Team America prevented from being replacement for The Interview in cinemas
The fallout from the Sony Pictures hack continues, and is now affecting more than just The Interview. Theaters planning to screen Team America: World Police instead of the James Franco movie have been stopped from doing so, while a number of celebrities have all denounced Sony Pictures' decision to withdraw The Interview from distribution, and the White House has refused to comment on the hack investigation.
Theaters to use satellite, terrestrial service for digital film distribution
Five movie studios have signed an agreement with the Digital Cinema Distribution Coalition (DCDC) to distribute films through its satellite network. Disney, Warner Bros, Paramount, Universal, and Lionsgate will be using the network as a way to delivery movies and other content to theaters across North America.
Google gets MGM video rentals
Google on Monday scored a key deal with MGM to get some of its movies on Google Play Movies and YouTube. About 600 of the studio's 4,100 titles will be available, the majority of which are back catalog titles rather than cutting edge content. The deal still means having access to titles such as the original The Terminator and Rocky that had previously been absent.
Good news for BSkyB, deadline extended to July
UK satellite TV service BSkyB was given a reprieve as the Competition Commission pushed back its deadline on ruling that BSkyB's deals with six major Hollywood studios were uncompetitive, according to The Guardian. The government watchdog extended the date of its final ruling to July because it has added Netflix and LoveFilm to its investigation. Netflix launched in the UK and Ireland in January, while LoveFilm recently added a streaming service to its rent-by-mail service.
Walmart kicks of UltraViolet service, now in beta
Walmart has officially announced its UltraViolet conversion service, letting users digitize their existing DVD and Blu-ray movies. Viewers will have the ability to bring a movie into one of the more than 3,500 participating stores in the US and have their movies added to a Vudu account, after which they can stream it at any time.
Digital versions offer limited viewing options
Paramount has become the first movie distributor to sell movies using the UltraViolet digital distribution system directly to customers. Up until now, UltraViolet digital downloads were available only as part of a DVD/Blu-Ray disc
package deal or from a retailer such as Amazon.
Galaxy Tab 10.1 now available to American patrons
As promised back in June, American Airlines is now offering the Galaxy Tab 10.1 to passengers flying in premium seats. The devices will replace the airline's traditional entertainment options and come preloaded with 70 movies, including 30 new releases and three exclusive titles from Paramount. TV shows and audio files will also be available on the tablets.
Qriocity coming to Xperia minis on Monday
Sony on Monday, August 1 will begin the phased roll-out of its Qriocity service for Xperia smartphones. At first, the Xperia mini and Xperia mini pro will get access. Available content to rent or buy will include movies and TV shows from NBC and its partner Universal, Paramount, Sony, Fox, and Warner Bros., in addition to local and more independent studios.
Fox, Paramount blame piracy for YouTube exit
Fox and Paramount have supposedly backed out of YouTube's imminent major movie service in an attempt to force action on piracy. Unofficial comments from the two claim that they won't get onboard as long as Google is indexing pirate video sites in its search engine and allowing them AdSense placement. Disney, not mentioned before, was also leaning the same direction, The Wrap said.
YouTube may intro major movie service
YouTube's largely public plans for a major studio movie service could be realized as soon as this week or next, studio executives purportedly said Monday. The service would initially work through a video-on-demand rental system, presumably streaming, rather than permanent sales. Some studios like Lionsgate, Sony, Warner, and Universal would be onboard, The Wrap heard, but Google has allegedly had trouble getting support and would have to forsake movies from Fox and Paramount for the initial unveiling.
Netflix said landing complete Star Trek TV deal
Netflix may land a key deal to show every Star Trek episode ever made. The company reportedly confirmed that it would have access to all five storylines, ranging from the classic 1960s show through to Enterprise. TrekMovie understood that all but Deep Space Nine would go live on July 1, with the holdout coming October 1.
Netflix Canada lands deal for Paramount movies
Netflix significantly boosted its presence in Canada on Monday. The movie streaming service said it had landed a multi-year deal to bring new movie and TV shows to the service's streaming-only service in the country, covering about 350 titles that include more recent movies like Iron Man 2 and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The agreement includes exclusive subscription TV rights to first-run movies and puts movies in the "premium pay TV window" for releases.
The Tunnel to debut on torrent and DVD on May 19
Come May 19, a new horror movie called The Tunnel will make the most original and uncommon of premieres: on BitTorrent. According to TorrentFreak, the free movie from Paramount Pictures will also come out at the same time on DVD, though the physical format will carry a sticker price with it. The movie is set in the tunnels under Sydney, Australia, and follows a TV news crew.
