At the recent CEDIA Expo, Warner Home Video President Ron Sanders spoke with Twice.com about the format war and creating a level playing field for HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc.

The main question it seems is how true are the rumors that companies are wooing Warner Home Video to get behind one of the next generation formats.

"We're talking to both sides and it's crazy right now." Sanders states. "We remain committed to both for the time being. We'll see how the fourth quarter plays out. The consumer is still kind of divided, and we still believe that we should offer the content in both formats. Now, we will watch the marketplace very closely, and see how it plays out, but for now we are supporting both."

By manufacturing HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc Warner Home Video has double the work in terms of getting stores to carry not just one title but two versions of the same title. The question is do they push both formats?

"We do. There are no special incentives to support both but they will chase the consumer, and the consumer wants both. In software, new release titles are selling around 2-to-1, Blu-ray to HD-DVD. But it varies by any given title. On "Planet Earth" we sold more HD-DVD than Blu-ray and on 300 we sold more Blu-ray than HD. It's probably two-thirds to one-third, but you're going to give up a third of that. We're about returning the best profit on the asset of a film, and it's hard to give that up. So, let's see where it all plays out." Sanders maintains.

Finally, the biggest question is who is going to win this format war?

"It's really hard to handicap. I can't tell, which side, if any, will win. Right now it's like a Mexican standoff. If the consumer continues to support both formats, the industry will as well. It will be really pivotal what Toshiba does this fourth quarter in hardware. If they sell through everything they ship, and it's a big number at the price points that are coming out, then I think [HD-DVD] will be around for a long time. If they don't, then it could go Blu-ray's way. But Toshiba is getting very, very aggressive on pricing, which is putting pressure on Blu-ray player manufacturers to bring prices down. As a content company we just want more hardware in the homes. So what ever drives more hardware is good to see. Right now it looks like there is price pressure on both sides because there are two formats - more pressure than there would be if there was only one format. So, for our interests, more razors means we'll sell more razor blades down the road."

Cinemark Movie Club
Evan Jacobs