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Apple iTunes Reportedly Seeking Early Access to Theatrical Movies

7 Dec, 2016 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The crush for early access to theatrical movies in the home continues to gather momentum with Apple reportedly in talks with studios regarding making movies available on iTunes.

Citing sources familiar with the situation, reported Apple would like to do for theatrical releases what it did for recorded music.

While iTunes was one of the original platforms selling and renting digital movies and TV shows, having access to new-release titles early in the 90-day theatrical window could re-establish Apple in a crowded digital/packaged-media retail/rental market.

Then again, iTunes, which legitimized (versus pirated) digital music consumption with the 99-cent single, followed by transactional VOD and electronic-sellthrough of movies and TV shows, might be hard-pressed selling early access to theatrical movies for $50.

Premium VOD appeared dead in 2011 after Universal Pictures Home Entertainment’s abandoned efforts selling action/comedy Tower Heist in the home three weeks after its theatrical bow when exhibitors threatened to boycott the film.

But a lot has changed in the past five years in the consumption of video entertainment, including consumers empowered by ubiquitous on-demand access online content.

Kevin Tsujihara, CEO of Warner Bros., James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, and Universal Pictures have in recent weeks reignited the debate arguing that denying consumers early access is at odds with market dynamics.

Interestingly, Sean Parker, whose infamous Napster pirate music service led to Apple launching iTunes, has been trying to introduce Screening Room, a premium VOD service that reportedly would afford users same-day access to new theatrical releases.

Netflix, which has long criticized the theatrical window, makes its original movies available day-and-date with their very limited theatrical runs.

About the Author: Erik Gruenwedel

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