Movies on the Download

You might expect an announcement about a “groundbreaking new movie distribution service” to echo from the tangled techno streets of Tokyo or the shiny skyscrapers of LA LA land. But no… The revolution begins at home.

Universal UK has revealed that it’s debuting a new way for consumers to experience movies (translation: a new way to reach into our wallets). Download-To-Own (DTO) will launch on 10 April and offers a choice of 35 films on the same day as their arrival on DVD. Now if only they could find a gigantic brand name blockbuster to hitch their bandwagon to… Oh wait! 10 April sees King Kong stomp its way on to shiny disc.

Here comes the science bit – anyone over 35 should get a young person to help them understand – for £19.99 you’ll get two Windows Media Player downloads, one for your home computer and one for your portable device. And you’ll also receive the single-disc DVD version (hmmm… we’re beginning to sense overkill here) by mail, because you’re not going to be able to burn copies yourself – that way lies piracy, apparently. Older titles will set you back £9.99.

"This is not a test, it's happening,” blabbed Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Home Entertainment, doing his best impression of a public service announcement. "I see it happening in the United States very, very quickly. That is the future. People are going to be able to buy our movies online, and they're going to be able to download them and send them to portables and play them on their PCs." Unless your “PC” is a Mac. In that case, you’re stuck waiting for Microsoft and Apple to come to a software agreement. Good luck with that.

Online rental company LOVEFiLM are also involved in the system and CEO Mark Livingstone boasted that an average movie will take about 40 minutes to an hour to download in a 2MB broadband household, but at the speed that those crafty computers develop, that time will shrink. "The important thing to note is that 2MB is going to become 4MB, 8MB, 16MB, 24MB, etc. We think it is no more than 12-18 months to the time when you will put the kettle on, get the kids ready to watch a great movie and you will be ready to go," Livingstone said. "We are really at the point when this technology has become a reality, which is why we are so excited about it."

All this talk is great. Now send us our copy of Serenity!

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