Five of the six major Hollywood studios have joined forces to make digital movie collecting easier than ever.
Movies Anywhere, a free app and website digital locker service, launches tonight at 9 p.m. PT, backed by four top digital retailers and content from Walt Disney (including Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm), Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. Entertainment — a combined library of more than 7,300 digital movies.
Movies can be redeemed through digital retailers Amazon Video, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu (owned by Walmart). Movies Anywhere is a Disney-owned entity that operates independently with input from an advisory committee with members from each of the participating studios, according to a Disney spokesperson.
“It’s simplicity. It’s ease of use. It’s bringing it together all in one place. It’s going to be amazing,” said Movies Anywhere GM Karin Gilford at a presentation Wednesday in Los Angeles. “This is going to enable movie fans to sync their movie collection from the five studios across retailers, devices, platforms.”
It’s an interface that will finally make digital movie collection seamless, according to Gilford. The launch comes after several fits and starts, including the stalled UltraViolet digital locker service and Disney’s launch of its own proprietary service, Disney Movies Anywhere.
Observers say the studios abandoned UltraViolet for Disney’s model because the technology is superior.
Starting tonight, consumers can download a free Movies Anywhere app, create an account and link to any of the four digital retailers. The service will automatically populate consumers’ digital library from any of those four retailers on Movies Anywhere. Consumers can immediately stream or download any film from their Movies Anywhere library.
“The magic really happens when you link to retailer accounts because you get to see that whole collection come together,” Gilford said. “There’s that sort of aha moment that happens when all of the titles that you bought from one of our five studios on any of our four digital retailers all come together.”
Consumers can also buy new digital movies on the app through Movies Anywhere retailers and redeem codes from DVDs or Blu-ray Discs they have purchased to gain immediate access to more digital movies. Starting next year, physical discs will feature Movies Anywhere branding.
“We’ve set it up to be very easy for consumers, even ones that aren’t familiar with locker services, maybe have never used Disney Movies Anywhere or UltraViolet,” Gilford said.
Disney did not offer content through the UltraViolet service, backed by many of the other studios. It instead created its own digital locker, first called “KeyChest” and then “Disney Movies Anywhere.” With the advent of Movies Anywhere, Disney Movies Anywhere will go away, and consumers will be able to join Movies Anywhere and transfer their movies into their new Movies Anywhere account, according to a Disney spokesperson. UltraViolet libraries will also port over through the participating digital retailers.
Movies Anywhere allows consumers to have up to five subaccounts, in addition to the master account. Subaccounts can have personalized recommendations and restrictions, allowing the master account holder to ban access to ‘R’-rated films for a child, for instance. Purchases may only be made from the master account.
Viewers can start streaming a movie on one device and finish it on another. Two viewers can watch the same title on different devices at one time, and up to four viewers can stream different content on different devices at the same time. Consumers can access their library on Amazon Fire devices, Android mobile and tablet devices, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, the Roku platform and popular web browsers.
To entice consumers to join Movies Anywhere, the service is offering up to five free digital movies. When consumers link to the first retailer on the service, they get free access to “Ghostbusters” (2016) and “Ice Age.” Linking to a second retailer gives consumers free access to “Big Hero 6,” “Jason Bourne” and “The Lego Movie.” The service plans a big marketing and advertising push including support from participating studios and digital retail partners. The tagline is “Your movies together at last.”
Consumers can download the Movies Anywhere app from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Roku or via MoviesAnywhere.com. The service is not yet on game consoles.
Movie Anywhere hopes to sign up more digital retailers and content owners, Gilford said.
“We are going to continue to evolve. We would like to add more retailers, launch on more platforms,” she said. “We’re talking to all the other studios. We know that consumers would like to have their content also in Movies Anywhere, and we really hope to bring them onboard so those talks will continue.”
Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are notably absent from the Movies Anywhere stable.
Stephanie Prange is Editor in Chief of Home Media Magazine.