about this…
High Def Disc News: Ultra-High Definition Television Coming as Early as 2017
“Featuring a resolution of up to sixteen times that of current high def standards, and twenty two channel audio, (Ultra-High Definition) is the next step forward for television. UHD, like HD, will come in two different resolutions. The lower resolution of 4K – 3840 x 2160 – is four times that of 1080p, while 8K – 7680 x 4320 – offers sixteen times the resolution.”
Uhhh…okay. So, we’re already on to the next format. Guess nobody was really talking about this at Blu-Con, huh?
Further coverage of Blu-con:
Variety: Bullish on Blu-Ray: Confab predicts format’s bright future
Video Business: Scorsese a fan of Blu-ray
Video Business: Streaming content popular Blu-ray player feature