PR vet Reid Rosefelt's intriguing side project, Speedcine, officially launched its beta version today (the URL has been active to showcase a "demo" version of the site since March). Although there's certainly room for it to grow, this search engine offers a unique niche that you can't really find anywhere else, as it allows users to search for film titles to see if they are available for legal viewing online. I like the simplistic interface and division of availability into various categories. However, I think it's unfortunate that you can only search for titles, considering how many of today's digitally-oriented audiences make viewing decisions on the basis of other data, such as directors, genres and other keywords. Also, it seems like Amazon VOD, Hulu and Netflix Watch Instantly are the main sites that come up for most searches. What about Jaman, The Auteurs or The YouTube Screening Room? And what about movies like We Are the Strange or Steal this Film that were voluntarily uploaded to Bittorent by their creators? Fortunately, it sounds like the library will deepen. "We currently index over 13,000 films from Netflix, Amazon VOD, Hulu, and many other sites," Rosefelt explains. "We're adding more movies every day, and will have iTunes in our system by the end of the month."
The site has potential. For now, it primarily suggests a systematic alternative to googling "Where can I watch X movie online?" and, if you have certain moral standards in place, only going with the legal options. If you are the sort of upstanding citizen inclined to follow that routine, Speedcine will make things easier for you. If not, the site is still fun to poke around, and effectively illustrates the range of movies legitimately available in the digital realm, a relatively new phenomenon if you consider what things were like ten years ago.