Microsoft (opens in new tab) today has launched the UK version of its Video Marketplace (opens in new tab). Using the service, Xbox Live subscribers will be able to download movies in SD and also HD onto their console's hard drive.
The service was announced a few weeks ago, but it only went live today. And to celebrate, Microsoft has confirmed the release of a new batch of Warner Bros movies on the service for Christmas.
Yet more movies
Microsoft has built a cosy relationship with Warner Bros and Europacorp in Europe to add films like 300, Zodiac, Harry Potter and The Good German. Xbox 360 owners can also expect to 'download to rent' additional Warner Bros films such as Batman Forever, Batman Returns, A nalyze That, before the end of the year.
Cost per download for a catalogue film is from as little as 250 Microsoft Points (around £2) for standard-definition movies and from 380 Microsoft Points (around £3.20) for high-definition ones.
"We are firmly committed to providing the best high definition entertainment experiences for our consumers. We feel great about the enthusiasm created last week around HD movies in the Xbox LIVE community," said Robin Truchy, director of Xbox Live in Europe.
"The good news is that the movie industry seems excited as well about this launch: we look forward to additional partners and content coming in 2008, alongside Warner Bros and Europacorp."
Cheap HD for limited time
Microsoft and Warner Bros are also offering eligible Xbox gamers a special Christmas treat. From 00.01a.m. on Friday 28 December until 11.59 pm the same day (24 hours only), you will be able to download "a mystery title" in HD for 99p in the UK. Stay tuned for more information on this soon.
Xbox 360 gamers in the UK can now access Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store with both an Xbox Live Silver or Gold membership and a broadband connection.
While movie downloads are currently a niche business venture for most studios and media companies, many analysts think it'll be big business in the future.
"As Hollywood turns its attention towards selling digital copies of its blockbuster movies, the delivery of movie content over the open internet has become a key battleground for a broad range of service providers," says Arash Amel, a senior analyst at Screen Digest.
VOD key for future
Screen Digest predicts that the total European movie download market will be worth £249m by 2012, up from £12m in 2007. "The Xbox Live Marketplace Video Store, as the first multi-territory hardware-based online movie delivery service in Europe, is expected to be a European market leader for movie downloads," he said.
"Consumers in both the US and Europe have already made it abundantly clear that they are reluctant to watch two-hour long films on their PC, instead preferring to view them on personal devices or most preferably devices that can provide a link to their large-screen living room TVs and home entertainment systems."
Movies that'll be available on December 11:
The Matrix Revolutions
The Matrix reloaded
The Perfect Storm
Eyes Wide Shut
Lethal Weapon 3 & 4
Clash of the Titans