Google gets Paramount's Ducard for movie service
Google has quietly picked up Paramount's senior VP of digital distribution Malik Ducard to bolster its YouTube movie service plans, insiders said today. His exact purpose wasn't mentioned, but he would likely be used to help land movie licensing deals and ensure a healthy supply for the rumored 2011 launch. Ducard wouldn't comment to paidContent but indirectly supported the claim by asking the site to speak to Google PR.
Paramount makes movie apps for WP7 handsets
Paramount on Tuesday said it will bring out 10 movie apps of its films just for Windows Phone 7 smartphones. The first of these apps is School of Rock, now available in the US and Canadian Windows Phone Marketplace, with other markets getting it before year's end. Each app uses Microsoft Silverlight and includes the full movie, as well as themed menus, buttons, bonus features and other special experiences.
Sony intros Qriocity streaming service to devices
Sony will soon bring its Qriocity service to the PSP and connected Bravia TVs, Blu-ray players and home theater systems in the UK. In the PSP, this means access to Sony's Music Unlimited library, while the other devices will have access to streaming access. The PSP requires a software update, v6.35 that's coming soon. This will bring with it a new icon under the XMB interface's Music category.
Samsung Media Hub debuts for US Android devices
Samsung as part of its Galaxy Tab unveiling we attended tonight kicked off the launch of Media Hub, a companion video store for its devices. The initial version will offer movies and day-after TV shows from NBC, Paramount, Universal and Warner, with more expected later. Content is DRM-protected but can be shared between five phones or tablets.
Paramount won't follow studios on Redbox delays
Paramount bucked the trend to major resistance towards non-traditional movie rentals by striking a same-day deal with Redbox. Under the terms, both Blu-ray and DVD movies will be available through the on-the-spot kiosks the same day as they're available to rent elsewhere. The movie studio rejected the fears that have led Warner Bros. and other studios to try and force 28-day delays, arguing that there's ultimately no impact to giving RedBox $1 rentals at the same time.
VOD deal would step up movie releases quickly
Movies could reach video on demand much faster in the near future, according to new tips [subscription required]. Following a proposal by Time Warner at the Cable Show that movies reach VOD within 30 days for a premium price of $20 to $30, a leak at the WSJ has Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner willing to sign onboard. The fast-track service, if agreed to, would go live as soon as the fall or early 2011.
Seagate, Paramount team up on drives with movies
Seagate on Monday said it would ship its 500GB FreeAgent Go portable hard drives with movies from Paramount. Initially, users who register their drives will get access to the JJ Abrams Star Trek movie for no extra cost. Those same hard drives contain 20 other Paramount movies, which can be unlocked by purchasing a license key. The movies then become viewable on a number of devices, including desktop or notebook PCs, as well as HDTVs, thanks to the preloaded FreeAgent Theater+ HD media player.
Court documents show Viacom tried to buy YouTube
About a year before filing a $1 billion copyright claim against Google and YouTube in 2007, Viacom tried to buy the popular video hosting site, court documents that were made public on Thursday reveal. Viacom owns MTV and Paramount Pictures, among other networks, and Google is accusing it of having continued to secretly upload its videos to the site even after filing the lawsuit.
Sony beats Apple to HD on all labels
Sony touted an industry first today as its PSN video service became the first service to get HD movies from all six major studios. Besides its own Sony Pictures, the company's deal will allow buying and renting HD on the PlayStation 3 from Disney, Fox, Paramount, Universal and Warner. No price changes were mentioned as part of the additions, but the agreement is non-exclusive.
Game features online multiplay, four game modes
Paramount and TransGaming have announced a December release for a Mac version of Star Trek: D-A-C. The new game is a top-down space shooter game pitting Starfleet against the Romulan Empire, supporting online multiplayer for up to 12 players, online co-op and single-player gameplay. Gameplay options include survival, team deathwatch, conquest and assault. Defeated ships offer new abilities and score pick-ups in survival mode, while conquest and assault gameplay involve attacking or defending sectors of space.
Kingston USB, SD cards to carry movies
Kingston and Paramount unveiled an unusual deal today that will see the latter's movies made available on SD cards and USB flash drives. The partners haven't detailed the formats involved but say the movies will be available both in bundles as well as individually. Neither company has committed to a release date.
