Warner Buys Flixster & Rotten Tomatoes, Plans VOD Service

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment announced Wednesday morning that it is buying the social movie discovery and review sites Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes for an undisclosed amount.

The studio will keep Flixster as an independent entity, but it plans to extend the service beyond mere discovery: The news release states that Flixster will “enable digital content ownership and delivery across any connected digital device.”

Flixster could soon became the consumer face of Warner’s digital locker plans, dubbed “Digital Everywhere”, which the company announced last month. The idea is that consumers will be able to buy content and then play it on any device, streaming from the cloud. Digital Everywhere will be based on the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem’s UltraViolet DRM scheme.

One of the reasons that made Flixster appealing for Warner is its success on mobile platforms. Flixster’s iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows phone applications have been downloaded more than 35 million times. Warner undoubtedly wants to tap into that mobile user base to stream movies to connected devices.

The studio’s plans for Rotten Tomatoes seem less ambitious. The news release only states that the team of the movie review site will continue to work independently out of Los Angeles. Rotten Tomatoes was acquired by Flixster in early 2010 in a deal that gave News Corp. a minority stake in the combined company. AllThingsD reported earlier this year that Warner was in discussions to pay up to $90 million for Flixster and Rotten Tomatoes.