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Hollywood to sell movies online

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 Amazon.com 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.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Now, for those of us with a dial-up connection, we can start downloading the movie, go buy the DVD, watch the DVD, and STILL spend about two more days waiting for it to finish downloading. It will be interesting to see how this technology continues to grow.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2006 09:11 pm (UTC)
Interesting info, Tommy! Not sure that I'll be d/l the movies...I enjoy buying the DVDs with the cover art and all the special add ons...and I like watching on my TV!

Apr. 3rd, 2006 10:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah. I know. I'm not too big on downloading movies either. I have to wait long enough to download songs from iTunes. Besides, I like having a DVD that I can hold in my hands, with the artwork, special features, etc. You and I are in agreement on that one.

I like that icon. Where did you get it?

~hugs back~
Apr. 3rd, 2006 10:52 pm (UTC)
Hmmmmmmm...I got the icon from one of the LJ icon communities...they have all kinds, hon!

Apr. 3rd, 2006 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, I know. I browse the icon communities when the mood hits me.

That IS Robin in your icon, right? It looks like him or The Green Lantern; and yes I know that Robin is more apropos for you.
Apr. 4th, 2006 12:52 am (UTC)
LOL! Yep...that's Robin! I have a few Robin icons now...and many more in a folder! :)
Apr. 4th, 2006 01:20 am (UTC)

I love superheros.
Apr. 4th, 2006 01:21 pm (UTC)
Me too! Can ya tell?!! :)
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )