Services launches new site, adds local currencies and adds films to existing model
Gaming marketplace GOG has undergone several changes this year, from announcing an expansion of its practices to compete better with Steam with GOG Galaxy to adding support for Linux games. Today, the company announced that it was extending its business to films, partially as an effort to show how effective the digital rights management-free (DRM) download model is.
Movie could start filming by end of 2014
Director David Fincher is considering Dark Knight and American Hustle star Christian Bale as his "first choice" to lead in Sony's Steve Jobs biopic, says The Wrap. Fincher is alleged to have met with Sony's Amy Pascal recently to discuss the possibility of his directing, but insisted that he would only direct if Bale can play Jobs. Fincher and Pascal previously collaborated on the remake of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Bale reportedly hasn't been approached yet, but mainly because he's said to be taking time off with family after finishing his role as Moses in Ridley Scott's Exodus.
Fight Club director allegedly in talks
David Fincher -- famous for directing movies like Fight Club and The Social Network -- could be put at the helm of the upcoming Sony Steve Jobs biopic written by Aaron Sorkin, writes the Hollywood Reporter. The publication says that Fincher is in talks for the movie, the script for which was finished in January. The movie is expected to revolve around three scenes, lasting about 30 minutes each, set during three Apple product launches.
Supports Chromecast, but currently acts as little more than a catalog
In an odd move, Google has release an iOS app for its Google Play movies and TV offerings, but limited it to streaming already-purchased movies and TV shows. The application also supports the company's Chromecast TV device, finally bringing a way for iPhone users to stream purchased content from the phone to the device -- but does not allow users to purchase or rent content from within the app.
Ashton Kutcher-led film to arrive in August
The first trailer for Joshua Michael Stern's Jobs biopic has debuted online. The movie stars Ashton Kutcher as former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and Josh Gad as co-founder Steve Wozniak. The trailer (below) focuses on scenes of Apple's founding and initial success, but moves into Jobs being fired as CEO, only hinting at his "wilderness" years and later return to Apple.
Archive-based catalog could serve niche audience
Warner Bros has opened up its catalog of historic movies and television shows on a new site for streaming subscribers, rather than more modern shows and theater productions. The Warner Archive Instant offers a selection of vintage films to watch instantly, and expands on the studio's existing Warner Archive store for DVD and Blu-ray discs. Currently, the service is only available in the US.
Existing Disney Movies Online system may be replaced
Disney is shutting down its movie rental service, Disney Movies Online, at the end of the year. The service allowed customers to buy and rent movies from Disney's catalog of films, including those made by Pixar, and also allowed buyers of physical film releases to stream the movies, but appears not to have garnered enough of an audience to make the service viable.
AMC app lets users check rewards, more
A new AMC Theatres iOS app that helps users find movie information, trailers, tickets, and promotions has been launched in the App Store. The free app can display all of the movies that are currently playing at local AMC Theatres, as well provide immediate notice when advance tickets go on sale. Users can also track all of the current AMC offers, store discounts, and watch trailers. Additionally, AMC Stubs members can check their rewards balance, view account information, and track the movies they have seen with the virtual stub feature.
Pirate leaked prerelease cut
US District Judge Margaret Morrow has reportedly ordered a New York resident to serve one year in a federal prison for uploading the 20th Century Fox movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The sentence is particularly stiff for a pirating violation, however the defendant in the case, Gilberto Sanchez, uploaded a version of the film that had yet to finish post-production work.
Free commentary offered for limited time
Fans of bad-movie-riffing comedy as was made popular by Mystery Science Theater 3000 can now enjoy new comedic commentaries on movies both bad and good with the release of RiffPlayer for Mac and Windows. The player automatically syncs purchased MP3 commentaries from the RiffTrax crew to user-purchased DVDs of the movie to be parodied, from major cult blockbusters to obscure public-domain B-movies.
Writer had personal connection to Jobs
Sony is treating Aaron Sorkin its top choice for writing the upcoming Steve Jobs movie, the Los Angeles Times reports. The paper's information is said to come from an anonymous source briefed on the film. Sorkin has allegedly been considering the job, but as of yesterday had not made a decision.
Could signify wider Apple TV sales to match
(Updated with Swedish info) Ten more European Union countries should soon be getting access to the iTunes Music Store, according to a music industry source in touch with Polish newspaper Rzeczpospolita. Only Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic are mentioned by name. Apple though is said to be essentially ready to go with the expansion; a separate source suggests an October launch, which could in theory coincide with the company's October 4th press event or follow sometime thereafter.
