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Warner, Universal, Paramount, New Line Side With HD-DVD

29 Nov, 2004 By: Kurt Indvik

In the midst of what is looming as a next-generation, high-definition format war, Hollywood studios are starting to take sides between HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc (BD). The idea, according to some analysts, is that the studios may be attempting to tilt the momentum toward one format in order to avoid the possibility of both formats entering the market.

Today, Universal Pictures and Universal Studios Home Entertainment (USHE), along with Warner Home Video (along with sister divisions New Line and HBO) and Paramount, announced they have chosen to adopt the HD-DVD high-definition format. The announcements were made through Toshiba Corp., the principal technology developer of HD-DVD, as well as separate statements from the studios.

Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment has long been a supporter of Blu-ray Disc technology, a format supported by parent Sony. Sony is in the process of acquiring MGM, which would also join the BD camp. Recently, 20th Century Fox announced it had joined the Blu-ray Disc Founders group, but also publicly stated this did not imply it would commit to issuing titles in the BD format.

“We have evaluated all the emerging home entertainment technologies and have selected the one which we feel is the most beneficial to our consumers,” said Craig Kornblau, president of USHE. Universal will begin issuing select titles in the HD-DVD format by next holiday season, 2005. “We are confident that HD-DVD's advanced features will lead to a more robust consumer experience. For content providers such as Universal, the enhanced copy protection allows us to continue our fight against piracy and preserve the integrity of our properties.”

Universal Pictures' president and COO, Rick Finkelstein, said that, “As a content-based company, we are always looking for new ways to deliver our films and television programs to consumers in a high-quality, secure and user-friendly format. We believe HD-DVD achieves all of these goals.”

Warner did not commit to a specific time frame for when it would begin producing HD-DVD discs.

"Warner Home Video's strategy is to offer our broad range of programs on the most compelling platforms; HD-DVD delivers the next-generation technology and the right combination of consumer and multi-industry benefits," said Jim Cardwell, president of WHV.

"HD-DVD innovations include higher resolution video and audio available on a suite of disc capacities adaptable for longer or shorter programs," said Chris Cookson, president, Warner Bros. technical operations and chief technology officer.

Paramount said it would begin releasing HD-DVD titles in as early as the holiday season of 2005 or first-quarter 2006.

“We believe that HD-DVD has clear advantages in cost of manufacturing and ease of replication, offering consumers the highest-quality viewing experience at the most affordable price,” said Thomas Lesinski, president of Paramount Worldwide Home Entertainment.”

Additional reporting by Erik Gruenwedel.

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