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Sunday, January 6, 2008

Entertainment unit announced Friday it would start releasing high-definition DVDs

Television images are reflected on a sign for Blu-ray Discs at the 2007 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, January 9, 2007. Blu-ray high-definition movie discs outsold films on the rival HD-DVD format by 2-to-1 in the United States in the first half of 2007

Warner Bros. Picks Blu-ray DVD Format

Time Warner's Warner Bros. Entertainment unit announced Friday it would start releasing high-definition DVDs exclusively using Sony's (SNE - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) Blu-ray DVD format.

The news is a major victory for Sony as it attempts to make Blu-ray the high-definition standard over rival Toshiba's HD-DVD format. Sony Pictures, News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox and Disney (DIS - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) already have decided to use Blu-ray exclusively. That leaves Viacom's (VIA - Cramer's Take - Stockpickr) Paramount and GE's Universal as the only HD-DVD boosters among the major Hollywood studios.

Warner Bros., which until now has produced titles in both formats, said it would continue to release HD-DVDs until the end of May, after which it will stop producing them.

High-definition DVD adoption has suffered because consumers have been confused about which standard to choose. Players using one standard are unable to play DVDs made using the other standard.

"The window of opportunity for high-definition DVD could be missed if format confusion continues to linger," said Barry Meyer, chairman and CEO of Warner Bros. "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."

Shares of Sony closed down $1.93 at $52.42 Friday following a broad market selloff. Shares of Time Warner ended the session down 42 cents at $15.91.

New Line Shifts to Blu-ray Exclusivity
sister company New Line has confirmed that it will support Blu-ray Disc high def releases exclusively. New Line has previously delayed their day-and-date new releases on HD DVD due to the format's lack of region coding, effectively making titles such as Shoot 'em Up, Hairspray, and Rush Hour 3 exclusive to Blu-ray. Although a 2008 release slate for the studio has not been released, an announcement may be possible at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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