Casino Royale is the top selling high-definition movie for March
Casino Royale and The Departed continue on HD movie tear

As part of what appears to be a continuing trend since the beginning of 2007, sales of Blu-ray Disc titles have once again been ahead of those of HD DVD for the month of March. Sony Pictures’ Casino Royale held on to the top spot again for the month, selling more than 59,000 units. In contrast, the top selling HD DVD was this year’s best picture winner, The Departed, with 16,000 units sold.

“We think retailers will start to dedicate more space to Blu-ray, rather than split it half and half,” Sony worldwide president David Bishop said to Video Business. “That will further send a signal to consumers that it is the dominant format.”

One of the reasons cited again for HD DVD’s lag in sales is due to the format’s lack of exclusive, blockbuster titles thus far. The HD DVD-only Children of Men released late March is expected to help bolster its format’s numbers, though the movie was released with several compatibility issues.

Universal remains undying in its support for HD DVD, though the studio’s VP marketing Ken Graffeo said that Blu-ray is likely to continue its sales lead until the fourth quarter, when HD DVD see the holiday releases of summer blockbusters. “Fourth quarter is really going to be a telling time,” he said.

Price could continue to be a deciding factor in swaying consumers towards HD DVD. The Toshiba HD-A2 retails for $399 and is currently cheaper than any Blu-ray player on the market. HD DVD will continue to hold the price advantage even after Sony releases its $599 BDP-S300 this summer.

Furthermore, sub-$300 players from Wal-Mart may be a big factor in penetrating the mainstream market, although it is still unclear which format the upcoming machines will support. “It comes down to bringing it to the general audience at a price that they’re willing to pay,” Graffeo said, underscoring the importance of the mass market.

The Blu-ray Association announced earlier this week that it had reached a one million units sold milestone in less than a year, while the HD DVD Group was proud to announce that it has sold over 100,000 standalone players in its first year of inception.

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