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Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's official:"Halo 3" Registers Biggest Day in US Entertainment History

Xbox 360 Exclusive “Halo 3” Registers Biggest Day in US Entertainment History with $170 Million in Sales

Microsoft today announced that the Xbox 360 exclusive game “Halo 3” has officially become the biggest entertainment launch in history, garnering an estimated $170 million in sales in the United States alone in the first 24 hours. The Xbox 360 title beat previous records set by blockbuster theatrical releases like “Spider-man 3” and novels such as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

“Halo 3” is the conclusion to the epic trilogy and picks up where “Halo 2” left off, answering questions around the fates of the beloved protagonist Master Chief and his artificial intelligence sidekick Cortana as they struggle to save humankind from destruction at the hands of the alien coalition known as the Covenant. In addition to the rich storyline, “Halo 3” continues the franchise’s grand tradition of delivering innovative online multiplayer experiences via Xbox LIVE, the world’s largest social network on TV.

“Halo 3 has become a pop-culture phenomenon,” said Shane Kim, corporate vice president of Microsoft Game Studios. “Not only is “Halo 3” setting sales records, it’s also redefining entertainment.

Within the first 20 hours alone, we’ve seen more than a million Xbox LIVE members come online to play Halo 3 – that makes September 25 the most active Xbox LIVE gaming day in history.”

Retailers have also expressed their excitement about the launch of “Halo 3.”

Bob McKenzie, Senior Vice President of Merchandising for GameStop Corp commented that, “With consumer demand for Halo 3 and related products, we expect it to be the biggest video game title generator in GameStop's history."

“The initial demand we’ve seen for ‘Halo 3’ has been astounding, and the game is on track to become the number one gaming title of all time. ‘Halo 3’ is a genuine entertainment phenomenon and our customers have responded very enthusiastically to the release,” said Jill Hamburger, vice president of movies and games at Best Buy.

Developed by Bungie Studios, the “Halo” franchise is exclusive to the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system and optimized for the Xbox LIVE® online entertainment network. The more than 7 million Xbox LIVE users will get a continually evolving gaming experience with “Halo 3.” Its online multiplayer and cooperative gameplay for Xbox LIVE Gold users, the much-talked-about Saved Films feature that enables players to capture and save their favorite moments on their hard drives, and Forge, an innovative map editor that enables infinite customization options are just some of the new features to experience.

More than 10,000 retailers hosted Midnight Madness events to celebrate the launch of this third installment in the billion-dollar franchise. In New York, Seattle, Miami and Los Angeles, Microsoft and retail partners hosted marquee launch events that featured contests and appearances by local celebrities and professional athletes who are fanatical about the “Halo” franchise, including Ludacris and Zac Efron and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.

More than 1.7 million copies of “Halo 3” were preordered in the United States before a single store opened its doors at midnight, Sept. 25, making this the fasting pre-selling game in history, surpassing the previous record-setting pre-sales of “Halo 2.” Well beyond just a U.S. phenomenon, the launch of “Halo 3” was a worldwide celebration that released in 37 countries and available in 17 languages.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Where Will You Be Next Monday Night?

With just under a week to go, you should make your plans to be at one of the 10,000 retail stores in the US (or in your respective country!) to pick up your copy of Halo 3.

As for us, Sara will be in New York City, and the rest of us will be here in Seattle celebrating at Best Buy in Bellevue.

Here are some things you can look forward to, from a media alert posted earlier:

New York
Where: Best Buy, 529 5th Ave, New York, NY, 10017
What: Located in the heart of 5th Ave. and only a few blocks from Times Square, the Best Buy store on the corner of 5th and 44th Ave. will be the first to provide consumers in the U.S. with their copies of "Halo 3.” The event, which will begin early afternoon on Monday and can be seen on televisions nationwide via live broadcasts from both Spike TV and G4, will feature day-long activities. People are encouraged to demonstrate their fanaticism for Halo through costumes, distance traveled, best signs and more. Additionally, fans in line may get to play "Halo 3" prior to launch against on-site celebrities from early Monday afternoon through midnight. Every hour, a new personality will enter the fray with the fans. At midnight, attendees can expect a spectacle unlike any other. A number of Bungie team members and local professional athletes will be on hand to participate in the launch festivities.

