IFA - Blu-ray brings Hollywood to Berlin

Key backers of the new Blu-ray optical storage technology turned out in force at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin.

Key backers of the new Blu-ray Disc optical storage technology turned out in force at the IFA consumer electronics show in Berlin to announce a string of content and equipment offerings.

The flurry of announcements came as the consumer electronics industry prepares for the important holiday shopping season, when manufacturers typically generate their highest sales.

With content crucial to the successful take-up up high-definition players, recorders and game consoles, Hollywood studio executives lined up at a news conference to list the number of movies they plan to launch in the Blu-ray Disc format beginning in November.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will release eight movies on Blu-ray in Japan and North America on Nov. 10 and Australia and Europe on Nov. 14, said senior vice president of sales Franco de Cesare. The movies, including "Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut)," grossed more than US$2 billion in box office sales. The recommended retail price is US$39.98.

Warner Home Video, a unit of Warner Bros. Entertainment, will release more than 10 Blu-ray Disc titles in several European markets, including France, Germany, Spain and the U.K., according to Stephen Nickerson, senior vice president sales and marketing. Titles will include recent hits such as "Firewall" and "Syriana," and older ones from the extensive Warner Home Video library such as "Full Metal Jacket," "Training Day" and "Space Cowboys."

Beginning in October in Europe and Asia, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, a division of Sony, will begin rolling out a broad mix of releases , including "Hitch," "The Exorcism of Emily Rose," "The Fifth Element" and "Hostel," said senior vice president Matt Brown.

Paramount Home Entertainment International intends to release "Mission: Impossible III" and "Mission Impossible Trilogy Box Set" on the Blu-ray format this year. "Mission: Impossible III" on Blu-ray will be on two discs and loaded with extras.

Koninklijke Philips Electronics, which co-invented the CD with Sony and has collaborated closely with the Japanese manufacturer in the development of Blu-ray, introduced several products supporting the new optical storage format.

Philips' BDP9000 Blu-ray Disc player plays back high-definition content in full 1080p resolution. It is designed to connect with HDTV (high-definition television) and HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) devices.

In addition to its Showline Media Center MCP9480i, which supports Blu-ray, Philips plans to launch TripleWriter, an all-in-one internal drive for PCs that can record and playback optical formats including CD, DVD and Blu-ray Disc. The product goes on sales next month in the U.S. and Europe.

The Blu-ray Disc Association also announced that Sun Microsystems, the creator of Java technology, has joined the consortium's board of directors.

The IFA runs though Sept. 6.

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John Blau

IDG News Service
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