Paramount Home Entertainment, one of the biggest movie studios has announced that it will be releasing high-definition movies on Sony's Blu-ray format next year. The company had previously announced that it would be releasing titles in the competing format created by Toshiba - HD DVD.

In a statement released late Sunday in the United States, Paramount threw its weight strongly behind the Blu-ray camp but did not mention HD DVD. That means Paramount could still sell movies in both standards but reports surfacing on the web suggest that Toshiba is panicking.

"After more detailed assessment and new data on cost, manufacturability and copy protection solutions, we have now made the decision to move ahead with the Blu-ray format," Thomas Lesinski, president of Paramount Pictures, said in the release.

Toshiba said in a statement on Monday that it believed Paramount continued to back HD DVD, basing that position on comments made by Paramount officials in previous press reports.

Lesinski said the fact that Sony's next-generation PlayStation 3 game console would come equipped with a Blu-ray DVD player was a key factor behind its support. PlayStation 3 is due to be launched next spring.

Paramount joins Sony Pictures Entertainment, The Walt Disney Co. and Twentieth Century Fox in backing Blu-ray, although like Paramount, Disney and Fox have not ruled out the possibility of also releasing movies for HD DVD.

Universal Studios, a unit of General Electric Co.'s (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research) NBC Universal, and Warner Bros. Studios have endorsed HD DVD.

Both formats are due to be launched next year, although Toshiba according to reports seem to be slightly ahead in development of machines and production of actual media.

Toshiba is exhibiting a prototype of a D-DVD player thought to be close to the final design of the commercial player this week at CEATEC in Japan. The player will be called the HD-XA1, and be as large as early DVD players were when they first launched in this country seven years ago.

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