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Warner Bros. movie apps. Is this the future of movie distribution?

Warner Bros today announced a couple of iPhone/iPad apps featuring two of my personal favorite movies in recent years.  The Dark Knight and Inception.  The apps purport to offer a more comprehensive movie experience than is possible on other platforms such as DVD or Blu-ray, including interactive games, exclusive soundtracks, trivia and other related content.

Each app relates to one movie and is available as a free download, although many of the features (including the full length movie) need to be unlocked through a $9.99 purchase.  I tested the Dark Knight app this evening and went through some of the freebies.  The experience was mixed with some interesting and reasonably immersive elements, including a fun trivia game with clips from the movie.  The app is not without a few glitches including reports of jittery streaming, although I did not experience this personally.

It’s frustrating to have purchased the Dark Knight on physical media and have to shell out another ten bucks to get the most out of the app.  A slightly lower price point might be more palatable, or at least a way of providing a discount to those who purchased the movie on DVD/Blu-ray.  I would also prefer not to have a single app per movie – my iPhone is already cluttered up with icons.

This isn’t going to work with every movie.  There’s a certain fanboy-ishness about this, as Warner seems to have tacitly acknowledged with the selection of the initial two movies, The Dark Knight and Inception. Furthermore, the appeal may not be universal given that this kind of thing lends itself more to the type of movie fan who just can’t get enough of a movie.  For example, I don’t see the King’s Speech having the same appeal as an app.

So, is this the way of the future?  Well, it’s hard to say.  While I applaud the effort of the studios in giving us yet another way to consume digital content, a lot of what is here could be done with a Blu-ray disc.  It would also be nice to be able to transfer a purchased movie to another device e.g. my computer or AppleTV to watch on the big screen.  In short, the argument needs to be much more compelling before I give up my current preference of DVD/Blu-ray/Digital Copy combo packs.

It’s an interesting experiment.  Expect to see more innovations as the studios look into different distribution models as well as opportunities to increase revenue potential from movie releases.

Sundance Online Shorts – Best of the Current Crop

As posted a couple of days ago, selected Sundance 2011 shorts are available to view for free via The Screening Room Youtube Channel.  Part of me wishes that Sundance and YouTube would repeat last year’s experiment in which a small selection of full length movies were made available to rent online for a very reasonable $3.99.  Alas, as reported by the NYTimes, the experiment was a financial failure yielding only $10,709.16 in revenue for YouTube.  Not exactly earth shattering numbers by any measure.  Perhaps making the movies available on devices such as Apple TV or Roku players would have been more successful.  After all, who wants to watch a full length movie hunched over a computer desk on a cramped laptop screen whilst a 50-inch flatscreen lies dormant in the living room?  I digress… back to this year’s shorts.

“Skateistan:To Live and Skate Kabul” is my personal pick of those currently offered, and while it’s nine minute length does not permit a deeper exploration of some of the underlying issues concerning the lives of those featured, the material is nonetheless engaging.  It takes talent to produce a documentary short as effective as this. There is a compelling narrative here as well as some effective camera work and judicious editing. Director Orlando von Einsiedel receives my applause for his efforts.

What do YOU think think?

Watch Sundance Shorts in the Comfort of your own, erm, laptop

8-BitsThe Sundance Film Festival gets underway today and a selection of short movies have been posted online via The Screening Room Youtube Channel.  Check them out!

Moviewallas will cover these and other festival news in our next episode.

Techwalla’s pick is ‘8-Bits’.  A must see for any tech fan.

Welcome to the New!

We are very pleased to introduce the new  The old site is still available here and, for now, is still the home of the original Podcast RSS feed, although we strongly recommend that you use the feedburner link or go through iTunes to ensure uninterrupted service.

So why the change?  Well, firstly the old site was produced using Apple’s iWeb which is a great way to start a Podcast, but it permits very little in the way of user interaction.  In today’s world of Web 2.0 and social media we were getting feedback that users wanted to get more interactive with us, so switching to the new format allows for comments and discussion as well as being able to ‘Like’ or ‘Tweet’ stuff on the site.  Secondly, we wanted to be able to expand our content offerings beyond the weekly Podcast to include movie news, gossip and even the occasional opinion piece.  Watch this space and let us know what you want to see on the site!

Other changes that you may note, include the new pop-up audio player so that you can listen to the show while surfing other sites and a sortable list of past review scores so that you can find out if a movie you love has been reviewed on Moviewallas as well as how your favorite Moviewalla scored it.

Keep posted for more updates!