Advanced Television

Fox seeks digital movies sales boost, joins UltraViolet

September 10, 2012

By Colin Mann

In a bid to revive consumers’ interest in the purchase of movies, Fox is to give earlier access to films for about $15 each, down from a purchase price that is currently about $20.

The initiative will begin later in September with Ridley Scott’s science fiction thriller Prometheus, and Fox plans to offer high-definition versions of its films for sale at newly-lowered prices about three weeks before making the movies available on discs and through video-on-demand services, reports the New York Times. This cuts into what had been a theatrical release window of some four months before their release in home entertainment formats.

The plan follows a failed experiment in 2011 where Fox and other studios briefly offered some films for about $30 via an on-demand service just two months after their theatrical release, but dropped the scheme following opposition from theatre owners.

“We felt it was a good time to take a more dramatic step,” James N Gianopulos, co-chairman and chief executive of Fox Filmed Entertainment, told the newspaper. Gianopulos suggested that several factors had converged to make the timing right for the new initiative: the growing consumer comfort with digital purchases; an expanding base of retailers such as Amazon, Google Play and Apple’s iTunes; and the potential drawing power of Prometheus.

It will become available to digital purchasers on September 18, in advance of its October 11 release on DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and video-on-demand services.

Fox will call its electronic sale offerings ‘Digital HD’ or ‘DHD’, a more customer-friendly term than ‘electronic sell-through’.

Gianopulos revealed that Fox would finally join the UltraViolet digital locker system that is already used by Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures and others to make films available, once purchased, on a range of a consumer’s entertainment devices, admitting it was not so much concern with piracy that had kept Fox out of UltraViolet until now as it was other early concerns with the workability of the locker system.

He said executives had considered the early sale of films for even less money in a standard, rather than high-definition, format, but decided instead to lead with a premium product. “We felt we should put our best foot forward,” he said.

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