Sony and Disney take on piracy in Korea by streaming movies while still in cinema

Piracy is such an issue in Asia that both Sony Pictures and Disney are trialling a new scheme whereby films will be available to rent digitally while they are still available in local cinemas.

Testing is under way in South Korea and represents the first time anywhere that viewers can opt to either stream the movie to their homes or visit a theatre.

Sony's Django Unchained was one of those trialled. It was available to rent in the home either online or through a local cable operator only three weeks after its theatrical release in the country in April. Both Brave and Wreck-it Ralph were given the same treatment by Disney.

The Wall Street Journal reports that executives at each of the four other major studios are keeping a close eye on Sony and Disney's tests and are considering whether to follow suit.

It is too soon to be able to tell if the tests have had an impact on piracy in the region, but Chun Yoon-soo, director of business development for digital-cable company HomeChoice, the largest video-on-demand supplier in South Korea, has revealed that revenues for the "super-premium" films have been positive: 30 per cent up on other rental choices.

"It's way too early to say if this will be a policy for any studio or even a norm, but it seems to have potential," a person familiar with the testing told the WSJ.

Cinemas, however, are understandably reticent.