Downloading movies goes legal


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Fox DVD, download dates in sync

By Chris Marlowe

Fox Interactive Media is set to confirm today that beginning in October its online properties will sell movies day-and-date with their DVD release.

The first sales will go through Direct2Drive, one of the lesser-known brands included in News Corp.'s $650 million purchase of Intermix Media a year ago. A spokeswoman for FIM said the capability will spread across MySpace, such other IGN Entertainment sites as RottenTomatoes and Film Force, and elsewhere in the FIM network. Some of the first titles to go on sale this way are "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "Thank You for Smoking," due Oct. 3; "Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties," scheduled for Oct. 10; and "The Omen," due Oct. 17.

Television programs also are included in the move, with such Fox shows as "24" and "Prison Break" and FX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" becoming available within 24 hours of broadcast.

"Our drive to deliver 20th Century Fox content via the most powerful online platforms is advanced substantially by this agreement," said Peter Levinsohn, president digital media at Fox Entertainment Group. "Offering Fox content in conjunction with FIM properties enables viewers to access the best movies and TV shows from multiple platforms in the Fox family."

Movies downloaded from FIM sites will sell for about $20 and TV shows for $1.99 an episode. Direct2Drive has fewer than 1 million unique users a month with an average spend of $30.

$20.00 is too much for a downloaded movie, unless you are allowed to burn to a dvd. I can go to WalMart and buy it for less than that and have a hard copy the day of release.

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$20.00 is too much for a downloaded movie, unless you are allowed to burn to a dvd. I can go to WalMart and buy it for less than that and have a hard copy the day of release.

And this is exactly why this will fail. For $20 you get no special features, you have to watch it on your computer or portable media device, you have to wait for it to download and I'm sure it won't be lickity split because the file is going to be big. Apple has been fighting the studios on the $20 price point for some time now and they just won't bend. I can tell you I sure won't be downloading anything for that price.

Here's another thing. I do happen to download TV shows off iTunes for $1.99 the same price they are offering on this site as well. If the studios are making money off a $1.99 download for a 24 to 48 minute TV program, I'm sure they would make money off a movie download if they put the price at say $9.99.

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Actually, pricing wise, $19.99 a movie is approximately equal to $1.99 a television show episode. It's really about the price you pay to get it on DVD. Think about it, if a TV season has 24 episodes, and retails for $49.99, you pay a little over $2 an episode and get bonus stuff like "behind the scenes" looks and director's commentaries as well as a hard copy of the show. If you buy it on iTunes or whatever for $2, you get a soft copy of inferior quality without any bonus features. If $19.99 is too much to pay for a movie download (and I agree, it is), then $1.99 is too much for a TV show.

I think online services like Ruckus will be the future of movie downloads though. Movies reasonably priced by age (older movies are less expensive to download or even free) and demand (more popular movies debut at higher initial costs).

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  • 3 weeks later...

iTunes is getting into the act now

Apple, soon to officially announce its strategy to deliver movies through the iTunes Music Store (which according to one source is going to be rebranded), and its movie studio partners are working on creating a large library of hits for download within the first six months of making full length films available.

Grapevine time: executives at Disney's Buena Vista Motion Pictures Group, a collection of Disney's main movie studios, have been getting their subsidiary companies to prepare most of their hit motion pictures for digital delivery.

These are just some of the movies to expect within the first six months to a year.

From Walt Disney Pictures: James and the Giant Peach, Pocahontas, The Lion King, Aladdin, Chicken Little, Herbie: Fully Loaded, Sky High, Ice Princess, National Treasure, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

From Disney/Pixar: Toy Story, Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3 (?), A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars.

From Miramax: Cold Mountain, The Hours, Chicago, Cinderella Man, Scary Movie 1,2,3 and 4.

From Touchstone Pictures: The Royal Tenenbaums, Pearl Harbor, The Sixth Sense (with Hollywood Pictures), Unbreakable, Gone in Sixty Seconds, Shanghai Noon, Deuce Bigalow Male Gigolo, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, King Arthur, Hidalgo, Open Range, Signs, Reign of Fire.

Apart from Disney and Pixar, Lion's Gate Entertainment will make the following, mostly horror, movies available: American Psycho, Dogma, Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Pi, Requiem for a Dream, Open Water, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Punisher, Fahrenheit 9/11, Crash, Alone in the Dark, Hostel, Saw 1 and 2.

Not all of the above will be available for download immediately but instead see a slow roll out over the first six months during which they will be joined by ever newer releases. Pricing is expected to be from $9.99 to $14.99.

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