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HD Rising

Earlier this week High-Def Digest reported that the Blu-ray release of the newest James Bond flick, Casino Royale, cracked the top ten DVD sales list at Amazon in its first day of release on Tuesday. Cracking the Amazon Top Ten is a first for either HD format, and surely a good sign of growing consumer acceptance of the next-gen formats.

As of Friday March 16th Casino Royale is holding strong at the #8 position, just behind the DVD version of The Departed. To give you an idea of what this means some of the other DVD titles ahead of the Royale BD are hits like Borat, pre-release orders for the DVD of Happy Feet, the limited re-release of the restored Peter Pan and the widescreen DVD version of Casino Royale.

While actual unit sale totals aren't released, last month's BD release of The Departed was reported to have had a record opening week selling 20,000 titles in that span. Undoubtedly Casino Royale will eclipse this total if it hasn't already.

Being a Sony release Casino Royale is exclusive to Blu-ray and its sales performance is surely to be touted as a major victory by BD's supporters. And they've got a point. Whatever the spin by either camp, Blu-ray has been making very positive milestones lately having outsold HD DVD 2:1 in January and February, a trend that can't help but continue this month with the Blu-ray exclusive release of Casino Royale. While the HD DVD camp maintains that the January and February sales stats are a reflection of the release calendar, head to head sales of The Departed on both formats also show a comfortable lead for the Blu-ray release.

It was recently reported in Video Business that standalone player sales between Blu-ray and HD DVD were essentially a stalemate in February. This and the Casino Royale performance point to the growing impact of the PlayStation3, a chief part of Sony's plans for establishing Blu-ray. With a $600 standalone player coming from Sony this summer around the time that both Pirates of the Caribbean movies and Pixar's Cars will hit BD exclusively, Blu-ray's position in the market looks to be solidfying.

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