In a move designed to combat piracy, boost digital sales, and help promote the UltraViolet movie service, Fox will be making Ridley Scott’s Prometheus available first as a digital download on September 18th, nearly a month before it arrives on Blu-ray, DVD, and on-demand services on October 11th. Nor will Prometheus be an isolated test case: Fox has announced that all future releases of their films will also follow the same distribution model.
UltraViolet is a cloud-based system which provides users with a “digital proof-of-purchase” and allows the purchaser to stream or download digital content to various compatible devices. Unfortunately, there were some consumer complaints about technical problems with the UltraViolet service last year, but Fox and the other UV-supporting studios such as Warner, Paramount, Sony and Universal are keen to stick with the tech, since it gives them a better profit margin than services such as Netflix and could help make up for declining video purchases.
Nor is getting your hands on Prometheus a few weeks early the only selling point for this system. Fox told the New York Times that the early digital releases will also be released with a cheaper price point than the later physical or on-demand versions. Theoretically at least, this model will encourage consumers to pick up movies they might not have before.
Whether it’s through UltraViolet or Netflix or iTunes, the future of home entertainment is only going to shift more and more into the digital realm. I’m sure by the time my kids are old enough to take interest, the notion of having to use a physical disc to watch a movie will seem quaint, maybe even unbelievable. We’ll have to see if the UltraViolet service can corner the market on customers’ attention and pocketbooks.