Very soon, the face of home entertainment will undergo a drastic and monumental transformation that can not be undone. At least, that’s what Walmart Vice President of Merchandising John Aden is counting on. In the ornate Blossom Ballroom of Hollywood’s Roosevelt Hotel – home of the first Academy Awards ceremony in 1929 – Aden announced the massive company’s plans to roll out an exciting initiative for the American movie-watching public.
On April 16th, Walmart will launch its exclusive Disc-to-Digital conversion service in 3,500 locations around the country. Customers will be able to bring in their physical DVD collections and have them uploaded to digital libraries accessible only on Vudu. “This creates a brand new way for people to enjoy the content they already own,” said the grinning executive, adding that this plan will “help lots of people who have never owned anything digital before.” Using what Aden deemed “two magic price points,” Walmart will offer the choice of converting standard definition DVDs for $2 a pop or upgrading to HD for $5 each. “Disc-to-Digital is what customers have been asking for… We want our movies on 60-inch TV screens and 3-inch smart phones,” he explained to the press, underscoring the importance of convenience and accessibility for customers.
Five major film studios – Paramount, Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, Universal, and Warner Brothers – have joined Walmart and Vudu to make their titles available for this project. Representatives from each sat down to express their anticipation on a discussion panel with Aden. They have their selfish reasons for wanting this offer to materialize, naming features from The Matrix to Office Space as potential first conversions in their own local stores. And of course, they hope the change will instill confidence in the DVD-buying masses who were beginning to lose touch with their hard-copy content.
“It makes perfect sense to partner with the world’s largest retailer,” said VP Simon Swart of 20th Century Fox. “It tells the consumer, ‘We’re here with you; we’re gonna walk you through it.’” David Bishop of Sony agreed, telling us, “The combination of Vudu and Walmart couldn’t be more powerful…The whole process will be seamless.” Calling the upcoming launch “something that will really click across America,” Paramount’s Dennis McGuire acknowledged the public’s “love affair with movies,” which he thinks will guarantee success for the service. “It’s on the scale of a blockbuster film launch,” claimed Craig Kornblau from Universal with thrilled confidence.
With the backing of a corporate giant and the industry’s biggest studios, Disc-to-Digital could make a major splash. Though the tech-savviest have been doing at-home conversions of their own for years (without the need for additional retail fees or a Vudu account), this will come as a welcome surprise to much of the public, and it just might revolutionize how we engage with our treasured film libraries.