Sony to unveil Blu-ray in China

By Koushik Saha on 20.11.08

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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) is going to be the first major Hollywood studio to distribute Blu-ray movies in China.

The movie studio plans to sell only 30 movie titles on the Chinese market, with titles including Hitch, Kung Fu Hustle, Hancock and Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, and the Spiderman trilogy.

The movies will be available for 205 yuan, or ~$30 each, which is a high amount considering the low income among many citizens in China.

Sony will launch the BDP-S350 Blu-ray player in China on Nov. 21, and may expand its Blu-ray product lineup later.

Warner Bros. and Disney are expected to launch Blu-ray movies in the near future, with other movie studios still weighing their options. Most studios plan to wait and see how consumers like Sony's lineup, and how the company battles piracy, before mass releasing movies.

Despite Chinese pirates already manipulating Blu-ray movies and selling counterfeit movies to consumers, there will likely be a strong push to try and legitimize the Blu-ray market in China. The pirated movies aren't Blu-ray, but are AVCHD-quality movies pirated on to DVDs.

AVCHD discs can be made using regular blank DVDs but are playable in Blu-ray players -- and movie studios are extremely concerned about AVCHD movies being pirated and sold as Blu-ray movies.The Motion Picture Association fears AVCHDs will account for as much as 10 percent of all pirated movies in China within six months, as the number continues to grow.

If Sony is able to combat pirates and convince Chinese consumers to purchase legal Blu-ray movies, then it will create local production facilities in several locations.

Assuming Sony and other movie studios are serious about releasing Blu-ray in China, they're likely going to have to reduce the cost of Blu-ray movies, or consumers will continue to pirate content.

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