iTunes' $10 movie

There’ve been a couple of reports that Apple wants to start selling feature length movies on iTunes for (US) $9.99. And that Hollywood is resisting the idea to have a flat rate. Let's disregard the problem of how this whole thing is tied to iTunes, which should only be used for music.

(As a side note, it would be ideal if buying an online film through iTunes was independent of file quality, but I’m certain that won’t be the case. I’d expect 640 by 480 resolution at most due to file size problems, but I also expect they’ll want us to pay up again when the resolutions are eventually bumped up to HD. That’d be getting something for nothing, otherwise, and there’s no business sense in that, unfortunately.)

Having been a somewhat avid DVD buyer for a few years (I’ve since — mostly — given up, as the number of movies I really want to own doesn’t increase very often), I’m totally keen on the idea of a flat rate. As a consumer, it’s incredibly galling to buy a movie for, say $15 only to find it a couple of months later for $10. The feeling is that there’s no real cost involved with selling the product and that the price is set fairly arbitrarily.

The biggest attraction to owning a DVD is that the huge volume of cinema means that if you really want to see an obscure title, chances are fairly slim it’ll be in your local video store. You’re literally paying for the privilege of being able to find it again, sometimes. Supplementary attractions to DVD ownership are those interminable special features, which always sound so good at the time but more often than not provide little of interest.

We buy movies to watch them. But we also pay money to see movies at the cinema for a flat rate. Not even a different charge (with the small exception of gold class cinemas) for different sized screens or for comfier seats or for movies that have been playing for weeks. So sure, charge more online for extra special features or what have you. But if I just want to watch a film, it’s obnoxious or greedy or both to make the consumer pay more depending on when they want to buy. The new release blockbusters will make up the profits on volume, anyway.