Warner Bros has announced they will drop support for the HD DVD format and produce high-definition titles exclusively for Sony’s Blu-ray.

This will serve as a huge problem for the HD DVD format. Warner Bros sells 18 to 20 percent of all home videos. This now leaves only Universal, The Weinstein Company and Paramount (and their child companies like Dreamworks) supporting the now falling behind HD DVD format.

Paramount switched to HD DVD only when they received a $150 million payoff last summer.

Conversely, the Blu-ray camp now has Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox, Lions Gate and now the Warner exclusivity.

Sony owns MGM and Columbia TriStar. Disney Owns Touchstone, Pixar and Miramax. This gives Blu-ray a much stronger position as far as this generation’s format war is concerned.

Prediction: If Paramount goes back to both formats or somehow decides to make just Blu-ray when their HD DVD contract expires, the war will be over quickly.

Toshiba was quick to respond, and they’re pissed off.

“Toshiba was 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,” the company said in a statement Friday. “We will assess the potential impact of this announcement with the other HD DVD partner companies and evaluate potential next steps.”

The next step appears to be a step back. The HD DVD group canceled its CES press conference.

The reason behind Warner’s move — it looks like they’d rather support one than risk both next-gen HD formats failing.

People seem to like downloadable content from places like the iTunes, and Xbox Live has done well so far at selling videos. If the format wars continue, it looks like consumers could skip both Blu-ray, and HD DVD and go straight to downloadable.

“The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger,” Barry Meyer, Warner Brothers chairman, told Yahoo! Tech. “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.”

Consumers just don’t want to buy the same movie — often a movie they may have had on VHS — a second, third or fourth time. Warner says that both formats are having an impact that caused consumers to say, “let’s wait a bit to buy anything, even a standard-definition DVD.”

Well, we can’t have that now, can we?

About The Author

Bradley Ouellette is a Blast staff writer who's been with us since the bitter beginnings when we were an attic and basement operation on Mission Hill.

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