In an interesting turn, Disney seems to be considering to release HD video titles on the HD DVD format, changing its original plans to only support the rival Blu-ray format.
According to an article published by Variety.com, Bob Iger, Disney's CEO, dropped a hint that Disney may end up playing both sides in the high-definition DVD format war, during the firm's annual meeting with shareholders. In response to a shareholder question, Iger said company continues to back Sony's Blu-Ray format, but added, "We probably will publish in both formats."
That's sure to please Toshiba, the backer of the competing HD DVD format.
Disney joined the Blu-ray disc association as a member of the board of directors in December of 2005, and is also a member of the AACS LA, the organization responsible for the licensing of the AACS content protection schemes for both HD DVD and Blu-ray.
Despite Toshiba's demonstrations of its two HD DVD players and vows to stick by its original promise to have players in stores by the end of this month, Warner Home Video reportedly says that its first HD DVD titles may not be ready in time due to technical issues.
"To be honest, the outlook is tenuous - we're still coming out with an initial slate, but we may be a week or two later; we just don't know," said division president Ron Sanders.
Warner Home Video in January had set a release date for its first HD DVD titles, March 28.
Wal-Mart had been taking advance orders for the first slate of Warner titles on its Web site since mid-February, but beginning March 8 customers were notified their orders had been canceled, since title prices have not yet been set yet.
Best Buy, too, reportedly had to pull Warner HD DVD titles from its weekly circular.
Toshiba's HD-A1 is currently on sale ($499.99) at Amazon.com and the Web sites of other big retailers like Best Buy, while the Circuit City Web site is currently offering neither HD DVD player.
Toshiba also has a pricier model, the HD-XA1, at $799.99. A Web search found only two retailers accepting advance orders.
Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment, which in January was one of three studios to announce ambitious slates of titles for HD DVD release, still has set no dates, even with players set to arrive in stores within two weeks.
Universal Studios Home Entertainment, which announced a dozen titles in January, likewise hasn't scheduled any firm release dates.
On the software front, it's unlikely even a single HD DVD title will be available for sale this month at any of the consumer electronics chains and discount retailers that are bringing in the players.