movielink.jpgVideo rental company Blockbuster has bought the Internet video download movie provider Movielink, in its latest dash to compete with companies like Netflix and Wal-Mart.

Movielink, of Santa Monica, launched in 2001 and became the first service to offer legal downloadable movies and TV shows.

The price was a mere $20 million, according to WSJ, suggesting this was a fire sale — and a significant loss for its former owners, who had pumped $100 million into the effort.

Blockbuster is acquiring rights to show the films of Movielink’s previous owners, which include Warner Brothers Studios, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Paramount Pictures, according to various news reports. Financial terms were not disclosed. The company’s other owners included General Electric’s movie unit Universal Studios and Sony Pictures Entertainment. Blockbuster is also an investor in a CinemaNow, which has thousands of film, TV and concert titles, and offers streaming videos, which Movielink does not.

Netflix, Apple, Amazon.com and Wal-Mart Stores have all introduced movie download services.