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DVDplus Debuts Stateside

Debbie Galante Block

February 02, 2021 | When Artisan Home Entertainment releases Blair Witch 2 in March, it will be the first DVDplus available in the U.S. market. DVDplus is a Sonopress product described as a DVD bonded to a CD. It offers the opportunity to deliver a DVD movie and its CD soundtrack to the consumer on one disc. The movie or soundtrack can be played on a DVD player, while the soundtrack can also be played on a CD player. That's a benefit, according to Sonopress, even for those who may not have a DVD player yet, but plan to buy one.

"We wanted to make a special statement with Blair Witch 2 and felt DVDplus was a perfect format to release it on. The demographic that the movie appeals to will be interested in the soundtrack as well," says Jeff Fink, Artisan's president, sales and marketing. (Artisan was also the first to offer a DVD-18 in 1999, when it released The Stand.)

Being a forerunner is often not only a costly proposition, but also a time-consuming one. However, this project did not seem to be either according to Fink. "Once we got back specs and testing results that were done to make sure both sides would play on all players, we decided to go ahead with the project. It was in development about two or three months," he says.

Some concern has arisen regarding DVDplus' adherence to spec; this stems from issues of disc thickness. A laser will read through the 0.6mm DVD-5 with no problem and it will read through the 1.2mmCD with no problem. But, when you marry those discs together, the total thickness is 1.8mm. The trick is to get the thickness down to 1.2mm and still have a playable disc.

"We have extremely tight tolerances in the way we manufacture CDs and DVDs," says Bob Spiller, president of Sonopress. "Because our pits are so clearly defined, we can thin the disc down and still offer a playable product. Our specifications are far beyond those required, and that allows us to do things that other manufacturers might not be able to do," he says. He adds that it the company has not had to purchase extra equipment to manufacture DVDplus because many of Sonopress' lines are CD/DVD-compatible. DVDplus manufacturing is similar to DVD-10 production, Spiller says. "Flipping" one of the injection systems to CD and one to DVD does the trick.

At press time, neither Artisan or Sonopress was clear on the initial run size for this title. However, Sonopress plans to manufacture discs in both its European and in U.S. facilities. Although this DVDplus run is a first for Sonopress' Asheville, North Carolina facility, a few titles have already been manufactured in Europe including Caught In The Act, 20th Century, and Emerson Lake and Palmer.

Costs of replication for DVDplus are similar to those of DVD-9, Spiller says; thus, Artisan's suggested retail price for the disc will be $24.98. "We expect the disc to be viewed as collectable, therefore creating greater sales in the marketplace," says Fink. In addition to the added value of the soundtrack, this is still a full-featured DVD with director's commentary, French and Spanish language versions, and DVD-ROM features.

Although DVDplus is a brand new product, Blair Witch 2 will be packaged in the Amaray box just as other DVD movie titles are. The only difference will be a sticker explaining that this is the first-time availability of a DVDplus, and it will tell the features available on each side of the disc.

But Sonopress plans to distinguish the product in the marketplace in other ways. He says, "We also plan to do over $1 million of print advertising, generic advertising, as well as specific retail tag advertising. Blair Witch 2 will go to every retailer that carries DVD product."

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