Nine new films available each week
Inmoo.com, which has been streaming independent movies and short films on its website since last year, has announced two iOS apps -- Inmoo Free for the iPod Touch and iPhone, and Inmoo HD for the iPad. Both apps, which are free but ad-supported, offer a choice of nine new independent films per week from Inmoo's growing content library. A paid version of the apps (Inmoo Plus) offers access to the entire library, advanced search and filtering as well as a forum.
iPhone app to finally arrive within 'weeks'
Flipboard will begin carrying movies and TV shows in the near future, Reuters reports. The developer's CEO, Mike McCue, says that he will take on the project at the end of 2011. The executive is refusing to comment on which studios have been approached; it is also unclear how the content might be formatted, though by definition the change will suddenly put Flipboard into competition with other iPad video apps such as Netflix and Hulu.
IMDb iOS application updated
Monotype Imaging has released updates for its entire line of FontExplorer X software titles. Among several new features, FontExplorer X Pro 3.1 offers support for OS X Lion including a new full-screen mode. The update also introduces a plug-in for Adobe InCopy CS5.5, as well as new plug-ins for InDesign, Illustrator, and Photoshop. The Windows client also offers plug-ins for the same applications, in addition to an enhanced interface. Finally, Font Explorer X Server 1.6 has gained support for multiple domains, nested groups and the ability to monitor active or open directory groups for user changes.
Recent negotiations stepped up, sources say
Apple is still trying to negotiate for movies and TV shows on iCloud, just a week away from the Internet service's formal announcement, two sources close to the talks are quoted as saying. Even though discussions with Hollywood studios have been in progress for more than a year, Apple has allegedly intensified its efforts in recent weeks. Several stumbling blocks are getting in the way of allowing cloud hosting of movies, the sources note.
Bypasses regional iTunes limitations
Warner Bros. has taken the unusual step of launching "App Editions" of some its movies. The only titles on the App Store so far are Inception and The Dark Knight, but each is a universal app for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, and presents the option of either downloading the movie or streaming it over Wi-Fi or 3G. Included with each app is a collection of DVD-like extras, such as videos, games, music and wallpaper.
Film partly financed by local iPhone carrier
Korean director Park Chan-wook -- most famous for movies like Oldboy and Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance -- has debuted a film shot entirely on the iPhone 4, says the Wall Street Journal. Called Paranmanjang, or Ups and Downs in English, the 30-minute short tells the story of a man who catches a woman's body while fishing. Beyond the actual film, the scouting, auditions and making-of documentary were all shot with an iPhone 4, according to Park.
Estimated to be 475,000 per day, mostly TV
Video rentals from iTunes represent just a tenth or so of those recorded by Netflix, suggests Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall. Apple recently revealed that people are buying or renting about 150,000 movies and 400,000 TV shows through iTunes each day. Assuming that 75 percent of movies and 90 percent of shows are rented, says Marshall, Apple should be serving about 475,000 rentals a day versus Netflix's 5.1 million.
Scales video, photos
Fandango has ported its self-named movie app to the iPad. The title now includes The Pulse, a visual indicator of ticket sales, which can be viewed as a list or on a map. Maps are also used to help locate theaters with showtimes and tickets. Reviews and movie-related tweets can all be accessed on one screen, and trailer, video, photo and interview content should similarly take advantage of the iPad's larger display.
Apple lagging behind on international video
People can now finally buy HD movies at the UK iTunes Store, reports say. Selection is said to be very limited, at present featuring the critically panned Twilight: Eclipse. High-profile titles like Eclipse, which costs £10 in standard definition, are priced at £13 for HD. Discount films are £7 in SD and £8 in HD.
More launches expected soon
Apple has greatly expanded the international reach of the new Apple TV, bringing it to Mexico and Japan, as well as several European countries including Austria, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Some sample prices include a cost of €119 in Italy, and 129 CHF in Switzerland. Both of those regions should now have HD movie rentals via the iTunes Store.
Video lags well behind music, app availability
Apple may be on the verge of making movies officially available in several more European countries, an Italian site claims. Macity notes that the option is, for instance, appearing for some iTunes and Apple TV users in Italy, although only by roundabout means; the option doesn't yet show in the iTunes Store's drop-down menus. A selection of movies is already present, such as Aliens, Avatar and Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief .
ABC, Fox, Netflix sign on as early partners
Apple today exposed a major overhaul of the Apple TV, long the company's neglected "hobby" product. The new set-top is roughly a quarter the size of the original, and all black. It includes HDMI, USB, Ethernet and optical audio connections, as well as 802.11n Wi-Fi. In terms of interface it continues to use a button-based remote, and the firmware resembles earlier versions. Inside, however, there is no longer any option of permanent storage.
Includes mostly lesser-known titles
A new subsection has been introduced to the iTunes Store, offering movies in HD quality for $10 or less. Only 30 titles are currently featured, ranging in price from the $10 mark down to $6 for The Kovak Box. Some movies can alternately be rented in HD, for as much as $4 or at a base level of $2. Where no HD rental option is available, the section simply suggests buying in standard definition.
