Studio uses Karlovy Vary fest as launching pad

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — Warner Bros. used its annual Karlovy Vary exec confab to announce the launch of DVDs in Central Europe.

Following a soft launch that saw 10 titles released onto the market this spring, a full launch of 25 titles in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland is set for September. And by the end of the year, Warners expects to have 100 titles on the market. With rival product following suit, that could mean as many as 150 DVD choices available to consumers in time for the holiday season.

“We’re the first studio to release product,” said Jonathan Finnerty, director of sales and operations.

Warners has joined forces with hardware producer Philips, which is pricing DVD players in the $500-$600 range. The DVDs carry a pricetag of around $25.

Finnerty avoided any number predictions. “It’s impossible to tell at this time,” he told Daily Variety. “But we believe DVD will take off faster than any other product because of the unprecedented cooperation between software and hardware,” he said, a reference to the early struggle between video systems.

Warner Bros. plans a formal launch of DVDs in Romania and Bulgaria next year, with Russia “possibly next down the line.”

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