SPHE Launches Download-to-Own Business

Sony Pictures Home Ent. (SPHE) will launch its digital sell-through business on April 3. Partnering with Movielink and CinemaNow, the service will allow broadband Internet users in the U.S. the opportunity to download-to-own for the very first time a wide range of entertainment content from the SPHE and MGM collective libraries.

"This is a landmark development in the evolution of home entertainment," said Benjamin S. Feingold, president of worldwide home entertainment, digital distribution and acquisitions. "Allowing consumers to download and own movies digitally via their broadband Internet connections gives them more power to be entertained when and how they choose."

SPHE's digital sell-through business will commence with an initial slate of 75 titles that will include such films as MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, SPIDER-MAN 2, TAXI DRIVER, BARBERSHOP and HITCH. DIRTY will be SPHE's first day-and-date title when it debuts on April 4. The hit comedy FUN WITH DICK AND JANE will release day-and-date on April 11.

In addition to offering new release titles day-and-date with DVD, SPHE will release additional titles from SPHE and MGM's library monthly. The combined Sony Pictures and MGM libraries of more than 7,500 titles are believed to be the largest, most digitized collection in the business.

Feingold added, "We at Sony Pictures have been a leader in providing entertainment to the public on the most cutting- edge digital delivery platforms, including DVDs, UMDs, Digital Media Cards for mobile phones and digital distribution over the Internet. And we will soon be delivering movies to people on high definition Blu-ray Discs."

"Our goal is to continue to provide engaging entertainment content in the most innovative, convenient and secure manner possible," Feingold continued. "This partnership with Movielink and CinemaNow is just the first step in a bright future for digital delivery that will only serve to complement our packaged media sales business."

"We are pleased to offer consumers a new option in movie ownership," said Jim Ramo, ceo of Movielink. "Together with day-and-date release along with DVDs, digital delivery provides the convenience, flexibility and quality that movie fans have been asking for. Movielink has carved out a position in the broadband market of being the place to come for high quality long form entertainment, and this new consumer option continues to differentiate our service from other forms of VOD."

"Launching our download-to-own business with Sony Pictures Home Ent. marks the tipping point which we've been waiting for. CinemaNow has always believed that the ability to sell studio movies at the same time they are released for home video would be the catalyst for explosive growth in our industry," said Curt Marvis, ceo of CinemaNow. "Now our customers can download and own the movies they want, when they want, with the convenience of on-demand access."

CinemaNow also announced that it will also be offering download-to-own titles from Lionsgate.

Movielink (www.movielink.com) is an online movie download service offering U.S. broadband customers an extensive selection of recently released films and classic movies covering every genre, from action, comedy, drama, family and romance to sci-fi, horror and thrillers. The service is owned and operated by Movielink Llc., a joint venture of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Ent., Universal Studios and Warner Bros. Movielink content offerings are drawn from the current releases and vast libraries of those studios as well as from those of Walt Disney Pictures, 20th Century Fox and leading independent studios.

CinemaNow Inc. (www.cinemanow.com) is the global leader in broadband video-on-demand. CinemaNow legally offers content from a library of more than 4,000 new and classic movies, television programs, music concerts and music videos from 20th Century Fox, ABC News, Disney, HDNet, Lionsgate, MGM, Miramax, NBC Universal, Sony, Sundance Channel, Warner Bros. and more than 250 other licensors via downloading or streaming. Founded in 1999, CinemaNow continues to be an innovator in the video-on-demand industry with the introduction of high-definition content and support for portable media devices. CinemaNow counts Menlo Ventures, Lionsgate, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and Blockbuster as investors.

Sony Pictures Home Ent. (www.sonypictures.com) is a Sony Pictures Ent. company. SPE is a subsidiary of Sony Corp. of America, (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corp. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution; television production and distribution; digital content creation and distribution; worldwide channel investments; home entertainment acquisition and distribution; operation of studio facilities; development of new entertainment products, services and technologies; and distribution of filmed entertainment in 72 countries.