What Happened to the Download Links for Apple Movie Trailers?

For those who’ve visited Apple’s iTunes Movie Trailers site in the past couple days, you may have noticed that Apple has removed the download links on newly posted trailers.

Where previously there was a Download section beneath the Watch section:

Iron Man 3 - Download Links

Now you only have the Watch section:

Pacific Rim - No Download Links

The kicker is the fact that 1080p appears to have been completely removed

There’s been many conjectures as to why Apple decided to remove the download links.

  • Some believe the movie studios are pressuring Apple into doing so. How else will they be able to track user views if people are allowed to download them?
  • Others believe Apple is conserving resources. Given the small amount of trailers we do host, resulting in multiple-digits worth of TB in bandwidth consumed per month, one can imagine how much bandwidth they’re going through, for pretty much a free service that’s was created to advertise their QuickTime player.

I personally think it’s much more simpler than that. Apple’s philosophy is simplicity. Users don’t want to be bombarded by options. It clutters the screen. Users want to click Watch Now and get the best quality for their screen size and bandwidth. They’re already testing that with the Automatic option, but their current platform doesn’t allow the video quality to dynamically change mid-stream. Is dynamic video streaming something they’re working on and will they be presenting it shortly at WWDC? *shrug* There’s really 2 major protocols in today’s video streaming technology: Flash and RTSP. RTSP already supports streaming H.264 and is what Yahoo! uses mainly for their video playback now.

Update 2013/06/02: infiniter has brought to my attention that if you load the Apple trailer pages using the iPad user-agent, it still provides you with a Watch HD that directly links to the 720p file. For more information on how to switch user-agents, please see our previous post.

Anyway, you probably didn’t come here to find out why Apple removed the download links, but how to get them back. Unfortunately, it’s not very straight forward. I’ll be using Pacific Rim for my example if you want to follow along.

You’re probably wondering what are these large.html and extralarge.html files and why do they keep taking you back to the main trailer page?

A quick note before moving on:

  • large.html = 480p
  • extralarge.html = 720p

The trick is to open those pages NOT in a browser. Your browser’s source viewer (e.g. Pacific Rim’s large.html) would be able to open them.

Once you’re viewing the large.html file, you’ll notice a bunch of links (href) like:

  • includes/productionjournal/large.html
  • includes/trailer2/large.html
  • includes/confootage/large.html
  • includes/trailer/large.html

The 2nd term refers to the trailer name. Pick out the one you want and prepend the trailer page URL resulting in something like:
http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/wb/pacificrim/includes/productionjournal/large.html
Once again, open it in your source viewer.

On this page, you’ll be able to find the download link (labeled as movieLink):
http://trailers.apple.com/movies/wb/pacificrim/pacificrim-productionjournal_480p.mov*
* Don’t forget to add the ‘h’ before the resolution. ;)

For 720p, do the same thing, but with the extralarge.html file.

BONUS: Although Apple no longer links directly to the 1080p encodes anywhere on their site, the 1080p encodes are still available if you just tinker with the 480p/720p URLs and replace it with 1080p. No guarantees if this will last though.

Or if you’re too lazy to do this, that’s why HD-Trailers.net exists!

Enjoy! Feedback and comments are always appreciated.

44 thoughts on “What Happened to the Download Links for Apple Movie Trailers?

  1. There’s a somewhat faster method, at least in Chrome:
    1. Open developer tools (F12). In the lower right corner click on the gear icon.
    2. In the popup window go to overrides and set user agent to “iPad – iOS 5″.
    3. Reload the page – it will look slightly different, just like on an iPad. There will a separate button like “Watch HD” with directly connects to the trailer file’s URL.

  2. Not a contribution to the discussion here, just a note of thanks! I have been collecting QuickTime movie trailers and Apple ads since about 1999, and I have done my share of digging in source code to get raw .mov URLs, but this one was defeating me until you clued me in. I’ll check with your site the next time they throw a roadblock our way…

    • to watch 720p and then right click somewhere on the page and choose page information, click the media tab and scroll down till you see the embeded video, copy the link

  3. What I’m looking for is a way to find out the embed code for a trailer on Apple.com trailer pages.

    I’ve seen some sites that have embed codes for new trailers, but I can’t find out how they got it.

    • Apple doesn’t provide embed code to share trailers. They’re usually manually crafted, but as long as you have the video url, crafting the embed code should be straight forward.

      • I know how to embed the direct url of the trailer, but then you don’t get some visible controllers, depending on the size of your window.

        I found this embed url for the new 47 ronin trailer on a site.

        http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/embed/47ronin/trailer/index.html

        But I haven’t got any luck to find out where they managed to find the embed url, because if you change the url to the direct link to the trailer http://movietrailers.apple.com/movies/universal/47ronin/47ronin-tlr1_480p.mov, then it just become like I wrote first.

        I have tried to just change the movies name in the embed url, hoping they would use similar permalink for all movie trailers, but it seems that isn’t the case.

        The complete embed code is

        • I’m not sure I understand what you’re looking for… Are you asking how to use a custom video player instead of default QuickTime player?

          What Apple does there is just hide all the controls on QuickTime and load web graphics that interact with the player. It is not an embed script. It’s basically designing a video player in HTML that’ll interact with the embedded video player which has all its controls hidden.

          • No, I’m not looking for any custom player.

            I’m looking for someone who knows to find the embeded url from the apple trailer site, as I’ve seen some sites seem to know how, like the above url. Because the embeded url I posted above are from Apple, but they seem to hide it very well. But some people seem to know how to find it somehow.

            It may be so, but I still think they would have this feature for all their trailers and I can’t find out how to get hold of the url for it. It can’t just be for 47 Ronin, but if so, I still can’t find out how the other sites managed to know the url for that.

  4. Thanks to this Post i can DL the Apple Trailers once more :) But all the above methods are to time-consuming if u like to watch and store many trailers in Linux. So i have build a BASH script for me that automates as much as possible. And because this Post was my inspiration i would give something back ;) So here it is.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/2731047/Cloud%20Stuff/Scripte/appleTrailerDownload

    I’m not a native speaker so i hope i don’t put to many typos in the explanation in the script header ;)

    Info: The Script works like a charm NOW. But like the problem with all scrapers, if Apple change something in the HTML code it can break the script. Therefore i have some checks in it that should told u where the problem is and i have implement a debug output to help with the fixing. So if this happens and i have time to fix it i would update the Script, if anybody is faster i would appreciate it if you can post the fix here :)

      • Nice to hear :)

        BTW: I have fixed the Design changes from today, but if there are some “old” pages around unfortunately it’s now broken there. It would be possible to make a check and support both designs but i’m to busy now. For the new design i only have to change the Movie-Info-Grabber-Strings, the Trailer download it self works with the old version too. The new Version is behind the same link (from above). I only make a quick test and it worked for me, i hope for u too ;)

  5. Hey thnx, i’m able to download the .mov file, but i can only play it quicktime? not in vlc and neither be able to import/export in video applications? what to do

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