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'It Might Get Loud' director Davis Guggenheim stands behind digital distribution

November 3, 2009 |  6:13 pm

Director Davis Guggenheim tracked three generations of guitar virtuosos in his "It Might Get Loud," focusing on the philosophies behind the sounds of Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White. Sound in the film is paramount.

Yet when "It Might Get Loud" is released on home video, it won't be with a giant Blu-ray or HD push that advertises the latest in high fidelity. Instead, the film will be distributed digitally by Apple's iTunes store, which will sell "It Might Get Loud" exclusively from Dec. 8 through Dec. 22.

"I used to think that the quality of downloading music on iTunes was a barrier for me," Guggenheim said. "I just didn’t think it would be good enough. But in the last year, I’ve put 75 movies on my laptop … There are some movies you need to see in a theater or see on Blu-ray. I think for some fans that’s important. I think some people will need to see this on Blu-ray, but some will need to see it on a Tuesday night at 11 p.m. on iTunes. I don’t think it’s an either/or thing." 


Such a move will also keep the film out of physical retailers during the crucial holiday selling season. Guggenheim spoke fondly of mom-and-pop record stores, but added, "there's no music store that can have everything that iTunes has." Locals loyal to Amoeba Music may differ, but there's no arguing the digital outlet's penetration. Apple's store passed Wal-Mart as America's No. 1 music retailer in spring 2008, according to data from NPD Group.

"To me, iTunes is my own mom-and-pop," Guggenheim said. "That sounds counter-intuitive, but it actually is. Me and my 11-year-old son talk about music all day long. We make CDs for the car. We end up on iTunes. He likes Journey. Why does he love Journey? I hate Journey. But how did he find Journey? On iTunes."

Apple's exclusive with "It Might Get Loud" coincides with the launch of the new "Music Movies" promotional campaign from the e-tailer. A number of music titles have been added to the iTunes library this week, including "Purple Rain," "Saturday Night Fever," "Don't Look Back" and "Rattle and Hum." The push comes as DVD sales fell 13.5% in the first half of 2009, according to the Digital Entertainment Group.

Rentals, however, increased 8%. Blu-ray sales rose 91%, to $408 million, in the first half of the year, while Internet downloads and streaming, combined with cable and satellite video-on-demand, which the trade group lumps together, grew 22%, to $968 million.

Guggenheim said the home video release of "It Might Get Loud" will come with extra content. Up to nine additional songs will be available, the director said. The iTunes edition will be part of the "iTunes Extras" initiative, said an iTunes spokesman, but the additional content on "It Might Get Loud" has not yet been revealed.

Guggenheim sees the Apple initiative as a way to spur exploration in music films.

"In the diet of music and movies out there, people are either going shallower or they’re going deeper," said the director, currently at work on a documentary about the public school system. "They’re getting the five movies they can get from the Redbox, or they’re going deep and finding these obscure movies that no one has seen. Like the Wilco movie ‘I Am Trying to Break Your Heart.’ Oh, my God. You stumble onto that because you stumble onto a Wilco song. This iTunes store means you can dig deeper."

-- Todd Martens


Review: 'It Might Get Loud'

Wanna be a rock star? Career advice from Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White

Davis Guggenheim documents Jimmy Page, the Edge and Jack White in 'It Might Get Loud'

Top photo: Jack White, Jimmy Page and the Edge in "It Might Get Loud." Credit: Sony Pictures
Bottom photo: Davis Guggenheim. Credit: Christina House / For The Times