Burbank (CA) – Following up on its plan to offer direct-download video service to European customers, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment today announced a deal to make a handful of popular movie titles available on a download-to-own basis, for Dutch customers in the Netherlands and Belgium, through the Free Record Shop Web site. Included in the lineup that otherwise includes recent favorites and classics, is one first-run release, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, which will be released at midnight on 4 April – the same moment the Dutch edition becomes available on DVD.
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. told TG Daily this afternoon that downloads will be offered in two tiers, with Harry Potter belonging in the upper tier. Customers will be charged €14.99 (about $18) or €9.99 ($12.00) for “nearly 100” titles, the list of which will also include Ocean’s Twelve, Constantine, titles in the Matrix trilogy, and Lethal Weapon 4, most likely in the upper tier. So-called “catalog” titles, including Casablanca, Doctor Zhivago, and Gone with the Wind, will likely comprise the lower tier.
But the price charged customers will be per download – in effect, per image of the movie generated – rather than per title, Warner’s spokesperson told us. So portable media player devices and PCs using Microsoft’s brand of DRM software will be able to play downloaded images, though movie images cannot be transferred between devices, we were told. It would therefore appear that customers would not be able to burn these images to a DVD-R. Warner’s spokesperson said the Dutch-speaking market enables the customer to test innovative services such as direct-download, prior to their possible rollout in larger markets across the globe.