Guinevere, a 1999 release starring Sarah Polley and Stephen Rea, will be available for 3.49USD per download. The download will be approximately 500 Megabytes and will only be viewable up to 24 hours after download. Sightsound.com is providing the encryption and using Microsoft's video compression to deliver the film.
This film is the first of 12 which will be made available for download as an experiment by Miramax. A Napster like service for film is becoming more and more likely with bandwidth and compression technology always improving.
Will this experiment pay off? Will they corner online film distribution before illegally trading movies on the net becomes too widespread?
It seems as though they're on the right track, but the conditions of viewing and the price seem awfully restrictive. I sense some potential for success, but frankly, in it's current form it doesn't stand much of a chance. Compared to physically renting a movie released in 1999, some disadvantages to the consumer are immediately apparent: it costs slightly more than a normal rental (not including transfer costs if applicable), it is only viewable 24 hours after downloading, the compression will be apparent (unless some incredible advances have been made recently that I'm not aware of), and it will be viewed on the computer which in general is just not as well suited for movies.
On the flip side of the coin, there are some advantages over traditional renting. These are that you don't have to leave the house, you don't need a VCR, and they'll never be out of copies. Another important factor is novelty. Remember Stephen King's forray into electronic publishing?
Currently the disadvantages are far too numerous and important for Miramax's experiment to be the final say in online film distribution. As it stands this reminds me too much of divx and all of the ugliness that it entails. Hopefully the studios will become a little more reasonable in future attempts and we can reach a happy medium. Or does that sound too naive?
Factual data for the piece obtained from CNET.