NEW YORK (Kyodo) Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Inc. launched the first slate of Blu-ray Disc titles Tuesday in the United States, firing the first shot in the battle with the HD DVD format for supremacy in next-generation DVDs.

The Blu-ray format is being promoted by an alliance of companies led by Sony Corp. and Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., while HD DVD is touted by Toshiba Corp., NEC Corp. and other companies.

The delivery of the first seven titles, priced at $24.99 each, is timed to coincide with the first commercially available Blu-ray player from Samsung Electronics Co. and the Blu-ray compatible VAIO personal computer from Sony Corp., Sony Pictures said in a press release.

Samsung will sell the BD-P1000 player for $999.99 starting Sunday, while Sony’s VAIO AR190G PC went on sale last week for $3,499.99.

The launch of DVD sales “marks the beginning of a new era in home entertainment that will forever change the way consumers look at, listen to and play movies, music and games,” the company boasted.

The movies are “50 First Dates,” starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore; Luc Besson’s “The Fifth Element”; the Will Smith comedy “Hitch”; “House of Flying Daggers” from director Zhang Yimou; “XXX,” starring Vin Diesel; “The Terminator,” featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the followup to the hit action-thriller “Underworld,” from director Len Wiseman and starring Kate Beckinsale, “Underworld Evolution.”

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