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MGM is Blu crew’s newest member

Studio embraces new disc format

MGM has announced that it will support the Blu-ray Disc format, making it the sixth major studio to commit to releasing movies and TV titles on the platform that is competing to be the standard for high-definition discs with an incompatible format developed by Toshiba called HD DVD.

It was widely expected that MGM would side with Blu-ray since that format was developed by Sony, which is one of the investors that acquired MGM seven months ago and which is distributing MGM’s DVDs.

In fact, the opportunity to market MGM’s library of 4,000 titles on high-def DVDs was one of the primary interests for several studios bidding on MGM, including Time Warner, Sony’s principle rival in the original DVD format wars and the leading proponent of HD DVD this time around.

Last month, Warner Home Video announced that it will support both high-def formats.

“MGM’s focus has always been to provide movie lovers complete access to the world’s largest modern film library in the most technologically advanced formats,” MGM Studios’ recently named chairman-CEO Harry Sloan said in a statement. “Adopting this new Blu-ray technology, with its expanded storage capacity and increased interactive capabilities, allows us to continue to provide our customers with the best movie viewing experience available.”

“This is a tremendous win for movie lovers everywhere,” Sony Corp. chairman-CEO Howard Stringer said of the MGM announcement. “The Blu-ray Disc format provides a completely new viewing experience, and consumers can now look forward to enjoying content from the world’s largest library of modern films, including titles from franchises such as James Bond and The Pink Panther in this amazing new format.”

No official date for the launch of Blu-ray has been set, but players and titles are expected to appear sometime in the second half of next year.

(Paul Sweeting is a reporter for Variety sister publication DVD Exclusive.)