Disney has been the biggest holdout from participating in UltraViolet, the movie studio digital copy system. UltraViolet isn’t available on iTunes — from this observer’s perspective, it appears to have been set up to purposefully take customers away from that preferred outlet — and Disney and Apple have long-standing connections through Pixar.
Now comes news that the studio is launching Disney Movies Anywhere, a digital copy system using iTunes and iOS devices. The goal, of course, is to allow you to access digital copies you purchase from more locations by using a central permission server. Except by setting up yet another service, my collection is once again split. I have “owned” digital films in Flixster, Vudu (both with underlying UltraViolet), iTunes, and now DMA. My DVDs, on the other hand, all go on the same set of shelves. Plus, in this case, these movies are already available to me in iTunes. Installing the Disney Movies Anywhere app just shows me a filtered list to that one company. I suppose parents might like that. An Android version is promised to be coming, although with no date yet.
Right now, if you set up an account and connect your iTunes account, you get a free copy of The Incredibles, the Pixar superhero movie (which I already had). I was surprised, once I signed in, to find a number of movies in my collection. It appears that they’re loading things I previously had digital copies of (from DVD purchases). Weirdly, my legal (obtained with the Blu-ray) Thor copy didn’t register.
Digital copies are now widely available for purchase (at a typical price of $15, which is a lot for a bunch of bits) long before the home video version on disc can be bought. For example, Frozen, which comes out on DVD March 18, is now available through Disney Movies Anywhere. Companies love selling them, because they make more profit with fewer costs.
Update: As of November 4, 2014, Disney Movies Anywhere is now available on Android devices through the Google Play online store.