Editor's note: Contrary to a previous version of this article, CinemaNow's July 2006 round of funding collectively raised a total of $20.3 million, including contributions from numerous investors. The Fool regrets the error.

Too many chefs spoil the soup. Likewise, too many owners can spoil a promising movie business. That's why it's great to see a single company act like a proper head chef and take control of this kitchen. It's chicken soup for the investor's soul.

Movie-download destination CinemaNow used to have a blurry ownership picture. Companies as diverse as networking giant Cisco Systems (Nasdaq: CSCO), movie studio Lions Gate (NYSE: LGF), and satellite TV provider Dish Network each held a stake in the venture, whose the latest round of financing -- in July 2006 -- collectively raised $20.3 million. Software titan Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and movie-rental chain Blockbuster (NYSE: BBI) are also on the investor list, though the size of their commitment isn’t disclosed, according to CapitalIQ.

Well, all of those firms will probably remember CinemaNow as an expensive disappointment, because Sonic Solutions (NASDAQ:SNIC) just bought the whole thing for about $3 million. This move unites Sonic's expertise in digital-media technologies with CinemaNow's movie-industry connections and 6,000-title library of licensed films.

Sonic's Qflix technology, which lets consumers download and burn movie files to disc in a controlled and legal way, already powers CinemaNow's burnable movie services. That makes for a comfortable business combination, and the company's direction going forward seems obvious.

If I ran Sonic, I wouldn't expect the acquisition to add to my bottom line in the foreseeable future, since the service has been bleeding red ink for years. But CinemaNow reaches into consumer electronics from the likes of Hewlett-Packard (NYSE:HPQ) and Samsung, and it gives Sonic's Roxio package a natural content partner for its own forays into the consumer universe. This two-pronged strategy should pay dividends in a couple of years, when movie downloads move from a geeky niche into the consumer mainstream. Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is exposing millions of consumers to digital feature films with its "Watch It Now" feature, and broadband connectivity is reaching the point where most of us could put up with download times for a full DVD, or be happy with the quality of an on-demand video stream.

A conglomerate of investors with conflicting motives couldn't get CinemaNow off the ground. But one dedicated owner with a clear vision of how to use the service can turn off the cash-burning machine, and jump into a profitable future. I love these long-term visions -- and the tasty investment opportunities they create.

Further Foolishness:

Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation, and Netflix is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Netflix, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like. The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.