Hugh Jackman in The Greatest Showman

The film industry faces a number of hurdles when it comes to the theatrical experience. Theaters are working to improve the movie-going experience on a regular basis, upgrading concessions and improving seating situations in multiplexes. But the industry is also always looking at ways to shrink that theater-to-home-video window, and a new breakthrough could occur as quickly as next year if Apple and Amazon get their way.

A new report claims that tech giants Apple are collaborating with Amazon and Comcast on an experimental delivery system that would bring first-run theatrical films to our homes anywhere from 30 to 45 days after a movie has opened in theaters. Under this proposed system, which is being reported on by The Hollywood Reporter, a consumer could pay $30 to rent a movie that ha just been in theaters as recently as a month ago. Because Comcast is the parent company of Universal, the trade guesses that the studio's December releases could be available on this streaming service as early as January or February, meaning you might be able to rent a title like Pitch Perfect 3 or Hugh Jackman's The Greatest Showman in your home for $30 -- again, IF this service comes to fruition.

That's a huge "if" and a lot still needs to happen for the premium on-demand service to launch. Sources tell THR that at least three studios would need to be involved (Disney's already off the table as a partner), and there has to be a mutual agreement struck between the participating studios and theater chains, as there is a potential for major chains to boycott the movies of any studio involved in this VOD stream (if a deal is not in place).

But indications seems to say that studios might be ready to give Premium Video On Demand (PVOD) a try, even if the theater chains remain hesitant. The theaters don't want movies like The Greatest Showman to come to people's homes any sooner than the traditional 90-day window. The movie-going experience needs to stay in theaters for chains like Regal and AMC to stay relevant. If people can spend more to stay home -- avoiding some of the obvious pitfalls that come with heading to a movie theater (texting, talking, etc.) -- that could become the norm, gradually phasing out the traditional movie-going experience.

At the very least, it's sounding like steps are being put into place to make this PVOD a reality, and it might happen sooner than we expected. Apple and Amazon have a strong reach in the tech marketplace, so if studios get the protection they seek against piracy (still a grave concern in the industry) and a price point is agreed upon, then 2018 might be recognized as the year we stated renting first-run movies in our homes a month after they played in neighborhood theaters. The future is here, now.

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