If you’ve been collecting physical media and redeeming the included digital copy codes, then you are likely aware of the movie rewards programs offered by three of the studios – Disney (which now includes Fox), Sony, and Universal. How do they compare to one another?
Disney Movie Insiders
Formerly Disney Movie Rewards, the program was revamped and relaunched on September 26, 2019 as Disney Movie Insiders. As before, Disney (and newer Fox) DVD, Blu-ray, and UHD Blu-ray releases will have a code inside that you can redeem for points in the rewards program. Back in the DMR days, you could redeem your points for physical rewards such as other Disney DVDs, Blu-rays, and UHD Blu-ray, but also collectible merchandise like pins, soundtrack CDs, posters, etc. After the transition to DMI, physical rewards were for the most part discontinued, at least temporarily (so we were told), and that they would return in the near future. Most of the redeemable rewards were of the virtual variety, such as downloadable artwork such as wallpaper, e-gift cards for the Disney Store, premium D23 memberships, and exclusive private studio tours. The current pandemic caused Disney to discontinue their private studio tours and delay the relaunching of physical reward items. If you connect your Movie Rewards account with DMI, any movies purchased or redeemed through the service will now automatically be applied as points on DMI. You can also upload your ticket stubs during the first two weeks of a movies release to earn additional points (or connect your Fandango and/or Atom tickets account).
Sony’s rewards program has been around for several years, allowing you to earn points not just on Sony movie purchases and theater tickets, but on Sony products as well. Membership can be tricky if you do not have a “standard” e-mail address (such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.), as many users with private or commercial email domain addresses have been deemed ineligible for membership in the program. Points earned can then be redeemed for gift cards at various retailers or for Sony merchandise. Physical media purchases can also be redeemed not only for points, but also towards a free Sony movie (or 4k upgrade) on Movies Anywhere when you register five movies as part of the Movie Buff Pass program using the mobile app. The Movie Buff Pass, though, is one of many problems with the rewards program, as not all movies are eligible, with many movies appearing to be eligible based on the description of the program on the reverse side of the Movies Anywhere code. For example, the recent Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection boxed set contained six Movies Anywhere codes (one for each movie in the set) and instructions for the Movie Buff Pass rewards program was printed on the reverse, however only three of the codes were eligible for redemption. This has been a sticking point since the Movie Buff Pass program was initiated several years ago, with Sony Rewards customer service simply stating “This disc is not eligible for registration. Please browse the list for eligible discs.”
Another sticking point is the slow rotation of available free titles in the program once you complete a pass, sometimes taking up to nine months for new titles to appear. Is someone giving birth to these free movies? Nearly all redemptions and registrations can only be completed on the mobile app, which is often buggy, sometimes requiring a new installation for it to work.
Universal All Access Rewards
Universal also just revamped and rebranded their rewards program. What was a simple and basic program where you could redeem a code (or upload a receipt) to receive a free code to a Universal movie on Movies Anywhere along with points that could be used to enter a contest for a free American Express Gift Card has now evolved to a website that has a bit more style, transitioning to a point system where you can earn points by redeeming codes from movie inserts, upload receipts from movie purchases, link your rewards account with Movies Anywhere to receive points for digital purchases, enter contests, view trailers and other videos, etc. Points can then be redeemed for downloadable activity sheets, digital coupons at GRUV and Digital Movie Deals, and free movie codes, with physical rewards like signed movie posters and scripts, DVDs, Blu-ray, and even UHD Blu-rays coming soon (the website currently has rewards like Fast & Furious 4K UHD Collection and The Big Lebowski Limited Edition Collector’s Set 4K UHD greyed out with a splashy Coming Soon imposed over them). The previous rewards program was usually very good at rotating their free movie titles every 3-4 months, but they were often limited to five or six movies, the majority consisting of direct-to-video titles with one or two classic or well-known movies. At present, the free movies include Being Flynn, Cop and a Half, Hyde Park on the Hudson, Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie, and Along Came Polly by redeeming 1,000 points for each title. The good news is that validated rewards codes from Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray titles will currently net you 1,200 points, which works out to a free digital movie plus 200 points.
Customer Service for Universal’s rewards program is the best of the three, often responding within three business days with a solution to your issue. In fact, just recently, my rewards code for the recent The Invisible Man was not being accepted by the new program. One email and three days later, customer service sent me a new code. Now that is what I call customer service!
While all three rewards programs are somewhat crippled due to the current pandemic with the suspension of shipping physical rewards (in the case of Sony, delayed and extended shipping times), one can hope that as we return to some sort of normalcy that those rewards will return. Or at the very least, Disney will follow both Sony and Universal’s lead and offer free Movies Anywhere codes.