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Hollywood, Apple Said To Mull Rental Plan, Defying Theaters (bloomberg.com) 74

An anonymous reader shares a report: Movie studios are considering whether to ignore the objections of cinema chains and forge ahead with a plan to offer digital rentals of films mere weeks after they appear in theaters, according to people familiar with the matter. Some of the biggest proponents, including Warner Bros and Universal Pictures, are pressing on in talks with Apple and Comcast on ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains, the people said. After months of negotiations, the two sides have been unable to arrive at a mutually beneficial way to create a $30 to $50 premium movie-download product. The leading Hollywood studios, except for Walt Disney, are eager to introduce a new product to make up for declining sales of DVDs and other home entertainment in the age of Netflix. They have discussed sharing a split of the revenue from premium video on demand, or PVOD, with the cinema chains if they give their blessing to the concept. But the exhibitors have sought a long-term commitment of as much as 10 years for that revenue split, which the studios have rejected, the people said. 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.
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Hollywood, Apple Said To Mull Rental Plan, Defying Theaters

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 18, 2017 @03:25PM (#55043109)

    I really enjoy the theater. The screen and sound simply can't be replicated at home. But the price is absolutely rediculous. The $12 admission is a tad high but for an occasional treat not unreasonable. The real offensive part is being charged $20 for a large popcorn and 2 drinks. Or if I'm alone, $16 for a popcorn and small glass of water.

    The snack stand is going to be the demise of the theater.

    As a side note. My theater is independent and doesn't show ads. I've been to an AMC recently and felt like Milton from Office space. Wanting to burn the building.

    • Ticket prices are astronomical. $12 a ticket for a family of 4 going to the movies is unheard of.

      The higher ticket prices and cost of entry, the more I expect to be blown away by a movie. It's part of the reason people think movies suck today. They're just far more expensive than they used to be.

      Back in the 80s and 90s, theater tickets were reasonable and for a family of 4 the cost would be 30-35$ all in for tickets, soda, and popcorn.

      Broadway is having the same problem. Ticket prices are way too expensive

    • by The Grim Reefer ( 1162755 ) on Friday August 18, 2017 @04:21PM (#55043723)

      The screen and sound simply can't be replicated at home.

      Yes it can. With 4K and ATMOS, there's not much difference. I'm still running standard Bluray and 7.1 in my home theater, and honestly, it's good enough for me at this time. My screen isn't as big as a commercial theater, but I also don't sit as far away from it. So it fills as much of my field of vision. My wife, who couldn't care less about tech stuff, has mentioned how poor the sound at the commercial theaters are in comparison to what we have at home.

      Even with 2K resolution compared to 4K at the theater, the comfort of the seats at home, no other people talking or on cell phones, the ability to pause, etc. it's a trade off that I'm OK with. Plus a Bluray is $20, or less for a lot of the older movies I like. Which makes it cheaper than the price of tickets alone.

      The real offensive part is being charged $20 for a large popcorn and 2 drinks. Or if I'm alone, $16 for a popcorn and small glass of water.

      The snack stand is going to be the demise of the theater.

      Unfortunately in many cases, the snack stand is the only revenue the actual theater gets. The movie companies have gotten so damn greedy, that in the case of a lot of big block buster films, they don't get to keep any of the money from ticket sales for the first couple of weeks. Theater owners love sleeper hits that the studios think are throwaways, because they get to keep a big chunk of those sales. Things like Star Wars, they get all of their money from concessions.

      • The best part of movies at home is no one complains when you get naked.

      • It's not the screen resolution that's most important, it's the screen size. The vast majority of people cannot afford a home theater with an IMAX-sized screen. Sitting close to a smaller screen just isn't as good. For a lot of movies, the big screen adds quite a bit to the experience; often enough to justify the downsides of the theater. And besides I don't get the complaint about snacks and drinks; it's not like you're getting searched on your way in, just smuggle it.
    • "I really enjoy the theater. The screen and sound simply can't be replicated at home. But the price is absolutely rediculous. The $12 admission is a tad high but for an occasional treat not unreasonable. The real offensive part is being charged $20 for a large popcorn and 2 drinks. Or if I'm alone, $16 for a popcorn and small glass of water."