Los Angeles
Where: GameStop, 1000 Universal Studios Blvd, Universal City, CA 91608
What: From the entertainment capital of the world, GameStop's flagship store at Universal CityWalk in Los Angeles will host the Halo 3 West Coast launch. The event begins Monday evening and will lead up to the first sale of the game at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, September 25, and will feature a celebrity autograph session, Halo trivia contest and a special appearance by the man of the hour, Master Chief, as well as a number of Bungie team members. Fans in line will also have a chance to be one of the lucky few who can battle it out against a celebrity on "Halo 3" prior to the launch. The event can be seen on televisions nationwide via live broadcasts from both Spike TV and G4.

Best Buy, 457 120th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98005
What: Seattle fans are invited to join the celebrations at Bellevue's Best Buy, which will open its doors at 12:01 am on September 25 to sell the highly anticipated and final chapter in the "Halo" trilogy. To commemorate the release of "Halo 3" in the game's hometown, fans will be able to celebrate the occasion with product giveaways. People in line may also get a chance to play against Bungie team members and local professional athletes.

Where: Circuit City, 8575 Northwest 13th Terrace, Miami, FL 33126
What: Hosted by Circuit City, Miami's Midnight Madness event of choice will feature product giveaways and contests starting at 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. Current Miami Dolphins stars, Chris Chambers and Joey Porter will be on hand signing autographs as well as challenging fans in "Halo 3" inside Circuit City. Additionally, a number of Bungie team members will be on hand to participate in the launch festivities.

Attendees at the regional events will also have an opportunity to receive the following giveaways as part of the festivities:

from Gamerscore Blog

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Toshiba releases 24p firmware update

Toshiba HD-A2

HD DVD joins the 24p party today as Toshiba releases the latest firmware for their second generation HD movie players. There are a few other updates included as well, but for those who have TVs that support it, they can now enjoy movies with one less conversion than before. Of course the real question is, will you notice a difference? Regardless, you'll find your movie experience more enjoyable just thinking about the fact that you're watching the film at the same frame rate as it was originally captured in. If your player is connected to your network, just check for an update tomorrow and you'll be all set, otherwise follow the read link and download the iso image.

from Engadget HD


Landmark "Halo 3" Marketing Campaign Debuts; Ushers in Game's Launch on September 25

Every so often individuals are called upon to rise above themselves and act in a selfless manner - to help, to protect, to defend those in need. We call these people, who rise up in the face of great adversity, heroes. One such individual's story is about to be told worldwide. On Sept. 25, "Halo 3's" epic hero Master Chief will rise once again - he'll face seemingly insurmountable odds with the entire fate of the galaxy riding on his shoulders.

In memory of this hero, and helping build to what promises to be the largest entertainment launch in history on Sept. 25, a series of dramatic and evocative communications elements, created by McCann San Francisco, T.A.G., AKQA, and Microsoft Global Marketing will offer a stirring look at the "Halo" universe and Master Chief.

The first of the films, entitled "Museum," premieres today on and provides consumers everywhere with a reason to "Believe" in the amazing stories and action within the Halo experience, bringing the epic battles to life in the style of a museum "diorama."

Certain to catch the imagination of audiences around the globe, the ads are unlike any video game advertising ever created, and offer a powerful look at the world of "Halo". Uniquely, the campaign experience does not focus on "Halo 3's" graphics or gameplay, but instead looks at the themes that lie at the heart of the tale that spans the entire "Halo" trilogy: duty, sacrifice, and most importantly, heroism.

Through the eyes of celebrated Hollywood creature designer Stan Winston, known for his landmark work on Aliens and Jurassic Park;, as well as New Deal Studios, model creators for Spiderman 3, 300 and Superman Returns, and acclaimed director Rupert Sanders, people will experience a dramatic and moving look at mankind's struggle against our future enemy, the fierce warrior force known as the Covenant.

