~I was given the opportunity to have a Q&A with Stephanie Prange (Home Media Magazine) & Andy Parsons (Blu-ray Disc Association). I received Blu-ray movies for giveaways as a Thank You!~
Last month I had gotten the chance to attend a virtual discussion on this season’s best holiday Blu-ray’s as well as information on Blu-ray technology. Having been old enough to remember when DVDs were first only a strange rumor on the wind, it was interesting to listen to Andy Parsons talk about Blu-ray discs and why he feels that they’re here to stay for the long run. I suppose I wasn’t the only person there with questions on their longevity, especially when considering purchasing movies for the holidays. You can listen in to the discussion with Stephanie Prange & Andy Parsons by visiting the Blu-ray Disc Associations Virtual Roundtable! You can also see part of the Q&A below, but first let’s talk about the hottest Blu-ray movies you can get for the Holidays!
Some of the titles we’ve gotten to share over the past few months and other’s we’ll have a chance to giveaway in up and coming giveaways. When thinking of gifts or stocking stuffers, you can’t go wrong with a Blu-ray. There is honestly something for everyone out there, from remastered classics to released summer hits, everyone loves movies!
You could also consider pairing a lot of these Blu-rays with hot items, such as Monsters University with Imaginex Monsters Scare Factory, Man of Steel 3D with Jakks Pacific’s new 31″ Tall Man of Steel Figure or even some crystal tumblers with Mad Men Season 6!
You may be wondering who determines the Holiday Gift Lists for Blu-ray’s or what the benefits of purchasing Blu-ray movies are, check out some of the answers to the Q&A Session with Stephanie Prange & Andy Parsons.
How is it determined which films will make it on holiday gift lists? Is it more so new releases, or are there other factors that are taken into consideration?
Stephanie Prange: The studios usually release their big summer movies for the holidays, which often make great gifts. However, classic re-releases are also targeted for the holiday season. This year, we have Wizard of Oz and a James Dean Collection among the classics slated for the holidays. They also release box set collections, such as the Twilight series.
I notice that the Blu-ray Combos (generally Ultimate collections) are coming out with 3D Blu-ray as well. Will this become the norm as things move forward? Or will there always be a combo that doesn’t include it?
Andy Parsons: This is really a packaging decision that each studio makes. Some include a 3D version in the “ultimate” combo packs as you say, although I’ve noticed some are now also offering combo packs that include the regular 2D Blu-ray, DVD and digital versions in addition to those that include 3D. There is no rule about this — I think studios are always looking for ways to find the options that work best for each title.
What genre of film tends to sell the most during the holiday season (children’s, drama, comedy…)?
Stephanie Prange: There is no particular genre that sells well, though big hits from the summer are also among the top sellers. Classics are great gifts for film fans. There are also several TV sets that make great gifts, like the latest season of “Mad Men.” Children’s releases also do well. They are obvious stocking stuffers.
I was wondering why each disc has different bonus material and if that is because of the format, or due to trying to push more towards Blu-ray?
Andy Parsons: The inclusion of bonus materials depends a lot on the title, because there may not be a lot of supplementary material available on older ones vs. newer titles that have lots of material to use. Also, bonus materials can take a lot of time and effort to assemble, so this has to be factored into the business decisions relating to a given title. Super high volume titles can help justify lots of additional features that can be costly to make.
What website do you recommend to keep up to date on new Blu-ray releases?
Stephanie Prange: Homemediamagazine.com is a good site to check. [Pardon the plug.] We have reviews and lists of upcoming titles. Also, we have lots of information about extras on the titles and comments from directors and stars. Hometheaterforum.com is also a great place to look for new releases and reviews.
VHS tapes and players are obsolete for the most part. DVD players were quickly replaces by Blu-ray. Do you forsee Blu-ray being around for a very long time, or do you think there are new technologies on the horizon that will eventually replace Blu-ray?
Andy Parsons: All technologies are eventually replaced, so it would be foolish for me to suggest that Blu-ray will last forever. But the great thing about optical discs (i.e. CDs, DVDs, Blu-ray Discs) is that they last such a long time, both physically and as publishing formats. I mentioned on camera that I have 30-year-old CDs that still play perfectly, and DVDs and Blu-ray discs use very similar technologies. This is one reason that optical publishing formats tend to stick around for so long — they are extremely durable, and they also represent a sort of standard format that everyone can depend on being around, literally for decades in some cases. We built Blu-ray to carry on this same tradition of lasting for many, many years, so I think you can depend on it being around for a very long time.
