Vivid Entertainment Group will become the first adult filmmaker to put out a movie in Blu-ray Disc when it releases "Debbie Does Dallas...Again" in late March, but it's not saying who is helping it make copies of the discs.
Most porn industry film makers have not been able to find replicators to make Blu-ray Disc copies for them, and have instead turned to rival format HD DVD. The two formats are vying to replace DVDs as the high definition format of choice for people who like to watch movies at home.
In fact, Vivid is the only company in the adult film industry using Blu-ray Disc right now. Other companies say they were rebuffed by Sony and other companies that replicate Blu-ray Discs.
Hunting for Service
Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment, said it wasn't easy finding a replicating partner, but Vivid did.
Eight companies worldwide can replicate Blu-ray Discs, Hirsch said. Two of those companies are controlled by Sony, which won't allow them to handle pornography. Five other companies have contracts to replicate discs for Walt Disney, which stipulate that they cannot handle adult films if they want to work with Disney.
That leaves one possible replicator for the adult industry, and Hirsch is keeping its name a closely guarded secret. He doesn't want to give rivals easy access to a company it was hard for him to find.
Disney did not immediately respond to queries for comment on this report.
Sony has already said it won't handle adult film titles. In markets where Sony operates around the world it won't duplicate any movies above a certain rating or that have not been certified by a local motion picture association.
Hirsch believes Vivid succeeded with Blu-ray Disc where others failed because it is one of the top names in adult-films. But Blu-ray Disc may have a short life in the adult film industry unless Vivid succeeds with strong sales of its title.
Vivid plans to closely watch how sales of the Blu-ray Disc sequel to the classic "Debbie Does Dallas" stack up against HD DVD, said Hirsch. A Blu-ray Disc failure could end its use by Vivid because of the costs involved.
"Blu-ray is extremely expensive to work with," said Hirsch. Authoring in Blu-ray Disc is about four times more expensive than HD DVD, he said, while replicating is three times as expensive. Authoring is the process of combining video and audio into a format that a disc player can read.
The authoring process is far different than DVD because Blu-ray Disc is a completely new technology, while HD DVD is an extension of DVD technology, so it's not as complicated, Hirsch said.
The company has plans to release four more adult-films on Blu-ray Disc this year, but it won't if Blu-ray doesn't fare well in the market.
"I will not pull the trigger until I see what happens," Hirsch said.
He believes Vivid's bet on Blu-ray Disc will pay off because there are more Blu-ray Disc players out among consumers.
DVD Sales Jump
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) estimates that there were about 250,000 stand-alone next generation DVD players sold last year, but the figure doesn't distinguish between HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. It also doesn't include disc drives sold with game machines.
Sony says it had shipped 2 million PlayStation 3 game consoles by the middle of January, and every machine is equipped with a Blu-ray Disc player. Microsoft reported it had sold 10.4 million Xbox 360 game consoles by the end of last year, but the consoles do not include an HD DVD player inside. The company started selling an add-on HD DVD drive for the Xbox 360 last November.