Miramax will begin offering movie rentals via Facebook, following in the footsteps of other major studios, such as Warner Bros. and Universal, which have experimented with streaming their content via the social networking site.
Twenty titles will be available to U.S. users at the launch of Miramax's "eXperience" Facebook app, including Chicago, Good Will Hunting, Clerks, Could Mountain, and Gangs of New York, with a more limited selection accessible to users in the UK and Turkey.
Renting a Miramax movie costs 30 Facebook credits (approximately $2.99), which is on par with what other studios have charged to rent their films on Facebook. By comparison, users can buy Chicago, Good Will Hunting, and Clerks for $4.99 on Apple's iTunes store, though the titles are not available for rent.
Miramax's Facebook films can be viewed on PCs, iPads or Google TV and users have 48 hours to finish the movie once they've started it, though they can begin watching the film up to 30 days after it has been purchased. (See screenshots of the movie rental service below).
Paid Content describes Miramax's new Facebook-based video streaming service as the " largest-scale Facebook streaming movie venture yet." Indeed, Universal has made only a single film, The Big Lebowski, available for rent on Facebook, while Warner Bros. has rolled out rentals for fewer than ten movies.
Miramax CEO Michael Lang noted in a blog post that the company will be refining, improving and expanding access the app, which was built in eight weeks. He also wrote that Miramax has ambitions to launch its own movie "locker," based in the cloud, that would let users access films from a variety of devices.
"In addition, you’ll notice we launched the App first with just rental VOD — but our ultimate goal is to give consumers the opportunity to buy films and store them in their own cloud-based digital locker — to then access the content anywhere they want, across ALL devices," Lang wrote. "Yes, that’s right — any PC, smartphone, tablet or TV, whether at home, on the go, on vacation, etc."
As DVD rentals and sales decline, Miramax's move to Facebook underscores the studio's hunt for new sources of revenue, beyond what it has earned from licensing deals with companies like Netflix and Apple, both of which have been successful in monetizing content from third-party creators.
"We are big believers in Facebook and what it could mean for the future of the content business," Lang wrote.