Why Not HD: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

One of the best DVD transfers of late is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

But given this exceptional Swedish thriller, the first in the Millennium trilogy, is out on Blu-ray in the UK, and due for an HD release in Australia, why have Kiwis wound up with only the DVD?

The answer lies in the vagaries and economics of theatrical windows, home video distribution and Blu-ray replication.

The good news is the Blu-ray will go on sale here the same day as the Australian release – August 5 – although this may change if the Aussie theatrical release continues to perform strongly (the original NZ DVD release was March but delayed to April because the movie’s box office was so strong).

Because NZ is such a tiny territory, cost often prohibits distributors from releasing the Blu-ray of a movie ahead of Australia.

The minimum order for Blu-ray replication is 1,000 units, which industry sources say is too much for a NZ distributor to bear on its own when the cost of each disc is about $12.

Obviously, the more units ordered, the lower the unit cost, which is why NZ invariably piggybacks the Australian market.

While the UK is the same region as NZ in terms of regional coding for Blu-rays, it’s a different territory market-wise and the costs of sourcing a Blu-ray master from the UK doesn’t make a NZ release viable.

Another important consideration is indie titles, no matter how popular they are theatrically, won’t sell as well on Blu-ray as male-skewed Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar and The Dark Knight.

But with the success of Avatar, the increasing affordability of Blu-ray players, and Sony’s PS3 gaining in popularity, expect more indie labels, like Madman Entertainment, Vendetta Films and Shock Entertainment, to crank up their HD slates — hopefully in time for the next in the Millennium series to be released on Blu-ray the same day as the DVD.

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