Apple and Hollywood are reportedly in talks to provide home-video rentals of movies as little as two weeks after theatrical release.
Studio heads from Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and 21st Century Fox have indicated recently they are looking for deals. Two unidentified sources close to the talks told Bloomberg News the studios are considering partnering with Apple and iTunes.
One plan, according to the Bloomberg report, would be to set online rentals of new movies at prices in the $25 to $50 range.
Movie theaters are seeing a decline in attendance. One studio executive, Warner Bros. chief Kevin Tsujihara, told Bloomberg last week that early access to new movies could take advantage of the popularity of streaming services and deter piracy.
Apple has struggled to make inroads in obtaining streaming rights for films and TV shows. Should Cupertino land a deal, iTunes would suddenly gain a stronger footing in the video streaming space.
There are several players involved. Theaters historically have been against earlier releases of films, but are willing to consider a deal that benefits both theater chains and studios. The film industry would want a streaming platform that could prevent piracy.
iTunes has encrypted video files, but a person could still use a video camera to record a movie playing on a television set. Piracy of titles still in the theater cuts into profits for studios and cinema owners.
One of Apple’s biggest competitors might be Napster founder Sean Parker, who said earlier this year he was developing a new movie streaming service called Screening Room. According to the Bloomberg report, Screening Room uses a watermarking technology that can track sources of pirated films.