I am not much of a movie watcher, so I'm not looking at Amazon much to rent/stream movies.

A friend told me that Amazon just jacked up the price on first-run movies like Emma and The Invisible Man to $19.99 after the theaters started closing. I looked, and that's the current price.

But was Amazon renting first-run movies in the $4-$6 range prior to this? It seems unlikely to me, but I thought I'd ask.

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    I think this is a legitimate question for this site - its partially about whether this is a new trend in distributing movies to streaming services earlier because of the closure of theaters.
    – iandotkelly
    Mar 25, 2020 at 4:01
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    I don't think amazon is trying to jack up these movies. I think whats happening is that rather than wait for them to be released on digital, Movie Producers such as Warner Bros., etc. are releasing the films early, but only for rent at a high price to re-coup their losses at the box office. Mar 25, 2020 at 8:05
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    At best this belongs on skeptics.stackexchange.com . The reason for the high rental prices for brand new movies that just released in theatres like the two mentioned here is that they're released early to VOD instead of earning money through theatrical runs. As clearly stated in all the reporting about this, BTW, which should be anybody's source instead of "a friend told me".
    – BCdotWEB
    Mar 25, 2020 at 12:49
  • I looked around for a likely site, maybe this is not the best one. I'm not familiar with all the many sites, mainly SuperUser and StackOverflow.
    – vknowles
    Mar 26, 2020 at 17:24

1 Answer 1


You couldn’t rent first-run movies through Amazon before COVID-19 shut theaters.

Amazon would rent movies that had already hit the rental market for between $2.99 and $5.99, depending on how recently the movie was in theaters. I just checked, Amazon still charges $5.99 for Parasite, the exact same amount I paid when I rented it through them 6 weeks ago.

With theaters closing, the big studios still wanted a way to show their movies, so they brought them to the rental market sooner and they’re charging substantially more because the movie should still be in theaters and charged $19.99 to stay closer to movie ticket prices. (They may have some data that says something like 1.8 people on average watch a movie streamed through Amazon, and that’s why they charge more than the price of 1 ticket, but I don’t know for sure.)

  • They may also be charging more because they know that when people go to the theater, they spend a lot more than the price of a ticket on average. Although that extra movie goes to the theater, not to the studio; they figure that people who want to watch first-run movies are generally willing to pay upwards of $20 to do so.
    – GendoIkari
    Mar 25, 2020 at 15:35
  • @GendoIkari No, those prices are set by the distributors, likely even with a prohibition to rent these for a much lower price. You'll see the same prices across all services (e.g. iTunes,...).
    – BCdotWEB
    Mar 25, 2020 at 22:59

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