The Case of the Disappearing iTunes Movies

I’ve been watching a lot of movies recently, and when you spend your days watching a flick in the corner of your screen while working, you can burn through a lot of movies quickly. Since I’m in the process of digitizing my movie collection, I figure that it makes more sense for me to buy my movies on iTunes than at the store, so that way I save myself the burning routine.

I’m also cheap. Well, not cheap I suppose, but I’m not the guy  guy who buys a new release the day it comes out, because I know I can save a few bucks if I wait a few weeks to make my purchase. As a general rule of thumb, I buy HD flicks when they drop to $14.99, and DVDs at $9.99. Sure, there are a few exceptions here and there, but that’s the basic plan.

A few months ago, The Hangover was all over iTunes. HD versions, unrated, etc, all of them there for the taking. I decided I’d wait it out, and sure enough, yesterday I decided to pull the trigger on the HD version of the flick. Yet when I went looking, I couldn’t find it anywhere in the iTunes store. No movies at all.

Now at first, I thought this might be a random occurrence. Then I did a bit of searching for other movies that I wanted. Strangely enough, that also is the title: Wanted. I had rented it a while back in HD on my AppleTV, and I could’ve sworn it was available in HD for sale. I looked yesterday, and it’s still available for rent in HD. On the iTunes store on my MacBook Pro, it’s listed as only available in 480P, except for on the iPad and AppleTV.

So what gives? Why is The Hangover gone from the store completely, and why is Wanted only available in HD on the iPad and AppleTV? My current guess is that it has to do with the studios. They sign deals with Apple to sell certain movies for specified periods, and then the movie disappears. This doesn’t make sense for tons of reasons, but it’s not something that I pin on Apple. I think the studios worry that the movies sold on iTunes will get pirated and it’ll turn into Napster all over again. But it’s also costing them sales. I had $40 that I was going to spend on movies this weekend, and I didn’t do it.

I’ve sent a letter to Apple PR for clarification, so I’ll update once I find the results.

Kokou Adzo

Kokou Adzo is a stalwart in the tech journalism community, has been chronicling the ever-evolving world of Apple products and innovations for over a decade. As a Senior Author at Apple Gazette, Kokou combines a deep passion for technology with an innate ability to translate complex tech jargon into relatable insights for everyday users.


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  1. Same problem on UK iTunes and emails to ITunes get ignored. Treme was on UK iTunes . . . now suddenly its not. Ditto Weeds. Ditto the latter halves of series like The Big Bang Theory, Modern Families etc. I feel sorry for those who have bought series passes – they’ve been scammed – but why the silence from Apple?

    1. Same here. I bought a series pass for Treme but the series vanished from iTunes after the 4 first episodes. When I emailed them they asked me to wait 72 hours for it to reappear and when it didn’t and I contacted them again they did not give me an explanation but said they would refund the money. When I asked for an explanation I received no reply.