Even as the writers' strike drags on, the hypothetical value of digital movie downloads continues to enthrall tech executives who probably haven't been to the cinema since the last Matrix movie. This week, at the annual MacWorld conference, Steve Jobs and Apple announced the supposed breakthrough of now renting movies via iTunes. But only from an initial inventory of 1,000 titles? That?s equivalent to maybe one aisle at Scarecrow, which has around 70,000 titles to rent. And another thing? Lawrence of Arabia will look pretty silly on your iPod.
Then, closer to home, a division of Amazon.com just bought Withoutabox.com, a specialized site designed to connect indie filmmakers with festivals (like SIFF) or simply distribute orphan films that can't find a deal elsewhere. Here's the official announcement. The deal is interesting because the small, boutique site will now serve the interests of the Internet Movie Database (or IMDb), whose treasure-trove of movie arcana helps steer customers to Amazon. So in addition to buying DVDs, movie-related books and music, and digital content from Unbox, fringier stuff from Withoutabox will also be available for purchase. All of which should help Amazon's already rising share price--and make Jeff Bezos that much richer.
Of course it remains to be seen, as some local writers on strike have told us, whether they share in that wealth.