On December 26, Warner Bros’ Final Destination 5 will become the first UltraViolet-enabled title to be released in the UK via DVD, Blu-ray and Triple Play. From then on, all of the studio’s future home entertainment releases in the UK — including Happy Feet Two, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Dark Knight Rises — will fall under the UltraViolet “buy once, play anywhere” scheme. As with its practice in the U.S., Warner will offer the streams via Flixster.
Warner Bros was the first to release UV titles in the U.S. back in October with Horrible Bosses and Green Lantern. Although I was told by a Warner UK spokesman that there is no industry evidence as yet on the impact of the added UltraViolet aspect, the Associated Press today reports that consumers of those earlier films found the system didn’t work as expected. Warner Bros UK spokeswoman Deborah Lincoln, who had not read the AP report but was aware of certain complaints, tells me the confusion was largely related to the fact that those first titles didn’t have download ability to certain devices — which she assured me was not going to be the case in the UK. In part, she said, the confusion may have come from early media reports regarding UltraViolet touting it as an anytime, anywhere technology for all devices including IOS — shorthand for Apple’s mobile operating system. Those capabilities do exist now, and Lincoln says, “We’ve learned to be clear.” She added that with such a new technology, “there are inevitably going to be lessons … we’re going to be learning and keep changing.”
In between Warners’ U.S. and UK releases, Sony began testing the U.S. waters with The Smurfs and Friends With Benefits in early December and will soon release Moneyball in the same fashion. The UltraViolet initiative is backed by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, which is made up of the major studios (save, notably, Disney) several VOD platforms and other media partners. Canada will be the next stop for an UltraViolet launch.
In the UK, supermarket giant Tesco, along with its majority-owned Blinkbox online service, has launched its own version of a digital cloud. The service rolled out earlier this month with the release of Warner Bros’ Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2. Lincoln says the fact that the Tesco service launched with a Warners title ahead of Warners’ own UV launch was just a question of timing. Tesco is also part of the DECE alliance.