How does one buy films these days?

We were watching a quiz show Jen likes, before going to bed last night, and there was a question about the nationality of Victor Frankenstein (born in Naples, described himself as Genevese and built his monster in 1790s Ingolstadt, in Bavaria, since you asked) and I realised that, shamefully, I don’t own a copy of Hammer’s The Curse of Frankenstein (1957).

We’ve been digitising our DVDs (so that we don’t have to devote quite so much shelf space to plastic boxes containing media that’s inconvenient to use), so it would be stupid to buy a film on DVD when I only really want a digital video file.

So I googled buy film "The Curse of Frankenstein". And I googled download film "The Curse of Frankenstein" "buy now". And I looked on Amazon.

Now I don’t know if this film is available digitally anywhere else or not. But the only place I could see to buy it online is iTunes. We can’t play it on iTunes on our TV (which is hooked up to an Ubuntu machine); there is no way of playing films bought from iTunes on Linux (though you can authorise up to five computers to access your iTunes media). If there is anywhere else to buy this film as a digital download, they need to spend a lot of time looking at their SEO; and, whilst Google didn’t mention it at all, Netflix does have the film (and we do pay for Netflix), but not in their UK catalogue. Lovefilm, of course, we can’t use on Linux, and they only carry it as optical media anyway.

I spent substantially longer than my patience would normally allow looking around for this; most users would type, click twice maybe, and give up. I have no way of legally purchasing a copy of this film.

And they wonder why people pirate.

Poster image served directly from Amazon UK, copyright © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. and is used without permission, ostensibly for the purpose of criticism and review under section 30(1) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

3 thoughts on “How does one buy films these days?

  1. I’ve been in this situation many times. It’s very frustrating. Interestingly, I don’t think music suffers so badly – a lot of the barely-known indie bands I was into in the late 70s/early 80s aren’t on current CDs but fan sites normally have the albums for free download – nobody seems interested in stopping them.

    Of course, your problems should vanish once we get to the full cloud scenario. Ahahahahaha.

    • Indeed, music is somewhat more advanced in this process — partly, I’d suggest, because of bandwidth constraints from a decade ago. Napster enabled sharing of music because those files are only a few megabytes; TV shows are a few hundred meg and films are a gig or so — 1990s connectivity precluded sharing files that large, so the film industry has had less time under thread from filesharing, so has invested less time in modernising its business models.

  2. I purchase/consume screen media much less voraciously than either/both of you guys, so I tend to still buy (and usually then rip for convenience) the DVD when there’s something I want like that. It’s cheap (which matters to me) and I don’t run into your storage issues *glances at shelves* or rather, I haven’t yet 😀

    Usually I’ve opted for digital download only when I want something *now*. Having tried Netflix and LoveFilm Instant and found both less-than-satisfactory, that tends to wind up being an iTunes purchase (no problem playing those here. natch) However it’s not my go-to because of the platform lock-in. You’ll laugh, but even though my TV is hooked to a Mac, I view most of my screen content through Plex by choice (lovely front-end, hooks to 4OD etc and librarian-happy-making metadata management). Infuriatingly Plex can’t read purchased video. So I wind up with a secondary/forgotten trove of films in iTunes… probably the video equivalent of having some albums on 8-track which I only play when I’m ion the car.


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