At least three studios plan to participate in a test with satellite operator DirecTV of so-called early video-on-demand before the end of June, the Los Angeles Times reported today (Thursday), citing people familiar with the matter. However, in an apparent effort to appease theater owners who are concerned that early releases will harm ticket sales, the studios, 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures, and Warner Bros., won't allow the movies to be offered until 60 days after they open in theaters, about a month earlier than the norm. And they're considering imposing a $30 rental fee even with that delay, the Times said. The newspaper suggested that DirecTV CEO Michael White sent up a trial balloon on Feb. 23 when he indicated that his company was talking to studios about making the films available four to six weeks from theatrical release. That was too early for at least two theater chains, Regal Entertainment and AMC, both of which threatened to boycott movies that were released on VOD that soon. However, as the Times commented, it remains to be seen "how many consumers will be willing to pay $30 -- about the cost of four average-priced movie tickets -- to see a film at home when it will be available to buy or rent on DVD in as little as a month."

03/03/2011