Oh my peer, your veneer
is wearing thin and cracking.
The surface informs that underneath,
underneath is lacking.
-- "Bittersweet Me" by R.E.M.

Just when you think that one section of the entertainment industry has figured out the digital era, another battalion runs farther back into the Dark Ages.

Variety says that a consortium of big-name movie studios has come up with a bold, new digital distribution plan: open a brand-new rental window about two months after the theatrical release where movies become available for digital streaming at a premium price.

Content would come from Time Warner (NYSE: TWX) studio Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) division Universal, and News Corp (NYSE: NWS) brand 20th Century Fox. The streams would be handled by DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV), leveraging its network of 20 million subscribers, as well as cable giant Comcast. Given Warner's presence, Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) shouldn't be far behind.

At $30 a pop, these rentals are aimed at consumers willing to pay a little more for early access to films but not enthusiastic enough to slog it down to the multiplex. It's a "tweener" demographic that positions the new service comfortably out of the ideal Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) customer profile yet far enough away from theatrical premieres to protect theater chains. Everybody wins, assuming the demographic is big enough to even make a difference.

But theater owners don't see it that way. The National Association of Theater Owners calls the plan "misguided," and Viacom (NYSE: VIA) studio Paramount isn't taking part due to piracy fears. A two-month delay would presumably give pirates high-quality source materials about a month before the Blu-ray and DVD releases.

It's the same old argument you've heard a million times before: cassette tapes will kill the vinyl LP, VHS will destroy cinema, the MP3 boom will obliterate CD sales, and so on. And it's true: The new will indeed replace the old -- but with new technologies come new monetizing strategies, and it's up to the old guard to figure out how to thrive under a fresh paradigm. Throw up your hands and start complaining, and I see a Dodo bird on its way to the tar pits. The big four studios are at least trying something new and letting the marketplace decide whether it's a success.

Will Home Premiere rock the boat or is this much ado about nothing? Add all the big movie names to your Foolish watchlist and you'll be sure to know one way or another.