Studio signs on to retailer's disc-to-digital service

DreamWorks Animation has become the sixth major studio to offer up its films to Walmart’s new disc-to-digital service that launches today.

The retail giant will enable consumers to create digital versions of DVDs and Blu-rays they own at more than 3,500 Walmart stores nationwide to access exclusively through its own online video streaming service Vudu.

With an increasing number of families turning to digital streaming services – especially those on videogame consoles – to watch movies, Walmart sees DreamWorks Animation’s slate of pics like the “Shrek,” “Madagascar” and “Kung Fu Panda” franchises and “How to Train Your Dragon,” as a way to boost usage of Vudu.

“Walmart’s disc-to-digital service answers our customers’ desire for new and flexible ways to enjoy their movie collections,” said John Aden, executive VP for general merchandising, Walmart U.S. “DreamWorks Animation’s existing line-up of blockbuster films is a powerful addition to the extensive list of titles available to our customers today and we’re proud to have them on-board.”

The Walt Disney Co. so far has opted not to back Walmart’s disc-to-digital service, and join the homevid divisions of 20th Century Fox, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros. (Daily Variety, March 13).

Given Walmart’s size, studios believe disc-to-digital could provide them with the incentive they’ve been looking for to offer consumers a reason to continue to buys physical discs and embrace electronic sell through rather than switch over to cheaper rental options.

At the same time, Walmart began backing UltraViolet last month and its disc-to-digital service will also promote the cloud-based digital locker that securely tracks and saves movie libraries and allows films to be played on a variety of devices. Vudu is available on more than 300 devices that connect to the Internet.

Walmart will promote UltraViolet and disc-to-digital through a major marketing campaign inside its stores and across various media platforms that will run over several months.

For the conversions, customers bring their discs to a Walmart Photo Center, where an associate helps them create a free Vudu account. Walmart authorizes the digital copies, with customers keeping their discs. Standard definition versions of a DVD or Blu-ray movie cost $2, while HD copies are priced at $5. “Once again, Walmart is breaking new ground in helping consumers understand the opportunities of new technologies amid the changing digital landscape,” said Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO, DreamWorks Animation. “We are thrilled to make DreamWorks Animation’s current library of films available as part of their disc-to-digital service, which we view as a positive step forward for the industry and for consumers.”

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