Cloud format debut with "Horrible Bosses," "Green Lantern"

Tue Oct 11, 2011 9:56pm EDT

Actors (L-R) Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey pose during a media event to promote their latest movie ''Horrible Bosses'', at a hotel in London July 20, 2011.   REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Actors (L-R) Jason Sudeikis, Charlie Day, Jason Bateman, Jennifer Aniston and Kevin Spacey pose during a media event to promote their latest movie ''Horrible Bosses'', at a hotel in London July 20, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

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LOS ANGELES ( - UltraViolet, the video anywhere platform that Hollywood hopes will revive the failing home entertainment market, rode in on its white horse Tuesday.

Warner Bros.' "Horrible Bosses" is the first UltraViolet movie available to consumers. The studio is also unveiling its second UltraViolet title this week, "Green Lantern."

But the real test won't arrive until November 11, when "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" debuts on the platform. The billion-dollar blockbuster will likely be a smash hit with fans eager to snap up their own copies of the boy wizard franchise's finale, and could have magic needed to popularize the cloud-based platform.

Other UltraViolet titles from Sony and Universal will debut in stores before the end of the year, with offerings from Paramount, Lionsgate and Fox expected in the first quarter 2012.

The movie industry has great hopes that by allowing consumers to store the movies they buy in a digital cloud and allowing them to stream or download the films to iPads, Androids, iPhones and other mobile devices, they will be able to convince people to buy instead of rent movies.

Consumers will be able access their digital copies of "Horrible Bosses" and "The Green Lantern" through the Warners' owned site Flixster.

"When you buy 'Horrible Bosses' you will have a set of rights that far exceeds those that you had with the Blu-ray you bought yesterday," said Mark Teitell, general manager and executive director of the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, the consortium behind UltraViolet.

Digital clouds, like the one at the core of UltraViolet, are still a novelty, but that's changing rapidly. Apple, which is not a member of the DECE consortium, is launching its iCloud service for music and documents Wednesday.

UltraViolet's backers maintain that there will not be much of a learning curve for consumers.

"I think members of the press are slightly overblowing how much education is required," Teitell said. "This is like creating a free email account and pressing play on a streaming video. It's substantially simpler than what's been written."

Nonetheless, to educate consumers, Warner Brothers has begun touting the UltraViolet capabilities of "Green Lantern" and "Horrible Bosses" in national television advertisements.

"Because your movie collection is always with you, there's new freedom with new UltraViolet digital copy," an announcer on a television commercial for "Green Lantern" intones.

UltraViolet had better work, because the home entertainment market is in dire straits.

The DVD market for new releases fell a staggering 44 percent last year as more movie watchers shifted to video-on-demand and online streaming services, according to a study by SNL Kagan.

Overall, the home entertainment market was down 5.1 percent at mid-year, as AllThingsD pointed out.

Blu-ray is growing, but not enough to offset the massive declines in the DVD market.

Sony's UltraViolet compatible Blu-rays of "Friends With Benefits" and "The Smurfs" will arrive on December 2. Universal will launch its first UltraViolet enabled title with the December 6 debut of "Cowboys & Aliens," with Paramount, Lionsgate and Fox offerings to follow it.

Notable holdout: Disney is not a member of the consortium.

The only way to put UltraViolet movies into the cloud right now is by purchasing physical discs. Eventually, consumers will be able to buy digital rights to a movie through online retailers such as Wal-Mart's Vudu.

Consortium members have agreed to offer the content for unlimited streaming and downloading from the cloud for at least a year (Warner Bros. is offering it for three years), but after that time studios reserve the right to levy additional service fees, Teitell said.

By that point, Teitell hopes that the digital cloud will be a ubiquitous part of any consumers life.

"We hope this will shift the mix, even just a little bit, so that buying movies is more fun, exciting, and engaging," Teitell said.

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Comments (1)
rogueknight wrote:
OK so let me get this straight, NOW they movie studios in their infinite wisdom have decided instead of having the file on my phone they want me to STREAM it for me to be able to watch it. And if I am in an area where its is still edge network or worse no network then I no longer have my movie (I live in the country literally 1 mile out of 3G and on edge). SECOND and MOST IMPORTANTLY the problem with streaming is DATA USAGE!!! Everyone but sprint has gotten rid of unlimited data (I am still grandfathered but if I go too much they will still throttle me back even though I am unlimited). So will my movie play properly on EDGE network? How about after I get throttled back, is playback going to be as good as the movies I have downloaded to my iphone from itunes? I will find out cause I got suckered with Green Lantern, was NOT the digital copy I was trying to purchase. Honestly I wouldn’t have bought it if I knew the truth. I can watch my itunes movies anytime anywhere without it costing me more money (and no I am not using icloud to send movies to my phone I will plug it in my imac to load them). Icloud will be nice as a back up but not as a storage center (I have a LOT more songs than will even fit in the 5GB given). My 32 GB phone has told me to delete stuff before I could take a picture before which is why I am one of the 64GB 4S people.

The point is this is a horrible deal. What if too many people are trying to watch the movie at the same time, what if you are out of the country(can you imagine if you were on a cruise with the phone rates on a ship to be streaming a movie), or on a car ride in the western us where there isn’t any network support (and not much scenery.. cactus and sand here cactus and sand there) and now the kids who would be watching the movie on their ipods are constantly asking “are we there yet?”

I want my itunes digital copy and I will refuse to buy any more titles with this UV junk.

Oct 17, 2011 12:05am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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