Films through the post? How quaint!
They were films without any actual film involved, obviously, as they came on Blu-ray or DVD, but they were what we still call films. Proper films. For those who cared about proper films, Lovefilm was the bees’ knees. Subscribers to the Lovefilm service rented the movies they wanted to see, which were delivered to them by post. They returned the films after they had seen them.
However, Lovefilm’s owner, Amazon — which bought the company in 2011 — has decided to close the service on 31 October 2017. It cites “decreasing demand” as more and more people stream and download films online. Lovefilm had 1.4 million subscribers when Amazon bought it.
Lovefilm’s catalogue contained more than 80,000 titles, including the latest releases as well as the classics. That was a wider selection than those on offer from the streaming services. Distribution rights for home rental and distribution rights for streaming are separately negotiated. This means the library of films available for rental is greater than those available for streaming. Also, the cost of some of the rental packages was low, so the service was both personalised and inexpensive. For film lovers, it’s a loss.
Now, many of those more obscure titles may be nigh on impossible to watch. For those whose broadband means battling with your buffering, or those who rely on closed captioning, the announcement of the closure was a sad day.
However, as Blu-ray and DVD discs offer considerably higher quality of sound and picture than streaming services, the “films through the post” service still has its fans. Rental service Cinema Paradiso offers an alternative for UK subscribers and, at the time of writing, their home page states “we are here for many years to come”.
Fans of obscure Japanese horror flicks for which Netflix has no shelf-room: you can breathe again. Although receiving a film through the post will never, of course, match the whole experience of going to the video shop on a Saturday night and renting out a film there and then.
Then letting your partner know what you’ve chosen on your Nokia 3310.