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Universal Debuts HD DVD Interactive Web Store

3 Oct, 2007 By: Chris Tribbey

A screenshot of U-Shop

Would you like to own any of the environmentally friendly products showcased in Evan Almighty?

With the HD DVD (Oct. 9) it'll only take a few clicks of the remote.

Universal Studios Home Entertainment unveiled its latest HD DVD Internet features the morning of Oct. 2 at a press event in Universal City, Calif., with U-Shop, Universal's online store that connects viewers directly with products seen in new HD DVD feature releases, and www.universalhidef.com, a traditional Web site concerning all things Universal HD DVD, with new content that can also be downloaded to HD DVDs.

Ken Graffeo, EVP of USHE and co-president of the HD DVD Promotional Group, and Kevin Collins, Microsoft's director of HD DVD Evangelism, also showed how consumers can download bonus scenes from films (ones that weren't available in time for the production of the DVDs or HD DVDs). In addition, they shared how viewers can create fan communities around their favorite shows, send favorite movie clips to friends via the HD DVD player, create trailers, download new trailers to watch before a film and more.

Movie-themed collectables, fashions and tools from films can be purchased, with each new release featuring a different set of items for sale. “Where we can go with this will really depend on the creative community,” said Graffeo. “We're a studio, and our core will be entertainment content.”

Collins added: “For the first time you have Universal really going out and taking advantage of the format. Obviously they're just scratching the surface.”

Graffeo stressed that Universal isn't looking at the U-Shop concept as a big money maker, but rather a higher level of interaction for the HD DVD format.

“We're not a retailer and we don't want to upset our retailers either,” Graffeo said.

Universal is aware of a couple issues that must be addressed. One is working with other HD DVD providers to be sure the same experiences can be offered by other studios.

“It's almost like when DVD started,” Graffeo said. “We didn't have DVD production groups.”

And the other is not forcing retail product placements during the movie-watching experience.

“What we've heard loud and clear is [consumers] don't want to be forced into anything,” Collins said.

Graffeo and Collins both seemed excited about the future possibilities for the interactive, high-def format. Downloadable subtitles for every language? Digitally altered product placements different from the theatrical release? A different movie experience every time you watch?

“This is just the beginning,” Graffeo said. “In one year we're able to do this … which is a testament to the technology.”

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