Sony delays first Blu-ray Disc titles

Sony Pictures Entertainment is delaying the launch of its first titles on the new Blu-ray Disc high-definition video format for a month, it said Thursday.

Sony Pictures Entertainment is delaying the launch of its first titles on the new Blu-ray Disc high-definition video format for a month.

The company had originally planned to ship eight movie titles on May 23 and seven more on June 13. Now the initial eight titles will ship on June 20 while a new launch date for the latter seven has not been decided, said Sony Pictures Entertainment.

The delay is unlikely to inconvenience consumers as the first Blu-ray Disc player isn't expected to be available until five days later on June 25.

Samsung Electronics has originally planned to launch a player on May 23 and Sony's original launch date was chosen to coincide. However, a month ago Samsung said it was delaying the sale of its player. At the time Sony said it wouldn't hold up its Blu-ray Disc launch, but on Thursday said retailers had requested a delay to match Samsung's launch date.

The first eight Sony titles will be: "50 First Dates," "The Fifth Element," "Hitch," "House of Flying Daggers," "A Knight's Tale," "The Last Waltz," "Resident Evil Apocalypse" and "XXX." A ninth movie, "Underworld: Evolution," that had been scheduled to debut on June 3 will also launch on June 20. The latter seven titles are: "Kung Fu Hustle," "Legends of the Fall," "Robocop," "Stealth," "Species," "Swat" and "Terminator."

Lionsgate Films is also planning to launch Blu-ray Disc titles on June 20.

Blu-ray Disc is one of two new optical disc formats vying to replace current DVDs for high-definition content, such as movies. The format battle has pitted industry giants against each other. The main backers of Blu-ray Disc include Sony, Matsushita Electric Industrial (Panasonic) and Samsung while companies supporting the rival HD-DVD format include Toshiba, NEC and Intel.

Players and discs for the rival HD-DVD format went on sale in Japan in March and in the U.S. in April.

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Martyn Williams

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