As more people find creature comforts in watching movies from home with services like Netflix and Hulu, movie studios could soon skip the wait and release new flicks to streaming shortly after they hit theaters — for a price.
Distributors like Apple and Comcast — in conjunction with studios like Warner Bros. and the Comcast-owned Universal Pictures — are reportedly in talks with movie theaters to negotiate releasing brand-new films just weeks after their theatrical debut, according to Bloomberg (opens in new tab).
Apple in particular has been keen to get movies added to its iTunes library as close to their release in theaters as possible, according to a report from December of last year.
While no details have been made official yet, the price for "premium video on demand" rentals of these early-release movies could range anywhere from $30 to $50, with theaters receiving a cut for their cooperation.
However, months of negotiations seem be at a standstill, as theaters cling to keeping the home release of movies as far from the exclusive theatrical release as possible.
Theater or bust?
Typically, theaters urge studios to keep new movies theater-exclusive for between three to six months in order to encourage customers to see them on the big screen.
Should studios refuse, theaters may choose to boycott showing the film at all, denying that lucrative opening weekend at the box office. Appropriately enough, Netflix ran into such an issue when 2015's Beast of No Nations was barred from major theater chains because the streaming service wanted a simultaneous online release alongside its theater run.
As such, theater companies have reportedly been hesitant to give studios and companies like Apple any slack at the risk of losing customers. However, as DVD sales drop in proportion to more people waiting for movies "to hit Netflix," studios may be forced to twist some arms.
While $30 to $50 for a movie sounds like a steep price to rent a just-released-in-theaters flick, it isn't that much more expensive than the price of a movie night for two these days — if you throw in some overpriced Icees and a large popcorn, of course.