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Blu-ray Disc Association Adds Members, New Titles

Berlin — The Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA) announced several new members and touted a number of milestones at its IFA press conference, here, yesterday.

The news that Acer had joined BDA as a contributing member meant that the top four PC makers, representing more than 50 percent of the market, were supporting the format, said David Walstra, BDA European promotions vice chair.

In addition, the China Huala Group, an A/V manufacturing firm, will join with the China Film Group to establish a Blu-ray authoring facility in China. “This is a significant step forward,” Walstra said. According to the Huala Group, the plant will initially focus on supplying Chinese content on Blu-ray discs. Panasonic will provide “technical support” to the Huala Group.

Blu-ray Disc hardware is now No. 1 one in the U.S. market, while the pace of video sales has quickened, Walstra noted. It took 10 months to reach 1 million Blu-ray discs sold, but only three months to reach the 2-million mark, he added.

Since the introduction of the Play Station3, Blu-ray movies have outsold HD DVDs by a margin of 3-to-1 in Europe, and a number of independent studios across the continent have now signed on to distribute films in the format, Walstra said.

Executives from Twentieth Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Warner Home Video and Disney previewed their fourth-quarter lineup of Blu-ray titles, including the first videos to offer Blu-ray Live functionality.

“National Treasure,” coming next year, will be Disney’s first with the feature, said Stephan Foulser, Disney marketing and business development VP. The company will ship a “platinum edition” of “Sleeping Beauty” next year, also with Blu-ray Live.

“The launch of a classic Disney movie has been a major catalyst for a format, going back to VHS,” he said.

Sony will launch 30 titles in Blu-ray in the fourth quarter.

As for Fox, it will ship “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” on Oct. 2 in the United States. The disc will feature a Blu-ray Java multiplayer game. It will also launch “Die Hard 4.0” on Nov. 20.

Warner Home Video will launch as many titles in Blu-ray in the fourth quarter of this year as it has in the first three quarters, said Monica Juniel, Warner marketing VP.

Titles will include “Harry Potter” and “Oceans 11,” “Oceans 12” and “Oceans 13.” Juniel also noted that Warner continued to believe that its previously announced Total High Definition format was “still viable” but would not say when it would launch. “It’s still alive,” she asserted.