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Apple wants to offer rentals for movies still in theaters

by Brandon Russell | December 7, 2016December 7, 2016 1:16 pm PDT

Apple has been seeking a way to change the landscape of entertainment and a new report suggests the Cupertino company may have finally figured out how to do just that.

Executives at Apple have apparently reached out to Hollywood studios for early access to movies—as early as two weeks after they hit theaters. According to sources speaking to Bloomberg, 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures have all been in contact with Apple about a service that would offer high-priced rentals of new movies.

Bloomberg writes:

Some studio executives have been pushing to allow home rentals as early as two weeks after theatrical debuts and are considering a deal with iTunes as one option, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the discussions are private.

Apple has been trying to figure out a way to make an impact in the entertainment market, similarly to how it transformed music with iTunes. So far, the Apple TV and Apple’s upcoming TV app, announced at an event a few months ago and coming in iOS 10.2, haven’t done much to cement the company’s reputation as an entertainment powerhouse.

Theater attendance has reportedly been on the decline over the past several months, so studios are seeking out other ways to distribute their content. Partnering with one of the world’s largest technology companies is a good start and Apple could leverage its huge ecosystem as a one-stop shop for early access content. Apple Music, which is now at 20 million paying subscribers, has already begun offering exclusive timed access to new albums.

Consumers would still have the opportunity to watch new movies in theaters, but they’d also have the option of viewing them at home shortly after they’re released. It’s unclear how much a studio would charge for a rental; Bloomberg’s sources claim studios are considering anywhere from $25 to $50.

apple-tv

Remember Sean Parker?

Previously, Napster’s Sean Parker tried to start a similar service, known as Screening Room, that would offer movies the same day they were released in theaters. The initial response from theater chains was poor but it appears studios are very open to the possibility.

It’s unclear how advanced discussions are between Apple and these movie studios, but one snag that’s already come to light is the potential for piracy. While iTunes encrypts content so it’s not easily duplicated, what’s to stop someone from pointing a video camera at their TV screen?

Would you pay $50 to see a movie that’s still in theaters at home? While theater chains have technology that provides consumers with a more immersive viewing experience, prices are skyrocketing and home theater systems are becoming more advanced by the day.

Streaming has become a huge part of the market, so it almost seems like an inevitability that we see movies hit home screens sooner than we’re used to.

Bloomberg

Brandon Russell

Brandon Russell enjoys writing about technology and entertainment. When he's not watching Back to the Future, you can find him on a hike or watching...

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