The $30 Early Movie Rental Coming Close to Becoming Reality

Posted April 7th, 2011 at 6:00 pm

Four of the big Hollywood movie studios have approved a plan to offer a premium video-on-demand service that will deliver films to homes after just 60 days of being in theaters. The service is set to debut in May on DirecTV with each movie going for $30. Warner Brothers, Fox, Sony, and Universal are all on board.

Now that $30 charge may seem extreme at first but all things considered it is reasonable particularly in cases where more than one person will be viewing. Movie tickets these days reach nearly $20 in some cities. Beyond that purchasing anything at the concession stand and dealing with crowds can turn a relaxing night out into the realm of a big event. Couples that would have to spend a lot of money on babysitters or stress over finding a way to get a night out alone could benefit and families would be able to pile in to watch at home instead of having to buy all the necessary individual tickets.

There are two other elements to examine here. If someone hasn’t seen a movie after 60 days then there is a good chance they didn’t have a huge desire to see it to begin with, so will $30 then be deemed too much when waiting another two months will mean nabbing it from Netflix or Redbox for a couple bucks? There is also backlash from theaters who are threatening not to promote any films (trailers, posters, prime showtimes) from those companies.

Theaters make most of their money on concessions and the bigger cut of ticket sales come from the late weeks of each film’s run. So offering the ability to watch them at home after just two months would have the potential to deal a significant blow to their revenues. It remains to be seen whether these studios backtrack in some manner now or go full steam ahead with the plan.