Xbox 360 gets first exclusive movie

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A British independent film is to become the first ever to be released exclusively on Xbox Live, rather than through movie theaters or DVDs.

Pulp is the story of a comic book writer who's forced into helping the police tackle a money-laundering crime syndicate.

"Tony Leary, the hapless owner of Junk Comics, is gearing up for one last roll of the dice. His new superhero title, The Sodomizer, launches at the International Comic Show," reads the blurb.

"And if life wasn't complicated enough, Tony is drafted by the police to identify another comic company that is laundering money for a gang of Geordie criminals. Aided by his trusty geek sidekicks, Rick and Keith, Tony must defy the odds if he is to become a real life hero."

But if the description appeals, you'll need to be a subscriber to Xbox Live. Pulp is now available for 1,120 Microsoft Points - $14.75 - with an HD version costing 1,420 points, or $17.75.

The film's creator, Adam Hamdy, tells the BBC that it's getting harder to persuade distributors to take on an independent movie.

"Theatrical distribution, nowadays, costs on average about £2 million per movie for marketing, prints and advertising," he says. "For a film like Pulp, that doesn't have bankable stars with a track record, it's a challenge for any distributor to take that gamble."

Even releasing straight to DVD can be problematic, he added: "Retailers have gone out of business because of the threat of piracy and because of legitimate digital downloading."

While there's plenty of content available through the Xbox 360 already, there's never been an exclusive deal for a full-length movie. But Microsoft has said it plans to release more movies this way. It's unlikely, to say the least, to secure similar deals for Hollywood blockbusters, but the move would make it much more competitive with streaming services such as Netflix, as well as with set-top boxes.

"People in the film business talk about the threat digital media poses to film, but, as newcomers to the industry, all we can see are opportunities," Hamdy says.

"Microsoft is an exciting partner, and the fact they can release our film to millions of customers at the push of a button is very attractive."

Check out the trailer below.