No Sleep ’till VUDU Is in Everyone’s Living Room!

Today we announced that VUDU is soon to be live on Panasonic VIERA CAST™-enabled Blu-ray Disc players. Beginning November 24th owners of Panasonic’s premium Home Theater devices will be able to access VUDU from their living rooms (just in time to stream Planes, Trains and Automobiles for the whole family).

With the addition of Panasonic, you can now find VUDU streaming the best in HD movies on TVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Mitsubishi, Panasonic, Samsung, SANYO, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio, and on entertainment systems from with our first console partner, the Sony PlayStation 3.

We’ve been pretty busy at VUDU these past few weeks: introducing thousands of titles available for $2 for 2 nights, a Toy Story 3 digital copy with physical purchase, VUDU availability on Boxee and the Boxee Box, the upcoming VUDU 2.0 interface and the VUDU application on Sony PlayStation 3! Stay tuned — we’re not slowing down! We’re going to continue to bring you our top quality service on your favorite connected device. Now pass the turkey.

Panasonic VIERA CAST™ Home Screen

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World – Now Available in All Its Geeky Goodness

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Starring: Michael Cera, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kieran Culkin, Chris Evans, Anna Kendrick
Director: Edgar Wright
Universal Studios
Rated PG-13 for stylized violence, sexual content, language and drug references

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is the kind of great film that is every fanboy’s dream come true. It’s a science fiction-fantasy-action-comedy-romance full of rock ‘n’ roll, video games, fighting, animation sequences, pop culture references, and 8-bit goodness. There’s so much awesomeness going on in this movie, it’s hard to even classify it under any specific genre. But perhaps it’s the blending of genres that makes this movie so amazing. It defies all conventions and lives in its own world. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is not to be missed, and now it is available on VUDU to own or to rent for 2 days in SD, HD, and HDX.

Scott Pilgrim (Michael Cera) is your average twentysomething rock and roll bassist who just wants his band to make the big time. While dating high-schooler Knives Chau (Ellen Wong), he meets the girl of his dreams (literally) in Ramona Flowers (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Conflicted over which girl to be with, Scott eventually chooses Ramona, but in doing so, he unleashes her seven evil exes. Now, with the help of his roommate (Kieran Culkin), his bandmates (Mark Webber, Alison Pill, Johnny Simmons), and Ramona, he must face off against the seven evil exes in a series of video game-style combat scenarios in order to win the right to be with Ramona.

This movie is chock full of geekery that is the epitome of every fanboy’s deepest desires. It’s everything one could ever want out of Comic-Con rolled up into one great movie. Writer and artist Bryan Lee O’Malley’s “Scott Pilgrim” graphic novel series is so beloved by fans and critics alike, that when it was announced a movie adaptation was in the works, it lit up the Internet in a flurry of excitement. In July 2010, at San Diego’s Comic-Con, the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World panel performed to a standing room only audience. After the panel, some fans were invited to a sneak peek of the entire film. When it ended, word spread quickly that the film was pure genius, quickly becoming one of the most anticipated movies of the summer. Several Comic-Con friendly directors such as Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Guillermo Del Toro praised and lauded the film as one of the most creative and original movies ever to come from a major Hollywood studio. But then something happened. When the movie premiered, very few people went to see it. To say the opening weekend box office was underwhelming would be an understatement.

Many people scratched their heads as to what went wrong. It was certainly no fault of Universal Studios, who spent a reported $20-40 million on marketing. They did everything they could to promote the movie, but in the end, very few showed up. At a special screening of the movie, director Guillermo Del Toro had some rather harsh and colorful remarks to the movie going public, stating that people shouldn’t complain when Hollywood puts out bad movies, because when they put out good movies (like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), no one goes to see them.

It’s a shame this gem of movie didn’t get the love and attention it deserved during its theatrical run, but thankfully, many fans are coming out in full force to support the home video release of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Michael Cera is proving to be Hollywood’s go-to guy for roles that call for young men who are nerdy, socially awkward, insecure, and incompetent when it comes to dating. He does it so effortlessly that he’s quickly becoming typecast in that role. But if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Cera pulls off his role with perfection, as his mopped-topped Scott ambles and stumbles with pure comic timing. Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s quirky Ramona oozes with cuteness and charm. Kieran Culkin, now well out of the shadow of his older brother, is a consummate scene stealer. He shines in his egotistical portrayal of Wallace, Scott’s roommate, with his snarky and pithy dialogue and wit. The movies is full of welcome cameos, particularly from Chris Evans and Brandon Routh (each playing an evil ex), typically cast as Hollywood pretty boys and action stars who here play on those roles with added elements of smugness and vanity to complete their villainous personae.

It is the overall look and sound of the movie that is the really eye and ear candy. The intentional use of 8-bit special effects and music are some of the highlights that bring out the inner geek in all of us. The Street Fighter-esque battle scenes and video game voice-overs truly make this movie one of a kind. This is the first great film to convincingly bring both a comic book and video game sensibility to a movie. Where countless other films have tried and failed, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is now the benchmark of how to adapt comics and video games for the big screen.

DID YOU KNOW?

Blink and you’ll miss him, but thankfully with VUDU, you can pause without loss of image clarity. At the 1 hour, 1 minute, and 7 second mark, “Scott Pilgrim” creator Bryan Lee O’Malley makes a brief cameo as the man on the far left, chatting up the blond-haired woman.

