Sony to Launch Blu-ray Movies in May

Sony Pictures said Monday it would target May 23 as the launch date for the first Blu-ray movie titles from the studio. The date was selected to coincide with the debut of the first commercially available Blu-ray player from Samsung.

The company said it expects players from Pioneer and Sony, as well as a Sony Vaio PC with a Blu-ray drive to follow shortly afterward.

Eight titles are set be launched that day, including 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX.

Another eight would be released on June 13, including Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop, Stealth, Species, SWAT and Terminator.

The studio had announced earlier this month that standard titles will sell at wholesale for $17.95 USD, not far from what was charged when DVD was released in 1997. However, new release titles would come at a 15 to 20 percent premium, selling at $23.45 USD.

Significant title launches will occur with the launch of Blu-ray products from other manufacturers, said Sony Pictures president Ben Feingold. "We're thrilled that the Blu-ray Disc era is about to begin," he said in a statement.

A May release date would put Blu-ray players about two months behind the expected HD DVD debut in March. Blu-ray may also face a slower initial adoption, as its players are expected to cost over three times that of HD DVD.

Pioneer has announced its Blu-ray player would retail for $1,800 USD, while Toshiba's entry level unit is expected to run around $500 USD.

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