Backers of the two rivalformats for high definition DVDs have announced their initial US productrelease plans and further details of player availability.
In a publicity blitz at the ConsumerElectronics Show in Las Vegas, the five Hollywood studios backing Sony'sBlu-ray disc format revealed their initial slates for the next-generation DVDplayer.
Sony Pictures HomeEntertainment announced 20 titles, including The Fifth Element, Hitch, KungFu Hustle and Sense andSensibility. The studio said Underworld:Evolution, set for theatrical releasein the US later this month, would be its first title released simultaneously onBlu-ray and regular DVD.
Warner Bros unveiled a15-title Blu-ray slate including Batman Begins, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Matrix. Paramount offered 12 titles, including the Mission: Impossible trilogy; Buena Vista named 10 films, including Hero and Armageddon; and 20th Century Fox named five films for initial release,among them Fantastic Four and IceAge.
Independent Lionsgate offeredup another ten titles, including Terminator 2.
Warner and Paramount alsounveiled slates of titles for release in Toshiba's HD-DVD format, with theformer studio's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire included. Universal, the only studio supportingHD-DVD exclusively, named titles including The Bourne Supremacy and The 40 Year-Old Virgin.
The Toshiba camp was alsoboosted by an announcement that HD-DVD will be supported by the WeinsteinCompany (which has not yet said whether it will also support Blu-ray).
On the hardware front,Toshiba said it plans to start selling HD-DVD players in the US in March, withprices starting at around $500. Blu-ray players costing $1,000 and up areexpected to become available in the US in spring or early summer.