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Author Topic: Hollywood to sell movies online
Eric Hooper
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 530
From: Fort Worth, TX, USA
Registered: May 2003

 - posted 04-03-2006 03:25 PM      Profile for Eric Hooper   Email Eric Hooper   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post

Hollywood to sell movies online

Monday, April 3, 2006; Posted: 5:38 a.m. EDT (09:38 GMT)

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Hollywood studios will start selling digital versions of films such as "Brokeback Mountain" and "King Kong" on the Internet this week, the first time major movies have been available online to own.

The films can't be burned onto a disc for viewing on a DVD player. Still, the move is seen as a step toward full digital distribution of movies over the Internet.

Six studios said they would announce Monday that sales will begin through the download Web site Movielink. The site is jointly owned by five of the seven major studios.

Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM will offer some first-run and older titles on Movielink. New films will be priced similar to DVDs -- between $20 and $30 -- while older titles will sell for $10 to $20.

In a separate announcement, Sony and Lionsgate said they will sell films through the CinemaNow site.

Only films from The Walt Disney Co. will not be available, although both services say talks are ongoing.

"Digital delivery hasn't arrived until the major studios allow home ownership, and now they have and now digital delivery is very real," said Jim Ramo, Movielink's chief executive.

Studios will sell some new films online the same day they become available on DVD. Most films will be made available within 45 days.

Studios began renting films online several years ago as a way to combat illegal downloading. Movies have been available through the Internet 30 to 45 days after hitting video stores, with rentals lasting just 24 hours for viewing primarily on computer screens.

Digital delivery of video grew rapidly after Apple Computer Inc. began selling episodes of TV shows through its iTunes online store last October.

This year, devices powered by new Intel computer chips and TV service delivered over the Internet will allow more consumers to watch Web video on their TVs instead of their computer screens, a key factor in downloading to own, analysts said.

Studios are being cautious about selling films online in part because DVD sales produce more profit than box office receipts.

But studios are also preparing for the day when major retailers such as Wal-Mart and begin offering their own movie download services.

"The important thing is to embrace the future, respect the economics of DVD but move forward into digital delivery," said Ben Feingold, president of Worldwide Home Entertainment at Sony Pictures.

The films available on Movielink can be stored indefinitely on a computer hard drive or transferred to as many as two other computers. The movies can be played on a TV if the computer is part of a home network.

A copy can be burned to a DVD as a backup. Discs can be played on up three PCs authorized by Movielink but cannot be viewed on a standard DVD player because of special security coding.

Consumers will not be able to transfer the films from a PC or laptop to a handheld portable viewing device. But that capability should be available sometime within the next year, Ramo said.

Films on CinemaNow will be playable on just one computer. The company said it eventually expects studios to allow consumers to burn movies on DVD and transfer them to portable devices.

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Louis Bornwasser
Film God

Posts: 4433
From: prospect ky usa
Registered: Mar 2005

 - posted 04-03-2006 03:46 PM      Profile for Louis Bornwasser   Author's Homepage   Email Louis Bornwasser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Special security coding?

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Lyle Romer
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1383
From: Davie, FL, USA
Registered: May 2002

 - posted 04-03-2006 04:11 PM      Profile for Lyle Romer   Email Lyle Romer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Shouldn't this be in "The Afterlife"?

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Scott Jentsch
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1035
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

 - posted 04-04-2006 09:03 AM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I took a look at Movielink yesterday after reading the announcement.

First visit, IE crashed while trying to load whatever ActiveX stuff was being loaded.

Take two. Head over to the Purchases section. The new releases line-up is pretty good, with Memoirs of a Geisha, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Brokeback Mountain, and Walk the Line.

So, click on Harry Potter. Ouch, $27.99! OK, fine, get past that. Are the movies in their original aspect ratio? How about multi-channel sound? What resolution? As far as I can tell from the help docs, it's going to be stereo sound, and letterboxed video. One would hope that would mean OAR, but who knows?

720p HD is possible, according to their help docs, but I couldn't find any movies in that format.

I'd rather buy the DVD or rent from Netflix at this point.

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Monte L Fullmer
Film God

Posts: 8353
From: Nampa, Idaho, USA
Registered: Nov 2004

 - posted 04-04-2006 12:20 PM      Profile for Monte L Fullmer   Email Monte L Fullmer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote: Scott Jentsch
First visit, IE crashed while trying to load whatever ActiveX stuff was being loaded.

...wonder if a Mozilla browser was used instead. Then, the crash probably wouldn't have happened.

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Scott Jentsch
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1035
From: New Berlin, WI, USA
Registered: Apr 2003

 - posted 04-05-2006 11:44 AM      Profile for Scott Jentsch   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Jentsch   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
No Firefox allowed, which is why I had to fire up IE.

I'm very surprised that iTunes hasn't gotten into this market. There has to be a reason why, on the order of movie studios not wanting to be beholden to Steve Jobs like the music studios are.

I think Apple is poised to break out of its iPod-only phase of life, and deliver that next hardware item combined with software service that everyone will want. The pieces are there, or almost there, in the form of iTunes (Quicktime HD), the Mac Mini, and the Airport Express.

All the more reason that theaters cannot concentrate on selling the movie, but rather the experience.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 8002
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 04-05-2006 03:45 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Why would anyone want to buy this? Let's see...a DVD costs _less_ or at least no more, can be played on _any_ player, includes physical storage and backup media, probably has better image and sound quality, and a trip to the store to buy one is probably faster than downloading one of these downloadable movies.

The cynic in me says that, by offering such a crappy product, the film distributors just want to be able to say that they are doing something to reduce piracy, yet also demonstrate through lack of sales that the general public isn't interested in downloadable movies (not the right conclusion, but one that they can make).

This is pretty much the same "logic" that lead book publishers to try to sell "electronic books" for the same price as a physical hardcover book, with predictably dismal sales figures. (Granted, this isn't quite the same issue...for a variety of reasons, I can't see printed books _ever_ being replaced with electronic files, but I can imagine a time when movies are commonly purchased or rented on non-physical media.)

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