Apple pushes for iTunes rentals of movies still on big screen

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Apple could potentially offer iTunes rentals for movies that are still in theatres, a report said on Wednesday, which would give it a rare advantage over other rental platforms.

Apple is currently pressing studios for earlier access, according to Bloomberg sources. This coincides with 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros., and Universal confirming that they'd like to offer rentals shortly after a movie premieres — the Bloomberg sources indicated that some executives are aiming for a gap as little as two weeks, and considering a deal with Apple as an option.

Regardless, Apple has been pursuing shorter windows for a while, the sources commented. One concern studio executives are believed to have is piracy — while Apple uses DRM to prevent easy copying, a person could simply record their TV or monitor and share the video online. While this in itself is nothing new, here it would cut into ticket sales and not just the usual Blu-ray, DVD, and/or online numbers.

Early-access rentals would likely come at a high cost. With or without Apple, studios are allegedly considering prices between $25 and $50 — as much or more than a pair of theater tickets, and far more than it costs to buy many older movies outright.

Under common agreements, theaters typically have the exclusive rights to a movie for 90 days before rental and purchase windows open.

Apple hasn't done much to stand out in the online video market, in spite of iTunes being baked into multiple platforms including iOS devices and the Apple TV. If it became one of the only ways to watch movies in theaters, though, it could gain the loyalty of more customers.