Comcast, Amazon, and Apple are in the process of developing a system that would allow for viewers to rent movies on-demand between 30-45 days after their theatrical premiere. In this modern age of technology, the way people consume their entertainment is changing, particularly with the rising prominence of streaming services like Netflix. With a plethora of titles available in the living room at one's fingertips, trips to the multiplex (with increasing ticket prices and expensive concessions) are certainly less appealing to some. Even though theaters provide premium formats like IMAX, few things can top enjoying a film on the couch.
In an effort to make theatergoing a more feasible experience, MoviePass recently instituted a new $9.95/month subscription service, but one thing audiences would love is to be able to watch the newest titles from the comfort of their own homes, avoiding the crowds and other hassles of going out to the theater. That may be possible in the very near future, as a trio of heavy-hitters are joining forces to get something off the ground by early 2018.
According to THR, Comcast, Amazon, and Apple are hoping to launch a premium VOD service that would allow moviegoers to rent recent films for $30. The idea right now is for titles to be available 30-45 days after they open in theaters, which is seen as a compromise between the studios and theater owners. Some proposed plans called for $50 rentals 17 days after release, so this scenario would give films a sizable window to make money at the box office before hitting on-demand. It's expected other major cable provider and "digital players" would eventually become a part of the program, which has the goal "to saturate the marketplace."
This premium VOD service would not launch unless at least three major studios agree to participate, and there's no guarantee that will happen. There is a risk theater owners could decide to "boycott every PVOD title" as a means of retaliation, but the studios still seem game to move forward with the plan. It's up to Comcast, Amazon, and Apple to negotiate deals with individual studios due to antitrust laws. Unfortunately, Disney - the Hollywood juggernaut with Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, and others at their disposal - is sitting this out, meaning their releases would be theater "exclusives," as it were. January or February is the targeted debut date, which would make anticipated holiday films like The Greatest Showman and Pitch Perfect 3 some of the first available movies.
It will be interesting to follow this development and see how it all shakes out. Many movie fans would certainly be onboard for this, but there are a lot of moving pieces that need to be sorted out before something comes into fruition. Obviously, theaters are very wary, following a disappointing summer box office that was down 13 percent from last year. As all the parties attempt to figure something out, word on this VOD system should come soon.