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Blu-ray brings Hollywood to Berlin

Key backers of the 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 of HD (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 will release eight films on Blu-ray in Japan and North America on 10 November and Australia and Europe on 14 November, said senior vice-president of sales Franco de Cesare. The movies, including Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut), grossed more than $2bn (about £1.1bn) in box-office sales. The recommended retail price is $40 (£21).

Warner Home Video will release more than 10 Blu-ray Disc titles in several European markets, including the UK, France, Germany and Spain, 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 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 include a number of extras.

Philips, 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 HD content in full 1,080p resolution. It is designed to connect with HDTV and HDMI (HD 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 US 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.

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