Paramount goes HD DVD-exclusive

<i>Transformers</i> studio and fellow Viacom brands drop most support for Blu-ray format; only Spielberg-directed films remain platform agnostic.

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Sony's Blu-ray high-definition disc format had scored a number of solid blows in its ongoing battle with Toshiba's HD DVD in recent months. In June, movie rental chain Blockbuster committed to offering only Blu-ray high-definition discs in its stores, citing the integration of the format into the PlayStation 3 among its reasons. Last week, Home Media Research analysts said that Blu-ray Disc sales doubled those of HD DVD for the first half of the year.

However, today the HD DVD camp gets to tout a major victory, as Paramount announced that it is now exclusive to Toshiba's chosen format, taking its DreamWorks Animation SKG, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies, and MTV Films brands with it. There are a handful of exceptions to this exclusivity, such as films directed by Steven Spielberg, which won't be exclusive to either platform.

Films that are executive produced by Spielberg can still be HD DVD-exclusive, as Paramount said it is kicking off its platform monogamy with HD DVD releases of Transformers, Shrek the Third, and Blades of Glory. Set to go on sale next Tuesday, Blades of Glory had originally been announced as a release for Blu-ray Disc as well as HD-DVD.

"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," said DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg in a statement.

Supporters of Toshiba's format include Universal Pictures, as well as Microsoft, which recently dropped the price of its Xbox 360 HD DVD player to $179.

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