Users of Amazon’s popular LoveFilm DVD postal service were shocked to learn that it closed 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 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. Amazon told users that they will "not be billed ... after 30th September 2017, and can continue to enjoy the service until it closes on 31st October 2017" - presumably with a Halloween DVD...
Now its loyal users have received their last LoveFilm disc and the ability to work through their rental wish list, so it's time to find an alternative to LoveFilm's service. Relax, we think we've found it!
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. Or sign up for an Amazon Prime Free Trial
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. Amazon has offered a £15 discount on its Fire TV stick "to say thank you for being a loyal customer". LoveFilm subscribers can buy a Fire TV stick for the discounted price of £24.99 (current price £39.99). Read our Amazon Fire TV Stick review.
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. Sign up here for the Cinema Paradiso introductory offer.
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”. We found the list of titles to be pretty exhaustive, and includes a great roster of TV boxsets too.
Cinema Paradiso works in much the same way as LoveFilm. Create a list from the online disc catalogue, rank by priority, and sit back and wait for your discs to arrive by post, enjoy (or not), then post back free in the envelope to Cinema Paradiso. LoveFilm users will feel right at home - even the envelopes look the same.
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 Paradiso recommends you have at least 10 titles in your list at all times. You can remove titles from the 'My List' at any time. It's just as easy to work as LoveFilm.
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, although there's no app.
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
Amazon closed LoveFilm because of “decreasing demand”, but the outcry over its demise proves there is a ready audience of movie buffs and TV boxset fans who would try an alternative service if one existed: which, luckily, one does.
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. More details at Cinema Paradiso.
We've been using Cinema Paradiso for a couple of months now, and it works just like LoveFilm, so we recommend it. Sign up for it here.
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. It is well reviewed online by many long-term subscribers, and in our testing over the past couple of months everything has run at least as smoothly as with the now departed LoveFilm.