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DirecTV: Would you pay $30 to see a new release in your living room?

On Wednesday, DirecTV airs the first of its 'premium video on demand' films, bringing major Hollywood movies – that debuted only 60 to 70 days before – to a living room near you.

By Daniel B. WoodStaff writer / April 21, 2011

A DirecTV satellite dish sits atop a home in Palo Alto, Calif., in this 2010 file photo. DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite TV operator, launches Thursday a new 'premium' service, offering Hollywood movies to subscribers within eight weeks of their theater debut.

Paul Sakuma / AP / File

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Studio City, Calif.

Blowing the foam off his double-espresso latte, Jeff Tandy says he can’t wait to check out Adam Sandler’s film, “Just Go With It,” which he can watch at home today via DirecTV – just 69 days after the film premiered in theaters.

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“I think he’s nuts,” says his buddy, Brad Bone, rolling his eyes. “Thirty bucks is just way too much money when it will be available on DVD in a month anyway. I guess if you have money to burn for lattes, like Mr. Money bags here, you can afford it. But otherwise, what’s the attraction?”

The two comments frame a debate that has been percolating since March when DirecTV – a direct broadcast satellite service based in El Segundo, California – announced plans to launch premium video on demand, a service which will make major studio movies available on TV sets sooner than ever after the theater release of the film. Sony Pictures is first out of the gate today, and will soon be followed by Universal Pictures’ “The Adjustment Bureau,” Fox Searchlight’s comedy, “Cedar Rapids,” and “Hall Pass” from Warner Bros. – all available less than 60 days after their theatrical debuts. Studios will receive from $21 to $24 of the rental price, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Theater owners have expressed fears that the new service will further erode their sinking profits – down by a third in the first quarter of this year – by giving moviegoers another way to skip theaters to stay home. The US’s three largest theater chains – Regal Entertainment, Cinemark Holdings, and AMC Entertainment – have all stated they won’t play trailers for movies offered this way, and may take other self-protective or deterrent strategies.

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