Paramount is poised to drop its support of HD DVD after Warner Brothers’ recent backing of Sony’s Blu-ray technology, in a move that could kill HD DVD and bring the home entertainment format war to a definitive end. Paramount and DreamWorks Animation came out in support of HD DVD last summer, joining Universal Studios as the main backers of the Toshiba format. However, Paramount is understood to have a clause in its contract with the HD DVD camp that would allow it to switch sides in the event of Warner Bros backing Blu-ray, according to people familiar with the situation.
Paramount is set to have a bumper 2008 with several likely blockbusters, including the latest instalment in the Indiana Jones franchise. Paramount joining the Blu-ray camp would leave HD DVD likely to suffer the same fate as Sony’s now obsolete Betamax video technology, which lost out to VHS in a similar format war in the 1980s.
Warners decision last week to throw its weight behind Blu-ray saw it join Walt Disney, 20th Century Fox and MGM as backers of the Sony format. The Warners move gives Blu-ray about 70 per cent of Hollywood’s output, although the format’s grip on film content will increase further when Paramount comes aboard.