Walt Disney, Sony Pictures test rentals of in-theater films

The companies allow customers in South Korea to rent films that are still playing in theaters, but it's unclear if the test will expand to other countries.

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CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Walt Disney Co. and Sony Pictures Entertainment are testing out a new way for people to watch the latest films.

The companies are offering consumers in South Korea the opportunity to rent films in-home that are currently running in theaters. According to the Wall Street Journal, which was first to report on their move, Sony offered "Django Unchained" three weeks after it premiered in theaters. Disney's "Wreck-It Ralph" and "Brave" were also made available weeks after their theatrical releases.

Film studios have for years attempted to find the right balance between getting people into theaters and appealing to an increasing number of consumers who would rather watch films in the comfort of their homes. According to the Journal, the studios believe it's too early to determine if the South Korea experiment will be applied elsewhere around the world.

The U.S. might be a difficult nut for the studios to crack. Regal and AMC, the two largest theater chains in the U.S., want at least 90 days to play movies before they can be made available elsewhere. It's unlikely they'd change that policy, since they want to protect their businesses.

According to the Journal, the other major studios are analyzing the experiment to see if it's something they should consider.