Desperate to stake a bigger stake in the burgeoning on-demand movie market, major movie studios are mulling a proposal from Time Warner Cable to let consumers rent new movies in their living rooms just 30 days after they've been released to theaters, according to the Wall Street Journal. That's the good news. The bad news? The prices discussed for this rental: $20 to $30 per film.
That's a whopper, but there is a certain logic to it. The price is high enough to keep people from abandoning going to the movies altogether, especially if it's a highly anticipated title that fans need to see on opening weekend. For families who have given up going to movies because it can easily cost $50 or more (after the trip to the concessions stand) to see something like Shrek Forever After, such a move can snare more revenue for the studios than if those same families wait to rent the DVD for $1 per night from a Redbox machine.
Nonetheless, it will negatively impact theater owners, who are hoping their investment in 3D screens will continue to pay off. But with DVD revenue dropping rapidly, rentals of newer movies could become more important to the studios than keeping theater owners happy.
These premium on-demand offerings could become available as early as the end of the year, though they may take the form of tests with smaller movies rather than blockbusters that could raise the ire of exhibitors. The studios would hope their approach would be more successful than Sony's attempt last year to rent Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs before the DVD launch for $25 to owners of Bravia Internet-connected HDTVs.
Would charging $20 to $30 for these premium rentals be a shrewd move for movie studios as living room technology undergoes a technological sea change and fewer people attend films? Or will this be a flop due to the high prices? Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.