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Warner Bows Movie Classics in High-Def VOD

14 Aug, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Warner Bros. Digital Distribution Aug. 14 began offering 85 of its movie classics for the first time on high-definition video-on-demand as part of the studio's year-long 85th anniversary celebration.

Titles such as Superman: The Movie, Casablanca, Doctor Zhivago, Blade Runner, Bonnie and Clyde, Unforgiven, Training Day and Full Metal Jacket, among others, will be available on Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Cox Cable, Charter Communications, Rogers Cable in Canada, and satellite providers DirecTV and Dish Network.

The digital distribution unit, which is part of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, is implementing parent Time Warner's forward corporate strategy to distribute movies, including new releases, through VOD day-and-date with DVD and Blu-ray.

The move is aimed at generating increased rental margins compared to DVD, while at the same time not cannibalizing packaged media sellthrough.

James McQuivey, media analyst with Forrester Research, said studio support for VOD is key to the format's success.

“Cable VOD holds all the cards, with its millions of subscribers,” McQuivey said. “It is the most credible threat to DVD among all wannabe threats, including Blu-ray.”

Jim Noonan, SVP, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, countered that offering consumers classic movies in high def represented the best possible invitation for them to purchase the titles on Blu-ray.

“There is no industry research to suggest that VOD cannibalizes DVD sales,” Noonan said.

Separately, Warner Aug. 15 through Sept. 5 will host a series of free outdoor movie screenings in New York and Santa Monica, Calif. Additional details can be found at www.twoondemand.com.

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