Fox: home rentals of flicks still in theater to cost “less than $50”

As Apple and Comcast continue to debate offering home rentals of the latest flicks just weeks after their release, Bloomberg today cited 20th Century Fox studios chief Stacey Snider as claiming that this will become a reality within 6-12 months.

And how much will faster access to films cost? ”Less than $50,” the executive says.

By comparison, purchasing a recently released movie on iTunes costs about $20 (the price of some digital releases drops after a few months), or $5-$6 to rent it.

“The 21st Century Fox Inc. unit and other studios have been considering ways to offer digital rentals of films just a few weeks after theatrical release, in a so-called premium video on-demand window (PVOD),” reads the report.

Movies are typically released on digital platforms 90 days after they arrive on the big screen.

While Warner and Universal have been in talks with Apple and Comcast about narrowing the 90-day video on-demand window for sometime now, they’re discovering that finding ways to push ahead with the project without theater chains on board is a tough business.

According to Snider, talks have “started to coalesce around a concept”.

She said at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch conference in Los Angeles that the negotiations have been slowed in part because studios are “barred from coordinating their efforts.”

Here’s an interesting excerpt that highlights the power struggle:

The exhibitors have sought a long-term commitment of as much as ten years for a revenue split, which the studios have rejected, people familiar with the matter have said. The movie houses could fight back by boycotting films that are slated for PVOD rental.

With the declining DVD sales and the rise of Netflix, studios and theater chains would be wise to negotiate a mutually beneficial revenue sharing scheme as soon as possible.

And while we’re at it, they need to come up with a fairer price because good luck charging “less than $50” for these releases, which sounds like $49.99 to me (and we’re talking about rentals here that expire in 48 hours, not downloads that I can keep forever!).