Adult Studios React To Hi-Def Format War

LAS VEGAS – Toshiba's HD DVD consortium canceled its CES conference on Sunday in the wake of Warner Brothers' Jan. 4 decision to release its hi-def titles exclusively on Sony's Blu-ray disc. With many viewing the announcement as a decisive victory for Blu-ray, AVN asked adult video producers for their thoughts on the dramatic shift in the hi-def format war.

“We are currently doing HD DVD and Blu-ray," Digital Playground's Joone told AVN. "HD DVD currently still is a viable market for us. We’re selling a lot of units, there’s over a million players out there, so it might be ‘dead’ [in] the long term, but on an immediate basis, it’s still a viable market. We’ll continue to grow our Blu-ray as well, and for us, it’s going to be a smooth transition if we have to go from one to the other."

Most adult studios releasing in hi-def have opted for HD DVD because the Toshiba format is less expensive to replicate.

“For the time being, we’re going to continue [putting movies on HD DVD],” Joone said. “We have a good, solid customer base that is buying a healthy quantity, so until that number starts coming down, we’ll continue supporting it.”

Digital Playground has released its blockbuster Pirates on Blu-ray disc and plans to issue at least eight titles per month on Blu-ray for the remainder of this year.

"It seems that Blu-ray is going to be the way that everybody’s going," said Drew Rosenfeld, creative director for Hustler Video. "I just want to know what’s going to happen with the million-plus consumers that went out and bought HD DVD players over Christmas. Hopefully they’ll buy Barely Legal 75 HD. But we know there’s some challenges ahead of us not just with switching gears from HD to Blu-ray, but in finding some reputable companies to work with in authoring and replication. Replication right now is the big issue.”

Rosenfeld said Hustler plans to release its first Blu-ray title as early as March.

Wicked Pictures director Jonathan Morgan said, “It’s really tough to compete when you’ve got a children’s game, the Playstation 3, that already comes with the Blu-ray. What did they sell, 10 million, 20 million? How do you compete against that? I know that the HD DVD is cheaper, the HD DVD seems to have as good if not slightly better picture quality, but the thing is, I’m not going to buy an HD DVD deck, because I already own the Playstation 3, so that forces me to go to Blu-ray."

“We don’t have any loyalty to either format,” Morgan continued. “It all comes down to the authoring. The company that we use right now decided that, as far as affordability and effectiveness, HD DVD was the best way for them, so that kind of forced us to go that way. In a year from now, you ask me that same question, I have a funny feeling that the word Blu-ray will be coming out of my mouth.”

“I will say this,” he added. “Unless HD DVD comes out with some kind of unbelievable, $100 DVD player, it is on life support, and I think there’s a busty widow about to kick out the plug.”

Morgan said that Wicked is in talks with DVD authoring firms about adopting Blu-ray.

Club Jenna CEO Jay Grdina echoed Joone’s thoughts, saying, “We still produce and release in both Blu-ray and HD, so I’m ready for whichever way it goes. Right now, they’re both ancillary markets. When it comes out as the main platform, then we will make a decision, but right now, we do it in regular DVD, HD and Blu-ray. There’s still a consumer for both products, and it’s about an equal amount.”