Move part of a joint venture with Excel Media

Sony, the studio behind the Blu-ray format, has begun manufacturing the high-definition discs in China.

Move follows Sony Pictures Home Entertainment’s November decision to start distributing imported Blu-ray discs in China through a joint venture with Excel Media (Daily Variety, Nov. 18).

Production of up to half a million discs per month is to be handled through Shanghai Epic, a joint venture replication and music publishing company owned by Sony Disc and Digital Solutions and Shanghai Jingwen Investment and Shanghai Synergy Culture and Entertainment, both offshoots of the powerful Shanghai Media Group.

It is Sony’s fourth Blu-ray disc plant after sites in the U.S., Japan and Austria.

Local manufacturing eliminates the need for special import permits and may help the studio in its fight against piracy through improved scheduling and releasing.

With 30 pics on Blu-ray in the market now, first titles to be manufactured are “Broken Trail,” “Surf’s Up,” “Daddy Day Care,” “21” and “Vantage Point.” Discs will be available in shops after the Chinese New Year holiday, which ends Feb. 2.

Blu-ray players have been available in China for less than a year with Sony, Pioneer and Panasonic importing models and Chinese state-owned electronics outfit China Hualu manufacturing three local varieties. PlayStation3 consoles, which also play Blu-ray titles, are not officially available.

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