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Sony Sets BD Movie Prices

Los Angeles — Sony Pictures will sell its first new release Blu-ray Disc (BD) titles at a $23.45 wholesale price, or about 20 percent higher than new releases on DVD, the studio announced this week.

The pricing announcement was the first from any studio planning to offer high-definition titles on the BD format to support the launch of some of the first players this summer.

Sony said the catalog BD titles will sell for about $17.95 wholesale, or roughly the same price asked for DVDs, when that format first launched.

The studio is not issuing suggested retail pricing on its BD titles, leaving retailers free to determine their own margins, but retail street pricing is expected to range between $29.95 and $34.95 each.

Sony said the pricing structure is appropriate for the support of both the sell-through and rental markets.

The first titles to be released will include the following catalog items: “A Knight’s Tale,” “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” “Desperado,” “The Fifth Element,” “For a Few Dollars More,” “Hitch,” “House of Flying Daggers,” “Kung Fu Hustle,” “The Last Waltz,” “Legends of the Fall,” “Resident Evil Apocalypse,” “Robocop,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Stealth,” “Species,” “SWAT,” “Terminator” and “XXX.”

Among the first of Sony’s new releases on BD will be “Underworld: Evolution.”

Sony Pictures did not announce an exact launch date, but the first titles from the rival HD DVD camp are slated for March 28.

Sony Pictures, meanwhile, said it is planning to offer on March 28 a bundled package of movies containing both a DVD and a Universal Media Disc (UMD). The latter is used to play movies on Sony’s popular PlayStation Portable handheld game player.

The first titles in the bundled package will include “The Grudge,” “Resident Evil,” “Underworld,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Terminator.”

Each combo will see retail prices of $28.95, between $2 and $4 more than Sony’s new DVDs alone. The UMD titles are generally priced at $19.95.

A second round of DVD-UMD combos planned for an April 25 release will include “Ghostbusters,” “Mad Max,” “The Fifth Element” and “Snatch.” A third round is planned for May.

Sony said that the bundled model will be studied and is likely will be applied to BD titles in time.