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2006 Year in Review: JUNE

1 Jan, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Blu-ray disc finally launches in June.

  • The two next-generation, optical-disc formats, HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc, take center stage at this year's Fifth Annual Home Entertainment Summit: DVD's Nine Lives, produced by Home Media Retailing. A side-by-side demonstration of both formats drives home the superior picture and sound; a panel of studio presidents talks up the concept of high-def in general; and Universal Studios Home Entertainment president Craig Kornblau is honored as this year's DVD Visionary.

  • MGM announces it is shifting domestic distribution of its home entertainment releases from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. MGM's vast library had been a critical reason why Sony, in September 2004, led a consortium of investors in a $5 billion deal to buy MGM. But since the deal was struck, investors had second thoughts about unraveling MGM, as Sony had planned, and the MGM board ultimately voted to consolidate distribution under Fox because of its commitment to third-party distribution. Under the existing deal with Sony, MGM titles had to compete with Sony's own homegrown titles.

  • The Walt Disney Co. announces it will begin selling its movies over the Internet through CinemaNow, becoming the last of the six majors to join the movie-download bandwagon.

  • Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group launches a direct-to-video unit, Warner Premiere, which will develop up to 15 films, mostly follow-ups to theatrical hits, exclusively for the home entertainment market. First up is a prequel to last year's Jessica Simpson theatrical hit The Dukes of Hazzard.

  • Blu-ray Disc officially launches with seven titles, all from Sony Pictures, and a solitary player from Samsung that lists for $999, twice the price of an entry-level HD DVD player from Toshiba. The launch comes as both Pioneer and Sony announce delays in their respective Blu-ray players, citing ongoing developmental issues.

  • Blockbuster belatedly strikes back at Netflix for the patent-infringement suit the online rental leader filed against it, responding with a legal action of its own — a federal antitrust suit that accuses Netflix of attempting “to monopolize the DVD rental market through fraudulent patenting and sham litigation.”

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