Movie Studios Harnessing iTunes Extras For Advanced Features

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Introduced in late 2009 with iTunes 9, iTunes Extras have been billed as a way for movie studios to release additional features and functionalities with their iTunes Store video content, offering a way to compete with and even exceed bonus features found on DVD releases. But while widespread usage of iTunes Extras has yet to take off, paidContent.org notes that Sony Pictures has started to test some advanced bonus features on its iTunes releases that could begin to turn the tide.

In particular, three new iTunes Store releases from Sony, including the Will Ferrell-Mark Wahlberg film The Other Guys, Salt, and Resident Evil: Afterlife, include a trio of unadvertised features designed to enhance the viewer's experience with interactivity and further iTunes integration.

Buy the Will Ferrell comedy The Other Guys and you'll notice three extras that can't be found on DVD or any other digital platform. A search button allows you to input a word, and any mention of it in the script will be retrieved along with a link to the exact moment in the movie in which the line was uttered. A "clip & share" function lets the viewer take select scenes and post them to social networks. There's also a playlist with songs from the film, which are linked to to places on iTunes where those songs can be purchased.

The report notes that the features are available only for iTunes Store purchases, and not rentals of the titles where they are being trialled.

Despite the apparent efforts of movie studios like Sony to differentiate their iTunes Store content by offering such interactive features, Apple has yet to offer full support for iTunes Extras, with compatibility limited to viewing the additional content through iTunes on Mac or Windows or on a first-generation Apple TV. While Apple CEO Steve Jobs has promised support for iTunes Extras and the related iTunes LP format on the new Apple TV, Apple's entire line of iOS-based devices remains incompatible with the bonus features at this time. The shortcoming has been viewed as a major hindrance to the adoption of the extended features, particularly given that the iPad with its larger screen appears to be particularly enticing for such capabilities.

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