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Hollywood Stages A DVD Comeback, With Some Snags

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Hollywood Stages A DVD Comeback, With Some Snags

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Hollywood Stages A DVD Comeback, With Some Snags

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Halloween is over, which means, in some quarters, it's already time for holiday shopping. The big movie studios are hoping lots of people have DVDs on their lists. That's right, DVDs, even in this world of streaming media. Commentator Andrew Wallenstein says the studios are adding a new feature to DVDs in hopes of helping sales. It's called ultraviolet.

ANDREW WALLENSTEIN, BYLINE: When was the last time you bought a DVD? If you're like a lot of people, it's probably been a while, given the wealth of options popping up online. If you want to watch, say, "Iron Man 2," you could stream it from Netflix, Amazon or iTunes.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: Therefore, what I'm saying, if I'm saying anything, it's welcome back to the (unintelligible) Expo.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

WALLENSTEIN: But as popular as these online rentals are, they provide much smaller profit margins to studios on the DVD. Discs used to make a ton of money, but people don't buy them as much as they used to. That's why the major studios are advertising a new system that makes purchasing popular again with ultraviolet.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: Now, when you buy "Green Lantern," it comes with a new ultraviolet digital copy.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: Cool, huh?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: That lets you build your own movie collection in the cloud.

WALLENSTEIN: The cloud is a virtual storage system that keeps movies from filling up your hard drive. As many as a dozen big movies should be powered by ultraviolet by the end of the year.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There's new freedom with new ultraviolet digital copy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "GREEN LANTERN")

RYAN REYNOLDS: (as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern) Beware my power. Green Lantern (unintelligible).

WALLENSTEIN: But ultraviolet has a huge problem. The whole idea of owning a movie doesn't make sense anymore now that consumers have gotten so wise to how easy digital rentals are, that is, unless you're like a six year old who can't get enough of a Disney movie like "Toy Story."

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "TOY STORY")

TIM ALLEN: (as Buzz Lightyear) To infinity and beyond!

WALLENSTEIN: But therein lies another problem. Disney is the only major studio that isn't involved in ultraviolet - at least, not yet. And Apple and Amazon have their own cloud services. At least ultraviolet purchases can play on phones and tablets made by Apple and the same for Android. Problem is there's one device you might have heard of where it won't play yet: the TV. That may be okay if I have the DVD, but I shouldn't have to carry that around should I want to watch on someone else's TV.

Ultraviolet's backers say they plan on making it TV-friendly and there's plenty more innovations to come, too. Don't forget how much the studios have at stake, considering they're the ones making these movies. Now, they just have to figure out a better way for us to watch them.

SIEGEL: Commentator Andrew Wallenstein is TV editor at Variety.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

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