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King Kong to be Offered in U.K. as ‘Download-to-Own’

Universal Pictures U.K. will offer Peter Jacksons KING KONG and 34 other Universal movies on April 10 on a download-to-own basis, as part of a new broadband delivery model, various trades reported. The service allows viewers to download a Universal movie on the same day as the DVD release, allowing them to own the download permanently and watch it on a home computer or portable device. Universal is partnering on a non-exclusive basis with film-rental company LOVEFiLM, a unit of digital cinema provider Arts Alliance, which currently allows downloaded movies to be watched only for a limited time.

The days of just a DVD that plays on a television screen is moving on,'' Peter Smith, president of Universal Pictures International, told a news conference in London, because consumers now want to watch movies on the go. Universal Pictures is a unit of General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal.

For 19.99 pounds ($35), consumers can download a digital copy of KING KONG or other new releases for a home computer and a second copy for a portable device, and also receive a single-disc version of the movie in the mail the next day.

Smith added that Universal expects the service to quickly move beyond Britain, due to the rapid global spread of broadband Internet connections, and is already in talks with potential partners in other countries.

Other download-to-own movies for the include PRIDE & PREJUDICE, DOOM, SERENITY and NANNY MCPHEE. Catalog titles will be priced from 9.99 pounds ($17) or 14.99 pounds ($26). The service can be accessed through LOVEFiLM's website or AOLs U.K. site.

Research showed that consumers still want a physical copy of DVDs in addition to downloaded files.

About 17 million, or 60%, of U.K. homes now have broadband connections, Smith said. It now takes 40 to 60 minutes to download the average film through a 2 megabits-per-second broadband connection, though that time will shorten significantly as broadband gets faster over the next two years, according to LOVEFiLMs ceo Mark Livingstone.