Do most Blu-Ray’s now include a regular DVD as well? I seem to be seeing less of just the regular single Blu-rays and more of the combos. Are the combos bigger sellers?
Stephanie Prange: I know it can be confusing, but I always look carefully at the disc cover. That will tell you what is included. Yes, combos tend to do well because, as I said, families — and indeed most fans — like the versatility. Most folks like to get every version they need when they buy a title.
Tips on the best way to clean a dirty Blu Ray disc?We have lots of little hands around here 🙂
Andy Parsons: I find that using a very soft, slightly moistened cloth works well to remove fingerprints and other contamination. It’s always best to wipe gently from the inside area (by the center hole) towards the outer edge, in the same direction as spokes on a wheel. This helps to prevent scratches from being unintentionally put onto the disc in the same direction as the tracks on the disc, which are much harder for a player to deal with.
How do you manage and track where your different movie titles are stored online with all the separate platforms?
Andy Parsons: I use an app on my iPhone that helps me keep track of what I have in my library. It uses the phone’s camera to scan the UPC code on the package, and automatically brings up all the information about the title for you to accept. It’s called “My Movies for iPhone Pro”, and it works great.
I love that we have Ultra Violet on most of our blu-rays we receive. Will they end up being on all blu-rays making the digital copies not necessary?
Stephanie Prange: Studios are looking to the “cloud” to help consumers build a virtual library, so that consumers do not have to store digital copies on a hard drive. Hard drives crash, and then you lose all of your movies. I’m sure you’ve either experienced, or have known someone who has experienced, the horror of losing digital family photos. UltraViolet is the way some studios are achieving this cloud concept. It may have another name at other studios but the concept is the same. Digital formats change a lot more than physical ones which is why having the hard copy (Blu-ray Disc), in addition to the digital copy is so great.
I have early Blu-ray players which no longer work with today’s Blu-ray discs. I know the players need to be updated frequently (which is the one annoyance it has vs DVD players) but I digress… Is this going to be an ongoing problem with Blu-rays though?The constant updates?
Andy Parsons: When formats are new, features and capabilities of titles can rapidly expand as studios become more familiar with and more creative with the format’s full capabilities. This also happened with DVD, which required consumers to take their players into a service company for updates, so we wanted to make it easier for consumers to do updates at home with Blu-ray. Blu-ray is also a much more powerful format than DVD, so player manufacturers try to anticipate the types of features that will catch on with title manufacturers in their early player models. As we learn which features are most commonly used, the need for player updates should diminish. You should not be having to update your players very often now that the format has been in the market for so long.
Are there any Blu-ray movies out now that you think will be the future ‘classics’ of the Holiday’s?
Stephanie Prange: I haven’t yet seen this film, but ‘Angels Sing‘ starring Harry Connick Jr., who I love, is slated for Blu-ray release Dec. 10. It’s about reviving the holiday spirit in a family after facing tragedy. That may be a contender.
I was wondering which Blu-Ray release do you anticipate being the biggest hit this holiday season?
Stephanie Prange: Usually, the big summer hits do well during the holiday season. Star Trek Into Darkness has done well already and should continue its success through the holiday season. Despicable Me 2 (yea Minions) should also do well, as should Monster’s University. Of course, superhero tales,The Wolverine, Iron Man 3 and Man of Steel this year, usually are top sellers.
Any final thoughts as we wrap up this holiday gift guide virtual roundtable?
Stephanie Prange: Blu-ray Discs make great gifts because they are compact (for stockings, packages in the mail) and the titles span numerous genres that can satisfy any taste. Look for holiday pricing from the big retailers this season. Big box and other retailers often reserve disc deals for Black Friday (or Thanksgiving).
Andy Parsons:I think Blu-ray Disc represents the very best value you can get in home entertainment today. In addition to high definition Blu-ray titles, a typical Blu-ray player can also play legacy formats like CDs and DVDs, as well as providing access to online streaming services, all in a single box that sells for a very reasonable price. At the same time, Blu-ray titles often include multiple ways to enjoy the content, such as Blu-ray for the home theater, DVD for in-car use (or to let the kids have for use on a laptop computer or in a bedroom) and what we call digital extensions that allow viewing on portable devices like tablets and smartphones. It’s hard to find a more flexible way to own content that you know will be there when you want it, no matter where you go.
Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for reviews and giveaways of some of these titles being released within the next few weeks! Until then, let us know what movies you’ll be purchasing for holiday gifts!