Who could have ever thunk a movie starring Charlie from “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” would have such an impact on the way we are able to view movies online? But such is the case as Warner Bros. released the movie’s DVD on Tuesday with the much-talked-about Ultraviolet system in tact.
What’s Ultraviolet, you ask? Of course, you ask. Why else would you be here. From the Wall Street Jorunal …
“UltraViolet … is designed to let people watch online or mobile versions of movies they have bought on DVD or Blu-ray,” the paper wrote. “People who buy an UltraViolet-enabled copy of a movie can get access to the same movie on computers, iPhones and iPads, as well as other mobile devices. UltraViolet gives users an online ‘digital locker’ that stores copies of movies they’ve bought, and lets them watch those movies from nearly anywhere.”
In other words, you buy the DVD, you gain access to the movie wherever you are, whenever you want. Yes, there is a downside. In order to access such abilities, one must initially enter a 12-digit code provided on a paper slip inside the physical copy of the DVD. Once that happens, the rights to the film are now yours. To make it more clunky, you must also create an online account for Ultraviolet itself, as well as something like a Flixster, WB’s recently-bought site that offers the ability to watch movies online.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, many of the studio heads are hoping this will result in more people not paying for actual DVDs and simply paying for access to a particular DVD, thus saving companies loads of money on physical product manufacturing. You can think of it as a cloud service of sorts, for those familiar with cloud services.
But did you happen to notice how nobody really made a big deal out of such innovations on the day they were finally instituted? Sure you did. Here’s why: Warner Bros. is the only studio that has bought into the idea. Sony will jump on the bandwagon in December when it uses the technology for its release of “The Smurfs” on DVD, but much like WB, it has no third-party partner, though it does plan to have customers redeem their online copies from one of the websites it owns.
The problem? Such big boys as Apple and Amazon aren’t touching the product. Why? Well, the assumption is that they don’t want the consumer to be able to access movies without going through iTunes or Amazon’s own website. For instance, downloading a film on iTunes allows you to watch the movie only through iTunes or on other Apple devices. Amazon, too, allows you to watch movies downloaded through them on only Amazon.com. Ultraviolet is looking to change the notion that constraints must be had when considering all Internet movie-viewing experiences.
Still, as The Associated Press pointed out Tuesday, the soft opening for such technology is only the beginning of a plan that runs far deeper than a silly summer comedy …
“The early trial is meant to familiarize people with the notion of owning something that doesn’t sit on a shelf — in part to jump-start sluggish sales of digital downloads of movies,” The AP wrote. “That is something Hollywood needs to counter shrinking sales of discs.”
“We are at the very beginning of the rollout of UltraViolet. It’s a first step,” Thomas Gewecke of Warner Bros. told The Associated Press. “You’ll see more and more services launching with every coming month.”
I said it before and I’ll say it again: The notion of a DVD-less world is upon us. These are only the first steps in a long process aimed at eventually phasing out the medium altogether. It’s sad, really. DVDs will soon go the way of the record. I can see it now: 50 years from now, hipsters will institute “National DVD Day” as outcasts from all walks of life will over-pay for some Jack Black B-list comedy at something called a “DVD store.” Things can only get worse from here. And to think “Horrible Bosses” was the movie to start it all.
For the record, prices of Ultraviolet DVDs will not go up in light of the newly instituted technology, and Warner Bros. also plans to attach the same “UV” label to both “The Green Lantern” and the final “Harry Potter” movie, both set for release within the coming months. Even so, reports on if anyone will actually buy the “Green Lantern” movie have been largely exaggerated.