We can look forward to IMAX movies coming as 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs in the wake of CES 2016

by on January 5, 2016

Stephan Jukic – January 05, 2016

Some awesome and varied IMAX feature movies are going to be hitting the shelves as Blu-ray 4K UHD discs in 2016 according to news from CNET.

According to what we’ve heard, media company Shout Factory is one of the latest players in the 4K Blu-ray game and it’s going to bring a number of new discs in this cutting-edge format to the store shelves in 2016. The feature films will be from IMAX cinematic presentations and will include such gems as “Journey to Space”, which was narrated by Patrick Stewart of “Star Trek: the Next Generation” fame.

So far, only two different 4K Blu-ray players, one from Samsung and the other from Panasonic, have actually been announced for the North American market but this doesn’t mean that any of the companies getting behind 4K UHD Blu-ray are going to forego an early start on the format. In fact, as 4K Blu-ray discs take off (and they quite likely really will), we can definitely expect more media players for the new format to hit the market throughout 2016 and into 2017, particularly given the small quantity of available streaming 4K content and the low level of internet penetration at speeds high enough for 4K streams to reach home entertainment systems with UHD TVs in any case.

But moving back to the Shout Factory and its 4K Blu-ray plans, the company is also planning on releasing other titles such as “Humpback Whales” with Ewan McGregor narrating, “Flight of the Butterflies,” “Wonders of the Arctic” narrated by Victor Garber, “Rocky Mountain Express,” and “The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea.”

Furthermore, the new 4K Blu-ray discs with the above IMAX titles recorded into them will also feature high dynamic range technology for compatible TVs and media players as they emerge and there is also a high likelihood of advanced 10-bit color for the discs as well. Thus, for those with HDR-capable 4K TVs that also include rec.2020 10-bit color (such as LG’s new OLED HDR 4K TVs from CES 2016), the Shout Factory titles should offer some superb home entertainment display testing value.

Shout Factory claims that its new discs will be released at some point in the late spring or early summer of this year and prices are still not quite ready for announcement.

Of course, the effort by Shout Factory isn’t the only 4K Blu-ray disc entertainment development currently in the immediate or near-term works. Sony, Fox Entertainment and Warner Brothers are other major studios with their own movies in 4K Blu-ray on the way in the form of titles like “Mad Max: Fury Road”, “The Maze Runner”, “Fantastic Four” and “San Andreas”. Additionally, some of these titles from said major Hollywood studios will also feature HDR technology and enhanced color, in addition to their native resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels.

4K TVs like the new LG HDR OLED models from CES 2016 will be perfect for the enhanced contrast of 4K Blu-ray discs

4K TVs like the new LG HDR OLED models from CES 2016 will be perfect for the enhanced contrast of 4K Blu-ray discs

As 2016 matures, we can certainly expect a growing selection of other movies, both new and old to hit shelves and online retailers in this new next-generation 4K format.

What’s most interesting about the new Blu-ray 4K UHD format is that it presents a sort of twilight revival of the hard disc media film format. Given the highly unique circumstances of 4K UHD content not being available to a majority of homes due to insufficient internet bandwidth and a lack of broadcast 4K media sources, discs are a perfect intermediate delivery mechanism for 4K movies and shows, at least until high-speed broadband internet or broadcast and satellite 4K TV become much more widespread. After that, we can likely expect 4K Blu-ray to go the way of DVD and HD Blu-ray (though both do still garner some sales and distribution).

In other words, unless some major surprises in the world of content distribution come along, 4K UHD Blu-ray discs stand a high chance of being the last hard media video formats to hit the mass market in the foreseeable future. Unless of course the 4K content problems of today repeat themselves with 8K video when it emerges and a corresponding 8K version of Blu-ray also arrives on the scene in a couple years.

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