Paramount and Dreamworks went HD DVD exclusive today. Then, a Hollywood news blog reported that the HD DVD camp paid Paramount $50 million and DreamWorks Animation $100 million for "promotional consideration." We asked Paramount and the HD DVD camp about this, and received a quick albeit vague reply: "Whenever we conduct co-marketing, production deals or other agreements, we never discuss business terms."
I take that as a confirmation of sorts—certainly it isn't a denial—but is it bad, or even out of the ordinary? Let's get some context. First, here's a fuller version of what transpired today: When reporting the Paramount/DreamWorks Animation announcement, Nikki Finke at Deadline Hollywood Daily wrote this:
Note how there's no mention of the money Paramount (I'm told $50 million) and DreamWorks Animation (I'm told $100 million) is receiving for "promotional consideration" from the HD DVD side to continue with what is widely recognized as the losing high-def format.
We're sure Nikki's a good person and a fine reporter, but we needed to check on such a serious claim. We asked the HD DVD group, who relayed the request to Paramount, and heard back in the form of this reply:
The reason we made this decision is simple. After a year of fully experiencing and exploring both formats, we decided to exclusively support HD DVD because of the quality, value and potential the format offers. Beyond that, whenever we conduct co-marketing, production deals or other agreements, we never discuss business terms.
Like I said, there is no flat-out denial here, but there has not been a flat-out denial from anyone about these so-called "promotional" expenses. Poking around, I hear a lot of similar grumbles about Sony and Team Blu-ray, and how they might have swayed Target and Blockbuster with help of some little green friends, just like Universal's exclusive deal with HD DVD may be the result of some excellent "promoting." The only thing that's different here is that some actual numbers have wafted out of the smoke-filled backroom, but even those cannot be trusted 100%.
The essence of Finke's story, that this move will be profitable for Paramount and DreamWorks in the short term, can be trusted, however, as can be the general assumption that the Blu-ray camp is making it worthwhile to support its format, too. That's just business, right? [Deadline Hollywood Daily]