Self-Destructing DVDS About to Reach a Wider Audience

Discussion in 'Current Events' started by MacNut, Nov 13, 2004.

  1. MacNut macrumors Core


    Jan 4, 2002
    Self-Destructing DVDS About to Reach a Wider Audience

    LOS ANGELES (Nov. 13) - The Christmas-themed movie "Noel" most likely won't be coming to a theater near you - but if you miss it on cable, there's always the self-destructing DVD.

    The movie's producers hope its "trimultaneous" roll out this month, which starts this weekend with a theater release in just five major cities, will prove the public is willing to "rent" movies that must be tossed in the trash after just a viewing or two.

    Disposable DVDs look and play like normal DVDs, except that their playable surface is dark red.

    Each disc contains a chemical time-bomb that begins ticking once it's exposed to air. Typically, after 48 hours, the disc turns darker, becoming so opaque that a DVD player's laser can no longer can read it. (Discs can live as little as one hour or as long as 60 hours.)

    The format has been around for a few years but hasn't generated much interest from movie studios, video rental companies - or customers - despite experiments to deliver movies direct to consumers and eliminate late fees.

    Enter "Noel," an emotional Christmas story starring Susan Sarandon, Penelope Cruz and Robin Williams. The independent film was shown at this year's Toronto Film Festival but didn't attract interest from mainstream distribution companies.

    So the Atlanta-based Convex Group bought distribution rights and is releasing the film on a few dozen screens. Then, starting mid-month, the movie will be available in the disposable EZ-D format for $4.99 on On cable, it will air once, on TNT, during Thanksgiving weekend.

    Convex owns more than 100 media patents and holds exclusive distribution rights to CD-ROMS that fit into the lids of soft drink cups. The company also owns Flexplay Technologies Inc., the company behind the disposable EZ-D.

    The technology's backers see it as an alternative for video rental stores and Netflix-type mail-based subscription services. After the movie is watched, the consumer tosses it into the trash, eliminating late fees and the cost of return mail - but creating a potentially large new source of trash.

    The potential to add to landfills may be the least of reasons disposable DVDs have so far been a dud.

    The discs can be illegally copied and pirated, just like regular DVDs. And while they are made of recyclable plastic, consumers would have to mail them to a special center for processing.

    Blockbuster Inc. hasn't embraced disposable DVDs because it says it does not want to confuse its customers. Instead, the company has adopted a Netflix-like subscription approach to video rentals.

    "We really don't see the idea going anywhere, ultimately," Blockbuster spokesman Randy Hargrove said of disposable DVDs.

    That's bad news for Convex, which bought Flexplay last month. Flexplay had provided discs to The Walt Disney Co., which has experimented with the format for the past year in eight test markets.

    Disney has released a number of films on the discs, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" and "Bridget Jones's Diary." The movies are sold in unconventional outlets, such as convenience stores, and are generally made available weeks after they first appear on DVD.

    For films with less backing, disposable DVDs may be an option.

    "Noel" director Chazz Palminteri hopes Convex's unique marketing approach will generate a buzz, calling it "really the only way you can compete with the Christmas movies that have $30 million budgets."

    While the novelty of a fading DVD may attract some buyers, Convex chief executive Jeff Arnold said it won't take off without studios releasing films in the format.

    "People aren't enamored of technology. They are enamored of content," he said.

    But Convex ran into a wall of opposition from the major theater chains, none of which wanted to show a movie that would also appear on television and be sold on DVD at the same time.

    The average studio release is in theaters for five months before it is released on DVD, according to the National Association of Theater Owners. So Convex will be showing "Noel" at smaller theaters in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Atlanta and Chicago.

    Ironically, Regal Entertainment Group theaters, which refused to show the film, will be promoting the movie on soda cups and on mini-DVDs called "Lidrocks" embedded in soda caps. Regal has a deal with Convex to use its Lidrocks product.

    Studios haven't given up trying alternative routes to get DVDs into the hands of consumers more quickly.

    Some studios release DVDs, even of hit blockbuster films, after less than four months in theaters. Five studios operate an Internet-based service called "Movielink," which lets consumers download films, usually after they have appeared in video rental stores.

