Sony to launch cinephile film service for PlayStation 3

As the Cannes film festival gets into its second week, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is preparing to launch a new highbrow film service for the PlayStation 3.

Called MUBI, and already available for PCs, the online service will be bringing a collection of over 300 films to the home console ranging from Jacques Audiard (director of Read My Lips and The Beat My Heart Skipped) to Franco Zeffirelli ( Brother Sun, Sister Moon; Jesus of Nazareth).

The auteur output of Pedro Almodóvar, the Coen brothers, Jean Luc Godard, Takeshi 'Beat Takeshi' Kitano, and Gus Van Sant are also being touted as likely candidates for the service's console debut.

MUBI also has a strong community aspect, encouraging viewers to discuss the films they've seen with each other and recommend new cinematic experiences to friends and MUBI members.

The company have also managed to tie up online distribution rights for various pieces of world cinema which have not yet been released on DVD, including Martin Scorsese's World Cinema Foundation that specializes in restoring neglected films.

The MUBI service is tabled for an autumn launch, expected to coincide with the availability of new Wii-like motion controllers for the PlayStation 3, and helps to associate the machine with an aspirational lifestyle - as does Sony's links with 3D TV.

CEO Efe Cakarel confirmed to PlayStation Europe that launch territories will be the UK and Ireland; France, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Gibraltar and Andorra; Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg; and Australia and New Zealand. Sweden, Norway, Finland and Denmark are also expected to be brought onboard before the service goes live.

Efe also revealed that short films are to cost £1 and feature length works £3 for UK users. The MUBI website currently prices shorts at €2 and features at €4.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is also preparing a marketing effort to promote and expand the multimedia and social capabilities of the Xbox 360, which has been able to link up with Facebook, Twitter and since November 2009.

In North America, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Nintendo Wii can all be used in conjunction with a Netflix subscription in order to stream a wide range of films. For European users, the MUBI deal works to bolster the existing PlayStation Video Store which provides more mainstream movies to North America, Oceania, and some European countries.