Both Apple iTunes and Amazon are expected to launch movie download services before the end of the year (and likely before the end of the month). While there is some fretting that only some of the major studio houses are signing up, I can't imagine that will last long.
I also understand the hesitancy of the major studios in joining such an endevour; the Big Boys have the distribution game locked up. If you eliminate the costs associated with distribution and you allow anyone to distribute their movie to anyone in the world it puts a large crimp in the advantages that Hollywood has held for so long.
What suprises me is how fast the changes are taking place. I predicted some time ago that home distribution would close the gap on theater distribution - movies would be simultaneously released to home viewers and on the big screen. But my feeling is that the change would take ten years.
With studios jumping on the broadband distribution about five years faster than I would have guessed I'm forced to change my estimate. I'm willing to bet that you will be able to watch The Next Big Thing in your living room, with your own popcorn within a month (and more likely a week or ten days) of major release.
These changes are a huge win for the general public. For one, it is a whole lot cheaper. Second, the big budgets will longer be the huge advantage that they are currently. Directors and movie makers of all stripes will finally be able to target their movies to a more eclectic audience (i.e. The Long Tail). The immediate feedback that iTunes and Amazon can provide also means that producers will get a better understanding of what people like and will (hopefully) respond by making better movies.
Its easy to forget what amazing times we live in. Did anyone imagine, ten years ago, that the internet would change are lives in such interesting ways?