Chapek Praises Blu-ray, Blasts HD DVD31 Oct, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold
Disney's Bob Chapek predicts a Blu-ray victory.
Verbal punches flew again as the two-day Blu-ray Festival, held Oct. 29 and 30 in Hollywood, approached its scheduled end with a gala Walt Disney launch party for Blu-ray Disc editions, packed with interactive features, of Cars and Ratatouille.
In remarks he was scheduled to deliver shortly after the USC Marching Band played its fight song, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment worldwide president Bob Chapek blasted the rival HD DVD camp for prolonging the format war when it is clear Blu-ray Disc is the odds-on favorite.
“Blu-ray's competition's attempts to sell less than the best will inevitably be trumped by what we stated from the very beginning: That the Blu-ray technology is not a half-step format that will sell consumers short, but rather, it is a revolutionary technology that will change the way we view movies for the long term,” Chapek said.
“And we firmly believe that revolutionary technology, my friends, is indisputably, undeniably and inevitably Blu-ray.”
Chapek's fierce rhetoric underscores the growing enmity in Hollywood between the studios supporting Blu-ray Disc and those behind rival next-generation format HD DVD. Disney, along with Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate, are solidly and exclusively in the Blu-ray camp. Universal Studios and Paramount/DreamWorks only support HD DVD, while Warner Home Video, at least for the time being, releases titles in both formats.
While study after study fingers consumer indifference as the chief obstacle the studios face in getting consumers to transition from standard DVD to high-definition disc, the format war has tapped resources and confused consumers, prompting many to hold off buying either a Blu-ray Disc or an HD DVD player until a uniform standard emerges.
Studio executives in both camps concede the stakes are high: the very future of the packaged-media business, for years Hollywood's biggest cash cow. Executives fear that if the format war is not resolved, and they can't pool their resources behind one standard high-definition disc format, the decline in DVD sales will continue and consumers uncertain about which new format to buy will throw up their hands and go online for the majority of their entertainment needs.
Chapek isn't alone in his harsh rhetoric. At a presentation on the 20th Century Fox studio lot on Oct. 29, home entertainment president Mike Dunn chastised Paramount Home Entertainment, which a month ago dropped its support for Blu-ray Disc and went exclusively with HD DVD. He accused the studio of “taking the bait,” referring to a reported $50 million payout, to align itself solely with the HD DVD camp, which is led by Microsoft and Toshiba.