I’ll Have a BLU Christmas…

… and so, it seems will a whole lot of people, now that sales of the high-definition format have sky-rocketed…

Simon Gallagher

Executive Editor

… and so, it seems will a whole lot of people, now that sales of the high-definition format have sky-rocketed over the past year, including a massive upturn in sales of Blu-ray players on Black Friday.

The numbers don’t lie. Futuresource announced last week that in 2010 worldwide Blu-ray disc production is expected to reach more than 400 million units, representing a 60 percent increase over last year’s production levels. And who can blame buyers?

I have been consistently dazzled by some of this year’s offerings- from the majesty of new releases like Inception, Toy Story 3 and the Extended Special Edition Avatar to some stirling re-release work (in particular on Se7en), there have been some extremely exciting additions to the format in the past twelve months. And away from the movie arena, TV shows like House, The Pacific and Lost announced their studios’ commitment to going Blu with incredible finesse.

This is chiefly why I no longer buy DVDs unless forced by a lack of high-definition alternative: yes, I will still actively seek out older special editions and covet Region 1 and 2 treasures that aren’t likely to appear (or stay) on shelves round my way, but given the choice, it’s now blu-ray ahead of any other way.

For anyone yet to be convinced, beg, steal or borrow the opportunity to watch a high-end blu-ray on a relevant home cinema system, and then watch the same film on DVD – I’d suggest choosing Se7en as a good indicator – the difference, and the enhancement of the experience is just incomparable. There is a whole new level of quality that DVD fans simply won’t be prepared for, which is probably why so many people are still resisting the Blu-ray bandwagon and sticking with what they know.

But does this cloud have a less than shiny lining? Well, yes. The download revolution (something I openly welcomed last year) is already having something of an adverse effect on home video sales, with DVD sales taking a predictable hit, and Blu-ray sales not quite living up to expectations in the wake of the 80% plus market increase lead by Avatar.

The way I see it, we should all make sure that both Blu-ray and the Digital Download platform both flourish in the coming years. Fuck the recession, I say.

So how do the Blu-ray purveyors ensure strength and survival? Well, never cheapen the format, for one. I don’t mean by re-hiking prices above the £20 mark: I mean by steering well clear of the amateurish, corner-cutting techniques that dull the gloss of the medium, and re-appropriating the sense of prestige that should be attached to all high-definition releases. Never knowingly undersell a movie, never knowingly under-develop a special edition, and please, please stop relying on black-hat techniques to add superficial quality to a film in place of real worthwhile treatments.

And maybe, just maybe the Blu-ray boys will be able to convince movie fans like you and me (well, not me as I’ve signed up already) that there is a place for the accessibility of the download format and the higher-prestige of the high-definition take-home disc. Continue to convince us that there is something more to the film experience than just watching; make us need to own that experience and you can count on more years of growth.