Film Fresh DivX Movies
Young movie store Film Fresh today launched itself as the first US-based movie store to provide downloads from larger studios in DivX form. Lionsgate, Paramount, Sony and Warner have all agreed to include both recent and classic titles on the store and as a result have created one of the first few truly cross-platform movie services. Although the videos are still copy-protected, the choice of DivX lets them play on Macs as well as any other device with an official DivX certification, including Blu-ray and DVD players, consoles like the PS3, and even the TVs themselves.
Epix HD Beta
Lionsgate, MGM and Paramount today launched an invitation beta for Epix, a hybrid cable and online movie streaming service meant to supplement rather than replace regular pay-per-view TV. Anyone with a cable package that includes the channel will get access to the studios' movies weeks ahead of their regular DVD releases for "free" but will simultaneously have access to streaming, 720p versions of those same movies for their computers. The approach is ad-free, even online, and automatically scales the bitrate up or down (to as low as 500Kbps) depending on the quality of the connection.
Studios to Sue Real
Several major studios plan to sue RealNetworks for what they believe is inherent copyright infringement in the company's RealDVD ripping software, according to a tip sent to the AP. Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner are all said to believe that the software is deliberately bypassing the CSS encryption on DVD movies and so violating their copyrights. They also plan a temporary injunction on just-begun sales of the app, the unnamed source indicates.
Studios Form DECE
Several movie studios and hardware manufacturers have unwrapped plans to produce a universal approach to copy-protected video that would escape a dependence on any one format and would also loosen some restrictions on video. To be called the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), the initiative currently includes Fox, NBC Universal, Paramount, Sony and Warner Bros. as well as Windows Media creator Microsoft, Comcast and hardware makers that include Cisco, Philips and Toshiba. Best Buy and Verisign are also involved.
Movies at iTunes UK, Can.
A select number of movies should soon be available for sale from the UK and Canadian iTunes Stores, writes The Times. The British newspaper cites studio sources, who claim that Apple has signed new agreements with four major studios: Fox, Disney, Warner Bros. and Paramount. Lionsgate and MGM are also expected to join in the deal, but issues appear to remain with Sony and Universal. Crucially, people should be able to both buy and rent films from iTunes, at prices comparable to the countries' DVD and video-on-demand options.
Moto Movie Store Rumor
Motorola is developing a movie store for its phones, claims UK trade magazine New Media Age (registration required for full article). An alleged source at partner studio Paramount says that Motorola is in the "late stages" of offering a service that would offer full-length movies pre-formatted for Motorola's more media-friendly devices. Paramount is currently the only studio known to be involved, though others are allegedly in talks to add their own catalogs.
Archos TV Plus Upgrade
In addition to its 605 GPS upgrade, Archos today has also upgraded its TV+ media hub with both preloaded content and a new Internet streaming feature. The French company has signed a deal with Paramount that will see the movie studio offer movies both preloaded on the device's built-in 250GB hard drive as well as available through Archos' media store. For the latter content, users will have the option of downloading videos either to a Mac or Windows PC for sideloading on to the TV+ or directly to the device itself.
DreamWorks Free From HDDVD
The last major movie studio bound to HD DVD, DreamWorks SKG, has been officially released from its obligation to produce movies in the now obsolete HD format, according to a statement by the company. The Hollywood business had previously said it was locked into a contract to produce high-resolution movies only in the format but now reveals that it will cancel the vast majority of its scheduled HD DVD releases effective immediately. This includes imminent releases such as the CG animated title Bee Movie, which was due March 11th.
DreamWorks Stuck in HD DVD
Despite Toshiba's discontinuation of HD DVD, movie studio DreamWorks is still locked into a contract to ship HD movies in the format, company chief Jeffrey Katzenberg said late yesterday. The Hollywood executive noted his company had an "obligation" to fulfill and that the largely necessary switch to Blu-ray was Toshiba's responsbility: the electronics maker will have to give permission to DreamWorks to publish movies in the surviving format until the contract expires or Toshiba releases the studio from terms.
Paramount Adopts Blu-ray
Paramount has become the last studio to drop HD DVD, the company quietly said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. The movie house said it would begin releasing movies on Blu-ray in the near future and claimed it was "pleased" that the industry had chosen a single HD movie disc format. This should help the end user, Paramount claims. The company follows previous HD DVD holdout Universal in switching to Blu-ray and came more than a day after Toshiba halted HD DVD production, leaving both studios with virtually no alternative but to opt for Blu-ray.
Paramount, Univ. & Blu-ray
Following today's announcement of the end of the HD DVD format, a German site is reporting that movie studios Paramount and Universal are already pledging to switch to the Blu-ray format for future HD releases. Both companies were once staunch supporters of HD DVD, the latter after a controversial $150 million payout which brought it on-side. Sony has also used money to influence format adoption, but Paramount claimed that its decision was based solely on merit.
