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Fox Strikes Back

On the heels of Paramount's stunning announcement that it will be supporting HD DVD exclusively, Fox and MGM have jumped back into the fray with a massive slate of 29 "new release and must-have" Blu-ray Disc titles that will be in stores by the end of the calendar year. Included will be six Blu-ray titles released day and date with DVD, led by Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Live Free or Die Hard and Fox's hit TV show, Prison Break.

Before covering other aspects of this announcement, it must also be said that there are many impressive titles among the catalog releases announced. For starters, the first three films of the Die Hard franchise are scheduled to hit stores in November, along with Live Free or Die Hard. Other standouts include Independence Day, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands and Robert Zemeckis' Cast Away. Few technical details were given, but reference was made to AVC video compression and "Lossless HD audio" being available on "many of the coming titles."

For background, MGM was bought by Sony a couple of years ago but retained enough autonomy to choose its own video distribution partner. Perhaps surprisingly it did not choose Sony Pictures, but instead chose Fox (don't know exactly where the line was drawn, but I'm guessing that it was suggested to stick with a Blu-ray exclusive studio).

Fox has been a staunch Blu-ray supporter, but allegedly is so because of BD's additional layers of copy restriction. Fox put out some Blu-ray titles for both Fox and MGM early on but hasn't released anything in months. Specs for the additional copy restriction were finalized recently and now here's Fox again. In addition, Fox is touting enhanced interactivity and high-definition bonus content as further incentives.

Rumors of the return of Fox to BD have been percolating for some time before reaching a full boil today following the big announcement of Paramount's defection to the HD DVD camp. It's probably safe to assume that Fox had been planing most if not all of these releases prior to the Paramount announcement.

Nevertheless, look for more "reactions" from both camps in the following days and weeks. No question about it, this is as hot as this war has been since it all started.

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