    McDonald's has even installed DVD vending machines in more than 100 Denver-area restaurants, where they rent for $1 per night with a credit card.

    But studios have little interest in the kind of near-simultaneous releases being used for "Noel."

    "I just don't see a lot of studios rushing to do it," said Tom Adams of Adams Media Research.
  2. rickvanr macrumors 68040


    Apr 10, 2002
    sounds kinda dumb to me... plus is you can still copy them...

    I'm not a treehumper, but, honestly, do we really need to create more garbage? Even tho they are made from recylced plastic or whatever, not everyone is going to re-recycle them
  3. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Feb 14, 2004
    Didn't they try this years ago with the Divx (no relation to the codec) videodisc system? The idea didn't work then, either.

    And purely on principle, I hate the idea. If I want to see a movie once, I'll rent it and return it. I don't need to make more garbage.

    And if people are really so lazy that they can't be bothered to return a DVD, then for God's sake, just order the movie on pay-per-view, Tivo the damn thing and then erase it!
  4. spinner macrumors regular

    Jan 16, 2002
    South Dakota
    I am not a tree hugger either but it sure seems to me that we are going out of our way more and more ways to create trash. Not only do you throw away the DVD but the packaging as well. After we can't have a DVD that's not in a case and wrapped in plastic.
  5. Macophile macrumors member

    Jul 17, 2002
    Southern California
    Yes, they did try this. No, it didn't work then. In fact, it failed spectacularly.

    But at least with the DivX system you had the option of buying the disc after watching it by paying the difference between the rental price and the purchase price. No such option this time around.

    I don't quite see what the upshot of this is. It can't reduce piracy, because you can still rip the movie off of the fake DVD if that's what you want to do. It can't possibly be any cheaper to produce and press the fake DVDs than real ones, so there's no money to be saved in material costs.

    The only reason I can think for them doing this is because they can. They have a technology that solves a problem which hasn't been discovered yet.
  6. mcarnes macrumors 68000


    Mar 14, 2004
    USA! USA!
    What a stupid idea. Figures Disney would support it.
  7. iAlan macrumors 65816


    Dec 11, 2002
    Location: Location:
    If that is a typo, it is the best I have seen in a while, if not, great terminology!!

    there is nothng wrong with developing new distribution options, but I think the idea of a disposable DVD is a waste of resources. Also, I often rent a DVD for a week and like to watcg the features or cool scenes a the next day (or so) I wouldn't be able to do that witha Mission Impossible style this-disk-will-self-distruct-in-5-seconds DVD!
  8. homerjward macrumors 68030


    May 11, 2004
    fig tree
    it said 1 to 60 hours. wtf are you supposed to do with a 2-3 hour dvd that breaks after an hour?
  9. XnavxeMiyyep macrumors 65816


    Mar 27, 2003
    Uhhh.... why exactly would they do this? It's the same as renting, but instead of getting the DVD back at the end, it's destroyed, causing them to have to make another one. What a waste.
  10. OldManJimbo macrumors 6502


    Jun 1, 2004
    California Coast
    Maybe not -

    Very counter to most conventional wisdom -

    Creates more trash.
    Forces consumers into a certain time slot.
    Increased cost.

    I personally think it's a bad inda - BUT, there have been so many other ideas that sounded stupid at the start yet, are now part of life:

    Personal Computers

    I can't see HOW this one is going to grab hold, but there's a chance we'll all be looking back in 5 years wondering what we ever did before disposal discs.
  11. MoparShaha macrumors 68000


    May 15, 2003
    San Francisco
    I hate this idea. I find it offensive. It costs the same, if not more, to produce these discs than a regular DVD. The industry is basically saying they'd rather have my DVD self destruct than let me keep it. It's absurd. I know it's cheaper than buying a "full retail" DVD, but in the end, the product is the same, and the industry is just screwing the customer with these self-destructing discs.
  12. broken_keyboard macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2004
    Secret Moon base
    I like the idea. It would be very convinient not to have to take the movie back. Of course what would be even more convinient would be being able to stream it over the Internet. Select the movie in iTunes and then watch it on your TV through your Airport Express 2 which has a TV as well as stereo connector.
  13. pooky macrumors 6502

    Jun 2, 2003
    Ugh, just what we need, more trash.

