Apple and Hollywood said to continue talks around early digital movie rentals

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Movie studios including Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures continue to hold talks with Apple and Comcast about plans to introduce premium digital rentals for new movies only a few weeks after their theatrical debut, Bloomberg reports. The talks continue even though powerful players in the mix aren’t on board – theater chain operators, who still have a lot of sway over Hollywood, aren’t happy with the idea, per the new report.

The plan to build an early rental offering whereby consumer could pay between $30 and $50 per movie to get access to current releases as few as two weeks after they premiere in theaters has been covered before: Back in late December, Bloomberg described the plan, noting that it’s part of the studios’ effort to shore up declines and stagnation in the home video and DVD sales market.

What’s changed is that negotiations between those in favor of the plan, including the studios and Apple, and those opposed, mostly the big theater chain operators, have reached an impasse. Potential plans included sharing some revenue from the new types of rentals with theaters, but to make that work, theater companies wanted a deal with a 10-year commitment, which Bloomberg says was more than the studios were able to stomach.

Even so, those who want this to happen could agree to a deal as soon as next year to distribute the digital films via Apple and Comcast, along with others, with only a two-week exclusivity window for theaters. That could have some fallout, of course, as chains could opt not to carry movies from studios who go with this kind of arrangement.

Other movie studios, including Disney, aren’t on board with this plan, since Bloomberg reports its focus with cinematic releases will be on stuff that’s best suited for big screen viewing. Others are more publicly already on board with the idea, including Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, who said it’s likely to come to platforms sometime in the next year, and that he “hopes” it will indeed happen as it should be “great for the business.”