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Disney Launches Disney Movies Anywhere, An iTunes-Integrated App Where Fans Can Build Their Movie Library

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The Walt Disney Studios is launching a new app today for iOS devices and the web called Disney Movies Anywhere, giving users a place where they can watch the Disney, Pixar, and Marvel films that they’ve purchased, while also finding new ones.

The app isn’t intended as a competitor to digital content retailers like iTunes. In fact, Disney Movies Anywhere is integrated with iTunes, which basically serves as the app’s retail backend, and Walt Disney Studios CTO Jamie Voris said it will be adding “more retail partners to build out the ecosystem.”

However, he suggested that online retailers tend to be “relatively utilitarian,” while Disney is hoping to offer a “rich, interactive experience around our content.” Voris also said that that the company’s goals for the app include “getting people comfortable” with the idea of building a digital collection of movies that can complement or even replace that shelf of Disney movies in their home.

When users first download the DMA app, they’re asked to sign in with their iTunes account and their Disney account. The app then creates a collection of the movies that the user has already purchased on iTunes, and they can redeem codes from Disney DVDs and Blu-Rays that come with a digital copy. Built on top of Disney’s KeyChest product, the collection becomes a “digital locker” of the user’s Disney content.

Judging from Voris’ quick demo of the app, there’s not a single overriding feature that’s going to win users over, but rather lots of individual touches that could make for an improved browsing and viewing experience, particularly for families. For one thing, parents can use MPAA ratings to control the movies that are accessible on a device level — so they can hand their young child, say, an iPad and give them free rein to watch what they want, because all PG-13 movies are blocked on that device. The app also allows movies to be either streamed or downloaded (so if you’re watching on an iPad at home, you can stream and it won’t immediately get overloaded with movies). And of course there are a number of different sections in the app where users can find new movies and content, including a Discover area that features original, exclusive, and behind-the-scenes video.

Disney Movies Anywhere also represents the first time users will be able to earn Disney Movie Rewards points from their digital purchases, Voris said.

The benefit for Disney seems clear, since the app will encourage people to buy more Disney movies. But does it offer a unique enough experience that people will install an extra app instead of just buying and renting movies on iTunes? Well, I suspect I’m not really the target audience here — Disney Movies Anywhere is going to be a lot more compelling to parents and other users who don’t just watch Disney movies, but buy them regularly and have a lot of loyalty to Disney as a company and a brand.

The app can be downloaded here for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Once you’ve downloaded it, Disney notes that makes the app will also be accessible on Apple TV via iCloud or AirPlay. Oh, and to give you some extra incentive, everyone who signs up will get a free digital copy of The Incredibles.