Photographer: Luke Sharett/Bloomberg

Fox Chief Says Deal on Home Movie Rentals Is 6 to 12 Months Away

  • Faster access to films to cost less than $50, executive says
  • Snider: Talks have ‘started to coalesce around a concept’

The studio head of 20th Century Fox expects a deal to allow consumers to see movies at home just weeks after they appear in theaters to be finalized in the next six to 12 months.

Consumers will be able to download rentals much sooner than they can now for “less than $50,” Stacey Snider, Fox’s studio chief, said Thursday.

The 21st Century Fox Inc. unit and other studios have been considering ways to offer digital rentals of films just a few weeks after theatrical release, in a so-called premium video on-demand window. Theater chains have long resisted releasing movies directly to consumers any sooner than 90 days after films arrive on the big screen.

Some of the biggest proponents of faster home release, including Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures, are in talks with Apple Inc. and Comcast Corp. to find ways to push ahead with the project even without theater chains, Bloomberg reported last month.

The negotiations have been slowed in part because studios are barred from coordinating their efforts, Snider said at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch media conference in Los Angeles. But the talks “have started to coalesce around a concept,” she said.

Most of the leading Hollywood studios are eager to introduce new sources of revenue to make up for declining sales of DVDs and other home entertainment in the age of Netflix. They have discussed sharing a split of the revenue from premium video on demand, or PVOD, with the cinema chains if they give their blessing to the concept.

But the exhibitors have sought a long-term commitment of as much as 10 years for such a split, which the studios have rejected, people familiar with the matter have said. The movie houses could fight back by boycotting films that are slated for PVOD rental.

Shares of three of the largest movie theater chains fell Thursday. AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. declined 4.2 percent at the close, while Regal Entertainment Group dropped 5.3 percent and Cinemark Holdings Inc. slid 5.1 percent.

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