Sony will delay by a month the launch of its first titles on the Blu-ray Disc format, it said yesterday.

The company had originally planned to ship eight movie titles on May 23 and seven more on June 13. Now the initial eight titles will ship on June 20 while a new launch date for the latter seven has not been decided, said Sony.

The delay is unlikely to inconvenience consumers as the first Blu-ray Disc player isn't expected to be available until five days later on 25 June.

Samsung had originally planned to launch a player on 23 May and Sony's original launch date was chosen to coincide. However, a month ago Samsung said it was delaying the sale of its player. At the time Sony said it wouldn't hold up its Blu-ray Disc launch, but yesterday said retailers had requested a delay to match Samsung's launch date.

The first eight Sony titles will be: 50 First Dates, The Fifth Element, Hitch, House of Flying Daggers, A Knight's Tale, The Last Waltz, Resident Evil Apocalypse and XXX. A ninth movie, Underworld: Evolution, that had been scheduled to debut on 3 June will also launch on 20 June. The latter seven titles are: Kung Fu Hustle, Legends of the Fall, Robocop, Stealth, Species, Swat and Terminator.

Lionsgate Films is also planning to launch Blu-ray Disc titles on 20 June.

Blu-ray Disc is one of two optical disc formats vying to replace current DVDs for high-definition content, such as movies. The format battle has pitted industry giants against each other. The main backers of Blu-ray Disc include Sony, Panasonic and Samsung while companies supporting the rival HD-DVD format include Toshiba, NEC and Intel.

Players and discs for the rival HD-DVD format went on sale in Japan in March and in the US in April.

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