Last night, I went to redeem my digital copy of 2018’s A Star is Born on Movies Anywhere. As I often do, I checked all of my Movies Anywhere-linked retail accounts to make sure the title populated to that account and in what resolution.
Vudu: UHD and Dolby Atmos
Google Play Movies: UHD and Dolby Digital+ 5.1
FandangoNow: UHD and Dolby Digital+ 5.1
Amazon Prime Video: nothing
Granted, I’ve had this happen before, where a title will sometimes not appear for a few hours in one or more retailers, but eventually show up. Movies Anywhere even mentions in their FAQ that it can sometimes take up to 24 hours for a title to populate to all retail accounts. What was odd, though, was that I wasn’t even able to find this title available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime Video. I checked again this morning, and still, nothing. I began researching this, and came across a post on Amazon’s Digital and Device Forum dated January 7, 2019, where the original poster writes: “I am only going to say this once, Amazon… Put the Warner Bros. stuff BACK!” He elaborates further that several Warner Bros. titles he was considering purchasing on Prime Video were no longer available.
Interestingly, all of my Warner Bros. movies that I had redeemed or purchased prior to the beginning of the year were still in my library and available to view. However, if I logged out of my Amazon account and searched for many of those titles, if they were not currently included with an Amazon Prime membership or currently playing on HBO, then I would receive the following message:
This title is currently unavailable.
Our agreements with the content provider don’t allow purchases of this title at this time.
Warner’s next big title, Aquaman, is also a no-show as a digital pre-order (although it is available to pre-order on physical media such as Blu-ray and UHD Blu-ray). I quickly surmised that Amazon and Warner must be in contract renegotiations for digital content, and it is not going as Amazon had planned. In the past, Amazon has traditionally been the more expensive retailer for digital content than its main competitors such as Vudu and iTunes, who were undercutting Amazon on several titles, and recently Amaozn has been slashing prices to be more in line with those competitors. Another big complaint regarding Amazon’s Prime Video service has been the lack of available titles in UHD for rent or purchase, Warner being one of the main omissions with regard to UHD content. The majority of available UHD content for rent or purchase on Amazon has been from Amazon Studios, Sony Pictures, and Disney. So getting UHD content from Warner could be part of the negotiation.
Unfortunately, neither side was available to comment on the matter, and regarding the lack of availability of A Star is Born, both Warner and Amazon kept referring me back to Movies Anywhere, who in turn referred me back to both entities.