ICv2 has learned that ADV Films has chosen the Blu-ray high definition format and plans to begin releasing high def versions of some titles as early as this spring. A hghly placed source at the company told us that 'frontlist is more important than catalogue right now,' so the first high def releases will be the company's newest titles. The move to begin releasing Blu-ray versions of some new titles may have an impact on ADV's release schedule, as high def transfers will have to be prepared.
High definition is at a turning point, with Warner Bros.' recent decision to support Blu-ray exclusively beginning in June (the studio had previously supported both formats) swinging the momentum toward the format in its war against HD. Player sales moved heavily toward Blu-ray in the wake of the Warners announcement. But the Toshiba-led HD group is not lying down -- it will run a Superbowl ad supporting the format this weekend.
Anime companies have been slow to begin high def releases, with concerns over the format war as one important reason. High end distributor Bandai Visual has releases in both high def formats. Sony has released its features Tekkonkinkreet and Paprika in Blu-ray format. And FUNimation has expressed support for high definition anime as format issues become settled (see 'Interview with Gen Fukunaga, Part 1'). But ADV appears to be willing to make its bet and move forward in a big way, believing that anime fans want the quality that high definition brings.
The move comes amidst a lot of speculation about ADV's future, after a tough year in the market in 2007, the ending of ADV's Newtype license (see 'Newtype Successor Broadens Focus'), and discussion on fan sites about changes to ADV's Website. ADV issued a statement this week. 'We know there are a lot of rumors swirling about, and that fans are looking for assurances that ADV will continue to distribute the anime series they know and love,' the statement said. 'While we can't go into any detail at this time, please know that ADV is working through a few short-term challenges and fully intends to continue our releases. We thank you for your patience.'
Perhaps with its move to high definition, the picture at ADV will become clearer.