Four of the home entertainment giants backing Blu-Ray in the war of the next-generation DVD formats have announced the first batch of movie titles to be released for the new platform.
Leading the pack is Sony, keen to promote the format since the PlayStation 3 will feature a Blu-Ray disc drive. The company plans to release 20 movies this spring, from action adventure titles such as xXx, SWAT and Robocop to gentler offerings like Sense and Sensibility and Legends of the Fall.
Sony plans to release four Blu-Ray titles per month, a figure which will rise to 10 by the end of 2006. Initially movies will be presented on 25GB single layer discs - but later in the year, films such as Black Hawk Down and Bridge on the River Kwai will be released on dual layer 50GB discs.
The company has no plans to abandon DVD despite the arrival of Blu-Ray - in fact, simultaneous releases on both formats are planned for blockbusters such as Underworld Evolution. The Blu-Ray version of the movie will include exclusive Java games which can be played either on a PS3 or standalone player.
Like DVDs, Blu-Ray discs will be region encoded, but using a different system. There will only be three regions for the format: Region 1 (the Americas and East Asia, excluding China but including Japan), Region 2 (Europe and Africa) and Region 3 (Russia, China and Others).
Blu-Ray backer Fox has announced a launch line-up of ten titles, which includes Fantastic Four, Ice Age and Behind Enemy Lines. Lionsgate will release Rambo, Total Recall, Dune, Saw, Terminator 2 and The Punisher, amongst others.
Unlike Sony, Fox and Lionsgate, Paramount is not supporting Blu-Ray exclusively - the studio has also committed to the Microsoft and Toshiba-backed HD-DVD format. Paramount will release 10 Blu-Ray titles at launch, including Aeon Flux, The Manchurian Candidate, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and We Were Soldiers.