What’s The Deal, Paramount/DreamWorks And Universal?

Posted by James Segars on March 20, 2008 
Filed Under: Blu-ray, Format War, Replication, Retailers

questmark.jpgWith Universal’s final HD DVD releases now behind us, this marks the end for exclusive HD DVD content on the ill-fated format, but we have yet to hear anything official regarding the future release slate for Paramount/Dreamworks, and Universal.

With less than three weeks before the Oscar winner, "There Will Be Blood" drops on SD DVD — April 8th — and a little over a month until the innovative suspense-fest, "Cloverfield" hits stores — April 22nd — we can’t help but wonder when these execs. will finally wise up and grace us with the official press release detailing their upcoming release slate for Blu-ray. 

It is unlikely that we will see the high-def releases drop day-and-date with their SD counterparts as it has been previously stated — at least from Paramount — that we won’t see Blu-ray releases until "Summer 2008."  However, for many that is far too vague an answer, and we’ve yet to hear definitively when Universal plans to release it’s first BD title.

So what gives?  Why contribute to further uncertainty in the high-def market?  Why wait?  We all know it’s coming.  Let the cat out of the bag already so we can mark our calendars — and re-appropriate our food/gas/beer money — in order to purchase all of your glorious film content, in all of its HD-goodness.

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22 Responses to “What’s The Deal, Paramount/DreamWorks And Universal?”

  1. wishtar on March 20th, 2008 6:31 am

    Here! Here! I had been anxiously awaiting for Beowulf and The Bee Movie (this movie is really stupid but my daugter liked it) in HD back in January. Then of course the bottom fell out of HD DVD. I went and bought a PS3, it seemed the smarted choice for a Blu-ray player and Hey.. you get a game system thrown in too. Now I have to wait. I could buy Beowulf on HD DVD but why bother continuing to purchase a dead format. I refuse to buy new releases in HD DVD or DVD. I can wait for the Blu-Ray release if I have to but I really wish they hurry it up.

  2. Jonsson on March 20th, 2008 8:04 am

    Considering the paramount stupidity that he idiots from these companies have shown, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are pulling the same moronic “soore looser” stunt as Toshiba.

    Yes we lost the war but we will not admit it so we’ll just continue with SD-DVD as if nothing have happened :-(

  3. webdev511 on March 20th, 2008 8:56 am

    Booking production runs isn’t exactly easy to get and there’s no BD50 Capacity to be had for the rest of 2008. Porting titles authored from HDi to BD-J is not easy either.

    BR won 100% of the US Studios, but obviously is not yet ready to support them. I believe that capacity ramp up speed one of the talking points that the HD DVD forum would bring up. Who would have thought that they were actually right about it? Would we be looking at the same delay if the shoe were on the other foot? Who knows…

  4. Mi on March 20th, 2008 9:15 am

    Yea, that would prevent them from announcing their intentions, even if it were accurate.

    The fact is that Paramount at least, screwed over half their customers to get paid by the HDVD camp, then screwed over the other half because they didn’t want to live up to what they had committed to the HDVD consumers. Now they want to delay and play games? The simple fact is that the people in charge of Paramount are a bunch of Jerk 0ffs, with no clue how to run a studio.

    I’ll just continue to keep my money or give it to other studios, thank you very much.

  5. Kevin Murphy on March 20th, 2008 9:21 am

    “I believe that capacity ramp up speed one of the talking points that the HD DVD forum would bring up. Who would have thought that they were actually right about it?”

    Why not — they were right on most of their other criticisms (e.g. higher costs for players and discs), not that it mattered in the end.

    “Would we be looking at the same delay if the shoe were on the other foot? Who knows…”

    Well, since the whole idea of HD DVD was to reuse current SD DVD plants, maybe _they_ knew.

  6. James Segars on March 20th, 2008 9:26 am

    I don’t know, I feel like Paramount/Dreamworks was given some type of incentives to go exclusive, but that they wouldn’t have joined up if they didn’t at least think that HD DVD had a real fighting chance at the time, probably for the simple fact that they imagined the very situation we’re living in right now where they have to once again fully re-adjust their authoring/replication process to accommodate one format exclusively.

    Not only is it presumably expensive, but it leads to far more problems with the potential for porting issues, re-encoding demands, and even long delays between the SD and HD releases thanks to replication bottlenecking.

    All in all, I don’t think they are as malevolent as you think, and surely they are feeling the pain more than any other studio due to their constant “flip-flopping.”

  7. Ellis on March 20th, 2008 9:59 am

    It’s like watching a bunch of kids sulking in the corner. The executives that led the support of HD-DVD are still stinging and a little resentful from HD-DVD’s loss, and are now dragging their feet in supporting Blu-Ray. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

  8. webdev511 on March 20th, 2008 10:28 am


    Maybe a bit of foot dragging, but do you honestly think that if BR replication capacity were available, they wouldn’t use it as soon as they possibly could?

