Studios slow UMD movie production

Poor sales force movie production houses to cut back on PSP-formatted flicks; noncomedy genres are first to get canned.

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When Sony released the PlayStation Portable last year, many industry watchers felt as though the movie-watching capabilities were limited by the handheld's proprietary format. The Universal Media Disc, many argued, would go the way of the Betamax and the Minidisc, formats both made by Sony that were eventually edged out of the market because of competition and their limited usage.

Would people pay money to buy movies that could only be viewed on the four-inch screen of the PSP? Out of the gate, the answer was surprisingly "yes." Seeing the format as a viable option for more revenue, many film studios, some reluctantly, jumped on the bandwagon and announced support for the format.

Now, it appears that many are hopping off as quickly as they got on. Paramount Home Entertainment, Warner Home Video, and yes, even Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, are cutting back on UMD releases because of poor sales, reports Variety.

Warner has cut six titles from its previously announced lineup, including Martin Scorsese's classic Goodfellas. Sony, realizing that comedy UMDs sell much better than action or horror UMDs, will be adding Not Another Teen Movie and Monty Python content to its lineup. Sony will also begin releasing movie bundles, selling a movie on DVD and UMD in one pack for just under $30.

An abundance of formats and piracy (DVDs can be ripped to larger memory sticks) are cited as likely causes for the falling demand, which right now nets about 40,000 to 50,000 units sold for the average release, according to Variety.

To hype demand for UMDs, Sony is said to be pushing an adapter that would let PSPs play UMDs on televisions.

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