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Premium Hollywood Movies Might Stream Sooner, Say Reports

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It's not quite day-and-date, but it's faster than what's available now: According to Variety, 6 of the 7 top Hollywood studios are working on systems that would stream premium movies to home viewers just a few weeks after they're in the theater. Doing so would let them tap into a lucrative home viewing market and capitalize off the marketing money they're already spending on the theatrical release. But the idea isn't popular with theater owners, who would see already flat ticket sales diminish, and it would upset the traditional windowed release schedule studios depend on. Currently, premium movies are available for rental 90 days after their theatrical release, but some films are available after 70 days.

According to the report, Fox and Warner Bros. are leading the effort, enticing theater owners by offering to cut them into the profit with perhaps 10 to 20 percent of the video-on-demand sales price. Those two studios set the proposed rental price at $50 per movie, but others feel that's too high and propose a $30 price. While Fox and Warner Bros. are looking to make films available 30 to 45 days after release, Universal is pushing for a 20-day schedule. Disney, which owns Marvel and Star Wars, is the holdout and isn't interested in changing the theater release schedule at all.

The move is a nod to changing tastes driven by younger viewers: They prefer streamed entertainment and buy less physical media. DVD sales have been falling for years, and decreased by 10 percent in 2016 alone. Variety notes that the studios can't work together on deals as that would violate anti-trust laws. As a consequence, studios are pushing slightly different plans with the same goal. Nothing is being signed at the moment, but Bloomberg predicts we'll see an agreement in place this year.

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