March 16, 2005 11:58 AM PST

Movie support grows for PSP

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Sony's PlayStation Portable gained more support as a multimedia gadget, with Disney announcing plans on Wednesday to sell movies formatted for the sought-after device.

Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment division said in a statement that it plans to release movies on the Universal Media Disc, or UMD, format used by the PSP shortly after the device goes on sale in North America next week.

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As with other media partners, initial Buena Vista releases will focus on action pictures, including "National Treasure," "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and martial arts hits "Kill Bill" and "Hero."

Sony revealed plans for the PSP last year, positioning it as potential breakthrough machine that would do for digital media what the Walkman did for analog music. Besides the new UMD media format, the device includes built-in wireless networking and 3D graphics capabilities.

While Sony is primarily marketing the device as a game machine, movies have become an increasingly important part of Sony's plans for turning the PSP into a mass-market phenomenon. The company is introducing the PSP in North America with a package that includes a UMD copy of the Sony-released "Spider-Man 2." Sony Pictures Home Entertainment plans to have other movies ready to play on the gadget when it arrives stateside on March 24.

Lions Gate Entertainment earlier this month became the first outside movie studio to support the PSP, announcing plans to release movies such as "House of the Dead" on UMD.

Music remains something of a blank spot for the device, but a Sony executive recently confirmed that the company plans to use the PSP's built in Wi-Fi connectivity to support future software updates that would include downloading music from Sony's Connect service.

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