Paramount Pictures has announced it will release Dance Flick on Sept. 8 in a barebones DVD rental version and an extras-laden Blu-ray. You won't be able to buy a standard DVD version until four to eight weeks later.
This follows a similar move by the Walt Disney Co. to release its upcoming special edition of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs exclusively on Blu-ray on Oct. 6. A standard DVD of Snow White won't be available until Nov. 24, although Disney's family-oriented Blu-rays all include a DVD copy of the film.
While sales and rentals of DVDs are dropping, Blu-ray sales continue to increase, and studios see the new format as an opportunity to revitalize the stagnant home video market.
I don't think a movie as inconsequential as Dance Flick will have any noticeable impact on Blu-ray sales figures. It will be interesting to see what happens when Paramount tries pulling the exclusivity deal on a major catalog title like The Godfather or a hot new release like Star Trek, or if Disney makes Pixar's Up a Blu-ray exclusive for the holiday season.
Although Blu-ray initially sounded like just another gimmick for studios to wring more cash out of their tired catalog titles, the format has proven to be a gift to cinephiles. Once you get used to watching films on Blu-ray, it's hard to go back to DVD. The Criterion Collection's Blu-ray release of The Seventh Seal, for example, is so sharp and vivid, it makes you feel like you're seeing the movie for the first time.
If you want to see what the format is capable of, ask a store salesman to throw on the Blu-ray of The Searchers and get ready for your eyes to pop out of your head.
I've just started the first season of Mad Men on Blu-ray, and the clarity of the image is startling - leagues beyond the quality of high-def cable and satellite TV. The better the image looks, the more captivated you are by what you're watching and the more enjoyment you derive out of it.