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McClatchy Newspapers, Published March 08 2011

Warner Bros. offers online rentals of "The Dark Knight" and other movies on Facebook

SAN JOSE, Calif. — In a first for Facebook, Hollywood movie studio Warner Bros. is offering online rentals of "The Dark Knight" and other movies on the social networking site.

U.S. movie fans who "like" the "Dark Knight" Facebook page may rent the movie for $3 — or 30 Facebook credits, the Palo Alto, Calif., company's virtual currency. Viewers will have 48 hours to watch the film through their Facebook account.

"Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people," Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, said in a news release Tuesday. "Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world's largest social network."

If other Hollywood studios follow Warner's lead, Facebook could become a rival movie platform to Apple's iTunes and Netflix's online streaming service.

Shares of Los Gatos-based Netflix declined after the Warner Bros. announcement.