Hollywood is embracing digital film distribution like never before. Half a dozen major studios have launched a download website, Movielink. Major movies will be available for download through the site. Users will not be able to burn the movies to DVD, except as backup copies, but the move is still seen as a major step in the right direction.
Both first run and older films will be available and will be priced similar to DVDs purchased through retail outlets. First run films will be priced between US$20 and US$30 while older titles will be available for US$10 to US$20.
Several years ago, the studios began renting films online -- usually for viewing on computer screens within a 24 hour period -- as a way of combatting piracy. Now, however, films will be available for viewers to own.
Why will the films still be so expensive, you wonder?
This represents a major shift in film distribution. Studios are proceeding cautiously since DVD sales produce more profit than box office receipts. However, studios cannot cling to their old distribution channels much longer, since major retailers are expected to begin digital distribution themselves. The studios must embrace change but are trying to preserve their revenue streams.
The participating studios are Warner Bros, Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox and MGM.
Sony and Lionsgate have announced their own plans to sell films through a separate site, CinemaNow.
Disney has not yet announced its participation, although it may be forthcoming.