“Movie studios are considering whether to ignore the objections of cinema chains and forge ahead with a plan to offer digital rentals of films mere weeks after they appear in theaters, according to people familiar with the matter,” Anousha Sakoui reports for Bloomberg. “Some of the biggest proponents, including Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures, are pressing on in talks with Apple Inc. and Comcast Corp. on ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains, the people said. After months of negotiations, the two sides have been unable to arrive at a mutually beneficial way to create a $30 to $50 premium movie-download product.”
“The leading Hollywood studios, except for Walt Disney Co., are eager to introduce a new product to make up for declining sales of DVDs and other home entertainment in the age of Netflix. They have discussed sharing a split of the revenue from premium video on demand, or PVOD, with the cinema chains if they give their blessing to the concept,” Sakoui reports. “But the exhibitors have sought a long-term commitment of as much as 10 years for that revenue split, which the studios have rejected, the people said.”
“Deals with potential distributors such as Apple and Comcast could be reached as soon as early next year to sell digital downloads of major films as soon as two weeks after they debut in theaters, the people said,” Sakoui reports. “Those pacts would give the studios a way to issue an ultimatum to the theater chains: Agree to a deal, or we’ll start selling the movie downloads anyway. The movie houses could fight back by boycotting films slated for sale via download days after their theatrical debut.”
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MacDailyNews Take: Movie theaters are dying anyway. Beyond exorbitant ticket prices, one only look at what they’re charging for concessions to see their abject desperation. Play hardball with them and they’ll fold like a cheap suit.