Pics coming soon to a cell phone near you

LONDON — What may have sounded like a vision of the future not so long ago — watching a full-length movie on your cell phone — is now reality.

Mobile phone specialists ROK Entertainment have teamed with Nokia to provide memory cards preloaded with feature films that can be inserted into the multimedia chip (MMC) slot — common on most new handsets — and watched repeatedly. Pics will run even if the handset goes outside network coverage so there’s no need to worry about long tunnels interrupting the flow.

“With ROK Player (the technology that turns phones into mini-DVD players,) the mobile phone is now an affordable, portable and convenient media player,” said ROK chairman Jonathan Kendrick.

The first pic available is “The Shawshank Redemption,” which ROK has licensed from Granada Ventures. But the 142-minute “Redemption” is only the start.

“Soon people will be able to access their favorite shows, sports and films on demand and on the move wherever they may be,” said Granada director of publishing Paul Holland.

Content overload

Alongside the Granada partnership, ROK has struck content deals with Sony BMG, Eagle Records, Sanctuary Records and Aardman Films, the makers of “Chicken Run” and the “Wallace and Gromit” series. Major studios eager to find another method of exploiting their back catalogs are reportedly in discussions with ROK.

At £16.99 ($30) per program from rokplayer.com and selected mobile phone stores, the price is higher than a DVD but should dip as interest picks up. ROK’s programs will also provide links allowing users to download related content, such as ringtones of the theme tune.

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