DVD News – Blu-ray triumphs?

Have you been waiting for the industry to settle on a standard before committing to a new high definition DVD system? Warners, the last of the studios to release its HD offerings in both Blu-ray and HD DVD formats, has tipped the balance (ostensibly past the point of return) by announcing its commitment to the Blu-ray format solely. They will honor their HD DVD commitments through the end of May, and then drop the format, leaving only Paramount Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Dreamworks Animation supporting HD DVD.

“The high-definition DVD war is all but over,” opens the New York Times piece by Brooks Barnes.

Hollywood’s squabble over which of two technologies will replace standard DVDs skewed in the direction of the Sony Corporation on Friday, with Warner Brothers casting the deciding vote in favor of the company’s Blu-ray discs over the rival format, HD DVD.

In some ways, the fight is a replay of the VHS versus Betamax battle of the 1980s. This time, however, the Sony product appears to have prevailed.

“The overwhelming industry opinion is that this decides the format battle in favor of Blu-ray,” said Richard Doherty, research director at the Envisioneering Group, a market research firm in Seaford, N.Y.

You can also get more information in this Variety article:

Warner Bros. will throw all its weight behind Blu-ray later this year, a decision that could serve as a death blow to the rival HD DVD format.

Studio, which had hinted it might drop one format after the holidays, said it decided to back Blu-ray to try and reduce confusion brought on by the high-def format war and better drive mainstream adoption.

It’s about time someone took the plunge and forced the industry to pick one direction. HD sales have been, as the industry likes say, soft, as many consumers had been waiting for one format to triumph, and the debate has even been embarrassing to the studios at times, such as when Michael Bay proclaimed wanted to see his releases in Blu-ray, even as the Dreamworks-produced Transformers was coming out in HD DVD and standard DVD only.

Blu-ray, created by Sony, is now supported by Warner, Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox, MGM, as Lionsgate, as well as Son, and is estimated to have sewn up 70% of the market with the Warner announcement.

More Blu-ray stuff

Looking to start your collection? DVD Beaver picks the best High Definition DVD releases of the year. The list includes a British import of The Seventh Seal, but to the best of my knowledge, there are no region-free Blu-ray players yet, so you would need an import player to watch it stateside.

Amazon has its own Blu-ray store and is happy to guide you through their offerings.

Check out Blu-ray.com for news on all things Blu-ray.

Update: Monday, January 7

The Wall Street Journal takes the long view in the Blu-ray/HD DVD battle.

Sony Corp.’s Blu-ray technology for high-definition DVDs has given the Japanese electronics giant an opportunity it hasn’t had in 25 years: the chance to win a high-stakes format war and reap the benefits across its sprawling empire. However, its victory comes at a high cost and may be fleeting.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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