Peter Kafka

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Warner Bros. Takes Another Crack at Flixster — And UltraViolet

Making movies is hard. Making movie-recommendation services is a lot easier.

But Warner Bros. is trying to do both. And the newest version of Flixster, the recommendation service it bought last year, is pretty interesting.

This one is Web-based, and combines lots of elements you’ve seen in different places on the Internet. Like input from your Facebook friends, a design that owes a lot to Pinterest, and ratings from Rotten Tomatoes, the movie-geek site that Warner Bros. also owns.

Unlike Flixster Collections, a year-old movie “discovery” app Warner Bros. is mothballing, this one doesn’t want to tie up with your Netflix and Hulu accounts. But it is interested in promoting UltraViolet, the cloud/locker system that many of the studios are promoting, which is supposed to give you access to whatever movie you buy on whatever device you want.

After a long run-up, UltraViolet devices and titles finally hit the market last fall, and so far even its most ardent defenders have a hard time arguing that it has much traction. That may never happen, since it’s supported by a coalition that doesn’t include Apple or Disney.

But Amazon has signed on to UltraViolet, at least in theory. And Warner Bros. in particular has been vocal about promoting the system, which it thinks will convince consumers to keep buying copies of movies instead of renting them.

In any case, Flixster.com does a nice job of not shoving UltraViolet in anyone’s face — it simply flags the fact that the service exists on its homepage. And if you click on a movie that’s now available as an UltraViolet purchase, Flixster lists it as a viewing/purchasing/rental option alongside Apple, Amazon, Netflix and others.

Warner Bros. also doesn’t seem to be shoving its own titles in front of anyone, either, which is an incredibly obvious mistake to avoid, but still nice to see. You can see for yourself right now:

(Image courtesy of Shutterstock/Patricia Marroquin)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik