Movie studios, always keen on diversifying their revenue streams, are contemplating a move that would allow companies like Comcast and Apple to stream new movies just a few weeks after they originally hit theaters. According to a report from Bloomberg, Warner Bros. and Universal are eagerly hoping to ink a deal, even though a number of theater chains are understandably opposed to such a deal.
As for the reason behind the move studios interest in such a move, well, the obvious answer is that the allure of going out to the movies isn’t as great as it once was. Thanks to the availability of affordable HDTVs, coupled of course with the advent of streaming services from the likes of Netflix and Amazon, movie revenue is on the decline. In fact, box office receipts this summer are trending 10% lower compared to last summer.
If a deal does get signed, the report notes that the price of renting a movie weeks after it hits the theaters would be somewhere in the $30 to $50 range, a huge increase from traditional movie options on pay per view.
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. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable provider, is also the owner of Universal Pictures.
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.
Notably, rumors of Apple seeking to offer new release movies via iTunes have been floating around for months. What remains to be seen, though, is if consumers will be willing to pay upwards of $50 to watch a new blockbuster release like Star Wars from the comfort of their own home.