There's a new streaming movie service called, and it almost sounds too good to true. It doesn't only put most of your online movies in one place, it puts them everyplace.
Think of it like a digital bridge between the big four online video vendors: iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Vudu. Movies Anywhere is backed by Warner Bros., Disney, Universal, Sony and Fox. So films produced by those studios will appear in the Movies Anywhere app, regardless of where you originally purchased them. Additionally, those films should appear in each of the services through which you've connected your accounts.
So, to give just one real-life example: If you bought "The Dark Knight" -- a Warner movie -- on iTunes, and you've linked your accounts through Movies Anywhere, that same movie will then be available in the Vudu, Google Play and Amazon apps, in addition to the Movies Anywhere app itself. That means you can, for instance, get access to movies you bought on iTunes through non-Apple devices like Roku players and Android phones for the first time ever, at no additional cost.
Those are the basics. But let's dive into the details, including some caveats:
When is it available?
Now. It went live on Oct. 12.
What services does it work with?
Amazon Video, Google Play, Apple iTunes and Vudu.
Which studios are on board?
Movies Anywhere has some major studios on board. Warner Bros., Disney, Universal, Sony and Fox are all on the service. For now, Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM/UA are the biggest holdouts -- that means no cross-platform Godfather, Indiana Jones, Katniss Everdeen or old-school James Bond, for now. You may not see some independent movies supported, either. That said, Movies Anywhere is designed as an open platform, so any studio not currently on board can theoretically join later, once licensing details are ironed out.
Can I purchase directly from Movies Anywhere?
No. Movies Anywhere is essentially a front-end for your film library. If you see a film you want to purchase on the Movies Anywhere service, clicking the buy option will bring up a pop-up showing you which vendors have the video.
However, pricing information is not displayed nor does the pop-up mention if a 4K version is available at any of the services. You'll have to click through to see which is the best for you.
Do I really get 5 free movies just for signing up?
Yes -- once you link your Movies Anywhere account to two of the four compatible services. The free movies are: "Ghostbusters" (2016), The Lego Movies, "Jason Bourne," "Ice Age," and "Big Hero 6." You can't pick substitutes if you already own these. Full details can be found here.
We have a quick guide to, too.
Will it include TV shows?
Nope, although some TV movies and miniseries like the 1990 TV version of "It" are included in Movies Anywhere.
What devices does it work with?
Movies Anywhere has apps available for iPhone ($699.99 at Cricket Wireless), iPad ($279.99 at Best Buy), Android, Apple TV ($179.00 at Walmart), Roku, Amazon Fire ($59.99 at Amazon.com) tablets, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast and Android TV devices. It also works on all major web browsers on Windows PCs and Macs. (See the full list of supported devices.) There are no dedicated apps for any Xbox or PlayStation consoles at the current time. But that doesn't mean the game consoles are left out in the cold -- see below.
Can I really watch movies I bought through iTunes on an Android or Roku device now?
As long as the movie is from one of the participating studios, the answer is an emphatic "yes" -- we've done it. The beauty of Movies Anywhere is that you never need to use the Movies Anywhere app after initially setting up your account. So, for instance, Xbox and PlayStation users can access all Movies Anywhere-compatible movies within the Vudu or Amazon apps on those consoles, even if they were originally purchased on iTunes. And you can watch many of your Amazon purchases in iTunes, too.
Can I use Movies Anywhere if I am not in the US?
Basically, no. Movies Anywhere is only available to residents of the US who are 13 and older. However, once registered from a US-based IP address, users should be able to then access the features internationally.
Can I download films for offline viewing?
Yes. You can download to a maximum of eight devices and a maximum of 16 devices over a rolling 12-month period.
Do downloads expire?
Yes in certain circumstances: If you download a file and keep that file on a device offline for 90 days, the download will expire. Additionally, if you deregister a device, downloads will expire. If you connect that device to the internet, downloads should not expire.
How many screens can I stream Movies Anywhere content at one time?
You get a maximum of four streams at one time if all viewers are watching different films. You get a maximum of two simultaneous streams of the same title per account. But again, you can watch the same movies in those other linked services (iTunes, Vudu, Amazon, Google Play), which expands those limitations.
Does Movies Anywhere support 3D, 4K or HDR?
Nope, you cannot watch 3D, 4K or HDR content at launch using the Movies Anywhere service. But, again, the loophole here is that many of the participating streaming services do support 4K and HDR. In its terms of service, Movies Anywhere says, "eligible UHD Digital Copy codes will flow to your connected Digital Retailers, some of which support UHD." For example, if you've connected Vudu and Google Play, a 4K film you own from Vudu could appear in your Google Play library in 4K quality or vice versa.
How is Movies Anywhere different from Disney Movies Anywhere?
It basically isn't! It's the same basic back-end technology of that service that's. Now, though, it's expanded to include movies from non-Disney studios.
How is Movies Anywhere different from UltraViolet?
It's similar to that, too, but arguably easier to use. And because Vudu was already in the UltraViolet family, any past or future disc-based movies you have with UltraViolet digital codes will be folded into Movies Anywhere (so long as it's one of the participating studios). Vudu's site will show you if a title works with Movies Anywhere and/or UltraViolet. It doesn't look like other vendors mark their movies like this. Just be sure to link your UltraViolet account with Vudu if you haven't already.
Are there any glitches or issues?
So far, Movies Anywhere has largely been a largely smooth experience for most users on CNET's staff. That's probably a testament to the fact that the underlying infrastructure from Disney Movies Anywhere has already been tried and tested. That said, at least one person has noted two issues: Five eligible movies flowed into each supported service except Google Play, and one movie -- "Argo" -- originally purchased via Amazon hasn't propagated to the other services, even though it's a Warner movie.
Anything else I should know?
- Like any "free" service, Movies Anywhere -- and the supporting streaming services -- are collecting and collating data based on your usage and viewing habits. Take note of the end-user licensing agreements and permissions when you sign up and connect accounts.
- Playback from Movies Anywhere syncs between your Movies Anywhere apps. So if you stop watching at one scene on Roku, you can pick right up on your Galaxy Note 8 ($923.45 at Amazon.com) or iPad, for instance.
- It takes anywhere from one hour to several hours for movies to cross-propagate between services. Be patient, especially during initial setup.
Have a question not answered above? Let us know in the comments.
: With the backing of five Hollywood studios, Movies Anywhere lets you watch titles from Amazon, Google Play, iTunes and Vudu.
: Claim your five free movies and link your accounts. Here's how.