Frustrated with the current state of DVD/Blu-ray digital copies and buying movies from online stores like Vudu or iTunes? A new connection between studios and stores may be the best fix we'll get, now that Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal and Warner Bros (but not Paramount and Lionsgate, so far) have linked their libraries to Disney's Movies Anywhere setup. Confirming rumors from earlier this week, the Keychest-powered system that Disney has used for its own movies since 2014 will now unlock movies from all of those studios, covering over 7,300 titles.
If you haven't used Movies Anywhere with a Disney, Pixar, Marvel or Lucasfilm flick, it's very similar to the Ultraviolet system the other studios have focused on until now. Once you create an account you can watch movies through its app and website, or through stores that participate with it, which include iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu and Google Play. Linking the accounts is relatively painless, and for a limited time, viewers can unlock access to five free movies (Big Hero 6, Ghostbusters (2016), Ice Age Jason Bourne (2016), The Lego Movie) by doing so.
Old Disney Movies Anywhere apps will be rebranded simply Movies Anywhere. Disney's app plays across a number of devices -- Apple TV / iOS, Android, Amazon Fire TV and Roku -- while the other retailers also have apps with varying avenues they support. The idea is that now it doesn't matter where or how you bought a flick, you'll just have access to it, which is the way things should work.
Movies Anywhere is only available for signup in the US, but it does allow for access internationally if you're traveling, as well as downloading for offline viewing. As far as other limitations, here are the rules:
- A maximum of 4 concurrent streams (title independent) across a single account
- A maximum of 2 simultaneous streams of the same title per account
- A maximum of 8 registered end-user devices for download per account
- A maximum 16 end-user device registrations during a rolling 12-month period
- End-user devices are registered automatically when a first download is requested
- Downloads expire on offline or deregistered devices after 90 days.
- Any single title can be downloaded to all end-user devices in a single Movies Anywhere account at the same time; provided that viewing across the service for a single title is maximum 2 stream, 8 downloads
So what's missing, at least right now? The Movies Anywhere app isn't on Xbox, Nintendo or PlayStation game consoles, although if you link an account to Vudu that will mostly solve the problem. As mentioned above, Paramount and Lionsgate have yet to join, as well as other smaller distributors. There are also a number of online video stores that don't support it just yet -- Microsoft recently unplugged from Disney Movies Anywhere, and although Comcast announced a deal last year that link hasn't materialized -- but execs say that more content and retailers are coming.
As far as Ultraviolet, the future is fuzzy, although Variety reports movies in those libraries will port over via participating retailers.