30th August 2007 16:10:00
IFA 2007: Blu-ray Disc Ass'n Press Conference
DVD Times is present at the Blu-ray Disc Association Press Conference.
Refresh this page for live updates over the next hour.
17:04: David Walstra, Director Sony Home Entertainment Europe, takes the stand. Discusses HDTV uptake in Western Europe. Sales, he says, have gone through the roof, but viewers find that HD content is not readily available. This is a great opportunity to provide consumers with HD content.
Sales figures for HD DVD and BD standalone players (no games consoles) are shown. HD DVD appears to have made something of a comeback lately.
A pie chart is shown comparing BD and HD DVD installed base, this time including games consoles. According to the chart, BD has 94% of the market.
17:08 1.3 million units of the PS3 sold in Europe. David says that this is an essential move.
17:09 David mentions BD's great support from consumer electronics companies. He mentions that these companies provide HDTVs as well as BD players. He specifically mentions HITACHI, who promise a significant Blu-ray announcement that will be unveiled at their press conference tomorrow.
17:10 BD and the IT industry. The top 4, apparently, are HP, Dell, ACER, and Lenovo. ACER is significant, because they've just joined the BDA. These 4 companies have about 50% of the computing/IT market.
17:11 China specifically mentioned. The China Huala Group have joined the BDA. CHLF and China Film Group will team up to offer Blu-ray Disc Authoring for the Chinese market. Export possibilities briefly touched on.
17:12 Japan: BD has a 90%+ share for both hardware and movies.
17:13 USA. The $500 BD player - the BDP-S300 - has helped things.
17:14 Disc sales. BD movie sales in the US market, year to date, has 66.3% of the market.
17:14 And in Europe: software sales have 70% of the High Def Optical Disc market.
17:15 Eagle Rock, Tartan, Entertainment In Video, Momentum, 2Entertain (format neutral), and more, are publishing on Blu-ray Disc.
17:16: Discusses content providers in the rest of Europe.
17:20: Here's Stephen Foulser! He's the VP Marketing & Business Development at Walt Disney Home Entertainment.
Disney has believed in BD from the outset and they are pleased with the progress. Dual layer 50gb offers Disney 'endless' interactive features.
Success already had with the 30 titles launched across Europe.
17:22 Sleeping Beauty is coming out on Blu-ray. Box art of the DVD shown. Disney releases of Platinum titles are only made when Disney feels the format is worthy. Release: next Autumn.
"National Treasure" is coming out on BD. It will be the first BD-Live title.
"Finding Nemo" and "Chronicles of Narnia" will both feature Full PiP bonus features.
17:24 Danny Kaye from Fox/MGM takes the stage.
"Fox continues to be exclusively committed to the number 1 selling HD packaged media format."
Ten day and date BD/DVD new releases, 19 "must have" BD titles from the catalog, and Fox's first-ever TV on BD, Prison Break.
Today some dates are being announced: "Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer" will be a BD50 with AVC/MPEG4 Compression. It's about time!
"Die Hard 4" is BD50, AVC too. Good thing what with all those action scenes...
17:27 A video begins, it's a Fox promo reel. It's really badly standards-converted, ironically enough! "Seamless Interactivity" mentioned as one of the key points, but no surprise titles appear to be being shown.
17:29: Monica Juniel from Warner Home Video Europe.
The best selling WB titles on BD: Blood Diamond, Superman Returns, Flags of our Fathers, The Departed.
WB in Q4 2007: more titles in Q4 than in Q1, Q2, and Q3 combined!
"300" is mentioned. It's already out in America though, and in 3 European territories. This one is expected to rake in the megabucks (megaeuros?)
"Ocean's Thirteen" will be released together with the other "Ocean's" movies in Q4.
The Harry Potter movies are coming to BD in Q4.
Other titles are coming out too. "Blade Runner" and "Eyes Wide Shut" look like two of the best ones. (Here's hoping "Eyes" is region free like the rest of Warners' titles, so that Americans can watch the uncensored version!)
"Polar Express" and "Happy Feet" coming to BD.
17:33 Don Eklund, Executive VP Advanced Technologies within Sony Pictures, takes the stage.
17:33 Film clips. The director of Casino Royale loves how it looks on BD. "It's something I never expected. I'm a huge fan of it".
Eli Roth has popped up on screen. "You get the closest experience to watching the movie in the cinema. The picture is so sharp! ... It looks so beautiful on Blu-ray. It's so satisfying to me as a director that the film is gonna live on in High def and that's how people are gonna see it."
Ray Harryhausen is endorsing the BD release of one of his movies. He's happy that it's being colourised for BD release!
