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Thursday, August 17, 2006, 02:00 pm PT (05:00 pm ET)

Studio spills Apple's iTunes movie store plans

Apple Computer has quietly been forming agreements with motion picture studios to deliver full-length feature films through its iTunes Music Store, one studio has let slip.

During a recent Lions Gates quarterly conference call, chief executive officer Jon Feltheimer said the studio had recently completed negotiations with several companies, including Apple.

"We also have digital delivery deals in place with Cinema Now, MovieLink, and iTunes," Feltheimer said, "with upcoming announcements with at least two more major industry players."

When asked by an analyst to provide a timeframe in which to expect the iTunes service launch, studio president Steve Beeks said, "I think most likely some time before the end of the year."

Beeks went on to say, "We know when [Apple is] planning on launching, but since they have not announced it publicly, I do not think it is our place to say anything more about that."

Though one of the smaller studios, Lions Gates specializes in independent films and has been responsible for such flicks as The Punisher, Terminator 2, Natural Born Killers, Dogma and this year's Oscar winner for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Crash.

Word of the Lions Gates slip-up first appeared on paidContent.org. A transcript of studio's recent conference call, which includes the executives' comments, is also available online.