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Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Blu-Ray Camp Bets on 50GB Movie Titles

New Blu-Ray Hollywood releases with interactive BD-J features, the use of H.264 encoding as well as the Playstation 3 Blu-Ray entertainment system were the main topics discussed at the BDA's press conference at the International CES Show.

Andy Parsons, Senior Vice President, Product Development, Pioneer; and chairman, U.S. Promotion Committee, Blu-ray Disc Association talked about the superiority of the Blu-Ray format compared to the rival HD DVD, and claimed that the Blu-Ray would eventually win the format war, having a wide support from Hollywood, advantages in hardware and the support of Sony's Playstation 3 console, which is capable of playing BD titles.

Parsons underlined the support of the movie industry, saying that currently seven of the eight Hollywood major studios are currently releasing movies in the Blu-Ray format. He added that the only studio that offers content in the HD DVD format is Universal, and that the number of the available titles would be the key element for the success of the Blu-Ray format.

?Nineteen of the top 20 selling movies last year are available in Blu-ray? he said.

Asked if there was an end in sight to the format war, which the Consumer Electronics Association has said has hindered HD sales, Parsons commented: "It?s just a matter of time." He believed consumers would plump for Blu-ray not because of its claimed technical advantages but because there were more movies available in the format.

HD DVD players are cheaper to buy than Blu-ray, and the format took an early lead. But with more players now available, the group?s chair Alan Parsons said competition would drive down Blu-ray prices.

Questioned about the announcement of the LG Blu-ray/HD DVD combo player, Parsons said that the BDA welcomes any new Blu-ray players put on the market.

Mike Dunn, president worldwide of Fox Home Entertainment, projected that by the end of the first quarter of 2007, Blu-ray would outsell HD DVD by 3.5 to 1. "At that point it gets difficult for retailers to commit to HD DVD," he said.

Lionsgate Entertainment representatives said that the "DESCENT" title was the company's first movie stored on a 50GB Blu-Ray disc, and that the studio will have released 18 titles in total by February. In addition, 14-15 titles are expected to be available by the end of 2007.

David Bishop, President of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment said that Sony would release up to 100 movie titles on the high-definition Blu-ray video disc standard this year. "Casino Royale" and "Open Season" titles will be released in an MPEG-4 AVC (H.264) codec, leaving the currently used MPEG-2 codec behind.

Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. video unit plans to release a similar number of Blu-ray titles.

On the other hand, HD DVD proponents, said that their format was growing at breakneck speed and projected HD DVD movie title sales would exceed $600 million in North America for 2007.

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