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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Debut of Amazon and Apple movie downloads nears (plus, Netflix and `Nightmare')

Apple and Amazon are both expected to announce movie download services this month... and Apple may announce a new version of its iPod, too -- perhaps with a bigger screen to make video viewing more pleasant, or more storage capacity? Here's the advance speculation from the LA Times and The Wall Street Journal. The Journal writes:

    Amazon pricing for movies through its service, called Amazon Unbox, will likely range greatly from title to title. Studios aren't sure what the final retail prices will be for their titles, but one executive estimated the bulk of movies will be sold to consumers for between $9.99 and $14.99, though some could be cheaper or more expensive. Amazon will also rent titles.

    The menu of Amazon offerings is expected to include television shows, along with old and new movies. The service will work through a Windows Media-based player and content can be transferred to Windows Media video-compatible portable devices. A spokesman for Amazon, which is based in Seattle, declined to confirm the details of the new service.

    Apple, meanwhile, plans to sell movies for just a handful of different prices, starting at $9.99 for catalog titles and going up to $14.99 for new releases, people familiar with the matter say. Currently, the company has lined up Disney, which counts among its board members Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

    Apple has been unable to sign up all of the studios in large part because they can't agree on price. Many studios want more than the $14.50 or so Apple is offering to studios as a wholesale price per movie so they can create similar or bigger margins than they get with physical DVDs. Although DVDs generally cost more, around $18 at retail, studios have to factor in packaging and distribution, costs they don't have to worry about for electronic copies of movies.

Two other, unrelated links:

- Mike Curtis links to several stories, including a great piece in Wired, focusing on Netflix's move to acquire distribution rights to more indie movies. One reason for this: if Netflix ever launches a digital download service of its own, it needs content (and for various contractual reasons, it'll prove very hard for Netflix to secure the rights to studio content).

- Cartoon Brew has a few scraps about the upcoming re-release of `Nightmare Before Christmas' in 3-D.


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