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Universal releases first HD DVD movie

Serenity ships

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Universal, at least, is ready for anyone who's just bought a Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player in the US and wants some hi-def films to play on it. Make that 'movie' - the studio's Home Entertainment division today began shipping its first and only HD DVD title, Serenity, but you'll have to wait a week for further discs.

Today's disc costs $35, as will future releases: Doom and Apollo 13 on 25 April; Cinderella Man, Jarhead and Assault on Precinct 13 on 9 May; and The Chronicles of Riddick, Van Helsing, U-571 and The Bourne Supremacy on 23 May, more than a month away.

Universal pledged to continue releasing HD DVDs "on a monthly basis" after that.

All the named movies will ship on dual-layer 30GB discs, though Universal didn't say at what resolution beyond claiming they offer "best-in-class" picture quality. They will all incorporate Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 Surround Sound soundtracks in English, French and Spanish, with suitable sub-title tracks. Universal didn't say what extras, if any, the discs would offer beyond that old DVD favourite, "interactive menus", which this time round can be accessed while the movie's still playing.

That said, the Bourne Supremacy disc will feature a full-length picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes documentary design to be watched alongside the main feature.

Warner is also expected to ship its first HD DVD titles today, offering Million Dollar Baby, The Last Samurai and The Phantom of the Opera for $29 a pop. ®

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