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Thursday, 20 January, 2000, 12:09 GMT
Movies on the web
Going online?: A scene from Bond film The World Is Not Enough
Hollywood studio MGM has teamed up with video rental chain Blockbuster to allow customers to download its films from the internet.

The agreement allows viewers to access selected films on Blockbuster's site for a fee at the same time as they are available to rent on video or DVD.

MGM's films include the James Bond franchise while other productions include The Thomas Crown Affair and Tea With Mussolini. Its archive includes films such as the Pink Panther series.

Video chains are trying to keep up with technology
Industry magazine Daily Variety reports the system should be up and running in the US by the end of 2000.

The deal will mean that as high-speed internet connections become more widespread, film fans will be able to stay at home and download films rather than venturing out to rental chains such as Blockbuster.

To protect their businesses, video chains are competing to develop their own video-on-demand and e-commerce systems.

Other studios are expected to announce similar deals, while Time Warner - which announced its merger with internet giant AOL last week - is developing its own service.

Studios benefit from these deals as they no longer have to pay to produce cassettes and discs themselves, and nor will they have to work out what to do with warehouses full of unwanted tapes when demand falls.

MGM Home Entertainment president David Bishop said the studio was "excited to be at the forefront of technology" while Blockbuster chief executive John Antioco called it "an exciting announcement for movie lovers".

See also:

19 Dec 99 | Tom Brook
Year of living digitally
10 Jan 00 | Business
The AOL - Time Warner merger
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