Storefronts distinguished by local studios
Apple has expanded the French and Irish iTunes storefronts, adding movie sales to them for the first time. Visitors to either can buy and rent movies from major American studios, including Fox, MGM, Paramount, Sony, Universal, Disney and Warner Brothers. Of special interest though may be the regional studios, as Irish shoppers will have access to movies from E1, Optimum and Lionsgate UK, while French shoppers will have access to Pathé, SND and StudioCanal.
Collections focus on themes, unpopular titles
Apple has introduced a special Movie Bundles section to the iTunes Store. Here the company is grouping together two or more movies at a discount, with prices ranging between $10 and $35. Most bundles are concentrated around particular themes, such as the first two Godfather films, or actor Harvey Keitel.
Country lags behind US
Visitors to the Canadian iTunes Store now have access to HD movies, Apple has announced. Titles can be bought for between $15 and $25 CAD, and rented for $5 or $6, depending on a movie's age and popularity. A limited selection is presently available, but does include movies like Inglourious Basterds, American Psycho, Star Trek, Coraline and Iron Man.
Divides content based on quality vs. sales
Apple has posted iTunes Rewind 2009, a section on the iTunes Store drawing attention to the year's bestsellers in apps, music and video, as well material considered genuinely superior by Apple staff. Top sellers at the App Store include titles like Flight Control, Oregon Trail, Textfree Unlimited and MLB.com at Bat. The best-rated apps, conversely, include ones like ReelDirector, SketchBook Mobile and Jamie Oliver's 20 Minute Meals.
Free app, music, video downloads from iTunes
Apple has once again revived its 12 Days of Christmas promotion for the UK iTunes Store. Beginning on December 26th, the company will be offering one free download per day, preselected rather than by chosen by shoppers. Downloads will however come from all categories, including music, apps, movies and TV shows, as well as music videos.
Currently supports handful of movies
Film studio Universal has released a free iPhone application, pocket BLU. The software communicates via Wi-Fi with network-connected Blu-ray players, allowing more advanced control over menus and playback. Users can for instance take advantage of a virtual keyboard, and tilt an Apple handheld into widescreen mode to access a graphical timeline.
Should differ dramatically from current alpha
The first public beta of Boxee will be shown on December 7th, according to its developer. The app is primarily used to stream movies and TV shows to an HDTV, including remote content from sources such as Hulu and Netflix. Music and photos can also be streamed; versions of the app have been produced for the Mac, Windows and the Apple TV.
Apple aims for exclusives, broader selection
Apple has introduced a new Music Movies section to the iTunes Store, further segregating its video. The page highlights all movies with a music-related theme, running from documentaries like Imagine and Woodstock through to straight concert films, and fiction titles like The Blues Brothers. iTunes now also has a larger amount of such content, with material including The Song Remains the Same and U2: Rattle and Hum.
Customers rent movies for $5 each
mSpot has launched its latest mobile service, enabling users to rent full-length movies directly from their iPhone or other handset. Content is streamed directly to the device, eliminating the need to wait for downloads or sync to a computer. The company currently has agreements with Paramount Studios and Universal Studios, although more partners will be added later in the year.
Wireless iTunes video prep
Apple has confirmed intentions to allow direct purchase of iTunes videos from an iPhone, sources close to the company's training programs say. Originally a blogger is said to have discovered the option's existence by accident, though users of the iPhone 3.0 beta can now gain a glimpse through a custom link. Graphics and downloads in the early browser are currently broken.
Hulu desktop app hits
Hulu, jointly operated by NBC, Fox and Disney, has launched a new desktop application meant to simplify streaming the site's video. Mac and Windows versions are available, supporting Front Row and Windows Media Center remotes, respectively; aside from controlling playback the software provides a special tracking display, and a distinct menu for browsing categories and subscriptions. Windows systems require XP, 2GB of RAM and a 1.8GHz Core Duo, while Macs differ by needing a 2GHz Core Duo and at least Mac OS X 10.4.
iTunes Canada gains HD TV
Apple has made significant improvements to its TV offerings at Canada's iTunes Store, beginning with option of HD. Selected episodes are only rendered in 720p, and cost a minimum of $3 each, but may frequently support 5.1-channel sound and will always come with an SD-quality download meant for sync with Apple handhelds. A 2GHz dual-core processor is required, whether for a Mac or a PC.
Movies and TV on iPhone?
