Universal Embraces Blu-ray + DVD Combo Packs

When the HD DVD format was enjoying its short-lived existence, Universal Studios Home Entertainment took a lot of flak for coupling a standard DVD version of the film with the high definition version in the same package. Early adopters were appalled by the tactic and the general public was by and large unaware about the product to form an opinion.

In hindsight, Universal was way ahead of the curve.

Over the past year, studios spearheaded by Disney and Buena Vista have begun packaging a DVD version of films into family friendly Blu-ray Disc releases. According to Disney, this move has bolstered sales as general consumers previously oblivious to more expensive high definition media see more value in having access to multiple versions and are crossing the line into high definition.

The practice of packaging a DVD disc into a Blu-ray package is still relatively young and, with only a handful of exceptions, has yet to take hold across more adult genre lines. Now one studio is making plans to take that leap.

In a fitting move that comes full circle, Universal Studios Home Entertainment is one again flexing their pioneer muscles by re-releasing several Blu-ray films in new combo packages with DVD on January 5. Not just any films, either. Genre films including 8 Mile, Dawn of the Dead, Doom, End of Days, Jarhead, Street Fighter: Extreme Edition, The Last Starfighter and The Rundown.

Each title will be shrinkwrapped with a “belly band” that houses separate previously available cases for the Blu-ray and DVD versions within. Once these are released, it is our understanding that retailers will no longer be able to order these titles individually on DVD again.

The best part about this move is the $22.98 SRP Universal has put on these combo packs that should equate to about $15 at large retailers like Amazon.com and Walmart.

By appealing to the mass consumer, Universal could be setting themselves up for another round of backlash from the high-def purists similar to the HD DVD days. The bigger picture is the more shelf space that Blu-ray earns, and these types of catalog packs will encourage it, the better chance Blu-ray has of securing a larger market share which in turn should lead to permanently lower prices.

– Dan Bradley

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