Warner Bros. Entertainment joins Blu-ray camp

Warner Bros. Entertainment on Thursday said it would release high-definition movies in the Blu-ray format backed by a group led by Sony, scoring another point for it in a war over new DVD formats.

The move by Warner, a film studio owned by Time Warner Inc, gives Sony further ammunition against a rival format called HD DVD, which is endorsed by a consortium of electronics makers including Toshiba Corp.

Warner had previously said it would release titles in HD DVD and will continue to support that format. Warner's move to also support Blu-ray was prompted by the failure of both sides to agree on a unified format before players went on sale.

The formats are incompatible, and Hollywood executives fear that will lead to consumer confusion. Industry watchers compare the standoff to the battle between VHS and Betamax in the 1980s, reports Reuters.

"Making our content available to as many consumers as possible is our goal for doing this," said Marsha King, the executive vice president for new business development at Warner Home Video.

Ms. King said Warner joined because her company felt assured that the copy protection software and other technology it preferred would be included in the Blu-ray format.

The studios are also hedging their bets by agreeing to make DVD's in both formats. Sony, Toshiba and their allies have been locked in a battle to become the dominant standard for the discs and players, which promise sharper images, improved sound and more storage. Since both sides have promised to release players in the coming year, the studios do not want to lose potential sales.

Sony Pictures, Disney, Fox and Lion's Gate have sided with the Blu-ray group, but have not shown any inclination to make DVD's in Toshiba's format. This has led industry analysts to say the Blu-ray camp has gained an advantage over Toshiba, informs the New York Times.