Fox Shakes Up Home Entertainment Market, Will Offer Movies Early Online for $15

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Consumers can own Fox titles three weeks before the release of DVD and Blu-ray versions; initiative kicks off Sept. 18 with "Prometheus."

TORONTO -- Seeking to re-energize the home entertainment market, 20th Century Fox will begin offering early digital ownership of movies for roughly $15 -- less than the usual price for a DVD and Blu-ray edition.

Consumers will have access to the movies three weeks before the DVD and Blu-ray versions hit the street. The initiative, dubbed Digital HD, kicks off Sept. 18 in the U.S. and 49 countries with Ridley Scott's Prometheus.

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Theater owners are unlikely to oppose the plan because it won't encroach dramatically on the theatrical window. Also, it is only for sale digitally, which won't result in low-cost rentals of actual DVDs.

As of Sept. 18, Fox also will make 600 library titles available on Digital HD.

A number of key online retailers have embraced the Fox program, including Amazon, CinemaNow, iTunes, PlayStation, Vudu and Xbox.

Fox chairman-CEO Jim Gianopulos, in an interview with THR, said the initiative is intended to redefine digital ownership and take advantage of the explosion of various digital devices. He also said it won't encroach on the Blu-ray market, since that format stands apart in terms of extras and resolution.

After Prometheus, other recent Fox titles that will be made available via Digital HD include Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Ice Age: Continental Drift, The Watch and Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days.