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Disney Gives Bonuses to Portable Movies

22 Apr, 2005 By: John Gaudiosi

A scene from Hero

Buena Vista Home Entertainment (BVHE) plans to give gamers bonuses.

The studio has added June and July releases to its Universal Media Disc (UMD) slate, which began rolling out this month. Some have bonus features, while others do not.

Dan Silverberg, BVHE's executive director of new business development, noted the challenges of bringing movies and bonus features to the 1.8GB UMD format to appeal to PlayStation Portable (PSP) gamers. Because of studio video quality standards and the compression rate of Sony's UMD discs, only shorter films will have room for extras for the time being. Silverberg said bonus content plays a role in keeping the parity of pricing between UMD and DVD movies.

Extras will come “both from the DVD versions of the film, as well as original content created for the UMD version,” he said.

Buena Vista will listen to consumer feedback on the first wave of UMD movies, he said.

“The [home entertainment] industry will hear quickly if consumers want more extras on UMD,” he added.

Features like director and cast commentaries can be done on UMD, but at the expense of an extra like a Spanish track. The first wave of Buena Vista UMDs will not include commentaries.

Because of PSP's portability, Silverberg believes the UMD format will give new life to some films that might not have found an audience even on DVD. He said the studio will look at its release schedule and issue UMDs the same day DVDs are released where it makes sense, such as with National Treasure.

Although two-disc special edition DVDs have become the norm in the DVD market, Silverberg doesn't believe two-disc versions of movies will translate to UMDs. However, he does believe boxed TV sets on UMD will find an audience, just as boxed TV DVD has.

Looking further ahead, Silverberg said that because PSP is a video game machine, there may be opportunities to take advantage of Sony's device through interactive bonus features. He said the studio is exploring options for an upcoming X-Games-type UMD, which might have behind-the-scenes footage from ESPN, as well as interactive play.

Silverberg anticipates some fans will purchase movies such as Hero and Kill Bill Vol. 1 twice, once on DVD and then again on UMD for the portable factor — growing the pie rather than cannibalizing the existing DVD business.

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