High-definition movies are coming to home video, but on a variant of VHS tapes, not the newer DVD format. 20th Century Fox, Universal, DreamWorks, and Artisan said Wednesday they plan to release feature films in D-VHS format, videocassettes that offer better images than standard VHS or even than DVD can now provide.
Initial titles will include ``The Terminator'' movies, ``Die Hard, ``X-Men,'' and ``U-571.'' The first titles are expected to be available by this summer. The D-VHS tapes will be aimed at those who own high-definition televisions, whose crisp digital images are set to replace the old standard of analog TV.
D-VHS machines also will be able to play standard VHS tapes. The four studios will release films on a digital VHS system created by JVC, whose current D-VHS player has a list price of just under $2,000. The high price and the relatively small number of high-definition televisions likely will make the D-VHS format a niche market for the immediate future. High-definition DVD technology likely is at least five years away, studio executives say.
``You have consumers today who would love to have a high-definition alternative, and we have nothing to offer them,'' said Craig Kornblau, president of Universal home video.
Other studios, worried the new format will confuse consumers as the DVD market continues to explode, have yet to embrace D-VHS.
``As far as we're concerned, D-VHS is not a commercial product,'' said Ben Feingold, Columbia TriStar home entertainment president. ``The enormous success of DVD leads us to believe, both intuitively and practically, that there's a strong preference for a disc-based product.''