Coming Soon . . . VUDU 2.0

Today at the Dolby Theatre in San Francisco, we had the press in for a sneak peek at our new user interface (up on the big screen!).  We wish we could have invited all of you, but here’s a snapshot:

And a little bit of this:


Everyone loved our original interface, so we kept everything that was great about VUDU 1.0 and worked to make it even better. VUDU 2.0 offers improved browsing, search and navigation, so now all those HD movies are even easier to discover, experience and share. The redesigned service also delivers recommendations based on your viewing history. And of course, we still offer the largest collection of HD and HDX media on demand, with rich Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 surround sound.

We also announced an amazing new partnership with PlayStation®3, bringing another member to our family of VUDU enabled device. .

Because VUDU is a cloud-based service, all of your VUDU enabled devices will automatically be updated with the new UI without discs, downloads or hassles. We’ll begin rolling 2.0 out before the end of the year – we know you’re going to love it!

Game On! VUDU Coming to PS3™ this November

We’ve teamed up with Sony Computer Entertainment America to deliver the world’s largest selection of streaming HD movies to PlayStation®3 owners, just in time for the Holidays! The PlayStation®3 VUDU application takes  all of the High Definition streaming goodness that you already know and love and delivers it on a super fast, super powerful device, bringing you an incredibly high quality in-home cinema experience over your entertainment console.

VUDU aims to reach you on any connected device you use, and streaming to PS3™ is a new and very connected way to reach you. With VUDU on PS3™ we can deliver a truly immersive movie watching experience to those loyal to their entertainment console. VUDU will launch on PS3™ later this month, and will begin rolling out a new 2.0 interface to all VUDU enabled devices by the end of the year. So sit back, relax and get ready for some great movie watching!

Pixar Pulls Our Heartstrings

Toy Story 3
Starring: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Don Rickles, Michael Keaton, Wallace Shawn, John Ratzenberger, Estelle Harris
Director: Lee Unkrich
Disney Pixar
Rated G

With Toy Story 3, Pixar goes back to the Academy Award winning franchise that started it all, and provides a perfect conclusion that will satisfy all fans, children and adults alike. It’s been fifteen years since the adventures of Andy’s toys began, and their worst nightmare has just come true—their owner has grown up and no longer plays with them. Toy Story 3 sends Woody, Jessie, Buzz Lightyear, and the rest of the toys off into the sunset in a touching farewell to an unforgettable trilogy. Toy Story 3, as well as Toy Story and Toy Story 2 are now available on VUDU in SD, HD, or HDX.

Andy (John Morris) is about to begin college, and Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), and the rest of Andy’s toys worry about their future. Woody is optimistic that Andy will store them in the attic, but the rest fear they’re destined to be sold, or worse, thrown away. Neither happens when Andy’s Mom (Laurie Metcalf) accidentally donates them to a local daycare center. Only Woody knows the toys were meant to be stored in the attic, but no one listens to him. The toys are greeted by Lotso (Ned Beatty), a stuffed bear who is in charge of all the toys at the daycare. All of Andy’s toys are thankful to be there, knowing they’ll be played with again. But Woody escapes, professing his loyalty to Andy. He returns to the daycare, though, when he learns that Lotso runs the daycare like a prison, forcing Andy’s toys to be played with by rowdy and destructive toddlers. Now, Woody has to save his friends, and get them back to Andy before it’s too late and he moves to college.

It has been a pleasure to see Pixar evolve their animation technique over the past fifteen years. With every movie, the animation looks better and better, to the point where Pixar is the gold standard of what CGI-animation should look like. The attention to detail in Toy Story 3 is something to be admired. Everything from the dirt stains on Lotso’s stomach to the tiny freckles of children’s faces adds to the realism that Pixar has always strived for. With every movie, you think that their technique can’t possibly get any better, but with each subsequent movie, Pixar surprises us all.

Pixar has always stated that even though they are an animation company, story is always the most important. While millions of their fans are always clamoring for sequels to their favorite Pixar film, Pixar has repeatedly said they would only do a sequel if the story was right. While most film companies are quick to jump into the sequel game in the name of profit, Pixar thankfully isn’t one of them. When a film becomes a smash hit, a sequel is often quickly put into development, often too quickly. As such, the sequel can’t live up to expectation established in the first film. Pixar takes its time—that’s a good thing! They are meticulous about their writing and storyboards, and they take great pride in doing so. There must be something to that method, as the results can clearly be seen at the box office.

Pixar also knows its audience very well. It knows how to make movies that appeal to people of all ages. The humor and themes can be appreciated by everyone. Pixar has done something very clever with Toy Story 3. They know that the audience that was around for the original Toy Story is now grown up. The themes of growing up and moving on resonate to that audience that is now fifteen years older and no longer plays with toys. Toy Story 3 is filled poignant emotion that echoes this. For those of us who were young when the original Toy Story premiered, we can certainly understand how the passage of time has affected us. With Toy Story 3, we are reminded through both humor and emotion that tugs on our heartstrings that growing up is a part of life, and that the innocence of youth is something we can’t hold onto forever. And as the film beautifully illustrates, we don’t need to lose our memories of youth. We can pass them on to the next generation.

DID YOU KNOW?

While Toy Story 3 is the last planned film in the Toy Story franchise, it isn’t the end of the Toy Story characters. Director Lee Unkrich has already announced that Pixar is at work on a short film that will feature the Toy Story characters. The short film is scheduled to debut in front of “Cars 2”, which opens in theaters in 2011.