It looks like the only people happy in this format war is an "800-pound gorilla."

In a story from from The Hollywood Reporter, Bob Chapek, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment worldwide president and Blu-ray Disc proponent, recently "blasted the rival HD-DVD camp for prolonging the format war when it is clear that Blu-ray is the odds-on favorite." These comments were made at "a two-day Blu-ray Festival in Hollywood."

"Blu-ray's competition's attempts to sell less than the best will inevitably be trumped by what we stated from the very beginning: That the Blu-ray technology is not a half-step format that will sell consumers short, but rather it is a revolutionary technology that will change the way we view movies for the long term," Chapek stated.

These comments were made at "a gala Disney launch party for Blu-ray editions of Cars and Ratatouille, underscores the enmity in Hollywood between the studios supporting Blu-ray and those behind next-generation rival HD-DVD."

Considering "studies finger consumer indifference as the chief obstacle the studios face in getting movie lovers to transition from standard DVD to high-definition disc, the format war has tapped resources and confused consumers, prompting many to hold off buying either a Blu-ray Disc or an HD-DVD player until a uniform standard emerges."

Also chastising HD-DVD recently was Mike Dunn, home entertainment president of Fox. He "chastised Paramount Home Entertainment, which a month ago dropped its support for Blu-ray and went exclusively with HD DVD. He accused the studio of 'taking the bait,' referring to a reported $50 million payout, to align itself solely with the HD DVD camp, which is led by Microsoft and Toshiba."

In addition to this "Dunn also intimated that the format war is being perpetuated by Microsoft in the hopes of confusing consumers so much that they don't support either format and ultimately buy their entertainment online. He didn't name the computer giant by name but blasted 'the orchestrated campaigns of confusion and anti-consumerism fueled by an 800-pound gorilla that would prefer to force us all into the practice of paying tolls for the right to exchange information and enjoy entertainment.'"

However, despite all this the biggest news "at the Blu-ray Festival was generated by the likelihood that Warner may soon align itself exclusively with one camp."

This was intimated by "Dan Silverberg, vp high-definition media at Warner, admitted 'one thing that may be changing is our strategy,' and that a change could come as early as the end of the fourth quarter."

"When both formats launched and hardware prices were high, we made a decision to support both formats and let the consumer decide," he went on to say. "But now that hardware pricing is affordable for both Blu-ray and HD DVD, it appears consumers no longer want to decide -- so the notion of staying in two formats for the duration is something we are re-evaluating now that we are in the fourth quarter."

Lastly, another "Warner source said the studio is watching what happens now that Wal-Mart and other big retailers are selling entry-level Toshiba HD DVD players for less than $200, about half what the cheapest Blu-ray player costs. If there is a significant spike in HD DVD software sales, the studio may cast its lot with that format, whereas if there is no real impact, Warner may go Blu-ray only."

Evan Jacobs at Movieweb
Evan Jacobs