17:36 The director of "RV" (forget his name) is telling us why BD's storage capacity is an amazing experience.
17:36 Eklund apologises for the fact that the clips were played in Standard Def. We forgive you.
17:37 Over half a million BD discs have been sold across Europe. They say it has 70% of the software market. Casino Royale is the best selling title.
Spider-Man box set discussed. They're really excited about the release of it. Coming to Europe in October. Two discs are included, due to the huge number of features.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Three versions on a BD50 thanks to seamless branching. They've worked with Steven Spielberg to make a definitive version.
"The Tudors" Complete Season 1, successful US TV series. Coming to BD.
17:41: Sony working with retailers to promote BD and HD. A Sainsbury's promotion is shown, which tells shoppers, "Your PS3 can play Blu-ray movies!" Tie-in promotions with BRAVIA, VAIO brands planned.
17:42: Thilo Roehrig from Sony Germany comes to talk about the German BD Promotions Group. It's there to serve consumers, retailers, and us, the press. Aw.
17:43: Official kick-off of the Blu-ray Group Deutschland is at IFA, this year.
Sales figures shown. Blu-ray has actually lost ground compared to HD DVD in Germany - this are more evenly split now. (Figures will be added later).
17:46: BD Deutschland plans to target Journalists, Retail, then Consumers. They "want to persuade us that Blu-ray is the better format, the format from the future".
17:49: Launch of www.blu-ray-deutschland.de as a promotional tool.
17:50: The executives line up on stage for Q&A Time. DVD Times goes down. Uh oh.
Question to Warners: which format (HD or BD) is doing better in terms of sales?
Answer: Overall, BD is outselling HD DVD, fairly consistent with the rest of the market.
Question to Fox: how many of the 29 FOX titles will include BD+ copy protection?
Answer: No number. BD+ is an important development for FOX. No further comment.
Question to BDA (overall): what about Paramount? What will win them back?
(They look a bit anxious).
Answer: Paramount had the opportinity to evaluate the same numbers we've seen today. So we should ask them, not the BDA.
Question to Warners: TotalHD concept, can you tell us what's happening with that?
Answer: They still think it's a viable idea in a two-format world. Something they're still looking at and working on. It's still alive.
Question to BDA: HD DVD are going to push the point that HD DVD is more affordable tomorrow at their press conference. Could the BDA address that disadvantage? What about future hardware BD pricing?
Answer: They don't think pricing is the single factor. It's the overall package. Recording is not provided by HD DVD. Prices will fall. It will take care of itself over time.
Question to BDA: piracy implications of opening the BD authoring centre in China?
Answer: (Nobody wants to answer this one - they're passing the mic around). "No comment".
Another exec comes to the rescue and takes the mic: Watermark and BD+ mean that there will be "no impact" on the protection of BD content.
Question to BDA: is the BDA aware that perfect dupes of BD movies are circulating? Do they plan to stop it?
Answer: They're aware. AACS is renewable so the leak can be stopped. BD+ is another powerful tool (although it's not been used yet).
Question to BDA: it's about Paramount/Dreamworks. People speculated that Paramount were given 'sweeteners''. The person asking wants a Yes or No answer from all of the studios - have you been 'sweetened' to stick exclusively with Blu-ray?
Answer: (Nobody wants to answer this).
Update: some execs state "no, no sweeteners" (apologies that this was not clearer in the article before).
The FOX exec is given the mic: "We were given very good content protection" (smiles).
Disney/Buena Vista rep states "no comment".
(They continue passing the mic around).
Question to BDA: The guy who originally asked the question wants a definite confirmation that NO studio has received any sweetener to stay with Blu-ray.
Answer from Buena Vista: "That's not what I said. I said no comment".
Question to BDA: Was Paramount a surprise? Will they hurt HD in general because of going HD DVD exclusive?
Answer: Clear 2-to-1 advantage in the market in favour of BD. Retailers choosing BD - these are very clear statements. Paramount said HD DVD is cheaper - but the entry of 2nd gen BD models makes the gap smaller. Yes, it came as a surprise to them. Fox exec says Paramount doesn't matter too much, because there are still lots of big box office movies on BD.
Question to Fox: When are BD Live players coming out?
Answer: That's one for the manufacturers to answer.
Question to Disney: The BD-Java set top game on Pirates of the Caribbean isn't working on my machine! Are you satisfied?
Answer: there were some early issues, but as far as they're aware, the fixes have been made.
18:09 It's the end. My fingers are killing me. A round of applause for the brave suited men and women on stage.