Talking Points: WB Goes Blu-ray; Is the Format War Over?

Alright kids, by now you have read all about the fact that Warner Brothers has signed an exclusive deal to distribute their films in the Blu-ray format. Our Crave compadres reported the news earlier today, along with every other outlet on the face of the planet (including my favorite Next-Gen site High-Def Digest). Heck, our own Maggie Van Ostrand blogged about it here on this site not too long ago.

Right on the heals of the WB announcement comes news from Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily stating that HD-DVD has cancelled it’s CES Press Conference originally scheduled for January 6 at 8:30pm.

So is that it? Is this the end of the format war. I have received many emails and messages from friends around the industry stating that it just may be the death of HD-DVD. The cancellation of the CES “Dog-&-Pony Show”, as Nikki Finke called it, may not be an admission that Blu-ray has won, but it sure isn’t a statement of strength.

From where I sit, I see this: The split is now about 70% Blu-ray (backed by Sony, Disney, WB, Fox, MGM and Lionsgate) and 30% HD-DVD (backed by Paramount/Dreamworks and Universal). Yet, no matter the ratio, no matter the fact that Blu-ray discs out-sold HD-DVDs 2-to-1 in the first half of 2007, there are still studios on both sides. That means that while you will be able to get The Dark Knight on Blu-ray, you will still have to catch Iron Man and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on HD-DVD. For the average movie geek, it is a terrible position to be in.

Of course all of this could be trumped by the rise of on-demand film downloads and rentals. iTunes could be making a move toward movie rentals, and eventually on to delivering HD content. They already provide trailers in HD.

So there you have it — that is where we are right now. The rest of the discussion is up to you… That leads us to this weekends Talking Points:

Talking Point #1: Do you think that the format war between HD-DVD and Blu-ray is over now that WB has gone exclusive?

Talking Point #2: How do you think on-demand content and HD movie downloads will impact things if they become more abundant?

Neil Miller is the Founder and Publisher of Film School Rejects. For almost a decade, he has been talking movies on television, the radio, and the Internet.

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