Apple has been working diligently to convince major Hollywood studios to release movies to its iTunes service as early as two weeks after their theatrical release. And now it seems those studios have begun floating the idea to theater owners.
Kevin Tsujihara, the chief executive of Warner Bros., told investors in his company that some of the major theater chains – including Regal and Cinemark – have been receptive to the discussion about a premium video-on-demand service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“We’re having very constructive conversations with the exhibitors for the first time that we’ve had in a long time. We are working with them to create a new window.”
Under this model, new releases would be available for streaming 17 days after the film’s theatrical opening, allowing three full weekends at the box office before audiences would have the option of viewing from the comfort of their home.
Negotiations are ongoing, and there are still some hurdles to overcome. In fact, one theater chain is requesting a written guarantee that studios won’t attempt to shorten the existing home entertainment window for the next five to 10 years. In most cases, new films aren’t available on Blu-ray or DVD until about 90 to 120 days after they open in theaters, and the theater chains want to ensure this won’t be changing anytime soon.
Another complication is Disney, who sources tell the trade publication has no interest whatsoever in these discussions. The studio is currently riding a wave of box office success the likes of which has never been seen, and with a number of blockbuster releases on their schedule for the next few years, there’s little incentive for them to shorten the theatrical window.
At this time, no official plans have emerged from these negotiations, and both sides will likely continue to jockey for position as the details are ironed out. But talks are moving forward at an “accelerated” pace, and a basic template for this new model could be in place by the end of 2017.
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