The idea of having certain big titles from major studios be released early for rental online has been percolating for some time. For many people, the shift was inevitable. As studios continue to foolishly put way too much money into singular properties that they think will make money off of title recognition and assumed franchising, the risk of one tanking huge and bringing the studio down with it becomes an increasingly likely occurrence. Being able to recoup the expenses through rentals around the same time the movies are released is a pretty obvious band-aid but it’s not like it solves the core problem.
And, according to Bloomberg, the big studios are opting for the band-aid over the fundamental change in how they do business. According to Bloomberg, Apple is currently talking with Warner Bros., Universal, and 20th Century Fox about setting up a deal in which customers would be able to rent certain titles from them as quickly as two weeks after release. For underperforming titles, this could be something of a salvation, and for low-budget, high-yield titles – Ouija: Origin of Evil, for instance – this could bolster their box office to the point that studios might notice that that’s where their money should be going 80% of the time.
The obvious toenail in the salad is encryption. If hackers are already able to duplicate movies available for rent on, say, hotel TV services, airplanes, or, yes, iTunes already and able to put them online for free, either for streaming or downloading, that model goes bye-bye. To be honest, no matter what kind of encryption they have currently, there will be copying, either through recording at home or simply breaking encryption, but it might not be enough to really make a dent in the profits. And if the studios and Apple are sensible and keep the rental fees relatively low as they do now, people will be much less likely to run the risk of getting a cease and desist letter. That being said, if everyone decides to get greedy with this thing, matters will worsen quickly. Fingers crossed, everyone.