The format war wages on and it is no less interesting.

In a story from The Hollywood Reporter, it seems "the steering committee of the DVD Forum has approved the final draft of a memorandum of understanding with the leading Chinese developer of optical discs, paving the way for the creation of a Chinese HD-DVD format."

This could lead to very inexpensive HD-DVD players, not just in China, but the rest of the world. It seems "that similarities in manufacturing would make it easy for Chinese consumer electronics companies to then also produce HD-DVD players for a worldwide market, including the U.S."

This memorandum, "with China's Optical Memory National Engineering Research Center, marks the first time China is participating in a standardization process for content within a global entity, the DVD Forum, which also gives its stamp of approval to standard DVD."

Executive VP of high-definition strategic marketing at Universal Studios Home Entertainment and co-president of the North American and European HD-DVD Promotional Group, Ken Graffeo, feels that this might be HD-DVDs moment to really pull ahead of its Blu-ray disc rival.

Right now, "the lowest-priced HD DVD player, from Toshiba, can be purchased for $299 after a $100 mail-in rebate, while the cheapest Blu-ray Disc player, from Sony, sells for $499."

"Hardware drives software," Graffeo stated. "Why do you think they give away the razor? It's because they want you to buy the blade."

In May, when Toshiba made the $100 rebate available, Graffeo said that HD-DVD "player sales soared 70%." "We sold 70,000 units in seven weeks, from a base of 100,000 units," he said.

Graffeo however has a big reason to get behind HD-DVD. "Universal is the only studio to exclusively support" the format.

Of course, Andy Parsons, the Blu-ray Disc Association spokesman, has a different take.

"The memo is for a Chinese HD-DVD format only," he offers, "So it's a bit of a stretch to suggest that this will translate into cheap HD-DVD players being exported into the United States."

Whatever happens, Graffeo will either be seen a visionary for realizing HD-DVD's true potential, or Universal will be left holding a very large bag of HD-DVD titles.

Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs