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Paramount, DreamWorks Drop Blu-ray in Favor of HD DVD

Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation SKG (which Paramount owns), two shops that together produce some of the most popular packaged content in Hollywood, this week sent shock waves through both next-gen disc camps when they announced they will side solely with the HD DVD format. As a consequence, they will cease offering future titles in the Blu-ray Disc format.

The unforeseen announcement could have a huge impact on the disc war currently underway, especially in molding the perception of who is winning, where a lot of critics thought Blu-ray had the definite edge. Some of the most visible movies in recent months — including the computer-animated “Shrek the Third” and the live-action blockbuster “Transformers” — will now only be available on HD DVD.

There is one big exception to Paramount’s new preferences: Steven Spielberg’s films will continue to be issued in both HD DVD and Blu-ray, according to Paramount’s announcement.

The head of DreamWorks Animation, Jeffrey Katzenberg, noted this week that since HD DVD players are generally lower-priced than the Blu-ray units, his chosen format should appeal to the family market. “It’s a game-changer, what [HD DVD prime supporter Toshiba] is doing, and it’s why we decided to throw in with them,” Katzenberg told the AP.