Update: After a quick, but polite email exchange with Apple customer service, they gave me three free movie rentals. That’s fair enough for me. The value of those three rentals roughly the same as my movie.
I really like Blade Runner. I have it on DVD and I have it on Blu-Ray. I also have a digital copy for my iPad and iPhone. Last night I felt like watching it on Apple TV. It’s something I like doing on a quiet Saturday night. Luckily, Blade Runner is one of those movies that allows for playback off of iCloud. All I have to do is turn on my Apple TV and go to my purchased movies. There it is. Maybe not, at least not in English.
My movie began streaming, and I realized that there were subtitles during the opening sequence. When the movie started, everyone was speaking French. I wondered what was going on for a second, and I tried to restart the movie. It was still in French. I noticed the menu items within the film were, too. All my other movies play in English. My Apple TV is also set to English.
I turned on my computer to check. Because the movie is stored locally on the HDD (I downloaded it in English before it was removed from the iTunes Store), I can watch it on the computer in English. When I go back to Apple TV, it’s French again.
I looked for the movie on the iTunes Store: Blade Runner (The Final Cut). It’s not there. There are three versions: The Director’s Cut, The 30th Anniversary Edition and the theatrical cut. The Final Cut is missing from the US iTunes Store. What I did find at some point was a message telling me that it’s available from the Canadian iTunes Store. That’s when it occurred to me that Apple TV was streaming from the Canadian store because the item was missing from the US store. That sucks. I bought this movie, and I bought Apple TV. Things are expected to work a certain way. I don’t want to have to have my computer on to watch Blade Runner on my TV. I can always pop in the Blu-Ray or DVD, but part of the convenience of Apple’s plan is that I am no longer going to the bookshelf to find the movie, switching inputs and putting the disc into the PlayStation 3. Apple TV is all about just working. As is iCloud.
I called Apple Support, and my suspicions were true. My box is streaming from the Canadian store because the movie was removed. This is indicative of what could become a major problem for digital distribution. It’s only one movie, and I am only one person, but a few other people seem to have had this problem, too.
For now, Apple’s solution is to keep the movie stored locally and just use Home Sharing. Well, I guess I’ll just have to pop in the disc next time I want to watch Blade Runner.
This little story isn’t so much of a complaint as it is a realization that these things still need work. Some of my movies work fine on iCloud.–others don’t. Still, there are some that don’t show up at all, because of licensing deals with the movie distributors. For now, it seems I have three options: Stream from the computer, use physical media or purchase a different edition of the movie on iTunes.
More people with French movies who bought them on iTunes: