’ve been
lagging on the whole Blu-ray vs. HD-DVD battle for some time now being that I
gave up my early tech adopting ways some time ago. In fact, HDTV itself has
been a big disappointment to me until recently when Direct TV just launched a
new satellite that’ll carry a buttload of new channels in the next couple of
weeks and also when a most wonderful Atlanta chewer just parted with his
slightly older, but still nice set (many thanks, Kurt) to make room for a Sony
SXRD 1080p Jesus Box of a flat panel in his life. Shit’s nice, but just when I
start enjoying a few progressive scan DVDs
as they should be seen, I remember that now there is a new high-definition DVD
format battle, and it’s silly as shit.

the premium prices of all equipment and discs right now – we’re talking about
trying to market two different, non-compatible types of superduper DVDs at once….when
the vast majority of consumers haven’t even caught up with the old shit! So
just like premium channels like HBO and Starz, you now have to choose a format
based on the studios associated with it, rather than the quality, convenience,
or price…you know, actual merits? Anyway, this idiotic feud just jumped to a
new level of childishness. It all started yesterday when it was announced that Paramount and Dreamworks –
who supported both formats initially – had agreed to go HD-DVD exclusively for
the next 18 months in return for many tens of million in filthy lucre “promotional
considerations” from the HD-DVD peeps, Microsoft and Toshiba (but mostly
Microsoft). This started a chain reaction of rebuttals from fans of both
formats, and one in particular is ready to take his ball and head the fuck
home. I give you…Michael

this morning on his website forum, Bay
kept it short and sweet by offering the following: “I want people to see my movies in the best formats possible. For them
to deny people who have Blu-ray sucks! They were progressive by having two
No Transformers 2 for me!
doesn’t seem like he was joking (and he has yet to follow up in that thread), but I don’t think the story ends there. For one, Paramount has a notable
exception to this policy in the form of Spielberg, who naturally has the juice
to offer his material in any format he chooses (except for Sega CD, which I believe
is prohibited by international human rights laws). Spielberg happens to be a
producer on Transformers, and could likely get Bay’s flick out of harm’s
way here. Yet, it appears that Bay is throwing down the gauntlet for the larger
point of protesting the self-defeating divisions in this format war. That’s
good…I guess. But it’s unrealistic.

exist to make money, first and foremost, and at a time when they’re worried
about everything from audience dissatisfaction to piracy, any amount of cash on
hand – especially $150 million or so – is worth several times that much “in the
bush”, so to speak. The duration of the agreement basically means that Paramount and Dreamworks
are pocketing money to do what they’re going to do anyway – wait for a winner,
and then jump full-bore on that train. They just had to weigh that money
against what they thought they might
make from Blu-Ray discs for the next year and a half, not to mention that they
got lots of nifty extras in terms of manufacturing costs for their HD-DVD discs
going forward.

While all
of this is going on, a new front has opened in this war – digitally-delivered
downloads. Already, notable video providers like Netflix have started offering downloads
of their films, and both of the primary weapons in this war – The Xbox 360 and
Playstation 3 – are online-connected with significant hard drives available. In
the music biz, we’ve seen studios screw around with new formats and high prices
only to have an outsider (iTunes) come along and take the reins of the profitable
digital content lane as the physical product slowly dies off. Are we headed for a repeat when it comes to films with Apple, Sony and Microsoft jockeying for position? We’ll see.