Movies Anywhere puts all your digital films in one place

We reported on Tuesday that Disney was heading toward an agreement with several prominent film studios that would massively increase the library of content available via its Movies Anywhere service. Currently, the digital download service lets consumers keep all film purchases — as long as they’re from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, or Lucasfilm — in a single location and access those movies on televisions, computers, or mobile devices using the Disney Movies Anywhere app. Now, a revamped version of Movies Anywhere has been released, we went hands-on with it, and it’s pretty awesome.

On Wednesday, we received confirmation that 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, and Universal Pictures (in addition to Disney, of course) have all agreed to allow all digital purchases via Google Play, Amazon Video, iTunes, and Vudu to be accessed via the new Movies Anywhere app, which is a collaborative project helmed by Disney and Google. Launched Wednesday night, Movies Anywhere offers more than 7,300 films, including new releases.

By connecting your accounts for each of these services, you’ll be able to watch your purchased films from any of the aforementioned studios on the Movies Anywhere app at any time. Activate and connect your account with any of those digital retailers, and you’ll also get Ice Age and Ghostbusters (2016) for free. As an added bonus, those who link two or more accounts via the app or the official website will receive the following movies free of charge: Big Hero 6Jason Bourne, and The Lego Movie. 

The new Movies Anywhere app will replace Disney’s previous version. It’ll be available for iOS, Android, Amazon Fire devices, Chromecast, select web browsers, and Sony Bravia smart televisions (we expected the apps to be live already, but the links on the official site aren’t currently working. Right now, you can just get the Android app).

According to Google, users will be able to painlessly transfer any movies they own over to the new app. Considering that managing digital content is currently a convoluted process for many, the new service could make life much easier for those with extensive digital film libraries.

If you bought a physical DVD or Blu-ray movie that came with a digital code, that file is likely sitting on your computer with no purpose. Now (assuming the movie was made by one of the involved studios), it’ll be easily accessible from any device. Should more studios hop onboard (and even if they don’t), Movies Anywhere could legitimately change the game when it comes to digital content distribution and playback.

Studios are likely looking for ways to boost revenue as sales of physical media like DVD and Blu-ray continue to slump. Digital movie sales grew by about 8 percent over the last year while physical disc sales fell by about 10 percent. Consumers are flocking to subscription-based services like Netflix while box-office sales are falling, down by 5 percent year over year. My previous statement about deleting that sentence. Lionsgate is also rumored to be interested, as is Paramount, though the latter is reportedly holding out due to financial disagreements.

Over the last seven years, most of the major movie studios have relied on Ultraviolet to store film purchases. Disney, one of the few holdouts, ignored Ultraviolet in favor of developing Movies Anywhere, which is a first-party download service.

The studio has been aggressive about supporting purchases from digital retailers; this arrangement has been ideal for consumers who like to use multiple services for making purchases. Oddly, the company dropped support for purchases through Microsoft Movies & TV last month, possibly due to a lack of interest from consumers.

Of course, Disney’s decision to remove all Star Wars and Marvel films from Netflix in 2019 could be related to Movies Anywhere. While Disney has plans to launch a subscription-based streaming service of its own, isolating Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm content on Movies Anywhere may ultimately increase revenue from digital film purchases over time.