Paramount & DreamWorks May Drop HD-DVD, Side With Blu-Ray
Update: High-Def Digest contacted Paramount on this issue, and the official reply is that they are "still supporting HD-DVD." However, they also noted they have no further HD-DVD title announcements at this year's CES 2008. It's a wait-and-see type thing, obviously.
A lot has happened since Warner Bros. decided to side exclusively with Blu-Ray, and the latest news only further indicates the very distinct possibility that HD-DVD could be all done.
According to FT.com, it seems that Paramount and DreamWorks Animation are both primed and ready to drop HD-DVD after the Warner move. In addition to Universal, both of those movie studios are the primary backers of Toshiba's high-definition format, and if they opt to go with Blu-Ray, too...well, we hate to jump the gun, but "game, set, match" sounds viable. Evidently, there's a clause in Paramount's contract with the HD-DVD people that would allow the studio to switch sides if Warner Bros. backed Blu-Ray. That sounds like an absurdly specific clause, but according to people "familiar with the situation," it's true. As of now, Disney, 20th Century Fox and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer all support Sony's Blu-Ray format, which means that Blu-Ray currently holds about 70% of Hollywood's total output.
We don't know if DreamWorks has that same clause in their agreement with HD-DVD, but they maintain a "close relationship" with Paramount because the latter company distributes DreamWorks Animation's films. Rather than gloat about the very strong position of Blu-Ray, Sony chief executive Sir Howard Stringer says they are "open to dialogue" with the HD-DVD camp.
"We are not going to push people around," he said. "We’ll talk to anyone ... we have a lot of work to do to grow the market. We’ll be systematic and open to dialogue at all times."
Stringer also isn't about to jump to conclusions by declaring Blu-Ray the victor, as he says Sony still has a "lot of or work" to do before before their high-def format is "widely accepted" in North America. Back in the early '80s, Sony found themselves on the losing side of a format war, as their Betamax technology failed in the wake of the increasingly popular VHS tape. But this time around, it looks like Sony is backing a winner. Now, will Paramount and DreamWorks step up to help solidify a victory?
1/7/2008 Ben Dutka