Movies Anywhere, the Disney-owned digital movie locker, is testing an intriguing new feature that lets you lend out your movie purchases to friends, loved ones, or pretty much anyone you want.
The Verge reports that Movies Anywhere’s Screen Pass program is allowing its users to sign up for the open beta, which just kicked off today.
Here’s how the Screen Pass feature is supposed to work. First, you choose a title from the “My Screen Pass Eligible Movies” section of your Movies Anywhere library, then you send a “Screen Pass” to a lucky recipient (you’re limited to sending three each month). When your friend receives the Screen Pass, they have (according to The Verge) up to 14 days to access the movie, and once they’ve pressed play, up to 72 hours to watch.
So, what’s the catch—or catches, in this case? For starters (and as you probably guessed), not all of the titles in the Movies Anywhere catalog are “Screen Pass-eligible,” and The Verge points out that some of the exceptions—no Disney, Marvel, or Star Wars movies, for example—are painful ones. Of course, it’s always possible that more movies (including Disney’s crown jewels) will become eligible for Screen Pass once the feature is out of beta.
The other main condition is that you must be an “active” Movies Anywhere user, which means that every six months, you must either purchase a Movies Anywhere-eligible movie from a “participating digital retailer” (such as iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, or Vudu), or you must redeem a “non-promotional” digital code that comes with a physical DVD or Blu-ray disc.
For those who aren’t familiar with the six-year-old service, Movies Anywhere essentially lets you take your digital movie collection (or most of it anyway—neither Paramount nor Lionsgate participate in Movies Anywhere) to services such as iTunes, Amazon Prime Video, and Vudu, along with any purchased DVD or Blu-ray movies that include digital codes. All you have to do is sign up for a Movies Anywhere account and connect it to your favorite (and participating) digital video retailers.
Overall, Screen Pass makes for an interesting play on Movies Anywhere’s part, but whether the feature takes off (particularly given its restrictions) is another question. For now, I’ll be keeping an eye on my inbox for an invite.