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:
Once again, open it in your source viewer.

On this page, you’ll be able to find the download link (labeled as movieLink):
* 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.

Direct Download Links from Apple Are Not Working

Update: Please see this blog post on how to get direct downloading to work again: Apple Trailer Links Are Working

Direct download links for HD trailers on Apple are currently busted. From their tweet, it looks like the change was made to deal with the influx of user traffic/bandwidth for the Avatar trailer:

Adjustments made to support additional #Avatar teaser trailer traffic now live http://tinyurl.com/avatarteaser/ #avatarmovie

It looks like one of the adjustments they made was to only allow Quicktime to download the trailer. Any web browser will be automatically redirected to the Apple – Movie Trailers’ homepage.

If you have a download utility or are able to spoof the User Agent in your browser (i.e. User Agent Switcher for Firefox), you can still get around this.

The user agent my Quicktime uses is:
QuickTime/7.6.2 (qtver=7.6.2;os=Windows NT 5.1Service Pack 3)

I’ve confirmed that the only portion you need is QuickTime.

Using wget, I was able to download the Avatar 1080p trailer with:
wget -U QuickTime http://trailers.apple.com/movies/fox/avatar/avatar2009aug0820a-tsr_h1080p.mov

Update #2: You can also use curl (comes with Mac OSX) to download using the following command:
curl -A QuickTime http://trailers.apple.com/movies/fox/avatar/avatar2009aug0820a-tsr_h1080p.mov

Update: If you want to use the User Agent Switcher for Firefox, you’ll first need to install the extension. After installing the extension, go to Tools > Default User Agent > Edit User Agents…

Create a new User Agent by clicking on New > New User Agent… Clear out all the fields and copy and paste QuickTime/7.6.2 into the Description and User Agent fields.

Switch to the newly created QuickTime/7.6.2 User Agent by selecting it from the Tools > Default User Agent menu. Now you should be able to click/save Apple HD trailers from our site as you normally did before. Remember to switch back to the Default User Agent after you’re done saving trailers.

Update #3: Found this page that’ll teach you step by step on how to change your user agent in the following browsers: Firefox, Opera, and Internet Explorer: Switching User Agents.

Let’s just hope this is temporary or else it’d be quite inconvenient for users to download HD trailers from Apple anymore.