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Universal U.K. to Offer Download Purchases

23 Mar, 2006 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Universal Pictures starting April 10 will offer movie downloads for purchase in the United Kingdom.

The move, confirmed by a Universal Pictures International spokesperson, would be the first-ever movie download-to-own service.

Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, said the U.K. broadband movie-distribution service is a model for what will one day be prevalent everywhere.

“I see it happening in the United States very, very quickly,” he said. “This is not a test; it's happening. That is the future. People are going to be able to buy our movies online, and they're going to be able to download them and send them to portables and play them on their PCs.”

Universal will initially offer 35 feature films, including King Kong, Pride & Prejudice, The Bourne Supremacy, Love Actually, and Bridget Jones' Diary, among others.

The Kong DVD streets April 10 in the U.K., the same day the new download service starts.

The studio is working with Lovefilm.com, one of Europe's largest online movie-rental-by-mail services. Consumers would pay about $35 per new release ($17.50 for catalog), which includes a DVD and two copy-protected electronic copies for their home PC and portable device.

“Download-to-own has the potential to completely revolutionize the way people watch movies,” said Peter Smith, president of Universal Pictures International.

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