Disney revamps website into “digital doorway” to entertainment

LAS VEGAS, United States (AFP) – Family entertainment conglomerate Walt Disney Corporation has introduced a revamped website which they say is a one-stop portal to online games, information on films and Disney characters, and product sales.

Disney's Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger made the presentation late Monday along with stars from the popular television series "Lost," the producer of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" films and a personality from the all-sports network ESPN during a theatrical presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show here.

The overhauled Disney.com website has a "robust" video player, games, movie sales and rentals, Iger said during an on-stage presentation.

"This is a digital doorway into Disney," Iger said. "You are only one click away from all things Disney, no matter where you go in the Disney universe."

People will be able to watch movies and television shows on the website with "a commercial or two along the way," Iger said.

Icons on the bottom of the website's main page let users click into "character worlds" imbued with themes such as Winnie the Pooh, miniature fairy Tinkerbell, and Captain Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean," a demonstration showed.

The website can also be customized to the ages and genders of young users.

An area on the website called XD for "extreme digital" was tailored to the way children typically use the Internet, Disney said.

Online-generation children typically "multi-task" by doing such things as playing video games, watching video, surfing the Internet and text messaging friends simultaneously, according to Disney.

XD users could personalize the website by choosing their own "widgets" — computer applications that run in small windows on desktops — so they can do many things on a single screen at one time.

"XD is Disney.com on steroids," Iger quipped.

Disney's website will include an online world in which people can be virtual swashbucklers in the spirit of "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie franchise.

A massive multiplayer online role-playing game with a pirate theme based on the film will be online by the spring, Disney said.

People will be able to play the game "free for as long as they want," according to Disney.

"We plan to build more virtual worlds like Pirates based on more of our properties," Iger said.

"You can imagine living in Buzz and Woody's toy universe, or fighting in the magical world of Narnia, or sharing the powers of the Incredibles," he continued, referring to characters in several Disney-owned hit movies.

Iger called onto the stage two stars of the TV series "Lost," Evangeline Lilly and Matthew Fox, who talked about how viewers will be able to watch show episodes on their mobile telephones, and use chat rooms to give the studio feedback on the story line.

Online viewers "have a lot more control over the show than we do as actors," Lilly said.

"We are at the mercy of fans. Our producers are constantly going online and checking out what fans want," she said.

"Pirates" producer Jerry Bruckheimer said he walked the show floor and was "scared" by the sophistication of the latest televisions, high-density DVD players and other gear for home movie viewing.

Disney's challenge is to make a film that can be illegaly copied, or 'pirated' by bootleggers, only with enormous difficulty.

"Our villain is going to try to wipe out our pirates," Bruckheimer said, referring to his film-in-progress. "Hopefully, you will wipe out piracy."



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