NBCUniversal offering $20 48-hour rentals of new release movies

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited March 2020
NBCUniversal will be offering people who can't go to the cinema the opportunity to watch new theatrical releases at home for $20 for two days, but it isn't yet clear if the features are coming to iTunes.

Trolls World Tour
Trolls World Tour


The ongoing coronavirus epidemic has forced the closure of many cinemas and other businesses, as governments around the world attempt to curtail the spread of the virus. The severe reduction in theaters has led to the possibility of movies losing money on their opening weekends, as fewer people will be able to pay to go and see them at the cinema itself.

As a workaround, NBCUniversal will be providing the option to rent new movies and those still in cinemas at home. Announced on Monday, the initiative will mean films from Universal Pictures and specialty label Focus Features will be offered to view as soon as March 20, including "The Hunt," "The Invisible Man," and "Emma."

DreamWorks Animation's "Trolls World Tour," originally intended to open in the U.S. from April 10, will be among the first movies to be offered for streaming from its theatrical launch under the new plans. Rentals for the movies will be available for 48-hour periods, at a suggested retail price of $19.99 in the U.S., and at equivalent prices in other markets.

The media giant specified that the rentals will be offered via Comcast and Sky's video-on-demand services, "as well as a broad range of on-demand partners." There is no mention of which specific services will be offering the rentals. Even if iTunes rentals are not included, there are a variety of other options that iPhone users should be able to choose from.

"Universal Pictures has a broad and diverse range of movies with 2020 being no exception. Rather than delaying these films or releasing them into a challenged distribution landscape, we wanted to provide an option for people to view these titles in the home that is both accessible and affordable," said NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell. "We hope and believe that people will still go to the movies in theaters where available, but we understand that for people in different areas of the world that is increasingly becoming less possible."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 11
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,408member
    This is really the only way studios are going to recoup some of the losses on these new releases. In Los Angeles all movie theaters have been ordered shut. I assume the cost of these new movie rentals includes a revenue split with the theaters because new releases typically have exclusives with the theaters chains.
  • Reply 2 of 11
    technotechno Posts: 732member
    I understand going to the movies costs more than $20, but doesn't it still feel expensive for a rental? Yes, I understand it is a new release. Not sure how I feel about this one.
  • Reply 3 of 11
    Hey Jeff, mr shell, mr ceo of NBCUniversal is your family going to the movie theaters?

    then why the hell would you tell us to go to the theaters. 
  • Reply 4 of 11
    ITGUYINSDITGUYINSD Posts: 305member
    techno said:
    I understand going to the movies costs more than $20, but doesn't it still feel expensive for a rental? Yes, I understand it is a new release. Not sure how I feel about this one.
    Not a great deal for 1 or 2 moviegoers since matinee theater tickets can be cheap.  But for a family of 4 who want to see the same movie, this offers some savings.

    At first, I thought it was $20 to watch as many as you want for 48 hours, then realized that was dumb and it's the price for one movie!  :)
  • Reply 5 of 11
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 779member
    I'm very surprised new releases haven't been offered at premium prices all along.
    chasm
  • Reply 6 of 11
    mike1mike1 Posts: 2,808member
    techno said:
    I understand going to the movies costs more than $20, but doesn't it still feel expensive for a rental? Yes, I understand it is a new release. Not sure how I feel about this one.

    By me, even a matinee is about $10. Considering what i would save on snacks, this is a bargain for a movie I would have gone to the theater for anyway.
  • Reply 7 of 11
    SoliSoli Posts: 10,032member
    zroger73 said:
    I'm very surprised new releases haven't been offered at premium prices all along.
    This does exist, but the premium pricing are for people that have a lot more money than I do and really hate sitting with the plebs. You need one of their special boxes that heavily encrypt all the data (not sure how expensive those are) and then it's reported to be $1,500–$3,000 per viewing.


