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Disney unveils its iTunes-hosted, cloud-based film service, Disney Movies Anywhere

In a better-late-than-never move, Disney opened to the public its long-anticipated Disney Movies Anywhere service yesterday, a so-called “digital movie locker” that allows users to  store and stream digital versions of the films they’ve purchased online, or as a Blu-ray or DVD disc.

The service allows its users buy a Disney, Marvel or Pixar movie a single time, and that one purchase unlocks access to the film from any smartphone, tablet, computer or TV connected to the Internet. Physical purchases come with codes that can be entered into Disney Movies Anywhere to unlock digital copies and their extra features.

At the core of Disney Movies Anywhere is the proprietary framework called KeyChest — it’s essentially Disney’s version of UltraViolet, the technology mainstay that nearly every film studio (aside from Disney) enlists for the distribution and organization of the digital copies that accompany physical Blu-ray and DVD film releases. UltraViolet not only provides the files for download, it also offers digital locker solutions for storage and streaming via the cloud, saving storage space on computers and devices.

As a bonus, Disney’s KeyChest (which was in development for years before its release) doesn’t just stick to storage and streaming. It folds in bonus content such as movie trailers, previously-unreleased footage and other extras, giving UltraViolet a run for its money.

Sign up for the service during this initial release period, and Disney will gift you a free copy of The Incredibles to add to your new movie library.

At the moment, Disney Movies Anywhere is only available on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV, but Disney is allegedly making moves to open the service up to other carriers. For now, you’ll need an iTunes account and its included film library, in which you’ll be able to store all purchases.

Despite Disney’s rejection of UltraViolet way back when every single other content studio was signing on with the technology, the release of Disney Movies Anywhere brings the company up to speed and back into the digital content limelight.

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