Due on Blu: Breaking Bad, Justified, The Tudors
Tonight’s belated season-three premiere of Breaking Bad (Four, 10.30) isn’t in HD — but the series will be released here shortly on Blu-ray.
And the good news doesn’t end there for fans of premium cable drama that winds up late-night and in SD on free-to-air TV: both season one of Justified and the fourth and final season of The Tudors have been confirmed for Blu-ray distribution, too.
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release all three series, bowing Justified and The Tudors first on June 13.
The Tudors S4 was released nearly six months ago in Australia but has been delayed here because of a broadcaster holdback — as was Justified, which has just ended its third season on US TV (TV One recently aired the second).
While Kiwi fans of the Elmore Leonard drama have had to wait unnecessarily long to buy it on disc — season one came out 18 months ago in the UK — New Zealand (and presumably Australia) appears to be the first territory outside the US to get it on Blu-ray.
However, SPHE still clearly sees Justified as a niche title, hence its release initially being exclusive to JB Hi-Fi stores. It adopted the same strategy for season two of Breaking Bad, after the wide release of season one flopped.
Similarly, while season four of The Tudors will go wide, a DVD box set of the first four seasons will be limited to JB Hi-Fi.
Even though the Blu-ray market is taking off in NZ –Blu-ray sales increased 74% last year and their sales value jumped 52% — some titles are still viewed as being too narrow in their appeal to justify simultaneous Blu-ray exposure.
A case in point is season two of Hung. It comes out next month on DVD but not Blu-ray, presumably because sales of season one on Blu-ray were disappointing (fans can buy season two on Blu-ray from the US).
Lousy ratings for Hung is why TV One played season two late-night and in SD after airing the first in HD and in primetime; likewise, TV3 dumped Breaking Bad after its first season and consigned subsequent seasons to Four.
SPHE expects to release season three of Breaking Bad on Blu-ray and DVD in July, although at this stage it’s not clear if it will be another JB Hi-Fi exclusive.
Meanwhile, a Breaking Bad fan who follows this site points out there’s an advantage to buying the region B version of Breaking Bad S2 over the region A.
“There’s a well-known issue with the region A release of season two, where in the episode Peekaboo, the sound of an F-bomb delivered by Walt was dropped (as broadcast). I can confirm that the JB region B disc is uncensored (I will confess, that was the very first thing I checked after buying the title).”
However, SPHE couldn’t confirm this. A spokesperson told ScreenScribe.tv NZ/Australia have the same version on Blu-ray as the US, “so if the cut has been made in America, it will be the same in NZ/AU.”