Paramount, Dreamworks Animation Go HD DVD

A major explosion was set off today in the format war between Blu-ray and HD DVD: Paramount Home Entertainment and Dreamworks Animation have announced they’re dropping the Blu-ray high-definition disc format and will issue new released exclusively on HD DVD. Both studios had originally announced support for the HD DVD format before deciding to hedge their bets and support both HD DVD and Blu-ray; now, the studios will exclusively support the HD DVD format based on an “extensive evaluation” of the high-definition disc market and the benefits of the HD DVD format. The deciding factor seem to have been the lower cost of HD DVD players in the marketplace (rather than consumer sales of discs in either format) and the lower cost of HD DVD production.

“We believe the combination of this year’s low-priced HD DVD players and the commitment to release a significant number of hit titles in the fall makes HD DVD the best way to view movies at home,” said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, in a statement.

“The combination of Paramount and DreamWorks Animation brings a critical mass of current box office hits to consumers with a line-up of live action and animated films that are perfect for HD DVD,” said Paramount Pictures CEO and chairman Brad Grey, in a release. “Part of our vision is to aggressively extend our movies beyond the theater, and deliver the quality and features that appeal to our audience. I believe HD DVD is not only the affordable high quality choice for consumers, but also the smart choice for Paramount.”

Paramount Pictures is currently the top-grossing U.S. movie studio in terms of domestic box office revenue; Paramount Home Entertainment released movies from Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Paramount Vantage, and DreamWorks PIctures, along with movies from Viacom properties Nickelodeon and MTV. Recently released titles to be released exclusively on HD DVD include Blades of Glory, along with Shrek the Third and Michael Bay’s Transformers.

Most movie studios have opted to release titles in both Blu-ray and HD DVD format rather than take sides in the high-definition disc format war, with the main exceptions having been Universal Studios exclusively supporting HD DVD, and Sony (of course) exclusively backing Blu-ray.

One exception in the DreamWorks SKG properties will be Steven Spielberg films, which Paramount has indicated it may choose to release in either HD DVD or Blu-ray format—or both.

Currently, Blu-ray titles are generally considered to have a slight sales edge on HD DVD titles as well as an edge in overall player sales—so long as PlayStation 3 game consoles are counted as Blu-ray players. However, since introduction, sales of both disc formats combined reportedly total less than 4 million discs.

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