Saturday, February 16, 2008

Warner Bros. Talks About HD DVD Releases After Mid-2008

Warner Bros., a major movie studio in Hollywood, said that it would still release its movies on HD DVD format even after May 31st, 2008, when the company is supposed to start releasing movies on Blu-ray disc (BD) and DVD only and cease making HD DVD. But Warner Bros. will only launch HD DVD if there is demand.

“There may be isolated instances that an HD DVD title will be created, but as a general rule our titles will be out in SD and BD only after May 31,” said Ronnee Sass, vice president of publicity and promotion, in an interview with DVDTown web-site.

Time Warner-owned studios, including Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, announced in early January that starting from mid-2008 they would only release high-definition movies on Blu-ray discs, a competing format for HD DVD. It is also projected that Warner Bros. will cease not only to release new titles on HD DVD, but also cease manufacturing of already available HD DVD movies. Apparently, Warner not only plans to create new HD DVD titles, but also to continue selling existing HD DVDs too.

“If there is product available in HD DVD and there is a request from a retailer, we will provide,” said Mr. Sass.

It is interesting to note that the forthcoming release of I am Legend movie from Warner Bros. will have more exclusive high-definition media (HDM) only features on Blu-ray: the BD version will also sport gallery of documentary vignettes dubbed Creating I Am Legend as well as the featurette Cautionary Tale: The Science of I Am Legend. Therefore, it is not completely clear whether newly created HD DVD titles will have as many HDM-only features as Blu-ray. Still, with over one million of HD DVD players installed in the USA only, the amount of potential customers for HD DVD titles that is hard to ignore.

It is noteworthy that Warner Bros. talks about possibility to release HD DVDs about a month after proclaiming Blu-ray exclusivity. For example, Disney has not released a single HD DVD yet, although it voted for approval of HD DVD 51GB standard; whereas 20th Century Fox does release only Blu-ray titles in the U.S., but in Europe its partners make them available on HD DVD.

Blu-ray and HD DVD formats compete for replacing the DVD standard. HD DVD discs can store up to 15GB on a single layer and up to 30GB on two layers. Its competitor, Blu-ray, can store up to 25GB per single layer and up to 50GB on two layers, but Blu-ray discs are more expensive to produce. The HD DVD is pushed aggressively by Toshiba, Intel, Microsoft, NEC, Sanyo as well as being standardized at the DVD Forum, which represents over 230 consumer electronics, information technology, and content companies worldwide. Blu-ray is backed by Panasonic, Pioneer, Philips, Thomson, LG, Hitachi, Sharp, Samsung, and Sony, which are among the world’s largest makers of consumer electronics.

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