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Big Deals For iTunes And Major Studios

Apple announced today that it has finalized a deal with all major and some minor studios to offer new releases on iTunes, according to VARIETY.

Now, a large slate of major films to be offered day-and-date with home video releases, which might eat into DVD and Blu-ray sales, but studios are apparently willing to take that chance.

The new arrangement is includes Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and New Line. New titles from MGM are not part of the deal, but it does extend to boutique firms like Magnolia, First Look and Image Ent.

Apple announced in January that it had signed all the studios to movie rental deals, with titles costing $3 to $4 for customer access for 30 days. iTunes movie downloads will cost $14.99 for new releases, while catalog pics will mostly cost $9.99. Purchasers will be able to view the movies on iPods, computers or TVs hooked up to an Apple TV device.

Apple has moved much more aggressively with its TV offerings, with most movie downloads to own devoted to older titles. However, Apple's success with those deals, which included MGM, Disney and Paramount, likely spurred studios to take the next step.

Disney CEO Bob Iger said in March he estimated they had sold four million movies via iTunes since it became the first studio to try out download-to-own in 2006. A few major new releases, such as Fox's JUNO, have already been made available day-and-date on iTunes in the past few weeks.

On Wednesday, Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes said Warner Bros. will experiment with VOD releases day-and-date with DVD.

Apple was originally expected to announce the new studio deals on Monday, which is the fifth anniversary of iTunes, but was moved to today to put pressure on competitors like Amazon's Unbox and Microsoft Xbox Live Marketplace.

Movie purchases and rentals from the iTunes Store for Mac or Windows require iTunes 7.6.2, available as a free download immediately from iTunes movie purchases and rentals require a valid credit card with a billing address in the country of purchase.

iTunes Movies are available in the U.S. only and are $9.99 for library title purchases, $14.99 for new release purchases, $2.99 for library title rentals and $3.99 for new release rentals. HD rental versions are priced just $1 more with library title rentals at $3.99 and new release rentals at $4.99. Short films are available to rent for $.99. Movies can be previewed, purchased and watched on iPod classic, iPod nano with video, iPod touch, iPhone and on a widescreen TV with Apple TV.