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Wednesday, January 09, 2008, 09:00 am PT (12:00 pm ET)

Warner Bros said to have signed on for iTunes movie rentals

Major motion picture studio Warner Bros, which was reported earlier this month to be mulling a deal with Apple to offer up its catalog for a new iTunes rental service, is now said to have inked a deal with the iTunes operator that will see its films available through the service at launch.

Citing people familiar with the agreements, Bloomberg claims that Warner will join Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Walt Disney and Lions Gate as initial content providers for the iTunes movie rental service, which is widely expected to make its debut next Tuesday at the Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

New releases and older titles will both fetch $3.99 for a 24-hour rental, according to the report, which echos claims published last month by the Financial Times.. However, other reports have suggested Apple might adopt a slightly different pricing structure that would charge more nominal fees for older library titles.

Nevertheless, distribution deals with Fox, Disney, Paramount, Warner and Lions Gate would seemingly provide Apple with more than 60 percent of Hollywoods offerings for its new service right off the bat, with those on the Street expecting many of the remaining pieces to fall into place shortly thereafter.

"Once a couple of studios do it, how long can the others resist?'' Richard Greenfield, a Pali Capital analyst, said in an interview with Bloomberg. "It becomes only a matter of minutes before the others come on board too.''

Separately, Bloomberg added that Apple's deal with Fox may also see the studio's movie catalog made available for sale through iTunes, joining Disney which already offers its flicks for permanent download at prices ranging from $9.99 to $14.99.

As was reported by AppleInsider on Tuesday, the iTunes movie rental service will require that customers download and install the still unreleased iTunes 7.6 software.