£40 to watch a newly released film at home? Apple's latest plan to replace the cinema

Apple already has the hardware in place, but would such a service be thwarted by licensing?Apple

Would you pay £40 to watch a new film at home while it is still showing at the cinema? Apple is hoping you will, as it works on an upmarket rival to Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

The iPhone maker is believed to be in talks with cinema chains and film production companies to create a service through which films could be watched at home just two weeks after their cinema release date. Apple is said to be working with Comcast, the US broadcasting giant and owner of Universal Pictures.

According to Bloomberg, major Hollywood studios (apart from Walt Disney) are "eager to introduce a new product to make up for declining sales of DVDs and other home entertainment in the age of Netflix."

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The report claims Apple and Comcast have been negotiating with studios for months, but have so far failed to find a way to create a $30 to $50 (£23 to £39) service which would be beneficial to all parties.

Through its Apple TV set-top box, the company already has the hardware in place to stream movies to customers' homes, but licensing such a service is often fraught with complications, especially when offering content in multiple countries, as would doubtless be Apple's goal here.

Although such a service sounds alien to consumers used to waiting nine months for the DVD release and over a year before new films reach streaming services such as Netflix, Apple isn't the first to venture down the home-cinema path.

Prima Cinema is a US company which sells a $35,000 set-top box, through which customers can watch films on the same day they arrive in the cinema - for $500 per film. Users must scan their fingerprint on the box each time they want to download a film, and Prima Cinema says the image quality is "twice the sharpness of Blu-Ray". The box can hold 50 feature-length films.

While those figures make Apple's proposed pricing seem like good value, paying $50 to watch a two-week-old film, or $30 for one that is up to six weeks old will likely be a hard sell for consumers used to paying half that to visit the cinema on day one.

Sources familiar with the company's plans say the service could arrive as soon as early 2018. Separately, Lions Gate Entertainment says it expects a service of this type - although not necessarily from Apple - to be "introduced in the next 12 months."

As is par for the course with Apple, the company does not comment on rumour, speculation and unannounced products or services.

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