An interview with the President of Warner Home Entertainment, Jim Wuthrich, reveals that only about 30-35 Ultra HD Blu-ray movies will be released initially because of limited manufacturing capacity of the required 100GB Ultra HD Blu-ray discs. Besides titles on optical discs, there will also be Ultra HD movies that are only distributed over the internet. In total Warner expects that at the end of the year 60-70 Ultra HD titles will be available.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray format will bring movies with high quality 4K video to home users and also adds High Dynamic Range support. To fully enjoy the improved picture quality, users need an Ultra HD TV at home. Adoption of such TVs is going at a fast pace, especially because the cost of these TVs is rapidly going down. According to Wuthrich there will be about 12 million households in the United States with an Ultra HD TV by the end of 2016. By 2019 about one-third of the US households is expected to be able to watch Ultra HD content on their TV.
Besides a TV supporting the higher picture quality, consumers will also need to pick up a new Blu-ray player. Currently only Samsung and Panasonic sell Ultra HD Blu-ray players, Wuthrich expects more companies will have players ready in the third and fourth quarter of this year. These Ultra HD Blu-ray players will still be able to playback older Blu-ray discs and will also try to upscale them. According to Wuthrich, “Our research shows that when consumers look at a DVD or Blu-ray using the UHD player and the UHD television they see a better picture.”
When consumers have a Ultra HD TV and Ultra HD Blu-ray player, the last step is the physical Ultra HD Blu-ray disc. According to Wuthrich discs are still important, as he states, “If you take a step back and look at the overall home entertainment marketplace: 70 percent of consumer spend is still on physical, with 30 percent on digital. So the vast majority of people are still buying physical media. A lot of people love their physical media, they love the flexibility of it, they love the reliability of it, and they love just owning things. So that continues to be the dominant way that people collect and own their content.”
The Ultra HD Blu-ray specification allows those physical discs to be 50 GB, 66 GB or 100 GB, the latter being the equivalent of 21 DVDs. And these 100 GB discs are also the reason there will be only 30-35 Ultra HD movies on Blu-ray first, while the rest will be distributed over the internet. According to Wuthrich the limited number of movies released on Ultra HD Blu-ray discs is because there’s an issue producing them.
Wuthrich explains the 100GB discs are cutting-edge technology,”It’s even cutting-edge technology on the physical side because to manufacture a 100 gig disc is no easy feat. That’s an extra layer that has to go on there, so those lasers are getting very refined in order to look at all those layers and to read that data.”
The interview with Wuthrich was posted because tomorrow, the 1st of March, Warner Home Entertainment will release its first titles on Ultra HD, Mad Max: Fury Road, The LEGO Movie, San Andreas and Pan.