More to the story: Apple announces new movies available for purchase from all major studios

movies to buy from itunesLess than 24 hours later, we find that there’s more to the new-release movies-on-iTunes story.

Today Apple announced that new movie releases from major film studios are available for purchase on the iTunes Store the same day as their DVD release.

The day before, Jeff Bewkes, the Time Warner chief executive, let slip on a conference call that Warner Brothers studio will now release movies for video-on-demand systems the same day they are released on DVD.

Joining Warner Brothers are 20th Century Fox, The Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment, and First Look Studios.

junoMovies purchased from iTunes cost $14.99, with most library titles at $9.99. They can be viewed on an iPod with video, iPhone, Mac or PC computers, or a widescreen television with Apple TV. New releases now available include “Juno”, “Cloverfield,” and “There Will Be Blood.”

Privately-held CinemaNow and Blockbuster’s Movielink already offer similar services, but new-release movies on iTunes are expected to expand the digital download market.

“Apple will increase awareness of digital downloads and it’s clearly a good thing for the studios who want to offer viable digital alternatives,” Craig Kornblau, president of Universal Studios Home Entertainment, told Reuters. “This is a game changer.”

Of course the Web is now abuzz about what this means. “The obvious loser here is the DVD format,” wrote Wired in a post headlined, “Apple Loves Digital Distribution; Blockbuster, Neflix Aren’t So Sure.” On its Apple 2.0 blog, Fortune wonders if Apple’s Hollywood deal is the “Death of the DVD?”

Not yet. Movies purchased via the Internet represent only 1.2 percent of the $36 billion movie industry market, but that’s expected to grow to 4.2 percent of a projected $40 billion market by the end of 2009, according to industry estimates (via Reuters).

What will push digital downloads is the availability to rent movies via the Web the same day they are available for purchase and rental as physical DVDs. That day isn’t here yet, but it’s coming.

“This is actually a big deal because when they [Apple] were able to get parity [with the music industry on CD release dates] on the music side, they were able to drive music sales,” analyst Shannon Cross of Cross Research told Reuters.

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last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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