Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world’s largest online movie rental service, today announced that it will treat America to a free and commercially uninterrupted online screening of the newly restored 1939 classic, “The Wizard of Oz,” on Saturday, October 3, 2009. The film, celebrating its 70th anniversary this year and to be reissued later this month by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group, can be instantly streamed for free for 24 hours, from 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, October 3 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern the following day, by visiting www.netflix.com/wizardofoz.
While anyone in America can instantly watch “The Wizard of Oz” online on a computer on October 3, Netflix members on an unlimited plan will be able to instantly watch “The Wizard of Oz” in hi-definition on their TVs via a range of Netflix ready devices. Those devices include Netflix ready Blu-ray disc players and new Internet TVs from LG Electronics; Blu-ray disc players from Samsung; the Roku digital video player; Microsoft’s Xbox 360 game console; and TiVo digital video recorders.
To celebrate the iconic film’s return to the spotlight, Netflix also announced it will host a free live concert and movie screening on Tuesday, September 29 in New York’s Central Park. The concert will feature contemporary interpretations of classic songs from the “The Wizard of Oz” by the Academy Award(R)-winning actress and Grammy(R) Award-winning singer Jennifer Hudson and two-time American Country Music(R) Award and two-time “Dancing with the Stars” winner Julianne Hough. The show is being directed by and will also feature The Roots’ Grammy Award-winning drummer and record producer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson and a band assembled especially for the show. Following the concert, which kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield, the movie will be shown on a giant inflatable screen.
Earlier that day, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group will issue the digitally re-mastered “The Wizard of Oz” on Blu-ray, DVD, On Demand and Digital Download. And, to celebrate the film’s first time in the Blu-ray format, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group will issue “The Wizard of Oz 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition.” With six times higher resolution than standard DVD, along with the sonic excellence of Dolby TruHD, the film will be at its pristine best, marking an historic benchmark in the Blu-ray format. The limited and numbered “Ultimate Collector’s Editions” will feature 16 hours of bonus features, four hours of which have never been available before now. Every package will bear a silver label containing a specific numbered version; once these packages are sold out, they will never again be available to consumers.
Instantly watching movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix has become an increasingly popular way for members to enjoy the service. With an unlimited membership, Netflix members can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV episodes streamed to their TVs and computers and can receive unlimited DVDs delivered quickly to their homes. Members can choose from over 17,000 movies and TV episodes that can be watched instantly and over 100,000 titles on DVD and a growing number on Blu-ray.
The instant streaming of “The Wizard of Oz” over the Internet on October 3 is being powered by Microsoft Silverlight(TM), a web browser plug-in that works with Windows and Mac operating systems, as well as all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Silverlight installs in less than 10 seconds for new users, without requiring a system restart. When viewers click the “Play” button, “The Wizard of Oz” will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds. Viewers will also have the option of fast-forwarding, rewinding and pausing the video stream.
“Making a movie of this stature available for free over the Internet on an uninterrupted basis is a first,” said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer for Netflix. “At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for people to get a taste of what instantly watching movies streamed from Netflix is all about. We’re thrilled to be able to do this on both scores.”
Warner Bros. Entertainment has for the past year been celebrating the 70th anniversary of this iconic film with a slate of spectacular festivities spanning the globe. Events included exhibitions of “The Ruby Slipper Collection,” consisting of 20 noted designers re-imagining Dorothy’s famous ruby slippers for modern times, as well as “The Inspirations of Oz” collection of fine art, featuring one-of-a-kind interpretive works by acclaimed artisans.
Additional information on all of the Netflix “The Wizard of Oz” events can be found at www.netflix.com/wizardofoz.