Good news for those who dislike crowds, queues, and the noise of other people eating: Apple is reportedly in talks with a number of Hollywood studios to allow movies that are still in theaters to be rented on iTunes.
Bloomberg reports that major industry players such as 21st Century Fox, Warner Brothers, and Universal Pictures have confirmed they are looking to offer “high-priced, home-video rentals of new movies shortly after they open in theaters.”
Some executives have reportedly been pushing for titles to become available to rent just two weeks after their theater debut. There’s no word on exactly how much “high-priced” would be, but expect to hand over a lot more than standard rental prices for the privilege. In all likelihood, it will be more than a cinema ticket, too - anything from $20 - $50.
While the system may eventually become a reality, there’s no guarantee Apple will win the rights to show the movies. Bloomberg notes that Hollywood execs may “end up choosing another technology platform.”
Theaters usually have the exclusive rights to new movies for 90 days or more before they become available on DVD and to rent online. With cinema attendance flat, companies are looking for new ways to increase their revenue. The system could be beneficial for studios, consumers, and whatever platforms show the movies.
Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara said the early rentals, which are encrypted, could also deter piracy; by allowing those who can’t or won’t go to the cinema a way of watching new movies at home, it offers an alternative to piracy. But then there doesn’t seem to be anything stopping people filming what’s on the TV.
The high price may put some people off early rentals, but the cost could be shared out among friends. Plus, the huge TVs and sound systems found in many of today’s homes come close to recreating the cinema experience, you just need popcorn and someone sat behind you kicking your seat.
Napster co-founder Sean Parker believes people will be willing to pay the high price. His Screening Rooms startup aims to offer a $150 anti-piracy set-top box and charge $50 to watch a movie on the day of its release. And for the super-rich, there’s the $400,000 (plus rental costs) home Imax cinema experience.