LOS ANGELES - Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG will offer next-generation DVDs in the HD DVD format and drop support for Blu-ray, further complicating the race between the competing technologies.
Monday’s announcement affects the upcoming DVD releases of the blockbusters “Shrek the Third” and “Transformers,” along with movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films.
Movies directed by Steven Spielberg, however, will continue to be released in both formats.
Paramount, which owns DreamWorks Pictures and handles home sales for the separate company DreamWorks Animation, previously released movies in both Blu-ray and HD DVD.
“Part of our vision is to aggressively extend our movies beyond the theater, and deliver the quality and features that appeal to our audience,” said Brad Grey, chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures, a unit of Viacom. “I believe HD DVD is not only the affordable highquality choice for consumers, but also the smart choice for Paramount,” he said.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, said consumers seeking to switch to high-definition DVDs will be enticed by the movies available for HD DVD players. He added the lower price for the Toshiba devices will appeal to the family market. “It’s a game-changer, what they’re doing, and it’s why we decided to throw in with them,” Katzenberg said.
Stand-alone HD DVD players have a bigger slice of the market than Blu-ray players. But when you count Sony’s PlayStation 3 game console, which comes with a Blu-ray drive, there are more Blu-ray players in U.S. homes.
WHAT HAPPENED: Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG said Monday they will offer movies exclusively in the HD DVD format rather than its better-selling rival Blu-ray.
EXCEPTION: Not included are director Steven Spielberg’s films, which the companies said are “not exclusive to either format.”
WHAT THEY DO: Both HD DVD and Blu-ray players produce much sharper pictures than conventional DVD players.
BY THE NUMBERS: From Jan. 1 through Aug. 12, consumers bought 2.1 million Blu-ray discs and 1.1 million HD DVD discs, compared with nearly half a billion standard DVDs, said Judith McCourt, research director of Home Media Research.
WHAT DO THEY COST? HD DVD players now retail in some cases for $299 and could be headed as low as $199 by the holiday season. Blu-ray players have come down from about $1,000 a year ago to $499 today.
WHO IS WINNING? Blu-ray discs have outsold HD DVDs by 2-to-1 this year, and retailers including Blockbuster and Target Corp. are lining up on the Blu-ray side, according to the Blu-ray Disc Association trade group.