When it comes to the way people view the brands, you could argue that Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) and Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) are two radically dissimilar companies. However, rumors are surfacing that the two may be in talks about a partnership in the budding movie downloading arena. The story seems to have stemmed from Variety, but it's being offered up on other sites like Ars Technica as well.

If you're an avid Apple fan (or shareholder), you know that Apple is now offeringDisney (NYSE:DIS) movies for purchase through iTunes, but deals with other movie studios have not yet materialized. (Of course, many have been rumored, like this word from Lion's Gate (NYSE:LGF) in August.)

As long as people have been talking about Apple's coming foray into the movies, there's also been talk of Wal-Mart as a big obstacle. Rumor has it that Wal-Mart has been pressuring the studios to lower their prices on the DVDs it offers, since it might lose physical DVD sales to movie downloading (although Wal-Mart denies it's trying to block studios from playing nice with others). Most of us know that Wal-Mart does have a lot of power to sway suppliers that need sales through its huge distribution. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart represents about 40% of DVD movie sales, so it's no wonder studios are nervous.

People are saying that Apple was going to launch with more movie studios, paying them $14.50 for new releases, but Wal-Mart got miffed, since it pays $17 per new release and wanted the same terms (which seems unreasonable if you're talking about physical DVDs, which cost more to manufacture). Supposedly Wal-Mart threatened to reduce its orders and that cooled off the studios' interest in distribution through iTunes. Since Wal-Mart represents such a large share of DVD sales, and DVDs only make up about 2% of its own revenues, you can see that the studios need Wal-Mart more than Wal-Mart needs the studios.

Anyway, word has it that Apple and Wal-Mart are in negotiations, and one possible deal that is rumored is one in which Wal-Mart would get a share of iTunes download revenues in exchange for its willingness to sell iTunes digital download coupons. Furthermore, there have also been rumors that Wal-Mart is planning on its own digital download movie service. (Although some might say, give it up, Wal-Mart -- consider how its attempt to take on Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) went over.)

It's hard for me to imagine Steve Jobs bowing to Wal-Mart, but it remains to be seen whether the frenzy to get into the nascent movie downloading market will make such strange bedfellows. Given the fact that Steve Jobs has been a force to reckon with, though, I can only imagine that despite what we all may think right now, there may be some surprising outcomes that we can't even begin to see right now. And while Wal-Mart has been known to be a bit of a bully, if it has threatened to reduce its DVD orders, it seems to be admitting that iTunes' encroachment into movies is a very real threat.

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Wal-Mart is a Motley Fool Inside Value selection. Netflix and Disney are Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendations.

Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.