Blu-rayLess than stellar DVD sales have continued to drag the home video market down in 2011, but a strong showing from X-Men: First Class, Thor, and The Star Wars Saga on the blu-ray format, have prompted a 156% surge in U.S. sales of the hi-def format in the release week ending September 18.

The overall market may be on the verge of a turnaround says a new IHS report. "Star Wars fans greeted the Friday, September 16th arrival of the iconic series on BD enthusiastically, buying a total of 400,000 units in just its first three days of availability, mostly snapping up the six-movie, nine-disc set which represented 92% of total units sold, with the original and prequel trilogies making up the rest."

The triple-digit year-over-year-growth is certainly a welcome site to the industry as it caps a period in which U.S. blu-ray sales were already beginning to post the kind of robust growth the HD format's backers had hoped for following its 2006 launch.

Strong sales of X-Men: First Class followed by Tyler Perry's Big Happy Family and Sons of Anarchy: Season 3 have continued the run that began back in August when Rio hit the BD format and continues to push units out the door.

"Studios are starting to bring the crown jewels  out of the vault for blu-ray release," said Jan Saxton, senior U.S. video analyst at IHS. "That coupled with the first releases from a very strong summer box office, has the potential to turn the movie disc market around.

X-Men: First Class pushed 350,000 blu-ray units out the door in the first three days of its release and ended its first week with more than 600,000 units. Thor then hammered out another 500,000 blu-ray copies during its first week of availability beginning on September 13th.

While this is certainly good news for the industry - and especially for the blu-ray format - it will be interesting to see if sales continue to progress once we get past the summer blockbuster release window.