Monday, September 14, 2020
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iTunes Problem: Upgrading HD to 4k [Updated]

itunes-alien-covenant-itunes-HDI recently came across a problem with iTunes. Once you have redeemed certain movies from another service you can’t upgrade that title to 4k.

A short history. I purchased Alien: Covenant on Ultra HD Blu-ray in Aug. 2017. The digital redemption through FoxRedeem offered either Vudu or iTunes to redeem the title. I chose Vudu because, well, I wanted the Digital 4k version and Apple had not released Apple TV 4k yet. Makes sense, right?

Now, there is where it gets confusing. When Apple released the Apple TV 4k later that fall they said any purchased HD movies would be automatically be upgraded to 4k if, of course, the title is available in 4k.

But since this title was redeemed with Vudu (through Fox Redeem) and not iTunes it does not qualify as a title that will be automatically be upgraded to HD. OK so I get it. If you don’t directly purchase a movie from Apple it might not qualify for the free HD-to-4k upgrade.

However, what if you want to get the 4k version? Alien: Covenant is one of those movies that renders great in 4k with Dolby Vision for expanded color range. And, since Apple just upgraded audio on some titles to Dolby Atmos it makes even more sense to have the Digital 4k version of Alien: Covenant.

iTunes is a bit curious though when it comes to displaying movie information. For example, Blade Runner 2049 shows up as 4k on my iPhone but only HD on my MacBook Pro. Other movies have shown up as only HD but then later in 4k/HDR.

Tell me Apple. How does one purchase the 4k/HDR/Dolby Atmos version of a movie if it already shows up as HD in iTunes?

[Update: Since publishing this article Apple has fixed the problem. The title mentioned above, Alien: Covenant, now shows up as 4k/HDR (see pic below). This may be more of a display problem rather than distribution/rights issue. Other digital titles like Universal’s Angels & Demons and Fox’s The Revenant are also now showing as 4k/HDR even if redeemed outside iTunes.]


List of 4k, HDR, & Dolby Atmos Movies on Apple TV


  1. The update in this article is misleading. The reason Alien Covenant transferred to 4K in iTunes is that it is 4K at Movies Anywhere. If you purchase a movie at Vudu or another retailer that is HD and HD at MA, then it will transfer to iTunes in HD. And it will NOT be upgradeable unless you gift it to yourself (which is a lousy method because it will NOT give you the UHD version at MA). iTunes needs a legit method to upgrade movies to UHD!!! It’s a huge glitch.


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