Katzenberg sees digital future

CEO downplays platform battle

While many in Hollywood are arguing over whether Blu-ray or HD DVD will drive the future of home entertainment, Jeffrey Katzenberg has his answer: Neither.

Responding to a question at a Bank of America conference in New York on Wednesday, the DreamWorks Animation CEO told analysts that both formats are unlikely to appeal to anyone beyond videophiles.

“Blu-Ray and HD DVD are a niche business. They’re not going to become the next platform,” he said. “I think for the general consumer, there is not a big enough delta between the standard DVD in terms of where it is today and the next generation.”

Comment isn’t likely to win Katzenberg many friends among homevid execs, particularly those in the Blu-ray camp who have recently been declaring their side the winner in the format war as well as the inevitable future of optical media.

While DreamWorks distributor Paramount does release movies in both Blu-ray and HD DVD, it hasn’t put out any of the toon studio’s pics in either next-gen format.

Katzenberg was more optimistic about digital distribution, telling those present that “the promise is staggering.” But while the traditional DVD biz is no longer growing, he said Internet movie downloads won’t spark industry growth for a while.

“The incremental income to the movie industry in the next 18-24 months (from digital delivery) is negligible,” he told the crowd.