quote: When a movie goes direct to DVD or TV, it's often Hollywood shorthand for a film so bad it can't get onto the big screen. But today, the DVD release of a new holiday movie starring Penelope Cruz and Susan Sarandon will be part of an experiment that may provide clues about how movies will be distributed in the future.
Nov. 12 marks the release date for producer Howard Rosenman's new independent film "Noel" on about 100 movie-theater screens throughout the country. But around the same time, it also will be available on disposable DVDs sold on Amazon.com. Later, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, "Noel" will air on Time Warner Inc.'s TNT cable channel.
The DVD release comes with a hitch: The $4.99 disc will be coated with a chemical that makes the movie unplayable 48 hours after the package has been opened.
The point of the self-destructing discs? Producers of "Noel" hope they will help whip up preliminary buzz for the film, while preserving sales of a permanent DVD that will be released later.
Walt Disney Co. is using the same technology, known as Flexplay, on a trial basis in certain markets around the country, offering disposable versions of already-released movies for consumers who don't want the hassle of returning a rental DVD.
They've had this idea going around for a while. It won't work, I believe, because people like to watch movies at their leisure, and often get unexpectedly busy.
When DVDs first came out, there was a tivo type option in which the DVD could only be played by hooking the machine into a phone jack so it could contact a service that would check to see if that DVD could still be played.