You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Studios join to offer DVD downloads

Paramount, Sony, Warners, Lionsgate join with Film Fresh

Starting today, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warners and Lionsgate will begin offering the first movie downloads that can be burned to disc using virtually any DVD or Blu-ray disc burner for playback on a broad range of devices already in millions of consumer homes.

These studios will offer the downloads through under-the-radar online movie service Film Fresh, which inked the first U.S. movie delivery deal with Divx, maker of a popular video format supported by millions of DVD players, Blu-ray players, TVs, mobile phones, the PlayStation 3 and other devices from the biggest consumer electronics brands including LG, Samsung and Sony. Divx-format downloads can be burned to DVD or Blu-ray disc or transferred to USB drives from any Mac or PC with Divx software for playback in any Divx-certified device.

Film Fresh’s ability to offer the first downloads that can be legally burned to disc using standard disc burners could give it an edge over larger competitors in the movie download space. Film Fresh CEO Rick Bolton thinks the Divx ecosystem will allow it to take on Apple, the leader in the movie download arena thanks to the iPod.

Digital download sales are growing fast, but business has been held back some by consumers’ limited ability to burn films to disc or easily move them between devices for playback. Currently, Roxio CinemaNow is the only other digital movie company offering major studio movie downloads burnable to disc, but consumers are limited to using a Pioneer or Dell Qflix DVD drive to do so.

Film Fresh will offer all new release films, including tentpoles such as “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” and a selection of catalog films from its studio partners and a number of independent and international companies, Bolton said. Film Fresh is selling only download-to-own movies and DVDs for now. It does not offer rental downloads.

Bolton said the company would price newer films between $10 and $13. The site is aggressively pricing recent-release films to be competitive with both iTunes and Amazon.com, the two low-price leaders on digital films. Divx and Film Fresh will each run promotional campaigns around the relaunch of the Film Fresh site today.

Bolton, a former exec at Razorfish and Disney Online, founded Film Fresh using his own money in 2005. The site has sold independent and foreign downloads and DVDs since then. Bolton more recently brought in former Sony exec Mike Arrieta as his business partner.

“We’re doing a fair amount of handholding on the site because a lot of people probably do have Divx-enabled devices and don’t know it,” Bolton said.

The studios have been slow to offer DVD burning of movie downloads because of copy protection concerns. Divx has its own built-in copy protection so that films can be played back only on certified Divx devices that a consumer registers for his downloads.

(Jennifer Netherby writes for Daily Variety sister publication Video Business.)

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Saturday Fiction

    'Saturday Fiction' Yanked From China's Golden Rooster Film Festival on Eve of Debut

    Just a day before its scheduled China debut, director Lou Ye’s latest film, “Saturday Fiction,” has been pulled from its slot as the opener of the mainland’s Golden Rooster Film Festival because of unspecified “internal production problems,” according to Chinese film website Mtime. Speculation has been spreading online that it will also be yanked from [...]

  • DeVon Franklin

    DeVon Franklin Signs First-Look Deal at Paramount Pictures

    DeVon Franklin has signed a first-look producing deal at Paramount Pictures. Under his Franklin Entertainment banner, Franklin previously produced inspirational and faith-based films, including this year’s “Breakthrough,” starring Chrissy Metz, as well as “Miracles From Heaven,” with Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah, and the animated film “The Star,” toplined by Zachary Levi, Gina Rodriguez, Oprah [...]

  • Harriet Movie BTS

    'Harriet' Costume Designer Paul Tazewell on How He Crafted Harriet Tubman's Look

    For many, Harriet Tubman’s journey is one we’re taught about in school. We know she’s a heroine, an abolitionist who led slaves to their freedom via the underground railroad. Unless you’ve read the books by Kate Clifford Larson or Beverly Lowry, “We didn’t receive the whole story,” says costume designer Paul Tazewell. Until now. Kasi [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    ViacomCBS Sets HR and Inclusion Chiefs

    ViacomCBS has named corporate heads of HR and inclusion as the companies prepare for the merger that is set to close early next month. The soon-to-combine Viacom and CBS have tapped Nielsen alum Nancy Phillips to serve as exec VP and chief people officer. Viacom alum Marva Smalls will serve as global head of inclusion, [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba to Star in 'The Harder They Fall' for Netflix

    Idris Elba will star alongside Jonathan Majors in “The Harder They Fall,” a Netflix movie that will be produced by Jay-Z. The film follows outlaw Nat Love (Majors), who discovers that the man (Elba) who killed his parents two decades ago is being released from prison and decides to reunite with his gang to track [...]

  • Laverne Cox Charlie's Angels

    How Laverne Cox Landed a Cameo in Elizabeth Banks' 'Charlie’s Angels'

    Laverne Cox officially earned her wings, scoring a role in Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels.” But she revealed her cameo almost didn’t happen. When the Emmy-nominee heard that Elizabeth Banks was directing the film, the longtime fan of the franchise (and of Banks herself) reached out about being part of the project. Cox had previously worked with [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content