Warner Bros studio on Friday said it would exclusively release high-definition DVDs the Blu-ray format, dealing a big blow to the HD DVD technology.
"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger. We believe that exclusively distributing in Blu-ray will further the potential for mass market success and ultimately benefit retailers, producers, and most importantly, consumers," Warner Bros Chairman and Chief Executive Barry Meyer said in a statement.
Warner said it would continue releasing in the HD DVD format until the end of May, although those releases would follow the standard DVD and Blu-ray releases.
Toshiba said it was "quite surprised" by the move and vowed to fight on. The company released the following statement on Friday:
"Toshiba is quite surprised by Warner
Bros.' decision to abandon HD DVD in favor of Blu-ray, despite the fact that there are various contracts in place between our companies concerning
the support of HD DVD. As central members of the DVD Forum, we have long maintained a close partnership with Warner Bros. We worked closely together
to help standardize the first-generation DVD format as well as to define and shape HD DVD as its next-generation successor."
"We were particularly disappointed that this decision was made in spite of the significant momentum HD DVD has gained in the US market as well as other regions in 2007. HD DVD players and PCs have outsold Blu-ray in the US market in 2007."
"We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps. We remain firm
in our belief that HD DVD is the format best suited to the wants and needs of the consumer."
The HD DVD Promotional Group has also canceled its Sunday press conference at CES, and its meetings with the press.
"Based on the timing of the Warner Home Video announcement today, we have decided to postpone our CES 2008 press conference scheduled for Sunday, January 6th at 8:30 p.m. in the Wynn Hotel. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause," the HD DVD Promotional Group said in an e-mail sent to the press Friday evening.
20th Century Fox, Walt Disney, and Lionsgate are among studios backing the Blu-ray format. Paramount studios and NBC Universal release movies in HD DVD format.
The move could be seen as end to the high-def format war. Warner Bros, Hollywood's biggest seller of DVDs, represents about 18 to 20 percent of sales in the United States and was one of the few studios that backed both formats.
Blu-ray discs outsold HD DVD by nearly two-to-one in the United States last year, but HD DVD won major allies in August when Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc said they would go exclusively with the Toshiba technology.