Sony's Shanghai-based subsidiary company Shanghai Epic Music Entertainment has launched China's first Blu-ray disc manufacturing plant in the city's Song Jiang Industrial Development Zone.

According to Wu Xiao, CEO of Shanghai Epic, the Blu-ray discs manufactured at the Shanghai plant will be mainly used for the domestic market. The facility has a capacity of 500,000 discs per month.

If fully utilized, the output will account for 70% of global Blu-ray disc replication.

The first discs to be manufactured feature films from Sony Pictures Entertainment, Disney and Chinese state-owned China Film Group. Around seven film titles are being manufactured during the launch.

Shanghai Epic is a cooperative joint venture between Sony Music International, Shanghai Synergy Group and Shanghai Jinwen Investment Co. Ltd. Established in 2001, the company was the first joint venture in media production/replication industry in China, specializing in audio/ video content and optical disc replication and distribution.

'It is time to bring the latest, best-quality Blu-ray disc products into China,' Daniel Solnicki, Asia-Pacific general manager of Walt Disney Studios, told Shanghai media. Shanghai Epic Music Entertainment and Disney plan to work together to release around 20 Disney movies in the Blue-ray disc format in China by March, Solnicki was quoted as saying.

Cheng Xiaoyang, representative of China Film Group ' s audio-visual subsidiary, said the company aim to provide 20 titles a year to the development of Blu-ray disc.

China has so far imported 30 film titles in Blu-ray discs.

According to Matt Brown, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment ' executive vice president of international business, Sony Pictures aims to publish another 100 films soon for China's domestic market.

Earlier this week, local audio-visual manufacturer China Hualu Group Co. Ltd. also announced that it had opened a Blue-ray disc production line in Dalian City of northeast China.

The production line in Dalian can produce Blue-ray discs with a capacity of 25 Gigabytes (GB), while the Sony's Shanghai facility can produce discs of both 25 GB and 50 GB capacity.

With the establishment of domestic production plants, industry players hope the retail price of Blu-ray disc will drop in the next 3 to 5 years.

Currently in China Blu-ray discs are priced from $14.6 to $29.2 (RMB100 to RMB200), approximately 10 to 20 times of the price of a DVD disc.