May 06, 2008

Think Apple Would Dare To Take On the Movie Theaters?

With the addition of movie rentals on iTunes, Apple has given my wife and me a new entertainment outlet, letting us essentially have video on demand from a wide library, for only 3 or 5 dollars, at any time we wish. Just recently, Apple made more headlines by signing a pact where new DVD releases would simultaneously debut on iTunes. But this still doesn't solve the issue that iTunes doesn't have new releases that are currently playing in the box office, and I think Apple should be strongly considering working with the movie studios to deliver movie rentals of films currently in the theater, at a premium price, if they aren't already.

While new movies and blockbusters hit the theaters each weekend, it's been a long time since we made the effort of going to the theater, paying $11 and up per ticket, stomaching high prices for food and drink, and even then not having first dibs on seating, lacking the ability to pause or rewind the film (like on TiVo or Apple TV), and being forced to sit through an incredible amount of previews and pre-feature ads.

Our living room TV and laptop are the new theater.

But this still means we're missing out on the experience of seeing a new movie in its opening weekend, and being part of the conversation with others who have caught up on the latest Hollywood mega hit. By the time these one-time hits have reached iTunes, and therefore, the Apple TV, months have likely passed by, and often, the interest I once had in seeing the film has passed, leaving me more likely to do something else.

The movie theater industry has already lost me as a customer, for the most part. But they can get some of my revenue back if they strike a deal with Apple, and make new releases available on iTunes the day they debut in the theater.

I propose the following pricing for a 24-hour new movie rental:
  • $9.99 for viewing in the first two weeks.
  • $7.99 for viewing in weeks three through six.
  • $5.99 for viewing in weeks six through twelve.
  • Standard iTunes pricing for all weeks afterward.
There's no question that getting this deal completed won't be easy. Theater owners would be rightly concerned as to losing customers and entertainment moguls aren't known for being flexible. Movie studios might even be concerned you'll rent from iTunes, and show a new feature on your huge flat-screen TV to a busload of your friends. And maybe you would. But if we see Apple's work so far, both with music, and later TV shows and now, feature-length films, it only makes sense that this day will soon come. As a consumer, I can't wait, and I hope I don't have to wait too long. My credit card is ready, and until these new releases show up on iTunes, I can find better things to spend my money on.

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