Over the past couple of years we’ve seen the theatrical release window for major studio films shrink from four months down to three (or even less in some cases) as studios try to adapt to a changing market and shifting consumer habits. Many smaller films already debut on VOD day and date with their theatrical release, and we’ve been hearing about a couple of attempts to make major theatrical releases available at home as well. It seems that it is no longer a question of if, but rather when it will happen. This week we have an intriguing report that Apple is determined to be the one to win this race and they are already deep in talks with a handful of studios to make it happen. Hit the jump to find out what we know.
According to Bloomberg, Apple has recently met with executives from 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal about the possibility of offering home video rentals for movies shortly after they hit theatres. Word on the street is that these rentals could be available just two weeks after a movie premieres in theatres, although consumers will likely have to pay a premium for it. This would potentially compete with Screening Room, a service currently in development from Napster co-founder Sean Parker that plans to offer theatrical releases at home day and date for $50 a pop (plus the cost of a $150 set top box).
Apple has recently been making moves to become a bigger player in the realm of streaming content and they are reportedly planning to launch an app later this month called TV that will serve as a hub for watching video content. They were also rumoured to be developing their first original TV series earlier this year. The one major obstacle to the iTunes deal is encryption, which is not currently strong enough to prevent all forms of piracy (Screening Room uses a watermark to help identify potential leaks). Still, Apple was able to swoop in and take control of the music industry when it was in trouble in the early 2000s and it seems like they could do it again with movies if they play their cards right. Would you be interested in home movie rentals through iTunes two weeks after they hit theatres? Would this help or hurt the movie industry in the long run?