Disney is shuttering its Disney Movies Anywhere service Wednesday, and urging users to transfer their movies to the newer Movies Anywhere locker service. However, consumers won’t actually lose their movies even if they miss the shut-off date.
Disney Movies Anywhere first launched in 2014 as a digital locker for Disney, Pixar, and Marvel movies. The service allowed users who had purchased these titles on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, or Google Play to transfer them to the Disney Movies Anywhere locker, and then stream and download them through the service’s apps. Users were also able to unlock digital copies of movies they had bought on DVD or Blu-ray via included download codes.
This Wednesday, Disney is shutting down the Disney Movies Anywhere apps. Users who already have the app installed on their devices will be asked to migrate to Movies Anywhere instead. Alternatively, users can simply go to the Movies Anywhere website, sign up for a new account, and opt to import their Disney Movies Anywhere titles from there. All of this will still be available after the official shut-off date, and the various migration options are described in detail in the Movies Anywhere help section.
Disney Movies Anywhere long competed with UltraViolet, another digital locker service backed by Sony, Paramount and Lionsgate. Movies Anywhere is in many ways an attempt to unite the industry behind one single service. The new service is owned and operated by Disney, but has been backed by 20th Century Fox, Disney, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros.
There are some signs that Movies Anywhere is off to a solid start. Users of the service streamed over 3 million hours worth of content in the first two months of its operation, Movies Anywhere GM Karin Gilford revealed at a Fox Innovation Lab event at CES last month. Consumers also stored 80 million individual titles in their lockers in those first two months.
Digital locker services like Movies Anywhere have been a key part of Hollywood’s strategy to extend the life of the physical disc business. They are also designed to give consumers an incentive to keep buying movies online, as opposed to just renting them, or watching them on Netflix or other subscription services.
However, digital download codes for cloud lockers are also at the center of a legal dispute between Redbox and Disney: Redbox has been reselling these digital codes to Disney movies since October through its website. Disney subsequently sued Redbox, alleging copyright and terms of service violations. The case is still pending after a court denied Disney’s request for an injunction this month.