Apple may soon allow the iPhone and iPod touch to directly access movies and TV shows from the iTunes Store, a leak suggests. In using an ad-supported version of Twitterfon, one user claims to have encountered a banner promoting not just purchases of videos from iTunes, but also movie rentals. At present the main means of shuttling iTunes video to an Apple handheld is through sync with a Mac or PC; the one exception is podcasts.
iTunes video Genius live
After a brief postponement, Apple has at last enabled Genius video recommendations within iTunes. When browsing personal movie or TV show collections, the Genius Sidebar will now suggest videos to buy from the iTunes Store, based on information uploaded to Apple and compared against the purchases of others. The option can be toggled on and off, in the same manner as Genius for music recommendations.
Boxee video RSS update
Boxee, the developer of its namesake media player front-end, has released a new alpha version of the app with a built-in RSS reader. The software is installed onto Mac and Ubuntu Linux systems as well as Apple TVs, and provides more elaborate support for downloaded media as well as direct web streaming of shows on ABC and CBS. The Boxee RSS reader is optimized for video, and can feed clips from YouTube, Yahoo and several other sources.
WALL-E wins Oscar
Pixar's WALL-E won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony, defeating competition from Bolt and Kung Fu Panda. The movie -- about a robot left on Earth after an environmental apocalypse -- was also nominated for Original Screenplay, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing and Song awards, but lost to movies such as Milk and The Dark Knight. The dominant title at the Oscars was Slumdog Millionaire, which took home Best Picture and Best Director trophies among others.
Stream-only Netflix plans
Netflix will offer a streaming-only subscription option by 2010, according to CEO Reed Hastings. Though the company was founded on the concept of mail-order DVD rental, which still forms the bulk of its business, Hastings notes that "millions" of its 10 million subscribers are taking advantage of streaming through computers or set-top boxes. Microsoft's Xbox 360 is said to be a particularly popular medium, with over 1 million Netflix users.
KavaMovies 1.2 ($35) is a movie database application that allows users to organize the movies they have seen, the ones they want to see and those that are a part of their collection. The application also connects to the internet to obtain extra information about each movie such as actors, directors, genres and more. Version 1.2 includes new import options, and features a new import wizard to step you through finding the right movie for each title. [Download - 3.3MB]
iTunes video streaming?
Apple is preparing an instant streaming option for video at the iTunes Store, a report claims. Said to be named iTunes Replay, the service would be similar in concept to Netflix's "Watch Instantly" option, which allows people to stream material that has already been paid for in a different medium. In the case of Replay, users would be able to watch movies and TV shows that have already been bought in download form.
Netflix streaming for Mac
All Mac owners with a subscription to Netflix should now be able to stream select movies online, the company has announced. Though best known for mail-based DVD rental, Netflix also offers a bonus "Watch Instantly" service, which primarily lets Windows PCs (as well as various set-tops) stream some 12,000 movies and TV shows. To stream movies on a Mac, users must have Mac OS X 10.4.8 or later, 1GB of RAM, and a browser with Microsoft's Silverlight plug-in.
iTunes Store movie sales
Apple has introduced a new discount option in the iTunes Store, found within the Movies section. Joining the company's $0.99 Rental of the Week option, the company is now selling a Movie of the Week for $5, along with nine other movies priced at the same cost per title. The debut Movie of the Week is James Cameron's Terminator 2; some other $5 movies include Total Recall, The Karate Kid and St. Elmo's Fire.
Blockbuster set-top soon
Confirming earlier rumors, Blockbuster has announced plans to build a set-top box that will stream digital movies to TVs. The company's CEO, Jim Keyes, further notes that the the device will be associated with its Movielink rental and purchase service, but has not provided details on costs, capabilities or hardware specifications. A release is expected sometime during the holiday season; also in development is support for Blockbuster streaming through Intel chips inside IPTV hardware.
KavaMovies 1.0 ships
KavaSoft has released KavaMovies 1.0, a program which organizes movies into a single database. The software connects to the Internet to download information about movies, while providing a way to track which titles have already been watched, and which ones the user wants to see. Movies can be browsed by criteria such as actors, genres, keywords, languages or years; similarly, a list of recommended films can be generated.
Pocket Clapper for iPhone
Japan's GClue has unveiled Pocket Clapper, an iPhone/iPod touch app that simulates the clapboards used while filming movies. Users can draw virtual chalk on a blackboard, outlining a scene with production information such as date, time, camera, director, scene, and take, to be used later during movie editing. The app also replicates the clap sound used to align audio and video content that have been recorded on separate devices.
Netflix lowers estimates
Subscriber numbers for Netflix are on a slight decline, the company has announced. The movie rental outfit says that in figures for the third quarter of the year, it recorded only 8.672 million subscribers, below predictions of 8.675 to 8.875 million. Final revenue figures, which will be announced on October 20th, are expected to end up between $343 and $348 million. CFO Barry McCarthy notes that while July subscriber growth was fine, it dropped significantly in August, only to resume growth in September.