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Wal-Mart Sets Briefing With Studios, Web Film-Sales Effort

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. set a March 13 announcement with five movie studios, a sign the world’s biggest retailer plans to join Hollywood’s Web-based movie-storage initiative.

Viacom Inc.’s Paramount unit, Sony Pictures, News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, Comcast Corp.’s Universal and Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. will take part, according to a statement today from Bentonville, Arkansas-based Wal-Mart.

Support from Wal-Mart, owner of the Vudu online movie service and the biggest DVD retailer, would mark an advance for the studios’ efforts to reignite movie sales. A studio initiative called Ultraviolet allows consumers to purchase and store copies of films and television shows online and access them with multiple devices.

“It’s more than us just joining the consortium,” Sarah Spencer, a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, said by telephone, without providing additional details.

Also at the event will be the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem, the industry group created to promote the cloud-based Ultraviolet system.

Wal-Mart gained 1.5 percent to $59.83 at the close in New York. The shares are little changed this year.

In January, Inc., the largest online merchant, said it was working with an unnamed studio to offer movies in the UltraViolet format, becoming the first major retailer to commit to the platform.

“The best movie and TV service for consumers is the one that provides them with the broadest choice possible,” Bill Carr, an executive vice president of Seattle-based Amazon, said at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

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