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WB hopes VOD curbs Korea piracy

Offers films on demand before DVD release

Claiming a first for Hollywood, Warner Bros. will release its movies in South Korea on demand two weeks before they go out on DVD.

The experimental move, announced by Thomas Gewecke, prexy of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, is intended to counter widespread Internet piracy and make use of Korea’s near-ubiquitous broadband networks.

“Korea is the ideal market for us to expand our digital distribution strategy,” Gewecke said. “There is already a broad base of consumers who are immersed in technology and very comfortable getting movies through video-on-demand or similar services,” he added.

“According to the Korean Film Council, more than 47% of people surveyed said they had downloaded movies from the Internet at least once,” said Harrison Lee, managing director of Warner Home Video Korea. No titles have yet been announced for release.

Extensive peer-to-peer sharing has severely dented the DVD market, and Sony, Universal, Paramount, Buena Vista and 20th Century Fox have shuttered their Korean home entertainment operations.