Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Paramount and Dreamworks withdraw ´Blu-ray´ support

Sony´s next-generation DVD format ´Blu-ray´ has suffered a huge blow with both Paramount and Dreamworks withdrawing their support and committing their library exclusively to rival format ´HD-DVD´. Viacom, Paramount´s parent company, explains the move:

The exclusive HD DVD commitment will include all movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films, as well as movies from DreamWorks Animation, which are distributed exclusively by Paramount Home Entertainment. (...)

"We decided to release "Shrek the Third" and other DreamWorks Animation titles exclusively on HD DVD because we believe it is the best format to bring high quality home entertainment to a key segment of our audience -- families," stated DreamWorks Animation CEO, Jeffrey Katzenberg. "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." (...)

Today's announcement does not include films directed by Steven Spielberg as his films are not exclusive to either format.

Only in late July, a number of retailers appeared to switch exclusively to ´Blu-ray´. But two major studios pledging exclusive support to ´HD-DVD´ reverses Sony´s fortune.

This move represents a huge blow to the ´Blu-ray´ format, Sony in general and the PlayStation3 in particular. If you want to watch blockbuster titles like ´Transformers´, ´Shrek the Third´ or ´Blades of Glory´, a PS3 will be no good. What I recently applauded as the consoles´s only unique selling point has just become pretty much void.

But let us look at the current tally. Wikipedia counts up current ´HD-DVD´ studio support thus:

In terms of major studios in North America, HD DVD is currently exclusively backed by Universal Studios (including subsidiaries Rogue Pictures, Focus Features and Polygram Filmed Entertainment), Paramount Pictures (including Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies, MTV Films, DreamWorks Pictures and DreamWorks Animation), The Weinstein Company (including Dimension Films), and First Look Studios. The format is non-exclusively backed by Warner Bros. Pictures (it should be noted that a number of Warner's titles—Batman Begins, Constantine, Troy (excluding Troy: Director's Cut), V for Vendetta, The Perfect Storm, Poseidon, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, The Matrix Trilogy—are HD DVD exclusive at the present), Warner Music Group, New Line Cinema, HBO, Studio Canal, and Image Entertainment (including the Discovery Channel), Magnolia Pictures, Brentwood Home Video, Ryko, Koch/Goldhil Entertainment.

Compare this to Wikipedia´s entry on ´Blu-ray´ studio support:

Currently, Blu-ray Disc is exclusively supported by Sony Pictures Entertainment and MGM (both owned by Sony) as well as Disney, 20th Century Fox, and Lionsgate. It is non-exclusively supported by Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema. Several members of the Blu-ray organization's Board of Directors, such as Hewlett-Packard, Samsung, and LG, pledged support to Blu-ray Disc, and later, also supported HD DVD.

Essentially, we have Universal, Paramount and Dreamworks exclusively backing ´HD-DVD´ now while Sony Pictures, MGM, Disney and 20th Century Fox have exclusively sided with ´Blu-ray´. That seems like a stalemate. But it is obvious that the momentum is certainly in favour of ´HD-DVD´.

Source: Viacom
Thanks to: Engadget, Joystiq


RGB said...


Anonymous said...

So basically all we are going to see in the format war is a popularity contest between companies

Anonymous said...

But it is obvious that the momentum is certainly in favour of ´HD-DVD´.

I don’t think it is quite that obvious. Currently Blu-ray holds 70% of the next-gen DVD market; also considering both Paramount and DreamWorks have not released a film on Blu-ray for several months so I doubt that this will have a significant impact. I just don’t think that Transformers and Shrek the third are enough to dramatically boost sales this holiday season.

To the main point; this $150 million 18 month exclusivity deal that the HD-DVD forum has struck with Paramount/DreamWorks does not include Spielberg films .


So this means that Paramount/DreamWorks films made by Spielberg will still be released on Blu-ray.

Here is a quote from DreamWorks spokesperson Marvin Levy:

“Steven is a supporter of Blu-Ray but is not exclusive to either format.”

So this “deal” seems shallow at best.

Spielberg, like Lucas has a lot of control over his films. Hasn’t anyone ever wondered why Universal films such as Jaws and Jurassic Park have not made it to HD-DVD yet?

Also it seems that Spielberg isn’t the only one against this decision.


Anonymous said...

At first I did not believe it when I heard the announcement. Unfortunately the news turned out to be true. I do not understand what two major studios have to gain by withdrawing support from the most populair high definition standard. Blueray is outselling hd dvd by 2 to 1. So it does not make any business sense to me to focus exclusively on the least populair system.
I still think that Sony will win this format war, if only because after a price drop of the ps3 the amount of sold blueray players will be much higher than the amount of sold hd dvd players. It will become untenable for a studio like paramount to focus exlusievely on the less populair system. But I think that the movie industry, especially in the US, will pay a high price because of this next gen hd format war.

RGB said...

Your keyword and everyone elses keyword on PS3's success is always 'if'. 'If' doesnt cut it sorry.

Anonymous said...

Grand Master B,

The Blueray player is already outselling the HD dvd with 2 to 1. This is not a "if" as you call it. Businesswise it just does not make any sense to support the least populair format exclusively for the next 18 months. Sony will probably loose it's dominant position on the homeconsolemarket, but at the moment it is winning the next gen war on high defition players, simply because there are more bluerays being sold than hd dvd players. Please notice that we are talking about an entirely different market than the consolemarket.

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Anonymous said...

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