The central element that much of the integrated marketing campaign centers on is a painstakingly accurate replication of a key moment from a climactic battle set in the "Halo" universe. At over 1200 square feet, reaching a height over 12 feet above the ground and with each handcrafted human and Covenant figure standing eight to twelve inches high, the diorama was large enough to fill an entire studio.

Filming the Experience

Shooting the campaign took several days as the individual soldier's stories were told, and as the camera spanned the landscape, finally resting on the mountain top where Master Chief appears to have been conquered by the Covenant enemy...or so it would seem. Viewers quickly realize that there is much more of the story that's yet to be told - and the game will tell all.

The story of the diorama and the battle that day has been told through films that will be shown in 27 countries around the world on television, in cinema and on the web. But the Halo 3 experience is much larger than that, with future testimonial films depicting soldiers' third-party accounts of their experience in the battles, and with the hero that is Master Chief.

As part of the integrated campaign, an innovative web experience has been created that enables consumers to interact with and explore every part of the climactic battle in minute detail. Beyond the TV, cinema and print efforts, the site is also supported by an online advertising campaign that starts the conversation with the consumer and a branded channel on YouTube that helps to position Master Chief as the biggest hero in history. All digital components were created by AKQA San Francisco.

Viewers get a sneak peek at "Diorama" on Friday Sept. 14 at 9 a.m. PST / 12 p.m. EST, as well as a feature on the making of the diorama, entitled, "Ammo". The "Diorama" work will make its TV debut during NFL Football on CBS Sunday Sept. 16. This, and the full series of web films, which honor the heroism of Master Chief, will also be available on Xbox LIVE Marketplace and starting September 14.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


Price: 400 Microsoft Points
Availability: Not available in Korea
Dash Text: [ESRB: T (TEEN) Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence] Single Player, Xbox LIVE Multiplayer 1-2, Local Multiplayer 1-2, HD (High Definition). The Grandmother of all Battles. Terry, Andy, and Joe with 12 of the toughest titans of fighting art are here for you! There are no refunds for this item. For more information, see

Full Details of 'Transformers' In High-Definition Exclusively On HD DVD

$650+ Million Smash Hit from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures Rolls out on DVD and HD DVD October 16 in Two-Disc Sets Bursting with a Universe of Bonus Features to Immerse Fans of All Ages in the World of the Legendary ROBOTS IN DISGUISE

The armies of CYBERTRON invaded theaters with a juggernaut fury that shook the summer of 2007, but on October 16, 2007 fans of all ages will discover that there is far "More Than Meets The Eye" to the massive mechanical behemoths when TRANSFORMERS arrives on Earth in spectacular DVD and HD DVD two-disc Special Edition sets as well as on a single disc from DreamWorks Pictures and Paramount Pictures; distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment.

Out-Of-This World High-Def Content:

In addition to superior picture and sound and all of the above bonus material presented in high definition, the HD DVD presentation provides consumers with a host of web-enabled features, which are accessible through all connected HD DVD players. The web-enabled features take advantage of technology that allows the studio to present the content in a new way. These cutting-edge, online features can be updated, providing consumers with an evolving entertainment experience months, or even years, after the disc is physically produced. Initial features include a TRANSFORMERS Intelligence Mode in which an on-screen dashboard over the film provides information about the robots and weapons, their strength levels, character updates and more. Plus, a GPS Locator that can access a map and GPS coordinates. Paramount's TRANSFORMERS HD DVD connectivity capabilities will reveal additional HD DVD exclusive features at street date and at various time periods in the future.

The HD DVD also includes a TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display) that lets viewers access running text commentary while watching the film and even view relevant behind-the-scenes footage in a picture-in-picture window. Additionally, viewers can explore the main robots' individual details in high definition with the TRANSFORMERS Tech Inspector.


The HD DVD is presented in 1080p High Definition with English, French and Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Plus and English, English SDH+, French, Spanish and Brazilian Portuguese subtitles. In addition to the above features that will be presented in high definition, the TRANSFORMERS HD DVD will also offer the following exclusive content:

Disc 1 (Main Feature Disc):
  • Commentary by Michael Bay

  • TRANSFORMERS H.U.D. (Heads Up Display) - In this mode, viewers can access running text-based behind-the-scenes background information on the production during the feature. Users can also watch relevant picture-in-picture b-roll and video with Bay, Spielberg and other filmmakers during select sequences.

