Now you can buy movies the day they hit theaters, with a big catch.

How much would YOU be willing to pay to be able to download your own copy of a brand spanking new movie the day it’s released in movie theaters? What if I told you that the file only comes in a heavily restricted DRM format? That wouldn’t allow you to play the movies on your Macintosh or Linux box? How about the fact that it’ll only play on your PC and can’t be streamed to your television set? How much would you be willing to pay now? The movie studios think you’ll be so pleased to be able to download a movie on release day that they’re only going to charge you DOUBLE what it would cost to buy the DVD. Ain’t that great? They seem to think so:

“We think this is a great consumer offering that complements the DVD release,” said Rick Finkelstein, Universal Pictures’ president and chief operating officer. “If somebody wants to get their content online and create a digital library, this gives them the opportunity to do that. This is another way for consumers to access movies.”

Piracy fears also prevent online services from giving technological early adopters what they really want — the ability to watch downloaded movies on their televisions. That’s because the studios insist that downloadable movies include rigorous safeguards on copying. Users, for instance, can burn a DVD of a downloaded movie, but it will play only on a PC.

I’m sure there’s a ton of people out there just dieing to build up a digital library of movies that can only be watched on their PCs that’ll happily spend twice the cost of a standard DVD release. I’m sure monkeys will fly out of my ass any second now too. But hey, we elected Bush twice so maybe there is a huge market for this sort of thing. So much for DRM enabled content making for cheaper products.

Finkelstein said people eventually would be able to watch downloadable movies as they would any other DVD. But rather than wait for the technology to burn it securely, Universal is rushing to make more than 100 movie titles available online to provide a legitimate alternative to Internet piracy.

“At this point, we wanted to get out there,” Finkelstein said. “This is the only way we could do it at this time. The intent and goal is to allow people to also be able to have a DVD they could watch on their DVD players.”

At least they’re aiming for a point where you’ll be able to download, burn, and then watch it on your DVD player. Of course that’ll probably entail you buying a new DVD player that has whatever future DRM will supposedly make for secure DVDs.

Ramo said download-to-own movies would sell for $20 to $30 — up to double the $15 that discount retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. charge for DVDs, with downloads of classic titles for $10 to $17. He said the premium reflected the convenience of the service and the flexibility to transfer the digital download to two computers, as well as the ability to create a backup DVD that also would play on computers running Microsoft Corp.‘s Windows operating system.

In short, Mac and Linux users: Suck it. That’s what you get for “Thinking Differently,” you bastards.

I’m no psychic, but I’m willing to predict this model won’t last long. I’m guessing it’ll be a matter of weeks before someone has cracked the DRM (if it’s not cracked already) allowing folks to strip it from the files making them burnable and playable on your standard issue DVD player and then it may catch on with some of the die-hard movie buffs that would be willing to shell out that kind of cash just to be able to claim legitimacy, but I don’t think your average movie goer is going to be a big fan of this approach. iTunes has been a success because it was cheap, a concept that appears to be lost on the movie studios.

8 thoughts on “Now you can buy movies the day they hit theaters, with a big catch.

  1. Putting that kind of price on movie downloads removes one of the possible advantages of paid downloading, its disposability.  Spending 99 cents on a song you ultimately might not like is no big thing since its about the price of a chocolate bar, so you might be more willing to take the chance on downloading something.  Its already a large risk to spend 10 bucks or whatever it might be where you live to see a movie in the theatre.  Spending 30 bucks to download a movie you won’t like is even worse.

  2. Quite aside from the other issues, why should anyone care whether they see a film the day it’s released, or a week or a month later?  Of course, the best way to resolve this is to not see the film at all– by far the best solution in most cases.

  3. They’re charging double what a hard copy costs for digital copies. 

    Holy fuck. 

    Can you at least play it on a television set using a Media PC with an All-In-Wonder or similar card in it?  You know, using the box as a monitor and such.

  4. Can you at least play it on a television set using a Media PC with an All-In-Wonder or similar card in it?  You know, using the box as a monitor and such.

    It would be an easy way for people to copy to VHS or use it as an “analog hole.”

    7. How do I watch CinemaNow movies on my TV?
    If your laptop has an S-video jack, then you can hook your computer directly to your TV. For more information and other suggestions on how to watch on your TV

  5. All-In-Wonder cards have an S-Video jack last time I checked.  smile

    Still, the price has gotta come down, that’s way to expensive for something with no tangible materials.  If they can get the price down I see a large market in the geeky set though, I know several people who use Media PCs with massive hard drives for all their movies and music, all of it right in the computer, no loading and such.  This would work the same way.

  6. 1. For titles marked “Buy”, the downloads are typically priced between $9.95 and $19.95. Please see the title’s details page for actual pricing.

    Since I have a macintosh, the website won’t let me see the price of any movies. Those bastards.

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