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Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (SPHE) has officially revealed its first round of Ultra HD Blu-ray titles, expected to hit store shelves sometime in early 2016. This announcement makes SPHE the second company to confirm title releases for the new format; Twentieth Century Fox made its first Ultra HD Blu-ray title intentions known in September at IFA 2015. Both announcements, paired with several manufacturers confirming future production of Ultra HD players, is more than proof that a physical disc format will survive for the foreseeable future.

“By some estimates, consumers will own over 100 million Ultra HD television sets by 2019,” said SPHE president Man Jit Singh. “Sony Pictures’ 4K Ultra HD Discs will deliver consumers the ultimate home theater experience, with stunning picture and sound quality.”

Singh’s reference is to prediction numbers reported by ISH DisplaySearch earlier this year. Singh also highlighted that Sony’s announcement comes exactly ten years (to the month) since the company authored the world’s first Blu-ray disc film – a landmark moment for high-def entertainment.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 will headline Sony’s first round of Ultra HD Blu-rays. In addition, five other films (Salt, Hancock, Chappie, Pineapple Express, and The Smurfs 2) will find their way to true 4K. Entertainment fans will be happy to know that SPHE is actively planning more film and television content to add to this initial round of releases.

Beyond the inclusion of nearly four times the number of pixels of standard Blu-ray material, SPHE says its Ultra HD Blu-ray discs will include high dynamic range (HDR). If executed properly, past films re-mastered with HDR could turnout to be the biggest and most important differentiator between the two formats. New releases, shot by directors specifically using HDR to enhance their films, will likely be even better than what we’ll see with these initial re-releases.

Nearly mirroring SPHE’s Ultra HD Blu-ray announcement was The Digital Entertainment Group’s (DEG) Ultra HD Blu-ray packaging reveal. Developed in cooperation with Anchor Bay Entertainment, HBO Home Entertainment, Lionsgate, Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, DEG says it has packaging artwork and elements that allow for consistency in the marketing of Ultra HD Blu-ray discs.

“The DEG is pleased to have worked closely with content owners in coordinating the development of both the artwork and messaging for Ultra HD Blu-ray packaging,” said Amy Jo Smith, President, DEG. “Ultra HD Blu-ray will provide an outstanding video and audio experience for 4K Ultra HD TV owners and the DEG is confident that this effort will be appreciated by retailers and consumers alike”.

The new “Elite” packaging will feature a carbonized black color with metallic silver text and logo. The Ultra HD logo will adorn packaging as a header, while the Ultra HD Blu-ray logo will be featured on the spine and back cover. Clearly, Ultra HD Blu-ray packaging will be easily distinguishable from current Blu-ray packaging standards. Look for the DEG, in partnership with the Consumer Electronics Association, to begin heavily marketing 4K Ultra HD media availability during the coming year.

Image Credits: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, The Digital Entertainment Group
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