Blu-ray Building Arsenal

With crystal-clear high-definition optical disc players coming in a few months, major film studios are gearing up to launch content in the Blu-ray format.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment and Lions Gate unveiled movie titles that will be released on the highly anticipated Blu-ray format.

The announcements, made at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, come against a backdrop of controversy over which format will rule the market. Blu-ray, supported by Sony, competes with HD-DVD, backed by Toshiba.

Fearing an industry rift akin to the Sony-Betamax battle of the 1980s, many major movie studios, as well as high tech, have taken to backing both.

Once a staunch Blu-ray supporter, HP recently vowed to support HD-DVD after Blu-ray purveyors failed to immediately satisfy two requests from the high-tech giant.

Blu-ray and HD-DVD use blue lasers, which have a shorter wavelength than the red lasers used in current DVD players. This allows discs to store data at the higher densities needed for high-definition TV.

Consumer electronics retailers are being pressured to aggressively market DVD players equipped with either technology, creating a multi-billion-dollar market space.

Pioneer expects to have one of the first Blu-ray boxes on the market this quarter.

While DVD players equipped with either format aren’t expected for a few months, Forrester Research has already tabbed Blu-ray the winner, citing the technology’s greater capacity, Java support and ability to be used in games and computers.

The fact that film studios are already going public with titles on Blu-ray could strengthen that theory.

Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment will first pump out 20 films on Blu-ray, including “Fantastic Four,” “Behind Enemy Lines” and the “Kiss of The Dragon.”

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment said Sony’s lineup will also include 20 titles, such as “The Fifth Element,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” and “Black Hawk Down.”

Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment’s Blu-ray films will include 10 movies, with “Sahara,” “Aeon Flux” and “The Italian Job” among them. Also with 10 flicks, Lions Gate’s lineup includes “The Punisher,” “The Devil’s Rejects” and “Saw.”

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