      But you can watch 200 teens checking their phones and texting without any cost, besides being blinded by their screens.

    • The snack stand is going to be the demise of the theater.

      See that's what you don't understand. The snack stand is where the theater makes all their profit. They don't make any money on the movies themselves. The studio keeps most of the gross profits [themovieblog.com] from the movie. Movie theaters really are just concession stands that use movies to get you in the door. I'm sympathetic if you consider it overpriced but if they didn't charge you an arm and a leg for refreshments they wouldn't be in business for long.

      My theater is independent and doesn't show ads.

      Then in all likelihood they won't be around for long.

      • See that's what you don't understand. The snack stand is where the theater makes all their profit.

        O think almost everyone understands this -- but it falls squarely into the category of "not my problem".

        My theater is independent and doesn't show ads.

        Then in all likelihood they won't be around for long.

        I'm not so sure about that. In my town, there are three independent theaters that have been around for years now. All three do as much business as the big guys even though none of them show first-run movies. Their advantages: excellent service, beer and wine, reasonable prices, and relatively small, comfortable theaters filled with overstuffed couches a

    • My theater is independent and doesn't show ads. I've been to an AMC recently and felt like Milton from Office space. Wanting to burn the building.

      A local AMC always runs 20 minutes of ads when the movie is supposed to start. However, they also converted the entire theater to reserved seats.

      Solution: arrive 20 minutes late for the movie, and sit in the reserved seat. No need to watch the ads anymore. Thanks, AMC!

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      The snack stand is going to be the demise of the theater.

      The snack stand is how they are staying alive.
      Margins are tight so they have to screw us rubes over like a carnie.

      As a side note. My theater is independent and doesn't show ads

      The one near me started that way but after six months they had to cave in (the operators have years of experience but they thought they could get enough without ads in the location). There are not many ads (3-4) but they needed to show a few so they at least get something in t

    • that's why i bring my own snacks or buy some from the store across the road from the cinema. standing in line for snacks in the cinema also sucks pretty bad. $12 times four for a family seems like a comparable price to home cinema rental for $50, but i'm never going to break even when i factor on n trying to build a relatively compareable setup to my local imax (and keep up with the ever changing tech)
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I go once a year, and it'll be to a movie like Star Wars on Day 1 where I want to want to watch it with a loud crowd. 99.9% of the time, I find other people's talking and cellphone glare to be distracting/annoying, and would prefer to use theater money to buy the movie outright a few months later.

  • $50 ROFL (Score:5, Informative)

    by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Friday August 18, 2017 @03:31PM (#55043183) Homepage

    I'm sorry, I'm not paying $30-$50 to watch any single movie. I can get entire seasons of TV shows I love for $20.

    • Nailed it! They want too much, but I think a lot of entertainment is overpriced.

      I was looking at things to do this weekend, there are a couple of old but I still like bands coming to town, at decent venues, nothing fancy, but they are asking 100+ PER TICKET!!!! um, no.

      Baseball? in the nosebleeds it's 20 per ticket, plus getting there, parking, etc.

      Movies, same thing, it's just a bad value.

      • The thing is they figured out that while production is expensive, distribution and display is incredibly inexpensive so they can make a killing. Nobody stops to think that maybe, just maybe, mass distribution should have come with lowered venue prices, because they can gouge and get rich.

        I imagine if you could get into the theatre for $5 (and another $5 for concessions), and they still had the occasional usher to remove disruptive people, attendance would shoot through the roof for a net increase in profit

        • I imagine if you could get into the theatre for $5 (and another $5 for concessions), and they still had the occasional usher to remove disruptive people, attendance would shoot through the roof for a net increase in profit.

