Microsoft to go ‘Live’ in Canada

When download rental service Xbox Live arrives in Canada next week, major movie distributors will supply flicks, and marketers will be offered ad opps.

Microsoft has closed deals with Maple Pictures, Warner Bros. and US-based MPI Home Video to provide titles for its video-on-demand system Xbox Live, which – it was revealed on Tuesday – will make its north-of-the-border debut on Dec. 11.

The system lets owners of the Xbox 360 videogame spend points in order to download rentals of standard- and high-definition movies. Xbox Live debuted last year in the US and is also available in France, Germany, the UK and Ireland.

‘A robust advertising business’ is planned, says Xbox Live global marketing manager Scott Nocas, who adds that his company ‘will work with brands on the best sponsorship and advertising sojtions to reach our consumers.’

The multi-year deal with Maple allows Microsoft to pick and choose among titles for which the Toronto distributor holds the VOD rights, says Maple co-president Brad Pelman, citing the recent Jet Li punch-up War and the romantic comedy Good Luck Chuck. ‘They won’t be taking everything, because they’ve got a very specific core audience to appeal to,’ he says, ‘but it’s a lot of titles.’

Also coming from Maple are the docudrama Air Guitar Nation and recent horrors and broad comedies such as The Condemned, Bug and Delta Farce. Warner is bringing features including 300, Ocean’s Thirteen, License to Wed and, curiously, 1984′s Amadeus. US-based MPI Home Video is providing the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre plus a few others.

A similar deal was struck between Microsoft and Lionsgate – which owns a stake in Maple, its Canadian spin-off – earlier this year at CES. The movies will be available across Canada in both English and French.

A version of this story appeared in Playback Daily