Disney to support Blu-ray Disc

Heating up battle for studio content among consumer-electronics firms, Disney announces support for next-generation DVD format.

Disney is weighing in on the next-generation DVD format battle with its support of the Blu-ray Disc format.

Disney--along with its home-video division, Buena Vista Home Entertainment--announced late Wednesday that it will release movies on the Blu-ray format in North America and Japan when the discs become available. Manufacturers and disc makers said players and discs should start hitting the market in late 2005 or early 2006.

The announcement means consumers will be able to get movies from Buena Vista Home Entertainment on the Blu-ray Discs. Also part of the library of films are those from Walt Disney Home Entertainment, Hollywood Pictures Home Video, Touchstone Home Entertainment, Miramax Home Entertainment, Dimension Home Video and Disney DVD.

Blu-ray Discs can store up to 50GB of data on a dual-sided disc. That's significantly higher than the 4.7GB capacity of the DVD format Blu-ray is looking to succeed.

Disney said its plans to release movies on the Blu-ray format are nonexclusive, meaning it could publish movies on other formats as well.

Disney will become a member of the board of directors at the Blu-ray Disc Association, which is developing and marketing the next-generation disc format. Sony Electronics, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are also influential names on the board.

Blu-ray Disc is a blue-laser format, which is competing with another format called HD DVD to take over for the popular DVD format. DVD is one of the most popular technologies in consumer electronics history.

Last week, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema said movies from their libraries would be available on HD DVD.

Studio MGM and Sony Pictures have also pledged support for the Blu-ray format. Both entertainment businesses are related to Sony, a major backer of the Blu-ray Disc format.

Executives from Twentieth Century Fox are also on the board of directors of the group. However, the studio has yet to say whether it will release films on the Blu-ray Disc format. It has played an active role in helping to shape the format's copy-protection and interactive features, said Josh Peterson, a director in HP's optical storage division.

"The studios will come around to the superior format," Peterson said. "Capacity and picture quality are directly related."

Toshiba and NEC are major supporters of the HD DVD format.

 

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