Hollywood wants Apple to sell movies within weeks of theater debuts

Hollywood wants Apple to sell movies within weeks of theater debuts


Apple TV Dark Mode
The wait for new movies could be just two weeks.
Photo: Apple

Hollywood is pushing for iTunes to show the latest blockbuster movies just weeks after they hit the theater.

Sources say a deal between Apple and a number of major studios could be signed as early as next year without the blessing of theater chains. However, talks are currently held up over the price that Hollywood wants to charge for new rentals.

The big screen experience isn’t cheap these days, and most of us are happy to choose streaming services like Netflix, which let us binge on as many movies and TV shows as we want for a fixed monthly fee, over seeing the latest hits on as soon as they hit the box office.

As a result, the theater industry is no longer booming like it once was, and sales of physical films on DVD and Blu-ray are falling. PwC expects U.S. box office revenue to grow just 1.6 percent over the next four years, while streaming services grow 11.3 percent.

In an effort to grab a piece of the streaming pie, Hollywood is looking for new ways to sell its latest movies.

Bloomberg reports that Universal Pictures and Warner Bros. have been in talks with the likes of Apple and Comcast to push for digital sales and rentals that would be available just two weeks after a new movie hits the box office.

It’s thought cinema chains haven’t been included in the talks for now, but when they are, they’ll be given an ultimatum: “Agree to a deal, or we’ll start selling the movie downloads anyway.”

There are a couple of things holding up the talks right now, however. One sticking point is the fees; studios want to charge about $50 for a movie around 17 days after its box office release, and about $30 after around four to six weeks.

If they can iron out these issues and reach a deal, iTunes could begin selling new movies as early as next year.

In the past, there was a six-month gap between a movie’s theatrical debut and its release on DVD and digital formats, with Hollywood historically favoring cinema over television. But with the rise of streaming services, that gap has been reduced to three months.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.