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NYTimes: iTunes Revs Up Its Film Section

NYTimes: iTunes Revs Up Its Film Section

For The New York Times, David Halbfinger reports on iTunes’ current strategies to step up its competition in the online film arena. This is centered around the November 20 iTunes exclusive debut of Ed Burns’ Purple Violets. Purple Violets will be the first feature film to bypass a theatrical or video release prior to iTunes. Will it work? How will it affect the eventual DVD release? (From the article: Mr. Burns’s producing partner, Aaron Lubin, said that video distributors had offered lower-than-expected advance payments for the film’s DVD rights out of fear that its availability on iTunes would cannibalize home-video sales.) One other potential problem is the fact that Burns’ film, while fine on its own, probably isn’t the kind of “blockbuster” release that is going to impress the masses or the film industry.

After the huge success of Wes Anderson’s recent iTunes-only short, Hotel Chevalier, it seems as though short-form filmmaking will be the immediate benefactor. Granted, Anderson’s Darjeeling Limited prelude was offered free-of-charge, but this article chats with other filmmakers who have experienced some benefits through iTunes:

The littlest guys — makers of short films — are singing the praises of iTunes. Apple began selling shorts nominated for the Academy Awards last year, and it distributed about half of the Sundance Film Festival shorts this year (all at $1.99, the same price as a television episode; features sell for $9.99 to $14.99). A result has been a seismic shift in what it means to be a maker of short films, several directors said.

“It was so cool to actually get people to see something I directed,” said Rob Pearlstein, director of the Oscar-nominated short “Our Time Is Up,” who said he had previously gotten only as far as development hell. Among the people paying attention are scouts from Hollywood and the Web, said Ari Sandel, whose musical comedy “West Bank Story” won the Oscar for live-action short this year. “Now that there’s a place to see a short,” he said, “it makes more sense to make a short.

Personally, when I purchase video off iTunes, it’s either TV shows or short films. Though, now that we have a computer wired into our HD TV (for big-screen surfing and web-video watching), maybe I’ll start buying some features.

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