Two More Major Studios Announce Open-DVD Support

It's been a glorious week for folks who rent or buy open-DVD videos. Paramount Home Video and Twentieth Century Fox have each announced a string of releases that signal their entry into the open-DVD market. Both companies, relative laggards in the rollout of the new format, have said that copyright issues are the delaying factor.

Paramount plans to initially introduce five DVD titles on Oct. 6, at a price of $29.95 in the US and $39.95 in Canada. The titles include Star Trek: First Contact, Face/Off, The Saint, Kiss the Girls, and Twilight. The studio's second group of DVD releases, which will be available Oct. 20, includes Top Gun, Clear and Present Danger, Primal Fear, In & Out, and Neil Simon's The Odd Couple II.

According to Paramount, the new DVD line will feature interactive menus and scene selection on all titles as well as theatrical trailers on most titles. The Saint will have special commentary by the film's director, Phillip Noyce. All DVD releases will be available in the Amaray-style DVD-SAFE casing.

SGHT readers will be happy to know that all titles will be available in widescreen; Top Gun will also be available in a two-version disc featuring both pan&scan and widescreen presentations. Audio tracks will include Dolby Digital 5.1 and Dolby Surround. Fifteen more titles, which are intended for November and December release, will be announced shortly and will include an addition to the Star Trek line-up.

Fox will offer eight releases on November 3, including The Abyss, Jingle All the Way, Marked for Death, Porky's, Predator, and Young Frankenstein at $29.98 each and Home Alone 3 and Hope Floats at $34.98.

According to Patricia Wyatt, president of Fox consumer products, "We have been watching the development of the marketplace and the various anti-piracy measures very closely. It has reached the point where we will make our entry with this varied mix of titles on DVD."

With these announcements, the only major studio that has not yet entered the open-DVD market is DreamWorks SKG. The news from Paramount and Fox is significant to open-DVD fans, who have worried that some important studios would release films only on open-DVD's rival format, Divx (see related story). Now that the two studios (which own such titles as Titanic and the Star Trek movies) have made their commitment to open DVD, Divx will have to compete primarily on its merits as a platform for renting films, not on exclusive software titles.