Roll out the red carpet and set up those swirling spotlights in your front yard; new DVD movie releases are coming directly to your living room, thanks to iTunes. And you don’t need the DVD.
“Day-and-date” is the oddly redundant term used by the film industry to refer to the release of movie content. iTunes has made arrangements with major studios to make their movies available on the same day that the DVD version of the movie is released. The studios include 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment, and First Look Studios. You can download the movies and watch them at home without ever setting foot in the DVD store.
Apple charges $9.99 for most of its catalog titles, and $14.95 for new releases. According to the company press release, they have more than 1,500 movies available, 200 of which are in high-definition. You can also rent titles for $2.99 — $3.99 for new releases and high definition for $1 more — if you don’t want to buy the movie. Watching on your HDTV requires Apple TV, or you can watch the movies on many of the iPod and iPhone models.
iTunes helped put legal downloads of music tracks on the map, and it’s likely that their efforts to expand access to movies through downloads will further legitimize this new distribution method. Currently, the service is still too tightly coupled with the proprietary Apple hardware and software for my taste, but a rising tides raises all boats and if Apple finds succes here it could help expand the other choices available.
Tell me again why I should be spending several hundred dollars on a Blu-ray player?