  • Transformers Intelligence Mode web-enabled features consist of:
    - Transformation Mode
    - Health Meter
    - Weapon Mode
    - Robot Bio
    - In Scene Indicator
    - Text Ticker
    - GPS

Disc 2 (Supplemental Materials):

  • TRANSFORMERS Tech Inspector - Gives viewers an unprecedented look at the TRANSFORMERS robots through the exquisitely detailed models created by ILM artists. Users can zoom in on each detail for a closer examination and pause and change the rotation of the models.

  • Our World
    - The Story Sparks - Steven Spielberg discusses his love for the franchise and early concept art for the film. Explores how the writers adapted the cartoon into a live-action movie and why Michael Bay is the perfect director for the film.
    - Human Allies - A look at how the actors were selected and their experiences on the set.
    - I Fight Giant Robots - An exploration of the military training that Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson underwent for their roles and the various stunts that the actors were asked to perform.
    - Battleground - A piece on the senior officials from the Department of Defense and Air Force who consulted on the film to give it authenticity and the key locations that the U.S. government provided access to.

  • Their War
    - Rise of the Robots - Explores the interaction between Hasbro designers and Michael Bay to bring the toy line roaring to life
    - AUTOBOTS Roll Out - Michael Bay discusses working with Chevy and its designers and the modifications that were made to the cars seen in the film.
    - DECEPTICONS Strike - The film's military advisors discuss the "toys" they allowed the production to borrow: F-22 Raptors, Ospreys and A-10 Warthogs.
    - Inside the AllSpark - ILM's digital artists discuss the challenges of bringing the TRANSFORMERS to life.

  • More Than Meets The Eye
    - From Script to Sand: The SKORPONOK Desert Attack - An in-depth look at the making of this particularly epic and challenging scene from initial storyboarding through production and visual effects.
    - Concepts - Early sketch concepts of the robots.
    - Trailers

Bonus features highlighted with orange-colored fonts are HD DVD-exclusive (not found on the DVD). All video featurettes, documentaries and trailers are presented in high-definition.

from HD DVD Format Blog

LG's BH200 HD DVD / Blu-ray combo player set for October?

Here's some tantalizing news for those still refusing to choose sides in the perpetual format war. Turns out, LG seems to be readying its second HD DVD / Blu-ray standalone player for a fall release, and unsurprisingly, it's likely to be dubbed the BH200. Reportedly, this device will support BD-Live functionality, HDi (er, Advanced Navigation), and "1080p output at 60Hz / 1080p upscaling of standard DVDs." And while it wasn't confirmed, LG's product development manager for consumer electronics brand marketing suggested that it could boast "wider support for audio CDs as well as HD DVD network connectivity." Moreover, you can expect it to play nice with MPEG1/2, VC-1, H.264, Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS and DTS-HD, tout HDMI 1.3 and Ethernet ports, and to arrive on store shelves for around $999 "in mid-October."

from Engadget HD

HD DVD and Blu-ray releases on September 4th, 2007

HD DVD 278 vs Blu-ray 290 *

*Blu-ray total reflects 32 Paramount titles only available for a limited time.

Sony unveils Blu-ray equipped HTP-BD2RSF HTIB system

It was only a matter of time until Blu-ray hit the home theater in a box systems. Sony is taking their HT-SF2000 HTIB, adding the BDP-S300, and throwing in the BD Spider-Man trilogy for kicks. The system is built for HDMI, as the receiver has three inputs and one out, so besides speaker wire, users aren't going to have many cables to deal with. Plus, all that HDMI allows for auto-setup, in Sony's parlance: Digital Cinema Auto Calibration. HTIB systems have never been known for their sound quality and something tells us this 1000W system is going to be exactly top-notch, but that said, if priced right, it could be a great option for some with limited budget and a need for Blu-ray. The HTP-BD2RSF is currently announce for the European market only at an unknown sum, but something tells us that Sony is going to drop sometime very similar at CEDIA next week.