First, Paramount and DreamWorks Animation get bought off to go HD DVD exclusive. Now word is Toshiba's trying to romance Warner into flipping. The only problem is Sony's doing its best to seduce the last dual-format studio into exclusively shacking up with Blu-ray.
This lurid next chapter in our favorite little tech soap opera comes to us by way of The Digital Bits, which links to an L.A. Times story (also printed in Newsday) that suggest serious bucks are being dangled by both Toshiba and Sony to win Warner's affections. Wal-Mart's in the mix, too, and according to the Newsday article, was allegedly contemplating booting HD DVD standalone players from its stores--until Toshiba "pledged a large cooperative promotional budget to support HD DVD sales."
Sources suggested that Toshiba offered upward of $150 million in incentives to get Paramount and DreamWorks to turn, and Sony anted up "a jaw-dropping" sum to have Target exclusively promote standalone Blu-ray players and software (Target will continue to sell the HD DVD add-on for the XBox 360). What will it take to get Warner to budge? I'm guessing in excess of $250 million because of the quality of Warner's titles, and such a move might just seal the deal for Sony, which leads with Blu-ray exclusives on seven of the summer's 15 biggest box-office hits, including Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, Ratatouille, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, The Simpsons Movie and Superbad.
The Times story highlights the fact that the stakes are high, with the winner of the next-generation DVD war potentially earning $10 billion in licensing fees over the next 10 years. That said, a lot of folks think that's backward thinking and that both HD DVD and Blu-ray will go the way of the Laserdisc as movie downloads take off. Wouldn't that be a pisser?