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DreamWorks' Katzenberg looking to Toshiba for permission to go Blu-ray Disc

The high-definition format war isn’t over yet, as DreamWorks Animation is still releasing its movies exclusively on HD DVD.

Just kidding.

Well, kidding about the format war part – the victory is clearly in the hands of Blu-ray Disc – but not kidding about DreamWorks.

While both Universal and Paramount have been set free to explore their relationships with Blu-ray Disc, DreamWorks Animation appears to still be tethered to its agreement with Toshiba.

DreamWorks Chief Executive Jeffrey Katzenberg was quoted in a Reuters story earlier this week as saying, “We have a partnership with Toshiba and have an obligation to see this through.”

Katzenberg was referring to the reported $150 million deal between the HD DVD camp and Paramount and DreamWorks last summer, when the studios agreed to drop Blu-ray Disc.

“As you know, we have been well-compensated for our support. It really is in their court at this point to really declare what the next step will be. We're poised either way to jump into the marketplace when the conditions are right to do so,” Katzenberg he said.

What’s puzzling is that Paramount was let go from its contractual obligations, and if you look at the upcoming catalog, Paramount has the strongest upcoming lineup with Sweeney Todd, Into the Wild, There Will Be Blood and the just-released Beowulf.

DreamWorks, on the other hand, has Things We Lost in the Fire next week, and Bee Movie the week after. Perhaps those discs are already pressed and ready to go (probably at Toshiba’s expense, under the contract).

“We said, we have a release coming up on 'Bee Movie.' What would you like us to do?,” Katzenberg posed.

So DreamWorks is willing to sacrifice sales of Blu-ray Disc (which aren’t cheap to manufacturer) on those titles while selling millions of Bee Movie on standard DVD.

2/28/08 Update: Bad news, HD DVD fans – it looks like we spoke too soon. Bee Movie won't be hitting HD DVD on March 11 as previously planned, reported Video Business, as DreamWorks has pulled the plug.

Paramount will officially end things next week, with its last releases being Into the Wild and Things We Lost in the Fire. Sadly, that means no Sweeney Todd or There Will Be Blood until Paramount retools for Blu-ray Disc production.

Surely there have been at least tens of thousands of Bee Movie in HD DVD pressed, likely packaged and now sitting on death row.




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