Audiences who would rather watch the latest Hollywood blockbuster from the comfort of their living room instead of venturing out to a crowded theater may find their wishes coming true in the near future.
Apple is negotiating with several major studios, according to Bloomberg, with the hopes of bringing new-release video rentals to iTunes as early as two weeks after their theatrical opening.
Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal all have confirmed they’re exploring options for higher-priced video rentals that would be available shortly after a film’s opening date, and Apple’s offer is one of several that is being considered. If a deal comes together, Apple could find itself with a significant advantage over rival digital streaming services.
While a 90-day theatrical exclusive is commonplace in the film industry, declining home video sales and diminishing returns at the box office – especially for smaller films – are said to be two of the key factors in these negotiations. The option of viewing a new release without leaving the house could offer a chance for more niche films to reach a wider audience and generate a bigger return on investment, which also could make studios less reliant on blockbuster tentpole releases.
Of course, one of the biggest hurdles is the encryption technology. Piracy is an ever-present threat to the film industry, and some studio executives are balking at the idea of making new releases available on a device whose encryption could potentially be broken.
This could make Apple a less-attractive option than some of its competitors, as the current encryption utilized by iTunes is difficult to crack, but certainly not impossible.
The cost to get a movie this way could cost between $25 to $50 per feature, the business outlet reported.
Despite several theater chains staunchly opposing the idea of a smaller theatrical window – and in some cases refusing to screen films that are available via online rental – sources indicate a service of this type is likely to be available within the next 18 months.
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