          Except they only have so many seats. This isn't McDonalds, they increase prices to maximize profit given the show times and seats available.

      • A lot? Try all of it. Nothing beats watching free Youtube via chromecast on a 40 inch tv using phones as remotes. Throw in a few pirate sites...Not too long ago I sprung for HBO while maintaining that setup, but it was only worth the knowledge I'm not completely heartless.
    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      Star Wars - Rogue One was £21 in London. They can fuck right off. Watching a movie once, for a couple of hours, isn't worth more than £10 maximum to me.

      • Star Wars - Rogue One was £21 in London. They can fuck right off. Watching a movie once, for a couple of hours, isn't worth more than £10 maximum to me.

        I think you mean "Star Wars: Vietnam".

      • Damn!!! I think I paid less for front row to see Stomp in London but that was back in 2013.

    • I'm sorry, I'm not paying $30-$50 to watch any single movie. I can get entire seasons of TV shows I love for $20.

      The studios are terrified that you might invite some friends over to watch the movie with you and they would rather charge for a crowd than risk someone watching it for less than full ticket price.

  • by nwaack ( 3482871 ) on Friday August 18, 2017 @03:32PM (#55043187)
    The cost of this is ludicrous. It makes me wonder if they're hoping this will fail hard so they can blame piracy or something silly like that.
  • wow, $30+ bucks for the privilege to watch some shitty movie at home vs waiting 6 months to watch the same shitty movie at home for $1 (or free)? Such a compelling value proposition, tell me more.

    • wow, $30+ bucks for the privilege to watch some shitty movie at home vs waiting 6 months to watch the same shitty movie at home for $1 (or free)? Such a compelling value proposition, tell me more.

      I came here with the intention of pointing out that all the movie theaters have to do is to create a good enough value and experience so as to make people want to see the movie in the theater instead of via whatever digital mechanism the studios are cooking up.

      However, you make an excellent point that most movies are not actually worth watching. I watch several movies a week on DVD or Blu-Ray (from my local library). I have yet to see one on DVD or Blu-Ray that caused me to wish I had seen it in the theat

      • I'm really looking forward to pirating that prequel movie to the ghost in the shell series, but even free it still doesn't hold a value proposition for me. I even won a free movie poster that I quickly gave away to promote the film, so I feel justified.
      • "most movies are rubbish, no matter how they try to package them or how much or how little they charge for them, and given the incredibly easy access we now have to all sorts of media and entertainment, the theaters are on borrowed time."

        Exactly right, and the reason most are rubbish is because rather than focusing on telling a good story, something like 95% of all Hollywood movies are about virtue signaling their alt-left friends in Hollywood and proselytizing their world view. Think about it. When was

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          When was the last time that you saw an action movie where the villain wasn't a white male corporate type

          Maybe last year but it's well and truly the "message" that several movies have pushed this year. The "your boss is your enemy" plot crudely grafted onto whatever plot the movie is supposed to be about has been very offputting lately - but Hollywood has been putting a "message" into movies since before either of us were born and we're just unfortunate that the producers like this one at the moment. That'

      • tl;dr - most movies are rubbish, no matter how they try to package them or how much or how little they charge for them,

        This is a really excellent point. Good, even great, movies are still being made, but they see very limited runs in actual theaters. For the most part, the stuff that dominates theater screens has been cringeworthy crap for years now, and looks to be getting worse.

    • I don't think it is even 6 months at this point, unless it is a Disney movie, it seems like 3 months from screen release to home theater release (usually digital on iTunes first, then disc release a couple of weeks later).

  • That's got to be some good stuff if they seriously think they can do away with the theatres (who get $30/person out of you by the time you hit concessions) without providing the big screen, big sound, or the concessions that are overpriced so the theatre can stay in business despite the ridiculous screening fees. Oh, and BOOST the ticket price an extra $20 just in case you have your spouse or kids in the room when you watch the movie.

