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Studios Still Perfecting Digital Copy Concept

10 Nov, 2008 By: Chris Tribbey

Pineapple Express

For anyone who thought another format war was brewing in the world of digital copy, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has allayed those concerns: The two-disc DVD and Blu-ray Disc offerings of Pineapple Express will include a free download of the film from iTunes, in addition to a downloadable digital copy for PCs or the PlayStation Portable.


It’s the first time Sony has offered an iTunes download, and the studio plans to include iTunes options on other titles.


The announcement is important because it means every major studio is working toward catering to both the Windows Media and iTunes crowds, offering the option for a portable, digital copy of films and TV shows to as many people as possible.


“SPHE is thrilled to expand the value and convenience of our digital copy program to the iTunes community,” said Lexine Wong, SVP of worldwide marketing for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Consumers can enjoy Pineapple Express where and how they like.”


However, the delivery form of the digital copies, the system requirements for computers and programs, and what portable devices those files will play on, can vary from studio to studio, and sometimes from disc to disc. Some digital copies must be downloaded, others can be transferred from a disc. Some digital copies have different system requirements for Apple’s operating system.


Everyone’s doing it differently. And that’s not likely to change right away.


“We’re all just kind of figuring it out,” said Rich Marty, VP of business development for Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Some are disc transfers, some are downloads, and we’re all just trying to gauge how consumers respond to it … if we can get together and deliver a similar message, it would be easier.”


It’s worth it to the studios to perfect digital copies, if Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment’s first digital copy — the Disney File on the re-release of The Nightmare Before Christmas — is any indication: Disney reported more people took advantage of that digital copy than all other online VOD or download options combined.


“That spoke to the fact it resonated with consumers,” said Lori MacPherson, North American GM for Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment, which will have digital copies for both Wall-E and The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. “I think it’s probably less important to have another absolute standard as it is to have a good explanation about what’s included on each disc.”


Both Chris Saito, VP of marketing for Paramount Home Entertainment, and Danny Kaye, EVP of global research and technology for 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, agreed. Paramount’s The Love Guru saw its digital copy widely used by consumers, Saito said, and the studio will include the option with more releases in 2009. Fox was the first out of the gate with a digital copy, and Kaye said, “Consumer uptake is good.”


“The problem is getting our message out there. We all have our own different [versions,] and it’s confusing for consumers,” he said.”


More than one industry body is getting everyone on the same page, or at least trying to. DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group got everyone to agree to an industrywide logo for digital copy, and the DVD Forum is working toward finding an industry standard for digital copies of movies, which content owners beyond the studios have started to include on DVDs.


“It’s currently kind of a mess,” said DVD Forum director Mark Waring, with Sanyo. “It’s good because it discourages people from stealing, but they have to put multiple copies on there. The concept should be ‘Buy a movie, you get to watch it wherever you want.’”



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