Thursday, August 23, 2007

Dispatches from the Format War, #3

In my last post in this series, I concluded that the Blu-ray/HD DVD format war was tipping decisively in favor of Blu-ray. But wait! Now comes this news of Paramount and DreamWorks dropping Blu-ray support entirely.

According to the article, Paramount and its subsidiaries, including DreamWorks Animation, will cease releasing high-def discs of their movies in both competing formats side by side. For now at least, they will put out discs only on HD DVD (and on regular DVD, of course).

But the Blu-ray camp immediately fired back with this: upcoming releases on Blu-ray include such sought-after titles as Master & Commander, Ronin, Cast Away, Independence Day, A Bridge Too Far, 28 Days Later, The Day After Tomorrow, and the Die Hard trilogy. Also, the Paramount deal doesn't include any of Steven Spielberg's movies, which Paramount releases, and the deal runs only for 18 months anyway. Spielberg's company is DreamWorks SKG, not DreamWorks Animation.

The New York Times reported in Two Studios to Support HD DVD Over Rival that "Paramount and DreamWorks Animation together will receive about $150 million in financial incentives for their commitment to HD DVD, according to two Viacom executives with knowledge of the deal but who asked not to be identified." Viacom owns Paramount.

Who ponied up the $150 million "in a combination of cash and promotional guarantees"? At least some of it came from Toshiba, prime mover of the HD DVD camp. Microsoft? It denied writing any checks.

Stay tuned ...

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