Toshiba Drops HD DVD
Ending a longstanding format war, Toshiba on Tuesday formally announced that it would halt production of HD DVD devices and discs, all but rendering the format obsolete. In a confirmation of Japanese reports, the company plans to wind down hardware production by March for both stand-alone movie players and PC drives. Development of notebook HD DVD drives, such as for the company's own Qosmio line, will depend largely on demand. Writable HD DVD media will also continue to exist past March to cater to owners who need the format for burning video or computer data.
Warner Kills HDDVD Sales
Warner's decision to produce exclusively in Blu-ray may have already dealt a fatal blow to HD DVD movie sales, according to the latest charts from Home Media Magazine. The industry-oriented weekly reports that all but one of the top ten HD movie discs sold in the same week as the Warner announcement were Blu-ray exclusives. Aggregate results are the same with only the tenth-place Bourne Ultimatum shipping solely as an HD DVD version, the magazine adds.
New Apple TV speculation
A new version of the Apple TV will help spearhead an Apple video offensive, a new report claims. BusinessWeek writes that it has learned of the new set-top with certainty, although it cannot say what particular features it will bring. Other reports have indicated that users may be able to buy or rent videos directly from the device, which would address one of its long-standing complaints and put it into competition with the video-on-demand services provided by cable and satellite companies.
Universal HD DVD Expiring
Universal's obligation to support HD DVD alone has already ended and may see Blu-ray titles soon, according to a claim by the Hollywood magazine Variety. Though not hinting at its sources, the publication's online edition says that Universal's commitment "has ended" and that the studio can publish Blu-ray titles at any time. A run of multiple promotions is likely to keep the studio producing HD DVD titles for the next few months, according to the report. However, no details have been provided as to whether Universal will opt to release movies in both formats or remain with HD DVD alone until the promotional campaign is over.
Paramount and Universal
Both Paramount and Universal are biding their time and follow Warner's switch to Blu-ray within a matter of weeks, according to established movie writer Bill Hunt of Digital Bits. Sources "second to none" allege that these two remaining major supports of HD DVD are ready to switch to releasing Blu-ray movies but are waiting on the right conditions to announce the move, regardless of obligations. While Universal is waiting on its current contract to expire by February, Paramount is simply waiting to have one or more titles ready before it exercises its now corroborated opt-out clause from its HD DVD exclusivity deal, the insiders say.
Studios keen on iTunes
Major Hollywood content providers gave Apple and its iTunes Store a thumbs up during a panel discussion and Q&A session on Monday at the CES trade show in Las Vegas. The Cupertino-based company began offering hit TV shows and more than 2,000 music videos in October of 2005 after experiencing enormous success in the digital music industry. Deals with four Disney-owned studios -- Disney, Pixar, Miramax, and Touchstone Pictures -- were followed by a deal with Paramount Pictures and later Lionsgate films.
Paramount May Return to BR
Film studio Paramount is likely to return to the Blu-ray camp after Warner's highly publicized abandonment of HD DVD, according to sources reportedly in touch with the Financial Times. Those "familiar with the situation" claim that the Hollywood firm has a clause that will let it drop its months-long HD DVD contract for exclusivity in the case that Warner defects. This will save the company from having to produce HD movies in the disc format regardless of whether genuine support exists, says the report. DreamWorks Animation, whose movies are distributed by Paramount, may also follow suit.
Studios for iTunes Rentals
Apple is close to scoring deals with most Hollywood studios but may have had to make significant concessions to get a large catalog of titles for an anticipated launch at Macworld San Francisco, sources have told BusinessWeek. While the movie houses have reportedly dropped attempts to protect DVD sales by insisting on month-long delays between physical and digital releases, Apple has had to raise the prices of new-release features at or near the $17 mark common for many DVDs to receive broader support. Which companies have asked for the tradeoff is unclear, though negotiations are purportedly close to extend or add movie sales and rentals from Lionsgate, Paramount, and Warner in addition to Disney and Fox.
Fox, Disney iTunes rentals
More details of the highly-anticipated iTunes rental service have been leaked, according to Variety. The movie trade magazine cites "studio sources" as saying that Fox and Disney are indeed confirmed as partners, and will make some sort of appearance during the January 14th Macworld keynote by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. The two may also be joined by other distributors, such as MGM, Lionsgate and Paramount, which like Fox and Disney already sell permanent downloads on the iTunes Store.