The turning point during World War II came on June 6, 1944 when the Allies launched 150,000 troops onto the beaches of Normandy and established a beachhead in France. For the high def format wars, D-Day is likely January 4, 2008, when Warner Bros. announced their decision to discontinue support for the HD DVD format and exclusively support Blu-ray disc.
Blu-ray has been ahead in software sales for some time, typically by a margin of 2:1 or 3:1 (depending on the week), but because of Toshiba’s aggressive pricing strategy, HD DVD had been holding on in the hardware front. According to Warner’s press release, the crucial holiday season showed that even the hardware trend had been reversed, despite Blu-ray’s $100 price premium over its most formidable competitor.
Back in June and August of 2007, I had provided some analysis of how the format wars stood from a box office perspective. The initial analysis was done more to satisfy my own curiosity, but turned out to be quite popular. When Paramount/Dreamworks announced they were switching exclusively to HD DVD in August, I provided an update so the impact could be understood. I am now providing another update, in order to understand the impact of the Warner Bros. decision.
A few items of note:
- films DIRECTED by Steven Spielberg are captured as format neutral, with the exception of Close Encounters (which is captured as Blu-ray exclusive because it is currently available only on Blu-ray, and has been advertised as Blu-ray exclusive). This is to recognize that when the HD DVD group has tried to advertise any Spielberg films as HD DVD exclusive (twice, so far), Spielberg has required them to publicly acknowledge that his films are not exclusive to HD DVD. Films produced or executive produced by Spielberg are assigned based on the studio that released the film, as the public acknowledgments have only covered films he directed.
- I have included films from Warner Bros. subsidiaries (e.g. New Line) as Blu-ray exclusive. I realize the “official” announcements have not come from these subsidiaries as of this writing, but realistically, it’s only a matter of time (the wholly-owned subsidiary doesn’t stray from the path of the parent company).