    I can just see it now. Blockbuster declares bankruptcy after huge losses from customers confusing normal dvds with the disposable kind, and throwing them in the bin after watching them.
  14. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

    Jul 4, 2004
    Which is where 80% of movies should be in the first place, especially Gigli.

    Oh, and Ishtar too.
  15. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    Yeah, this just sounds like a pointless addition to our landfills.

  16. wdlove macrumors P6


    Oct 20, 2002
    I don't like the idea at all. 48 hours go by very quickly. This doesn't really allow for a second viewing. In this case would probably want to see it again next Christmas. Seems like another money making scheme. :(
  17. chanoc macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2003
    Anchorage, Alaska USA
    I think this will increase illegal copying. For the record: I ripped "Day After Tomorrow" in 24 hours using HandBrake on my iBook. :p

    Bring it on movie industry, bust down my door and meet my AR-15. :eek:
    <joking />
  18. sushi Moderator emeritus


    Jul 19, 2002
    I'm sorry, but I don't get it.

    All I see is that we are creating more trash for very little benefit.

    I must be missing something...but what I have no idea.

    Now DL'ing movies once the infrastructure is in place makes sense to me.

  19. FelixDerKater macrumors 68000


    Apr 12, 2002
    Blockbuster would never sign on because they would lose the late fees that they like to charge.
  20. Makosuke macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2001
    The Cool Part of CA, USA
    This is an even dumber idea than the original Divx (not the codec, the stupid self-destruct DVD format), except instead of at least being able to keep your $5 "rental", and pay again to watch it later if you feel like it, it'll make darned sure you'll never play it again 2 days after you open the package.

    Yeah, consumers love buying things that self destruct.

    The really cruel part of this is that they could just sell REGULAR DVDS for the same price or a couple bucks more, the same way K-Mart sells cheapie CD collections or Holiday classics CDs for $5 in the bargin bin. It'd cost them less to produce the discs, and even though it'd increase the market for the movie used, how many people are really going to bother selling or giving their $5 movie to a friend if it's any good at all.

    After all, the ONLY advantage of this system to them financially is that it kills the used resale market and maybe forces people to buy it again if they want to see it again. Like either of those things are going to be likely for a $5 movie.

    So stupid, it hurts.

    (Oh, yes, and I almost forgot: Unlike a rental place, if there's any ongoing desire to see the movie the'll have to continually refresh stock, since it'll keep selling out.)
  21. zim macrumors 65816


    Jan 5, 2002
    Stupid idea.

    1. I do feel that it will drive people to piracy. Why pay full price for a retail DVD when you can buy this throw away and rip it to your computer.

    2. The rental market will soon start feeling the effects of on demand. The concept of direct tv is that you can watch it anytime during the companies allowed time limit, plus it is less expensive.

    3. The last thing that I want to see is more waste products.

    4. Stupid idea.

    I know that somewhere there might be a person who likes this concept. I for one do not and would not buy into it. As is, I only buy retail DVDs if I loved the movie and for rentals, I only rent from comcast on demand.
  22. tristan macrumors 6502a

    Jul 19, 2003
    high-rise in beautiful bethesda
    $5 rental? Puh-leez. With netflix, my average DVD rental cost is about $2-3, depending upon how quickly I watch them.

    This is a technology in search of a market.
  23. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    VOD (video on demand) has been "the next big thing" sense at least '98. I know someday VOD will stop misfiring but lord knows when that will be.

  24. coolsoldier macrumors 6502

    Jan 7, 2003
    The 909
    A few people have pointed this out already, but just for clarity:

    These discs are actually MORE expensive to make than regular DVDs. From a business perspective, what's the point of creating a product that increases your cost while decreasing the value of the product. If they can sell a regular DVD for $10 or sell a disposable disc that costs MORE to produce for $5, why would any company (keeping in mind that producers usually get royalties from rentals and pay-per-view) make disposable DVDs?

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