The battle for the next generation of DVDs intensified on Tuesday as Sony Corp. released its first set of seven movies for the new Blu-ray Disc format to coincide with the sale of the first new player this week by Samsung.

The move comes two months after Toshiba Corp. beat Sony to the market with its competing HD-DVD technology.

Among the new offerings from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment are the Adam Sandler comedy 50 First Dates and Luc Besson's The Fifth Element.

Who will ultimately lead the market to become the standard bearer for the higher quality DVDs - featuring better video, audio, and interactivity - is still to be decided by consumers.

Some see Sony as having the early advantage.

In the next 9 months, 6 million Sony PlayStation 3's will be exported worldwide, Richard Doherty, a technology analyst from Envisioneering Group said. That alone would see Blu-ray ahead of DVD in its first two years of global sales.

Sony and Toshiba are entering an already lucrative market. In 2005, consumers bought and rented more than $22.8 billion in DVDs, according to Digital Entertainment Group.

The hardware and content launches for the new formats are the culmination of several years of preparation. Both sides courted - and got - the support of the major movie studios that would provide the content that drives sales of new players.

Sony's Blu-ray took the lead in securing the greatest exclusive support, with Disney and Fox studios, joining Sony's own movie division. Universal and Warner decided to support both Blue-ray Discs (BD) and Toshiba's HD-DVD.

Other large multinational companies also have a stake in the outcome of the BD, HD contest. Among those in the BD camp are Samsung, Sharp, Philips and Pioneer, along with PC makers HP and Dell. Those siding with HD include Microsoft, Sanyo and NEC. Others such as Thompson, and LG are seeking to support both formats.

Despite the technological advances, some analysts feel consumers have good reason to hold off on buying the new players and discs.

They’ve already invested in movies that they won’t bother to upgrade because of the high price of the new offerings -- and of course, the uncertainty around two formats, said Ted Schadler, the principal analyst at Forrester Research. Most consumers remember that VHS-Betamax fiasco and won’t want to make that mistake again. So, they will not rush out to buy these new players.”