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Thursday, April 05, 2007

Three Worth Reading: Incompatible Movie Formats, TiVo's Web Smarts, and More Burton in 3-D

- Stephen Wildstrom of BusinessWeek writes about the many incompatible formats and viewing options for digital movies. He writes:

    The problem is that the quickly growing stock of movies and shows available for download is scattered among an assortment of stores including Movielink, CinemaNow, Google Video (GOOG), and (AMZN) Unbox, as well as Apple's (AAPL) iTunes Store. And while there's a lot of overlap, there's also a significant amount of content exclusive to one or another service.

    This has happened because the digital-download business isn't like any other sort of retailing. Any bookstore can order any book in print from its publisher. And once customers buy it, they can do whatever they wish with it. But download services must negotiate their rights studio by studio, sometimes title by title. And the deals cover not only which movies and TV shows are available but also what sort of video quality can be offered at what price, and, in excruciating detail, just what consumers can do with the video they have bought or rented.

    Consider the rules covering movies purchased from Movielink, typically for $13.99 (different rules cover rentals). You can watch your movie as often as you want, but only on a Windows PC. Some films can be watched on up to three different PCs; others can't. You can make a backup copy to DVD, but you must copy it back to a PC to view it; you can't watch it on a standard DVD player.

- David Pogue of the NY Times appreciates TiVo's recent efforts to create a simple, useful connection to the world of Web video, including the ability to download movies from Amazon Unbox.

- Disney is converting one of Tim Burton's first animated shorts ('Vincent') into 3-D for this fall's release of 'The Nightmare Before Christmas 3-D,' according to The Hollywood Reporter. Carolyn Giardina writes:

    Made in 1982, "Vincent" is a six-minute stop-motion film that tells the story of Vincent Malloy, a youth who imagines that he is like Vincent Price. The black-and-white short is based on a poem written by Burton, who was influenced by Price. Price narrated the film.

    "When you have an evergreen title like 'Nightmare,' it is very important to give the fan a chance to sample something new," said Chuck Viane, president of Disney's Buena Vista Pictures Domestic Distribution. "Each year on bring backs, we are going to try to add some value."

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