Users of Amazon’s popular LoveFilm DVD postal service were shocked to learn that it is closing down at the end of October 2017. What are the UK alternatives to LoveFilm, and which should you switch to? We test the very similar Cinema Paradiso disc subscription service to see if LoveFilm users should switch.
LoveFilm is/was a DVD-by-mail subscription service that rented out physical discs of movies and TV boxsets – sent to and from the user by pre-paid post.
While streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime seem the far-more modern solution to your movie and TV viewing needs, the ever-changing catalogues of both services are tiny compared to the availability on LoveFilm – which had 80,000 discs for hire. Netflix and prime each have around 4,000 titles, and these can drop off at any time. See our Netflix vs Amazon Prime video shootout feature.
LoveFilm users might find some great original shows to stream on Netflix and Prime but they’ll be sorely disappointed by both the quantity and quality of the movie choices on each.
The LoveFilm rental List was easy to use, and popping a DVD into your player is a lot faster than the often painful navigation systems of Prime and Netflix.
And don’t forget that for many – often older – people getting their heads round online streaming services is just too confusing. In comparison LoveFilm’s disc-by-mail rental service was easy to use.
And I haven’t even mentioned the buffering and pixelating you might get when downloading or streaming content depending on your broadband speed. Or the need for a compatible device, such as laptop, games console, smart TV or streaming stick.
Other alternatives are to rent movies and TV shows from services such as Apple’s iTunes store, but you can pay up to £5 per movie, where LoveFilm cost about a tenner a month for unlimited films and a couple of discs at the same time.
A very similar DVD-by-mail movie and TV subscription service to LoveFilm is Cinema Paradiso – named after the lovely 1988 Italian movie about a man who, well, loves films. It’s no Amazon giant but – as it cheekily points out on its About page – it does pay its UK taxes! It’s been going since 2003, and claims to have over 90,000 titles in its catalogue. It has rented out nearly 3 million discs since starting up.
Cinema Paradiso specialised in foreign and art-house movies, but you’ll find most of the big new mainstream releases there too.
It claims to have “pretty much all the titles released in the UK that are available for rental”.
Cinema Paradiso works in much the same way as LoveFilm.
DVD-by-mail subscription options
There are six subscription options you can select:
1 disc at a time, with 2 discs per month: £4.98/month
2 discs at a time, with 4 discs per month: £6.98/month
2 discs at a time, with 6 discs per month: £9.98/month
2 discs at a time, with unlimited discs per month: £11.98/month
3 discs at a time, with unlimited discs per month: £19.98/month
4 discs at a time, with unlimited discs per month: £29.98/month
For most of the subscription options you can have a free 14-day trial. You can cancel your subscription at any time, unlike Amazon Prime, which requires an annual subscription, from £79 a year. HD Netflix subscriptions start at £7.49/month.
How to choose discs on Cinema Paradiso
Just like LoveFilm you build up your Cinema Paradiso “My List” via the website’s catalogue list of movie and TV titles. There’s no limit on how many titles you can add to your list. Cinema paradise recommends you have at least 10 titles in your list at all times. You can remove titles from the ‘My List’ at any time.
You can order the priority of the list by dragging the titls higher or lower via the website. You can also manage the list from your mobile device.
Currently there is no functionality to import your old LoveFilm Rental List, but adding the titles in again to Cinema Paradiso is easy enough.
Formats include DVD, Blu-ray, 3D and 4K.
If the title hasn’t yet been released for disc rental you’ll see a “Save” rather than “Add” button. These titles are then added to your Reserved List. Cinema Paradiso uses these customer wish lists to judge interest in a film or TV series and to decide whether or not it should add a title to its inventory.
Once you sign up for Cinema Paradiso service you have to wait while your account is “pending verification,” which will complete the following day (Monday to Friday). Once your account has been verified the Customer Service team will activate it and send you a confirmation email.
After successful activation Cinema Paradiso will dispatch the disc(s) from your ‘My List’ using the Royal Mail service.
Verdict: LoveFilm vs Cinema Paradiso
Cinema Paradiso has a larger movie and TV boxset collection than streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, and looks a worthy alternative to LoveFilm. Using this UK-based disc-by-post rental method is as easy as LoveFilm, and there’s a 14-day trial so you can try it out for free to see if you like it first.
Users of LoveFilm will feel at home with Cinema Paradiso, and time will tell whether its available 90,000 titles in both movies and TV series match your viewing desires.