In an expected move, Warner Brothers Entertainment said yesterday that it would produce high-definition DVD's in the Blu-ray format in addition to the standard being promoted by Toshiba.
Warner had decided to distribute films in the HD DVD format, but now it is the second Hollywood company to say it will also release films in Blu-ray. However, the trend toward supporting two formats seems to be one-directional; companies dedicated to Blu-ray have not moved to add HD DVD to their mix.
For several months, Hollywood studios had been split almost evenly between the two formats, each studio saying it would release high-definition DVDs next year only in one format or the other. Paramount Pictures, however, broke ranks earlier this month to say it would release films in both. Warner's decision accelerates that trend. Universal Studios, the third studio that agreed to make movies in Toshiba's format, is expected to follow. Since both rival sides have promised to release players in the coming year, the studios do not want to lose potential sales.
Warner joined the Blu-Ray camp because it felt assured that the copy protection software and other technology it preferred would be included in the Blu-ray format.
Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox and Lion's Gate have sided with the Blu-ray group, but have not shown any inclination to make DVD's in Toshiba's format.
On Wednesday, analyst firm Forrester Research released a report that predicted the Blu-ray format would ultimately win.
However, computer giant Hewlett-Packard appealed
to the Blu-ray group to include some HD DVD features, including a so-called mandatory managed-copy function that previously had been a key concern of Microsoft and Intel, which support HD DVD.
Toshiba has released a statement on reports related to Warner Bros.'s announcement on next-generation optical discs.
"Toshiba and Warner Bros. continue to collaborate closely toward the commercial launch of HD DVD. We understand Warner Bros. continues to strongly support HD DVD, due to its outstanding features, cost structures, and market readiness."
"We recognize Warner Bros.'s participation in the Blu-ray Disc Association represents the studio's understandable commitment to listen to broad array of opinions and to continue to make technical evaluations of each format, and we are more than confident this will not affect timely introduction of HD DVD content to the market."
"Toshiba strongly believes the HD DVD format will eventually win broad support as the more superior format, and in cooperation with our partners, we are committed to bringing HD DVD products first to market early next year in the U.S.."