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Monday, October 09, 2006
The First 50GB Blu - Ray Disc

Consumers will be able to buy the first 50GB Blu-ray Disc -- which boasts twice the capacity of a regular disc -- when Sony Pictures releases the Adam Sandler comedy "Click" on Tuesday.

The dual-layer disc promises to deliver the interactivity and extras that backers of the next-generation, high-definition optical-disc format had been promising since the format launched in June. Sony made the announcement Friday in Century City at the High Def 101 Conference.

"Click" is one of three 50GB Blu-ray Discs in the studio's pipeline. The others are Ridley Scott's "Black Hawk Down," coming November 14, and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby," due December 12.

Only two other studios have announced a 50GB disc: 20th Century Fox is releasing "Kingdom of Heaven" on November 14, and Lionsgate is preparing a dual-layer Blu-ray Disc of "The Descent" for a December release. Warner Bros. is expected to announce that its next wave of Blu-ray titles, hitting stores October 31, will include one or more dual-layer discs.

Because of its greater capacity, the Blu-ray Disc of "Click" will include all the bonus features from the DVD, in high-definition, as well as uncompressed PCM (pulse code modulation) audio.

Bonus features include an audio commentary with star Adam Sandler, director Frank Coraci, executive producer Tim Herlihy and writer Steve Koren; four deleted scenes; and seven featurettes, including a documentary on the film's special effects and a "Director's Take."

"Black Hawk" will be the first title to feature Sony's new "Blu-Wizard" playlist technology, which lets viewers customize the way they watch special features. Extras include an audio commentary with author Mark Bowden, screenwriter Ken Nolan, producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Scott and U.S. Special Forces Veterans '93 as well as six making-of documentaries exploring various aspects of the movie's production.

"Talladega" comes with nine deleted and extended scenes, all in high-definition; an audio commentary with director Adam McKay and others; bonus race footage; a gag reel; three interviews; "Ricky & Cal" commercials and PSAs; a featurette on Will Ferrell returning to Talladega; and various other extras.

Meanwhile, Warner has slashed its projections for HD-DVD and Blu-ray Disc sales projections because of a slower-than-expected rollout of hardware and software.

As of September 30, consumers had spent $25 million on the three HD players in the market -- two HD-DVD units from Toshiba, priced at $499 and $799, and one Blu-ray Disc player, from Samsung, priced at $999 -- and $5 million on software, said Steve Nickerson, senior vp market management at Warner Home Video.

But with a second Blu-ray player from Panasonic now on the market and players from Philips, Sony and Pioneer expected within a month as well as two next-generation HD-DVD players from Toshiba, spending should increase significantly, he said.

Warner projects that by year's end, consumers will have spent $750 million on hardware and $150 million on software for total spending of $900 million. Earlier in the year, the studio was projecting sales of $1.1 billion-$2.2 billion.

Still, Nickerson said, the studio believes the two high-def disc formats will catch on with the public even faster than DVD because all three platforms for viewing -- set-top, computer and video game console -- are available in Year 1. With DVD, the first computers equipped with DVD drives shipped in late 1998, more than a year after the format launched, while the first game console that could play DVDs was the PlayStation 2, which launched in November 1.7 million high-def playback devices in consumer homes: 500,000 dedicated HD DVD or Blu-ray Disc set-top players, 1 million game consoles (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360) and 200,000 computers with high-def disc drives.

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