Apple and Hollywood Pose New Threat to Sinking Movie Theaters With Digital Download Talks

Digital rentals would be available as soon as 17 days after theater release date

Apple and Hollywood are working together to offer digital downloads of movies only weeks after they premiere — a move that could further exacerbate the dwindling strength of movie theaters.

The price, however, is still up for debate. Major studios like Warner Bros. and Universal are ironing out deals with Apple and Comcast to distribute new releases for between $30 and $50, according to Bloomberg.

Movies would be available on Premium Video on Demand as soon as two weeks after debuting in theaters, under the project’s current framework. For $50, digital downloads would be available around 17 days after their theater release, or for $30 after four to six weeks. Aside from Disney, Hollywood heavyweights have been desperately seeking a solution to lagging DVD sales.

But bringing theaters on board has proved to be a difficult task. Studios have pitched a revenue split for theaters signing off on the new proposal, but a lengthy 10-year commitment proposed by the theater chains have cooled discussions.

A lack of summer blockbusters and the growing influence of home streaming have cut into the profits of movie chains across the country. North America’s core four theaters have all been stifled in 2017, with shares of AMC Theaters crashing 25 percent earlier this month after posting a massive loss in its second quarter.

Some studios are eager to see the PVOD model in action, however. Jon Feltheimer, CEO of Lions Gate Entertainment, said on an earnings call earlier this month he expects it to roll out in the next year.

“You’re going to see some tests done at least in some territories in the near future,” said Feltheimer. “I hope that will happen, I think it will be great for the business.”

Apple and multiple major studios contacted by TheWrap didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A Lionsgate spokesperson declined comment.