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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

CinemaNow Starts Offering DVD Burn Option (for 100 Titles)...Plus, No `Snakes' for Critics, and Netflix Does TV

- It's good news, of course, that CinemaNow is making it possible, starting today, for users to download a movie and burn it to a DVD. Some coverage of the deal: LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The New York Times.

What are the implications and limitations of this new offering?

  1. Bad news for Movielink. They won't have a comparable service up until mid-2007, and are clearly vexed that the studios that created the Movielink joint venture have jumped into bed sooner with CinemaNow, using a different burning and protection approach than Movielink is pursuing.
  2. DVD burning, for most people, is still a complicated and time-consuming process. Things can go wrong. And the DVDs produced by CinemaNow will be lower-quality than standard DVDs, to make the download happen faster. The entire process takes 2-4 hours.
  3. CinemaNow's service will launch with only about 100 backlist titles; nothing new.
  4. From the LA Times story: "CinemaNow in the spring launched a closely watched online experiment with pornography producer Vivid Entertainment Group. That service, which allowed DVD burning, served as a high-profile test for the mainstream studios and demonstrated that CinemaNow's anti-piracy technology was robust enough and could produce discs playable in a standard DVD player."

- `Snakes' won't be screened for critics. First chance anyone will get to see it is late on August 17th. The Movie Marketing Blog lists some of the other recent releases that haven't been screened for critics, including 'Aeon Flux,' 'Cursed,' 'Phat Girlz,' 'Scary Movie 4,' 'See no Evil', 'The Benchwarmers,' 'The Fog,' 'The Hills Have Eyes,' 'Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Family Reunion,' 'Ultraviolet,' 'Underworld: Evolution', and 'When a Stranger Calls.'

- NBC is partnering with Netflix to offer subscribers a chance to see new NBC series on DVD six weeks before they're broadcast. The two series being promoted are "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip" and "Kidnapped," and they'll be available starting August 5th.

Cool idea. Would a studio ever use Netflix for a small DVD "buzz campaign" prior to a movie's release? (Or would that aggravate theaters to no end?)