If you’ve been staying abreast of cordcutting news, you’ll know that cinema-goers were given a boost in mid-2017 thanks to the relaunch of the movie ticket subscription service MoviePass.
Now film aficionados have another option for feeding their addiction in the shape of Movies Anywhere. The Disney-backed project went live in October 2017 and immediately earned glowing reviews from users.
But what exactly is Movies Anywhere? Why do you need it? What content is available? And who can use the service? In this article, we take a look at the new digital locker movie service.
What Is Movies Anywhere?
Movies Anywhere can best be described a “buy once, watch anywhere” service. The underlying premise is that by using a “digital locker,” you can buy a movie and watch it on any other streaming app. You no longer need to watch the film in the same app as you originally bought it.
You can watch the movies on almost any streaming device. The Movies Anywhere app is available on Android and on iOS, plus Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, some smart TVs, and the web. The content is also compatible with Chromecast.
Disney is the company responsible for Movies Anywhere, but it has partnered with 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, Universal, and Warner Brothers to bring you the functionality and the library of content. Movies Anywhere has also struck deals with several of the leading Hollywood studios. Paramount and Lionsgate are the two most notable, but there are many more.
At launch, 7,300 movies were available. Disney is adding more all the time. The app does NOT have a subscription fee.
Unfortunately for non-Americans, the app is currently only available in the United States. Americans traveling abroad will not be subjected to geo-blocking — their accounts will still work for both viewing and downloading.
The End of UltraViolet?
Of course, the concept of a digital movie locker is nothing new. UltraViolet pioneered the idea as long ago as 2011.
Although the service is still active, it has never successfully captured the public’s imagination. The signup process is complicated, the customer service is almost non-existent, DRM laws make playback a chore, and you can’t access digital high-definition copies of the movies in your locker.
The service’s issues are further compounded by the lack of the most prominent industry names. For example, Apple’s iTunes store has never been supported.
If you’ve been struggling along with UltraViolet and have amassed an extensive library, don’t worry. Your UltraViolet library is available in the new Movies Anywhere app, so you will still be able to watch all of your old films.
Disney Movies Anywhere Rebooted
The new Movies Anywhere service hasn’t appeared out of nowhere. The original Disney Movies Anywhere service launched in February 2014.
At first, it was only available in the form of an iOS app. The app let users connect any Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Lucasfilm movie they bought through iTunes with any physical Disney media they purchased in a shop. The result was a unified library which could be streamed or downloaded from anywhere in the world.
As time passed, Disney introduced extra features like behind-the-scenes footage, interviews, and a rewards program. The company also introduced more services. In late-2014, Google Play Movies and Vudu came onboard, and in September 2015, Disney added support for Amazon Video and Microsoft Movies and TV. The original app never supported UltraViolet movies.
The app’s DMA framework used a technology called KeyChest. The same technology unpins the rebooted Movies Anywhere service.
As alluded to earlier, the most significant difference between the original service and the rebooted Movies Anywhere is the welcome addition of non-Disney content.
Why Is Movies Anywhere Better Than Its Predecessors?
Disney hopes an impressive array of additional features will entice consumers.
At signup, users can immediately grab themselves five free films. The free movies offered will change frequently. Once the app is up and running, you can download content for offline viewing, add secondary accounts for children and other users, and apply parental controls. All movies on the app have closed-caption subtitles.
Furthermore, users with an iPad Pro, iPad Air, or iPad Mini 2 that runs at least iOS 9 will be happy to learn picture-in-picture playback is available, thus allowing you to multitask easily.
The app will support redemption codes. If you purchase a DVD or Blu-ray disk that comes with a code for UltraViolet or Disney Movies Anywhere, it will work with the new Movies Anywhere system.
Movies Anywhere will also function as a purchasing portal. You’ll no longer have to jump between apps to find one that offers the movie you want. Instead, the new service will let you buy movies from multiple services from within the primary interface.
The only caveat is that people using Apple devices will only be able to use the portal to purchase from iTunes. They will still need to access competitor’s offerings through a browser. Android users have no such restriction.
What Are the Drawbacks?
The Moves Anywhere app does have some limitations. Some of them are here to stay, others will presumably vanish as the service matures.
For example, Movies Anywhere does not currently support 3D, 4K, or HDR content, although Disney does state that UHD Digital Copy codes will flow to other retailers, some of whom support the formats. The app does support basic HD playback.
As you would expect, there are also playback restrictions. You can simultaneously watch movies on up to four devices, but can only watch the same movie on two devices at the same time.
Finally, in case you haven’t already realized, the service only offers movies — no TV shows are available.
Will You Sign Up for Movies Anywhere?
Movies Anywhere could prove to be the service that movie lovers have been crying out for.
Cordcutting has undoubtedly revolutionized the way we consume content, but the number of different services needed to replace cable TV is getting out of hand. We have discussed the problems associated with the ballooning number of streaming services elsewhere on the site.
A service that homogenizes content in a user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing way could prove to be a massive success with consumers.
Is Movies Anywhere the future of movies? Will it succeed where UltraViolet failed? Or is it destined to become another failed app aimed at cordcutters? As always, you can tell us what you think in the comments below.