    Definitely some high quality product they're using to alter their mental

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They still think we all gather around the TV after Mom's home cooked dinner to watch Jack Benny.

    I'm not spending $4 on a DVD right now! What makes you think I'll spend $50?

    If they wanted to improve business, they'd BACK OFF THE COPY PROTECTION racket! Let us buy a DVD, put it into a device, rip it, watch it on ANYTHING we own over WiFi at the push of a button, even download it for those long car trips and doctors office waiting rooms.

    Until a DVD can compete with Netflix, they're obsolete! Netflix means

    • by LeftCoastThinker ( 4697521 ) on Friday August 18, 2017 @06:09PM (#55044563)

      This exactly. They have slowly DRM'd themselves out of the DVD/BluRay business by charging $18 for a DVD or $25 for a BluRay and format locking it while services like Netflix and premium Hulu have tons of content to chose from. Want to stream your DVD to your tablet? Sorry, you can't. You need to hit up a digital service like iTunes and pay yet again for the pleasure unless you bought multi-format from the get go. Hell, I have VHS/DVD movies from years ago before online streaming was even a thing, but the MPAA thinks I should be forced to pay again for a digital copy? Why exactly? I only bought a license according to the MPAA, my SD license should be valid in perpetuity. There was no expiration date on my movie.

  • Sir Chris Gent, founder of Vodafone, once famously quipped that
    "SMS is the closest thing to pure profit ever invented". This deal would surely take that crown.

  • I won't have to wait a couple months after the movie is released to download a good quality rip for free.

    There are movies I need to go to the theater to see, there seem to be less of them every year though.

    • When sci-fi films feel like the only reason we don't have that stuff today is a matter of cost, its really just a dramady and not really sci-fi. The studios need to stop delivering to the lcd if they really want to attract the fans. TV is no different. There's already a patent on a warp drive.
  • $50 for a 24h license to watch a movie, great idea. Let me guess next idea will be to require your TV to have a webcam to count number of people to charge you per viewer?
  • by innocent_white_lamb ( 151825 ) on Friday August 18, 2017 @05:38PM (#55044371)

    If the movie studios kill the theatres then they (the movie studios) will become mere tv studios without an actual tv channel.

    Television show production houses are a dime-a-dozen.

    Who's going to pay $100 million dollars or more to make yet another made-for-tv movie?

    • maybe you live under a rock but many tv shows are just as good or even better then movies.
    • Who's going to pay $100 million dollars or more to make yet another made-for-tv movie?

      The content creators. Looking at many of the TV shows nowadays it's not a far-off concept for some shows to get there. The Flash and Supergirl have some really good special effects, as does Agents of Shield. Sure, they aren't an hour of Hulk and Iron Man duking it out and destroying entire cities, but they still look better than many movies made 10 years ago.

      Besides, not having the budget for lots of explosions and lens flares would mean more movies with exciting stories. No more Michael Bay movies is an ad

  • Technology changes markets and companies either adapt or get left behind. 30 years ago, encyclopedias were a thriving industry, today, those products no longer exist due to the innovation of the internet. In the same vein, consumers have spoken, and as the Luddites die out, the next generation will consume all of it's media on demand, commercial free in the comfort of wherever they want to view it from for a nominal fee (not $50 BTW, that is pure fantasy). Companies can adapt, or they can go bankrupt. T

  • I absolutely hate the experience of going to most movie theaters these days, so I don't even consider a movie as existing until its available outside the theaters.

    But I may amend this -- it also doesn't exist if it costs $30-50 to see it.

  • They have discussed sharing a split of the revenue from premium video on demand, or PVOD, with the cinema chains if they give their blessing to the concept.

    It is nice to seek cinema chains' blessing, but why do they need it? Usually big corporations just take the money without regards to consequences for third parties.

  • If you really want to pay attention to the show, do it at home, with pause, rewind and replay

    Theaters can be fun as a party place, where food and drink are the main attraction, and there's a movie playing over there

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