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Paramount, DreamWorks Get Behind HD DVD Format

The announcement did not include Steven Spielberg films, which will not be exclusive to either format.

Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks Animation on Monday said they would distribute their high-definition movies exclusively in HD DVD, giving the Toshiba-based format a big boost against Sony-backed Blu-ray.

The commitment includes all movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks Pictures, Paramount Vantage, Nickelodeon Movies, MTV Films, and DreamWorks Animation, which distributes its films exclusively through Paramount Home Entertainment. Paramount Pictures is a unit of entertainment conglomerate Viacom.

The decision followed an evaluation that "confirmed the clear benefits of HD DVD, particularly its market-ready technology and lower manufacturing costs," the companies said in a joint statement. Paramount plans to launch its first HD DVD under the exclusive program Aug. 28 with the release of the comedy Blades of Glory, which will be followed by Transformers and Shrek the Third. The three films represent more than $1.5 billion in box office ticket sales worldwide.

The announcement did not include Steven Spielberg films, which will not be exclusive to either format. One of Hollywood's most commercially successful directors, Spielberg's films include Jaws, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park, and Schindler's List.

While the announcement gives a boost to HD DVD, the format still lags behind Blu-ray. Movie discs in the latter format outsold HD DVD films 2-to-1 in the United States in the first half of the year, the Reuters news agency reported. According to Home Media Research, sales of Blu-ray discs from Jan. 1 to July 1 totaled 1.6 million units, compared with 795,000 HD DVD discs.

In June, video-rental company Blockbuster said it would offer movies in Blu-ray in 1,700 company-owned stores, while limiting rentals of slower-moving HD DVD movies to 250 stores.

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