Leveraging some synergy between its electronics arm and its movie studio, Sony announced today that it's going to offer its hit kiddies flick "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" to owners of select Bravia home theater gear a full month before it's released on DVD. The price for this privilege—and there sure is a price for it—is $24.95.
Since this is an online rental, you'll need to have a Bravia HDTV with networking capability, either built in or thanks to being attached to the Bravia Internet Video Link, or the BDP-N460 Network Blu-ray player. People who buy one of these devices between now and January 4 will get a break, scoring the rental for free—so much for long-time loyalty.
The pricing model here is what will draw the most attention. Sony would no doubt argue the high price for the rental is not only related to its early access, but also because it's less than the cost of taking the whole family to the theater (and most renters of this film will be families). But in this economy, is being able to rent this successful movie a few weeks ahead of the masses really worth an extra $20? In fact, if you're using Netflix or renting at $1 per night through Redbox, the pricing difference is even starker. Setting that type of price for a brand-new movie is one thing (since the studio would want to recoup the money it wouldn't get from the box office), but does a movie that was just in theaters for several weeks, giving people ample time to view it, really warrant a rental price that is comparable to the cost of buying a DVD or Blu-ray version?
Is this type of rental offer going to work? Would the pricing make more sense if you could download a new film instead? Let us know your thoughts in the TalkBack section.