Sony, Matsushita and majorhome video companies have announced that consumer-priced Blu-ray disc playersand 75 movie titles will be released in Japan this November.

The discs will sell at arange of prices under $42.78 (Y5,000) which is slightly more than standard DVDreleases. The initial releases coincide with Sony's debut of the PlayStation 3on November 11. The multi-faceted game console will support Blu-ray discplayback functionality.

Main Blu-ray proponent Sonyoutlined its marketing strategy and twelve titles to be released inmid-November through its Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) label, including Underworld: Evolution, The Producers, Kung Fu Hustle and S.W.A.T,priced at $42.55 (Y4,980). Sony plans to release 40 titles by March 2007, with The Da Vinci Code as part of thetentative upcoming slate.

Meanwhile Buena Vista HomeEntertainment will release the first four of 12 titles this year on November 8,including Eight Below, Gone In 60 Seconds and Dinosaur. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, Flight Plan and Pearl Harbor will follow inDecember.

Warner Home Video plans torelease ten titles including older films such as FullMetal Jacket at a reduced price of $34 (Y3,980).

While consumer Blu-rayplayers, recordable media and commercial releases appeared in the US in June, the high-definition (HD) format hasremained an expensive niche in Japan as the DVD market rapidly expanded several yearsafter North America.

Competing format HD-DVD,supported by Toshiba and NEC, will also see hardware releases concurrent withBlu-ray. While all of the Hollywood majors support either Blu-ray or both formats, onlyUniversal exclusively backs HD-DVD. The incompatible formats are gearing up fora consumer price war during the Christmas season, which will aid in keepingretail prices down, with Panasonic pledging to manufacture recordable Blu-raymedia at a reasonable cost.