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DTS, Image pact on home front

Intending to move its high-end digital sound out of movie theaters and into home theaters, Digital Theater Systems (DTS) has granted laserdisc leader Image Entertainment exclusive rights to distribute audio and video content encoded with DTS’ technology in several home entertainment formats, including digital videodisc (DVD), CD and laserdisc.

“Together, DTS and Image can bring multichannel music and movies to millions of consumers,” DTS vice chairman and CEO Dan Slusser said. “That means today on CD and in the future, as DVD evolves.”

The three-year agreement amplifies the relationship between the two firms. Image already distributes 48 DTS-encoded motion picture laserdiscs, including “Apollo 13,” “The English Patient,” “Goldeneye” and “Vertigo.”

The companies hope to broaden appeal of DTS technology, which creates persuasive surround-sound playbacks in cinema and home theater, in the music CD marketplace and especially in the much-anticipated DVD arena.

DTS was founded in 1993 to provide digital audio for feature films in theaters. The companies are hoping that DTS’ efforts during recent years to build brand recognition among moviegoers will pay off by sparking demand among content producers and consumers for content providers to offer their products with the DTS recording.

“We really lean toward the creators of the content — the filmmakers and record producers — to push the technology,” said Bill Neighbors, president and chief operating officer of DTS. “But we believe consumers also will demand DTS because of the superior quality.”

A “smattering” of DTS-encoded feature films will be released on DVD by the end of the year, Neighbors said. So far, DTS has reached agreements with Universal — a part owner of DTS — and is in talks with three other studios to release DTS-encoded feature DVDs.

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