Last Fall CBS and Toshiba made a big splash over Star Trek coming out exclusively on HD DVD, starting with the first season of The Original Series. Toshiba reps dressed up in Trek uniforms at an industry trade show, they did a phaser remote-control give-away, and used Trek as a big selling point for their platform during the holiday season. However 2008 has been a very bad year for HD DVD and indications are that the format war is over and HD DVD has lost. Studios and retailers alike are jumping ship and all that is left is for Toshiba to finally call uncle…leaving Trek as a casualty of war.
What’s next for Paramount, CBS and Trek on HD?
The Japanese news service Nikkei is reporting that this evening Toshiba will announce they are ceasing manufacturing of HD DVD products (players & recorders) immediately and will stop selling them at end of March. The last two studio holdouts for HD DVD are Paramount (w/ CBS and DreamWorks) and Universal (including NBC). Both are expected to announce support for Blu-ray in the very near future. In fact The Digital Bits has reported that some Blu-ray Paramount titles (which were cancelled when they went HD DVD exclusive a few months ago) have reappeared on retailers ordering systems. What isn’t clear is if either studio will continue to support HD DVD as well in the short run. Although it would be the reasonable thing to do for consumers they helped push onto the format, there is the issue that retailers like Netflix and Wal-Mart have all announced they will no longer buy new HD DVD titles, and Best Buy is no longer recommending HD DVD to customers.
The big question for Trekkies is ‘What about Star Trek?’ It had previously been confirmed that work on seasons two and three of remastered Original Series has been progressing with likely releases in the Summer and Winter respectively. Even after re-embracing Blu-ray, CBS could still release these titles on HD DVD as well (which would be nice for all those who purchased HD DVD players over the holiday season). However, at least one report says work on those seasons for HD DVD has been cancelled. This has not been confirmed, but (unfortunately) would not be surprising. TrekMovie.com has tried to get some clarification from CBS and/or Paramount, but so far they aren’t talking to us (or anyone). After Toshiba makes their announcement CBS and Paramount are bound to follow with one of their own and maybe that will provide some detail regarding the future of Trek.
…and the good news?
The silver lining may be that once the format war is over all the Trek content that is HD Ready will come out soon on Blu-ray. In addition to the three seasons of the remastered Original Series, there is Star Trek Enterprise (which is already shown in HD Net), the ten feature films (which have been shown in HD on HBO and Cinemax) and of course the 2009 Star Trek feature film. TNG, DS9 and Voyager would all require remastering (and possibly new CGI) to make it onto HD and so those are much more long term.
As more is learned on this developing story, TrekMovie.com will bring it to you.
UPDATE: Star Trek Remastered in syndication unchanged
Some fans have raised concerns over the future of the Star Trek Remastered series that currently runs in syndication. It has been reported that Toshiba has been providing funding for HD DVD project and will end that funding. However, even if true, this funding would only relate to the HD DVD development and not the syndicated series. As far as TrekMovie.com can tell, the remastered Star Trek will continue to air new episodes until next fall (by which time the entire series will have been completed).
UPDATE 2: IT IS OFFICIALLY OVER
As reported at The Digital Bits, Toshiba have officially announced the death of HD DVD. From the release:
Toshiba Corporation today announced that it has undertaken a thorough review of its overall strategy for HD DVD and has decided it will no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders.
Special thanks to Bill Hunt of the Digital Bits who contributed to this story and to Keiko for her Japanese translations and to Brian, Greg and others who have been sending in reports.