Youtube goes to Hollywood

Youtube is getting into the movie rental business but the initial roll-out, which begins this Friday, will only be available in America.

Negotiating international rights for on-line content is a notoriously tortuous process and a UK launch will depend on the financial success of the US pilot.

Just five films will available for rental at a predicted cost of $3.99, and they must be watched within a 48-hour period. The Cove, Bass Ackwards, One Too Many Mornings, Homewrecker and Children of Invention, which were all shown at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival, are the five movies in question. And no, we haven't heard of them either.

Youtube is the biggest Internet site on the planet with over 10 billion videos viewed per month, but generating revenue has always been a thorn in the outfit's side.

The site already streams full-length movies from MGM's archive, but further deals with major Hollywood studios for more up-to-date content are expected to be hammered out in the near future.