    mike1 said:
    techno said:
    I understand going to the movies costs more than $20, but doesn't it still feel expensive for a rental? Yes, I understand it is a new release. Not sure how I feel about this one.
    By me, even a matinee is about $10. Considering what i would save on snacks, this is a bargain for a movie I would have gone to the theater for anyway.
    The same for me so if go with someone I'm already at at $20. If not for the theaters shutting down this wouldn't be offered at $20, as noted above with Red Carpet Home Cinema's service.
  • Reply 8 of 11
    techno said:
    I understand going to the movies costs more than $20, but doesn't it still feel expensive for a rental? Yes, I understand it is a new release. Not sure how I feel about this one.
    Well, expensive “for a rental” is fairly accurate, considering that most rentals ar about $6 or less. But considering this is for movies that are currently in theaters (or should be in theaters) I don’t think it’s fair to put this under the rental umbrella.

    We’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time. Let’s say we leave the house as soon as the babysitter arrives, don’t get any food or drink at the theater and come home immediately after the movie finishes (which is not the way the night usually goes). For two of us to go out usually costs $20-25 just for the movie. 3 hours of a babysitter is $40-45. Twenty bucks is already starting to seem like a bargain.

    We also have a decent home theater with 110” screen, 4K projector and Atmos so that potentially makes it a little more appealing to us than someone who is watching on their 32” screen in the living room.
    Beats
  • Reply 9 of 11
    BeatsBeats Posts: 2,642member
    It's a shame how far iTunes has been pushed down in the industry. This should be a no brainer iTunes. Apple has allowed copycats like Amazon, Vudu and GooglePlay take the market they revolutionized and worked hard to create.

    techno said:
    I understand going to the movies costs more than $20, but doesn't it still feel expensive for a rental? Yes, I understand it is a new release. Not sure how I feel about this one.

    This was discussed to death when rumors of iTunes offering theatre viewings for $30+ were circulating. The consensus was that it was a great deal because families can easily spend $50+ with overpriced snacks and was worth it for those who prefer to skip the theatre.
  • Reply 10 of 11
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,602member
    AMC and some other chains have membership programs where one can see X movies per week for a fixed monthly fee.  I pay $24 per month (in NYC - some states are less expensive) and can see up three movies per week, including IMAX and Dolby films.  If I see one movie a month, I break even.  If I see two, I'm saving money.  I think it's a great deal.  Regal has a similar program which I think permits one movie a day.  It would be really great if there were actually more films worth seeing. 

    IMO, watching a movie at home is not the same experience as seeing a film in a well-equipped theater.  Now If you only have cinder-block crappy movie theaters with dim projectors and mediocre sound, that's one thing, but if you have good theaters, only the very best home theaters even come close.   Most people use sound bars at best, which are a severe compromise over even 5.1 sound, never mind 7.1, 11.1 or Dolby Atmos and even a 65" TV is no match for a 50' movie screen.    And most people don't have calibrated TV's.    But I also realize that a lot of people don't care.

    Back in the day, I consulted for a company that evaluated the technical quality of move theater presentations on opening day.   If the movie was playing in a multiplex on multiple screens, I had to see it on every screen.   There were even substantial differences from screen to screen and that generated very different reactions by the audience to each film.  I think that's one of the reasons why there's so much of a difference of opinion on any given film.   Seeing the film on a different screen was a totally different experience. 

    But it's moot right now anyway as at least in NYC (and I think CA), the movie theaters have been forced to stay closed. If Universal continues this program of making first run films available online when the theaters reopen, it will be the end of movie theaters.   They were barely surviving even before the virus, at least in part due to short windows.   Be careful of what you wish for.    

  • Reply 11 of 11
    " I don’t think it’s fair to put this under the rental umbrella." I think you nailed it. Calling this a rental is the thing that will make this fail. It needs to be a new category of movie streaming. Call it a "Screening" or something other than rental so people can get their heads around the fact that this is something different. Make it available for only a few weeks, then it goes away until the rental becomes available.
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