This is a huge development in the Blu-ray versus HD-DVD format war currently raging on because Warner Bros was always considered the big fish to be landed by one side or the other, Now the studio, which had been producing its high-def DVD titles in both formats, will start releasing in Blu-ray exclusively later this year. The decision was made in response to strong consumer preference for the Blu-Ray format, according to WB’s announcement.
I’d been hearing rumors for months that Warner Bros had been offered in the neighborhood of $250 million for “promotional consideration” to go exclusively with HD-DVD. Less lavish but still big payments already had been offered and accepted by the HD DVD side to both Paramount (I was told $50 million) and DreamWorks Animation (I was told $100 million) for “promotional consideration”. (And yet director Michael Bay, whose Transformers was a big lure in HD-DVD, still is flip-flopping by publicly questioning the wisdom of choosing that format over Blu-ray.) A source for another studio in the Blu-ray camp explains the Warner Bros decision to me as a “marketplace realization”. “Their decision creates overwhelming momentum for Blu-ray as the only format that could possibly win in this battle. HD DVD is as good now as it will ever be. Blu-ray will continue to grow and evolve.”
This Christmas, consumers were lobbied hard by both sides as dirt-cheap Toshiba HD-DVD players were advertised heavily by Wal-Mart for $98.87 (and $15 HD movies…) while the higher priced Blu-ray players were also discounted by electronics retailers though not nearly as much. “The addition of WB brings exclusively Blu-ray marketshare to 70%. For Universal and Paramount/DreamWorks, any continued (non-contractual) support for HD-DVD exclusively is about corporate and executive ego and NOT the consumer or the marketplace.” For a long time, Hollywood was lopsided in favor of Blu-ray: 7 of the 8 major movie studios (Disney, Fox, Warner, Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) supported Blu-ray, and 5 of them (Disney, Fox, Sony, Lionsgate and MGM) release their movies exclusively in the Blu-ray format. Only Universal was exclusively HD-DVD. Now that is rapidly changing what with HD DVD exclusive converts Paramout and DreamWorks Animation, and Warner Bros now for Blu-ray.
Here’s the Warner Bros news release:
(January 4, 2008 – Burbank, CA) – In response to consumer demand, Warner Bros. Entertainment will release its high-definition DVD titles exclusively in the Blu-ray disc format beginning later this year, it was announced today by Barry Meyer, Chairman & CEO, Warner Bros. and Kevin Tsujihara, President, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.
“Warner Bros.’ move to exclusively release in the Blu-ray disc format is a strategic decision focused on the long term and the most direct way to give consumers what they want,” said Meyer. “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 Home Video will continue to release its titles in standard DVD format and Blu-ray. After a short window following their standard DVD and Blu-ray releases, all new titles will continue to be released in HD DVD until the end of May 2008.
“Warner Bros. has produced in both high-definition formats in an effort to provide consumer choice, foster mainstream adoption and drive down hardware prices,” said Jeff Bewkes, President and Chief Executive Officer, Time Warner Inc., the parent company of Warner Bros. Entertainment. “Today’s decision by Warner Bros. to distribute in a single format comes at the right time and is the best decision both for consumers and Time Warner.”
“A two-format landscape has led to consumer confusion and indifference toward high definition, which has kept the technology from reaching mass adoption and becoming the important revenue stream that it can be for the industry,” said Tsujihara. “Consumers have clearly chosen Blu-ray, and we believe that recognizing this preference is the right step in making this great home entertainment experience accessible to the widest possible audience. Warner Bros. has worked very closely with the Toshiba Corporation in promoting high definition media and we have enormous respect for their efforts. We look forward to working with them on other projects in the future.”
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- Michael Bay Switches Support To HD-DVD
- Michael Bay Says To Paramount: No Blu-Ray, So No ‘Transformers’ Sequel!
- Desperation Move & Cash Grab? Or Bloodier Blu-ray/HD-DVD Format War?