Cineplex to offer Canadians new movie download service

cineplex galaxyCineplex, Canada’s cinema titan, is expanding its horizons – and stepping on Netflix’s toes.

Cineplex Galaxy is launching a new digital service that will enable consumers to download movies from its website directly to their PC or Xbox.

This adds competition to a Canada market currently limited to Netflix and Apple’s iTunes movie rental database, in addition to a few less-than-appealing services from Rogers and Bell. Quoth The Globe and Mail:

Cineplex’s new offering works on a different model from Netflix – instead of movies that play online, Cineplex functions like iTunes. It sells movies, which are downloaded and stored permanently on the user’s computer. Rented movies are also downloaded, with a sort of digital self-destruct built into the file once it is viewed, or after 30 days, whichever comes first.

The Toronto-based company, with theatres across Canada, is counting on its existing brand presence to push the new online business. Alongside the Coke ads and Coming Attractions in theatres, Cineplex audiences can soon expect to see ads promoting the downloading store.

“We really do touch the customer first in the movie sales cycle, either online when they’re buying tickets, or in our theatres. So we think it’s a logical extension of our brand,” said Cineplex spokeswoman Pat Marshall. Cineplex has sold DVDs and Blu-Rays on its website since for two years.

These new digital movies will rent for $5 (new releases) and $4 (rest of catalogue). They will sell for $20 (new movie)s and $10 (older titles). Digital movies will available on the same day DVDs are released.

What’s unfortunate about the Cineplex service is its restriction to downloading movies only from PCs and Xbox, but the company is “planning an upgrade to the system next year to spread the content across a wider variety of devices from different manufacturers,” according to The Globe.

What’s neat is that films will be stored online in a cloud, so viewers will be able to access them from any screen, such as a laptop or tablet. 

From 2005 to 2009, the Canadian movie industry box-office grew by just under 22 percent. Forecasts for the compound annual growth rate for video downloads from 2010 to 2014 is pegged and more than 86 percent.