Fox studio head hints deal for early rentals on Apple's iTunes still 6-12 months out

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A deal between movie studios and companies like Apple and Comcast to provide early-access movie rentals should be complete within the next 6 to 12 months, the studio head of 20th Century Fox said at a Los Angeles media conference.

Rentals will cost "less than $50," Stacey Snider claimed, according to Bloomberg. She added that while negotiations have been slowed partly because studios are blocked from coordinating on them, efforts have "started to coalesce around a concept."

Typically, rentals and purchases don't begin until at least three months after a movie's premiere. Studios have been floating the idea of opening up rentals anywhere between 17 days and 6 weeks, at a price somewhere between $30 and $50.

Snider's comments may suggest that studios are leaning away from the $50 mark, which would be a difficult sell. $30 would be closer to the price of a pair of theatrical tickets, but if it's accompanied by a long wait time, some customers might still hold off until they can get a rental under $10.

Another unresolved problem is splitting revenue with exhibitors, who could lose out if streaming happens while movies are still in theaters. Studios have reportedly balked at demands for commitments as long as 10 years on that split, and could even choose to cut exhibitors out of the loop, though that would risk some titles being boycotted.

If a deal is at least six months away, Apple is unlikely to make mention of it at its Sept. 12 press event. The company may, however, announce 4K and HDR support on iTunes, matched by a fifth-generation Apple TV.