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Hollywood studios now selling downloadable movies online

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By Charles Starrett

Contributing Editor
Published: Monday, April 3, 2006
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Today, six of the major studios began selling downloadable full-length movies online through the Movielink service, which is owned by Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures, Universal, MGM, and Paramount. Until today, only rentable downloads had been offered by the studios, which could be watched only during a 24-hour window. The movie files will take up around a gigabyte of storage, and will take an hour or two to download, depending on the internet connection.

The new downloads can’t be transferred and played on video-capable iPods, nor can they be played on portable media players that support Microsoft’s WMV format. Pricing of the films may also be a deterrent. New releases will cost about $20 to $30 to download, while older titles will cost as little as $10. New releases will be available for download on the same day that the DVD is released — much quicker than films available for rental, which are put online about 45 days later and cost $2 to $5.

Fortunately for iPod owners, iTunes may not be too far from offering iPod-compatible movie downloads itself. The Times reports:

Apple, Amazon.com and other online retailers are also busily trying to cut deals with Hollywood to sell downloads, according to several studio executives. In general, the studios want to make downloads available on largely the same terms, in as many places as possible. “We are talking to a lot of people, and hopefully our movies will be on many other sites shortly,” said Rick Finkelstein, the president of Universal Pictures.

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Comments

1

From the Movielink site:

“Sorry, but in order to enjoy the Movielink service you must use Internet Explorer 5.0 or higher, which supports certain technologies we utilize for downloading movies. Click here to get the latest version of Internet Explorer.

We do not support Mozilla or Netscape. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.”

Sorry.  They won’t get my business until they support Firefox and/or Safari.

Posted by The Raven on April 3, 2006 at 7:21 AM (PDT)

2

20 to 30 dollars?  No thanks man, I’ll just buy the DVD.  My main problem with downloadable video, however, is the lack of subtitles.  I’m hearing impaired, and I MUST have subtitles to enjoy a film.  I’d rather buy the DVD.

Posted by Cameron T. on April 3, 2006 at 7:25 AM (PDT)

3

I used Movielink a few times when I was too lazy to go to Blockbuster to rent a movie (was virtually the same price for renting a movie). It worked OK, but wasn’t very user friendly. I got confused a few times using it actually. Sadly, Movielink has been around for a while it seems. I found out about it on the back of a cereal box. But no one I know has ever heard of it.

I’m waiting for Apple to revolutionize the movie downloading business smile

Posted by Kevin on April 3, 2006 at 7:25 AM (PDT)

4

I think that it’s sick to spend $30 for a dvd and then not even be allowed to put in on an ipod. Especially a PMP that even supports windows copy protecton!
I’m sure that apple will come out with one, the only question is when. It will probably be only for the ipod and be allowed to burn dvds just like their music. Over all this is good because it allows consumers to do with the dvd what they want with it.

Posted by Jonathan Keim on April 3, 2006 at 8:11 AM (PDT)

5

$30 ??? They’re crazy. That’s very expensive, more than a DVD and above all, more than Video on demand (4 euros a movie for a new release and 2 euros for an old movie) and more than rental DVDs…

I don’t think they will sell a lot of them :(

Posted by Steph on April 3, 2006 at 8:48 AM (PDT)

6

I think its expensive because they still dont like the idea of selling movies online, so they make it hard so people get discouraged.

Posted by slayer on April 3, 2006 at 9:00 AM (PDT)

7

Why would they discourage sales?  I think they believe this is going to work, and I think they are wrong.

Posted by Matthew C Egan on April 3, 2006 at 9:23 AM (PDT)

8

$20-30? “as little as $10”? For 1GB? WMV? Internet Explorer?

I’m sorry, I wanted to keep a straight-faced, rational comment, but

ROTFLMAOBTCSTC!!!

!!!

For $30 I can order up to 5 “older” DVDs online, full quality, play where I want them to play.

Posted by Bad Beaver on April 3, 2006 at 10:37 AM (PDT)

9

Typical of the dinosaur movie industry, expensive, inconvenient, self serving and still born. When will these idiots ever learn?

Posted by patrick on April 3, 2006 at 11:25 AM (PDT)

10

30 dollars to download a movie with poor quality and can only be viewed within a 24 hour tome period!! Is it me or are they trying to PROMOTE illegal downloading????

Posted by Roger767 on April 3, 2006 at 11:32 AM (PDT)

11

Roger767,
I think you read the post wrong.  Up until this point, movies have only been playable within a twenty-four hour window.  Now you can keep the whole movie forever, but you’ll be paying just as long.

Posted by brian on April 3, 2006 at 12:59 PM (PDT)

12

i don’t think the price is wrong. $30 is only peanuts. i’m downloading them all. whoops, my maids are here to clean my 1.4 billion dollar mansion, all my 32 Audi’s and my 58347 inch TV. :D

Posted by Aaron on April 3, 2006 at 1:12 PM (PDT)

13

This service sounds like a flop to me.

Posted by LukeA on April 3, 2006 at 2:21 PM (PDT)

14

No doubt with added competition the price will go down.  How long that takes is another issue.

Posted by Mark on April 3, 2006 at 2:37 PM (PDT)

15

I think that this is a huge move for the dinosaur movie execs.  Hard to believe that they have actually given the download to own option a go.  Of course it is ridiculously expensive etc..  Surely Apple can sort them out!  Speaking of which.. wasn’t it Apple’s 30th the other day…?  Wasn’t there a bit of talk about some new releases etc.. as in new cool stuff for us to drool over? PLEASE tell me that the hi fi wasn’t IT?

Posted by stevemc in NZ on April 3, 2006 at 5:29 PM (PDT)

16

and yet, nothing for the Apple users….and WAY too expensive….maybe someday they’ll get it right???

Posted by nerual on April 3, 2006 at 7:09 PM (PDT)

17

I’d rather buy a DVD and put it through Handbrake, then I can watch it on my iPod. I could customized the language, subtitles, and everything else. And I could watch it on my home TV in higher resolution…..
DVDs still beat any download service, you have the options….

Posted by hoho on April 3, 2006 at 9:05 PM (PDT)

18

Doesn’t work on a Mac. I don’t need to go any further.

Posted by deadherozine on April 3, 2006 at 9:19 PM (PDT)

19

I just don’t understand why they want to sell you these movies.  Movielink was a good plan for renting, the problem was that they didn’t offer first rate movies and they were slow to come out with newer releases.  No one is going to spend $30 on a download that takes 2 hours when they can run to the store and buy the DVD in 30 minutes for $15.  Good luck getting this to work.  I can see the headline now…

Movielink Announces 1 Millionth Download.  On April 4, 2015, Movielink announced it’s 1 millionth movie download.  Executives at Movielink say they are very pleased with the success of the Movielink service. They are especially pleased with the way it has protected their core business in DVD sales.  Nevertheless, they are glad to have 1 million under there belt.  They say they expect to reach 2 million by 2020, and are calling Movielink a “growth industry”.

Posted by BrettB on April 4, 2006 at 9:32 AM (PDT)

20

I think you’re being a bit too optimistic.

Posted by mojohand on April 4, 2006 at 10:38 AM (PDT)

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