Studios Outline Fourth Quarter HD DVD Release Plans; New Line to Sit Out 2006

Posted Mon Aug 7, 2006 at 09:15 PM PDT by
Wall of HD-DVD Discs The major HD DVD-supporting studios are gearing up to unleash a late-year flurry of new disc titles by the end of the fourth quarter -- with one major exception -- company executives revealed late today during an industry conference.

Buoyed by encouraging initial sales for HD DVD hardware and software, executives from the home entertainment divisions of three HD DVD-supporting studios -- Warner, Paramount and Universal -- revealed plans for a robust four-quarter release slate.

"We're still projecting Q4 [2006] to be a very vibrant business for [HD DVD] hardware and software," said Steve Nickerson, senior vp of Warner Home Video. "There are as many consumer electronics HD DVD players in the market as there were standard-definition DVD players at the end of 1997."

The executives for Warner, Universal and Paramount also indicated they may release enough titles by year's-end to more than double the number of HD DVD discs each currently has on the market. As of August 8, Warner is the industry leader with 21 HD DVD on the market; followed by Universal with 17 titles; and Paramount, 12 titles.

"[And] we'll probably double that by year's end,” said Alex Carloss, vp of worldwide marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment. That will include an HD DVD edition of the Tom Cruise blockbuster 'Mission: Impossible III' with extensive bonus features, Carloss promised.

And in an unexpected announcement, New Line Home Entertainment revealed they will be sitting out of the HD DVD game for the entirety of 2006. After months of industry speculation, the studio's vp of marketing Matt Lasorsa confirmed that the studio will not be releasing any titles in the format this year, instead waiting to see fourth quarter sales results before announcing any future plans.

"It will be as early in 2007 as possible," Lasorsa said of any New Line HD DVD title announcements, which will initially focus on new releases. "We don't have the depth or breadth of the other studios, so we want to wait until there's more player penetration."

The executives' comments came during a panel discussion held as part of the annual Entertainment Media Expo, which kicked off early Monday in Universal City, California.
Tags: New Line, Paramount, Universal, Warner, Disc Announcements, Industry Forecasts (all tags)