Split the difference

Published June 13, 2019

Illustration of a couple watching a movie

Two recent conversations about movies have made me realise there’s a key component of the digital rental process that is missing and would make life so much better.

At the moment, on Apple in particular, you can buy a film for a high price initially that drops the longer a film has been in the world. Or you can rent a film for a slightly lower price but only keep it for a certain amount of time.

What we need is the ability to rent a film, and then if it turns out to be brilliant, upgrade the rental to a purchase by paying the difference. Kind of like Complete My Album or Complete My TV Series, instead it’s Complete My Purchase, I Have Regrets About Not Buying This One.

The two conversations, if you’re interested, were on the below two films:

  • Second Act, which we assumed was going to be a fun but non-essential J-Lo watch. Rented it but turns out it was brilliant, loved it, would like to own it, in fact.
  • Ant-Man & the Wasp, which we need to watch to keep up with Marvel’s ridiculously large universe but are a bit dubious about. As of now, we’ve missed the rental period and the film is only available to buy again for a while. So one of two things will happen: We’ll buy the film now out of impatience and regret it. Or we will wait forever until the rental period opens again, and then turn out to love the film and wish we’d just bought it anyway, what was all the fuss about.

My digital film improvement mentioned above would solve both of these issues (well, it wouldn’t solve the fact that we physically can’t rent Ant-Man at the moment, but that’s a whole other argument). It’s a no-brainer really, because I’m unlikely to buy Second Act now having seen it and already spent the money on renting it. But to top-up would mean everyone is happy, I get the movie, and Apple/movie-makers get a full purchase. I love a happy ending.

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