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On-demand instead of at the movies? Studios look at making deals

How much would you pay to rent a movie at home while it was still in cinemas?

Jessica Dolcourt/CNET

Want to skip the box office queues and stale concession stand popcorn? Six of the seven biggest Hollywood studios have redoubled efforts to get movie rentals on demand just weeks after a theatrical release, Variety is reporting.

Current practices mean you won't be able to rent most films within 90 days of theatrical release.

Anti-trust laws mean that the studios can't negotiate as a group. Each studio needs to form its own agreements with each chain, which complicates negotiations to no end. And that's before you factor in the diverging opinions every studio has on release window timing and prices.

Disney, for example, wants to hold on to the traditional cinema model, backed with box-office blockbusters like Marvel and Star Wars. Warner Bros. is reportedly looking at on-demand rentals for $50 just over two weeks after theatrical release. Fox is chasing a 30-day, $30 model.

Universal is pushing for all its films to have a premium video-on-demand release, but other studios would prefer to have different release patterns for different films.

Napster's co-founder Sean Parker spearheaded a similar initiative called Screening Room in March of 2016. Screening Room came with backing from big-name directors like Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese and J.J. Abrams, but Day-One releases meant wider studio and exhibitor support for the platform was lacking.

The big takeaway here is that while progress is being made, big wheels turn slow. Don't expect to be able to rent new theatrical releases any time soon, and don't think those prices will dip too far below roughly what you'd pay to see it in cinemas. And as always, it's going to come down to what you're willing to pay and how soon you're willing to pay it. How much is too much for a premium rental on a newly released film? Let us know what you think in the comments below.