Tag Archives | Movies

Film is No Longer Film

Salon’s Matt Zoller Seitz reports on yet another analog artifact that’s given way to a digital substitute: Movie cameras.

Theaters, movies, moviegoing and other core components of what we once called “cinema” persist, and may endure. But they’re not quite what they were in the analog cinema era. They’re something new, or something else — the next generation of technologies and rituals that had changed shockingly little between 1895 and the early aughts. We knew this day would come. Calling oneself a “film director” or “film editor” or “film buff” or a “film critic” has over the last decade started to seem a faintly nostalgic affectation; decades hence it may start to seem fanciful. It’s a vestigial word that increasingly refers to something that does not actually exist — rather like referring to the mass media as “the press.”

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Want to See Starz on Netflix? You’ve Got Until February

So much for Starz movies on Netflix. Negotiations between the two companies have fallen through, and Starz has announced that it’ll stop providing movies for Netflix’s streaming catalog on February 28, 2012.

Netflix had paid an estimated $30 million for Starz content in 2008, which in hindsight was a steal. Three years ago, Netflix had just started appearing on set-top boxes like the Xbox 360, and Hulu was still getting off the ground. To renew the deal with Starz, Netflix had earmarked $250 million, according to the AP.

UPDATE: Here’s a story by the L.A. Times’ Ben Fritz that says Netflix offered $300 million, but Starz wanted tiered pricing, which would charge subscribers a premium to view its content. Interesting, but not surprising, that Netflix didn’t want to go that route.

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Zediva’s Streaming Video Loophole Closed By Judge

If you’ve been waiting for an invite to Zediva’s cut-rate streaming video service, it might be time to give up. A federal judge has granted a preliminary injunction against Zediva on grounds of copyright infringement, which should lead to the site’s closure in about one week, CNet’s Greg Sandoval reports.

Zediva launched out of beta last March, with streaming rentals of new releases for $2 per night, or $10 for a 10-pack. It offered new movies before they became available through Netflix and Redbox, and didn’t pay a dime to movie studios. The trick was to let each individual user rent an entire DVD player, along with the disc inside, remotely over the Internet. Zediva argued that it was just like a brick-and-mortar rental store, but with a different delivery method.

Not surprisingly, movie studios disagreed. The Motion Picture Association of America sued Zediva and argued that the service’s rentals were actually performances, entitling studios to licensing fees. U.S. District Judge John Walter concurred, and has given Zediva and the MPAA a week to work out the wording of an injunction.

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Google Music and Movies: Your Questions Answered

That little green robot must be struggling to catch his breath.

In addition to unveiling two significant updates to its Android operating system on Tuesday — Android 3.1 and the next-generation Android Ice Cream Sandwich — Google took the wraps off its long-discussed Google Music service and launched a new movie service for Android, too. It was all part of Google’s annual I/O conference for developers, taking place this week in San Francisco.

So what are Google’s new music and movie services all about, and how will they work for you? Here are answers to all your burning questions.

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mSpot Movies Wants to Undercut Netflix

Netflix may be an unstoppable force in the streaming video business, but it’s not without weaknesses. The service’s selection of on-demand movies doesn’t compare to its mail-order DVD catalog, and if you want new releases, you’ll have to look elsewhere.

That’s why services like mSpot Movies are trying to get a piece of the action. Although mSpot Movies isn’t new, the service is now slashing prices in hopes of landing on consumers’ radars.

mSpot rents standalone streaming movies for the same $3.99 as other on-demand services, but the main draw is a “club” package that charges a flat rate per month in exchange for credits, which can be redeemed for on demand movies. Starting at $5 per month for 20 credits, good for up to four movies, the basic service is now half as expensive as it used to be. There’s also an $8 option for 40 credits, and a $16 option for 80 credits. Throw in the promise of new and recent releases, and mSpot seems like a decent deal.

But there are caveats.

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The Movie Studios Think Zediva is Illegal. Shocking!

Last month, Jared wrote about Zediva, an online movie rental service with an absurd technological approach: Its founders have banks of DVD players and stream individual DVDs across the net at $1 a pop–including movies that are out on DVD but not otherwise available in any even theoretically legal form.

Shortly after Zediva launched, it discovered it hadn’t built enough infrastructure to handle the demand, and stopped accepting new members. Now it has a worse problem: The Motion Picture Association of America is suing the company on behalf of the major studios, saying that it’s illegally distributing movies. Oddly, the MPAA doesn’t appear to agree with Zediva’s “Hey, we’re just renting a DVD, like Blockbuster–we just happen to be doing it over the Internet!” theory.

I suspect that Zediva’s improbable technological approach would have done the company in sooner or later no matter what. But with the studios ganging up against it, now I’m wondering whether it’ll ever get fully up and running in the first place.



Zediva’s Fast Failure

On Wednesday, Jared wrote about Zediva, a new movie-streaming service that offers new releases for cheap–by streaming them onto the Internet from banks of DVD players, without the permission or cooperation of the companies that own the content. He was worried it could turn out to be “another workaround that doesn’t quite work.”

Bingo! Or at least that’s the way it looks at the moment. The site went down, due to technical glitches that the company’s Twitter feed appears to blame at least in part on a mention on the Yahoo home page. (Being reviewed–pretty favorably–by David Pogue in his New York Times column probably didn’t help, either.) Then it came back up, but with a note explaining that the best prospective new members could do was to join a waitlist.

Now, some of my favorite Web sites and services have been crushed by unexpected demand upon launch. It’s practically a rite of passage. (Many come back up swiftly, and work just fine from then on–which always leaves me wondering, why couldn’t their proprietors provide sufficient infrastructure in the first place?) So it’s possible that Zediva will bounce back.

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Zediva: Streaming New Movies for Cheap Through a Sneaky Workaround

Movie studios are skittish about giving their new releases to bargain rental services like Netflix and Redbox, but that’s not a concern for streaming video startup Zediva.

The service, which moves out of beta today, streams new movie releases for $2 a piece — half the price of new releases from iTunes, Amazon, Vudu and Blockbuster On Demand. You can also purchase a 10-pack of rentals for $10 total.

Zediva shaves down its pricing by cutting movie studios out of the equation. Instead of negotiating streaming rights, the company buys up DVDs at retail and uses place-shifting technology to stream the video out of a Silicon Valley data center. Think Slingbox on a massive scale, but with DVD players instead of cable boxes. (I got a mental image of some guy running around, swapping out all the discs, but Zediva assures me that it uses a carousel mechanism to change movies.)

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Warner Bros. Stuffs Movies Into iPad/iPhone Apps (Or, the Fanciest DRM Ever)

In a world of Netflix, Redbox and cheap iTunes rentals, Warner Bros. has hatched a new plan to entice you to purchase more movies.

The studio is now selling movies as standalone iOS apps, starting with Inception and The Dark Knight. Both apps are free to download, with the actual movies available as in-app purchases. Buying the film unlocks streaming and downloadable versions, along with bonus features such as games, trivia and soundboards. While watching, you can also send and view status updates on Facebook and Twitter.

If you’re keen on the idea of buying a movie once and owning it for all of your devices, Warner Bros.’ apps are not for you. The in-app movie is completely separate from iTunes (and for Inception, $2 more expensive, at $12 for the full movie), so you’re forever bound to an iPhone or iPad. At least with iTunes, you can watch the movie on a computer or Apple TV.

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