Movie fans can now legally transfer their DVDs and Blu-ray discs into Vudu cloud-stored digital files, following a major announcement by Walmart and the home entertainment division of the five major studios. The initiative is set to launch April 16.

The actual service is not particularly intuitive, however. Consumers must physically bring their media into one of more than 3,500 Walmart stores, then pay to have an employee to perform the conversion and upload the resulting digital movie to Vudu. The service costs $2 per disc, or $5 for a standard DVD upgrade to a high definition file. Hopefully this process is an interim step toward a more practical service, and that the partners soon will enable home uploading now that the licenses and relationships are in place.

Joining Walmart in today’s announcement were Paramount Home Media Distribution, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Universal Studios Home Entertainment and Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The companies said the Walmart Entertainment service meets consumers’ desires to own physical Blu-rays and DVDs while also having digital access to those same movies for convenience, security, and accessibility from anywhere.

John Aden, executive vice president for general merchandising, Walmart U.S., said the disc-to-digital service will allow customers to enjoy movies they already own on a variety of devices, while preserving the investments they’ve made in disc purchase. “Walmart is helping America get access to their DVD library,” he said. “We believe this revolutionary in-store service will unlock new value for already-owned DVDs, and will encourage consumers to continue building physical and digital movie libraries in the future.”

Walmart Entertainment and its wholly owned streaming media subsidiary Vudu are compatible with UltraViolet, the movie industry’s cloud-based digital library initiative.

“Never before have consumers been able to add value to their existing collections so easily and economically as with Walmart’s disc-to-digital conversion service,” said David Bishop, president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Disc-to-digital will be a milestone through which Hollywood and Walmart are finding ways to create even more value for consumers.”

Dennis Maguire, president, Worldwide Home Media Distribution, Paramount Pictures, said partnering with Walmart would also quickly grow awareness for digital movie options, since the retailer serves over 140 million consumers every week, and would help educate consumers about the flexibility and simplicity of the technology.

Simon Swart, executive vice president and general manager, North America, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, said,“There are more than 100 million households in the US that have an existing DVD or Blu-ray library. It is now possible to digitize those movies conveniently and enjoy the benefits that ownership gives at home or any place you go.”

Craig Kornblau, president, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, said the disc-to-digital service offers “exceptional value” for enhancing the value of owning movies, while reassuring consumers that they are choosung a future-proof avenue for building and accessing their digital libraries.

“Consumers want value and convenience and Walmart’s disc-to-digital service will deliver both while helping consumers realize the benefits of digital ownership,” said Ron Sanders, president, Warner Home Video. “Between the heavy foot traffic in-store and the aggressive educational campaign Walmart is planning, this partnership is the perfect opportunity for us to reach a mainstream audience much sooner than by more traditional means, while making the process as quick and easy for consumers as possible.”

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  1. Walmart is definitely cashing in on the cloud trend, and this seems neat. Since there’s a lot of buzz around people being able to do the same thing with music, like iTunes Match, people will probably be interested in this service. I think this might be more successful if there was a device people could use at home, and also something cheaper than $2/disk. For someone with a large movie collection, it might not be a cost effective option.

    Mosaic Technology