    Paramount was purple, so they know what needs to be done. Universal has a temporary pass as they did not have a relationship with BR replicators until they were forced to.

    This is a simple matter of porting and replication capacity. One or both aren’t available, so the releases won’t be either.

    Too bad they both completely pulled the plug. The could have still released smaller runs in HD DVD until then end of May while working out the logistics of moving to BR.

    The longer they go without BR releases, the more likely people will pick up Standard Def titles instead. It’s almost like Paramount and Universal are saying SD DVD is good enough for the time being.

  9. cliff williams on March 20th, 2008 11:14 am

    I certainly hope we hear something from them SOON.
    I understand there must be some delay due to replication capacity and so on, but at least try to tell us what titles will come first and an approximate time frame. We have waited years for Universal at least, and don`t mind waiting a bit longer, just give us an idea!

  10. Jared on March 20th, 2008 2:04 pm

    I could care less. They will go Blu when they go Blu. It will happen. Blu ray won and that is that.

  11. Kevin Murphy on March 20th, 2008 4:02 pm

    I wonder if “that is that.”

    A month from now, and no releases from these guys and me might conclude that they have no interest in the high-def market, at least for now.

    And what happens if another studio decides that it’s not worth the bother?

  12. webdev511 on March 20th, 2008 5:01 pm

    @Kevin Murphy

    Blu knocked out HD DVD, but if three studios decide it’s not worth the effort and expense, then the BDA needs to re-open its check book. If they don’t then we aren’t any better off than when studios were split between the HD formats.

  13. Dave Cowl on March 20th, 2008 6:32 pm

    I would rather they take their time and do it right than rush to fill a perceived hole and have releases that need to be replaced to be competitive moving forward.

    There are plenty of titles to buy and it is not like their titles are going in ‘the vault’ or anything…

  14. James Segars on March 20th, 2008 7:56 pm

    Even still… I think we should get some tentative dates and titles released soon so that consumers know for certain that they will eventually throw their weight entirely behind Blu-ray.

  15. Kevin Murphy on March 21st, 2008 12:56 am

    Actually, my bet is that the existing BD studios each decided to book out production — no reason to let another competitor in now that there’s just the one game in town.

  16. Dave Cowl on March 21st, 2008 11:22 pm

    Bill Hunt seems to disagree with Kevin – I summarised his most recent post here or you can go to Digital Bits and read the whole thing.

    Basically he is saying that while the BDA is helping the ex-HD DVD supporting studios with replication and authoring, we shouldn’t expect much until later this year…

  17. James Segars on March 22nd, 2008 1:01 am

    I don’t like the sound of all that… I’m gonna be really pissed if we all have to wait until December, or even January of next year to get our hands on HD copies of There Will Be Blood and Cloverfield.

    I highly doubt we’ll have to wait until the fall for those titles, but the fact there is even a remote possibility of that actually happening both scares and angers, me an awful lot.

    I just want an official word, dammit! :)

  18. Kevin Murphy on March 22nd, 2008 12:53 pm

    So, James, you would advocate them putting those out on HD DVD in the meantime? Just asking…

  19. James Segars on March 22nd, 2008 1:33 pm

    I’m not against it, but for them I don’t think that it makes much sense. I know that I’ve stopped purchasing HD DVD’s and I’m sure many supporters are doing the same in the hopes of making a swift transition to Blu-ray. Then again, I’m sure many people — perhaps even myself — will be picking up bargain bin HD DVD’s when they are going for $5 or less, online or elsewhere.

    With that being said, new HD DVD releases just don’t make much sense at this point, unless they’ve made prior agreements to fulfill their contractual obligations to HD DVD, such as WB.

  20. webdev511 on March 22nd, 2008 3:06 pm

    I’d have to agree with James. If titles were only available on SD or HD DVD with no BR release date in sight, I’d be more inclined to pick it up on HD DVD.

    I’m pretty sure there’s replication capacity available, not so sure on demand. Maybe 50k-100k run could still be profitable?

    Man, the BDA would have a cow if one of the main studios announced HD DVD release one month after Toshiba pulled the plug. It won’t happen, but it would be worth the price of popcorn to watch the fallout. :D

  21. Ryan on March 23rd, 2008 10:38 am

    Yeah I really don’t understand not releasing the HD DVD titles slated for release (Dreamworks pulled “Bee Movie” RIGHT before it hit stores – most places even still had signage up for it on HD) since BD has won officially. What’s the harm in putting the movies out now? I was always a fan of allowing consumers to pick up the titles in both formats, but for now I’ll enjoy my clearance sales … Oh how I love a good clearance sale …

  22. Dave Cowl on March 24th, 2008 9:16 am

    I also think it was odd to pull HD DVD titles that had been already pressed. It would seem that the best way to make your money back is to … sell them.

    It makes me wonder if Toshiba failed to ‘pay up’ and so Dreamworks Animation pulled out of their arrangement also.

    Or perhaps Dreamworks Animation didn’t want (more of) their product in the clearance bins, which is where at least some of them would have eventually ended up…

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