Blu-ray bow set for May with 12 pics

Launch to feature 8 Sony pix and 4 from Lionsgate

The Blu-ray disc format will make its formal U.S. debut on May 23, just under two months after the launch of its rival high-def platform, HD DVD.

The late-May launch will feature eight titles from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment and four from Lionsgate, the two studios said Monday. Sony will release seven more catalog titles June 13 while Lionsgate will chip in six additional ones.

Among the first wave of releases from Sony are “50 First Dates,” “House of Flying Daggers,” “The Last Waltz” (MGM) and “XXX.”

Lionsgate titles include “Crash,” “Saw” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”

The Lionsgate titles will retail for $30 to $40 each. Sony doesn’t include suggested retail prices with its releases, but catalog titles from the studio are expected to retail for about $25 while new releases will go for about $30.

The first Blu-ray new release is expected to be Sony’s “Underworld: Evolution,” which will bow on DVD and Blu-ray in early summer.

The first wave of HD DVD titles will bow March 28 from Warner Home Video.

The Sony and Lionsgate releases are timed to accompany the arrival of Blu-ray players on the market from Samsung Electronics and Pioneer.

Originally, Sony was to release its first Blu-ray titles in conjunction with the PS3 launch and did not plan to release a standalone Blu-ray player until after the PS3 got rolling.

Other Blu-ray studios, including stalwarts Fox and Disney, sat out Monday’s announcement.