CinemaNow, Universal Offer Same-Day Movies

Online movie download service CinemaNow has struck a deal with Universal Pictures to offer The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift the same day the movie is scheduled to hit retailers in DVD format—and CinemaNow customers will be able to burn the movie to standard DVD, with all features and bonus material, for just $9.99.

“Our customers will be the first to experience a major step forward in movies on the Internet: the ability to download a DVD from the comfort of home the same day the DVD becomes available via retail outlets,” said Bruce Eisen, CinemaNow President, in a release. “We remain committed to advancing the Burn to DVD format and Universal Pictures has joined us at the forefront of digital video distribution.”

CinemaNow’s downloadable version of the movie includes the complete DVD content, including menus and bonus features. The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift is the thid installment of the street racing film franchise; as incentive and promotion, CinemaNow is giving away a high-performance customized “drifting car” to buyers Tokyo Drift buyers.

Universal is currently the only studio offering same-day retail and download releases of new movies, and the move is generally seen as a trial balloon to see if allowing same-day online sales hurts revenue from traditional DVD sales, or is a net win for the studios. However, CinemaNow’s DVD-burning capability has been roundly criticized since its introduction in July for deliberately introducing checksum errors to the burned DVDs in an effort to make the burned disks difficult to duplicate or pirate on standard DVD gear. Unfortunately, that means CinemaNow’s DVDs are in violation of DVD specs, and don’t work on all standard DVD players—and there’s no real way to tell if CinemaNow’s burned movies will work on your home entertainment setup until you’ve paid your money and shot your blank. CinemaNow says its DVDs work in “virtually any DVD player; consumers so far don’t seem to be very eager to roll the dice.

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