It has been well documented in the US that one thing movie studios have been demanding in new rental contracts is a time delay between films being released for sale and being made available for renting, based on the frankly bizarre theory that if they stop us being able to rent a film for a few months we will all go and buy a copy instead, thus making them more profit.
It was always my suspicion that such a demand was behind the long impasse that prevented Universal films being available on LOVEFiLM for the last couple of years, although I have no actual evidence to support this.
That impasse was recently resolved, and at much the same time some films started appearing on LOVEFiLM with a statement at the top that reads:
The studio have licensed us to make this title available to rent on the release date below.
When that message appears the rental release date is normally shown as roughly two months after the sale release date – in other words just the sort of delay the studios have been demanding.
That doesn’t bother me too much though, because you can normally reserve a film as soon as it is listed and it will be sent to you once it is released for rental, but it has been noticeable that at least some films displaying that message cannot be reserved.
I was interested therefore when I noticed the @LOVEFiLM twitter account replying to a query about why such a film couldn’t be reserved as follows:
@sunshine_sarah6 The studio have licensed us to rent this title from the 08 Feb 2013. You'll be able to add this to your list on this date.
— LOVEFiLM (@LOVEFiLM) September 4, 2012
so I replied, asking why the fact that it wasn’t released yet should affect the ability to reserve it:
— Tom Hughes (@thughes) September 4, 2012
in return I got this rather surprising response:
@thughes This will be down to the license we have with the studios, sorry for any disappointment this may cause.
— LOVEFiLM (@LOVEFiLM) September 5, 2012
So it seems that the studios now want to control not only when we can rent a film, but when we should be allowed to add it to our queue of things we would like to see… Presumably they they think that the more annoying they can make the process of renting a film, the more likely we are to buy it instead.
I guess what we need now is an external site that runs a pre-reservation list and tracks what we would like to be able to reserve but can’t, so that it can notify us when they become available for reservation in the normal way…