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PS3 owners: This cinema is buff!

Sony breaks open the popcorn with MUBI

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Imagine, if you will, the elevator pitch for MUBI:

"Art-house streaming Netflix with forums and user ratings.".

Nice.

That's what you get when you sign up to this new online cinema service. And that's what PS3 owners can get from the Autumn, by way of free downloadable app, "packed to the rafters with acclaimed independent, foreign and classic films to stream on demand". No prices for the streams announced yet by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Or maybe they are planning a subscription gig.

From what it says about itself, MUBI is exponent of long-tail thinking .

Our film library is brimming with visionary films that wouldn’t fill a single cinema in Belgium for a week – not even a day. But if you searched the world (all of it), you might just find an audience of a thousand for these rare cinematic treats. And we don’t think a thousand people should be ignored just because they happen to live in different time zones or far away from Belgian cinemas. If someone needed to make such a precise film, it means that someone, somewhere needs to watch it. More importantly, that someone might be you.

This is a sure fire way of choking off demand until you are sure your servers are ready and your bandwidth is affordable - and of smoothing over the fact it is easier and cheaper to get distribution rights for old, unwatched movies than for Hollywood blockbusters, whose owners have their own dreams for streaming movie glory.

Today MUBI has 1,000 films in its catalogue. It is kicking off the Playstation 3 launch with 300 titles, some of which are mainstream-ish Hollywood.

We have no idea how PS3 owners will take to Audiard or Zeferelli. And neither, we suspect, does Sony. But anything that brings the contents of a Belgian cinema to your house for an hour-and-a-half, or two, has to be a good thing.

MUBI used to call itself "theauteurs.com", which was just so wrong, and it claims Martin Scorsese as a partner. It makes big claims about the quality of its streaming tech, covered by Wired here.

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