Large families, new parents and homebodies rejoice! A company has been created that can bring new release movies to your home without the three-month wait. A new company called, Screening Room is planning to do just that if and when movie studios and theatre owners realize this will take movies to the next level.
Screening Room is the brainchild of Napster co-founder Sean Parker. The billionaire entrepreneur has been working on changing the entertainment game since he was just a kid with a music sharing site. He was the first president of Facebook, has been a part of many start-ups and currently sits on the board of Spotify. Parker’s forward-thinking approach to entertainment may get studios back some of the money they’re losing on lackluster DVD sales. Theatre owners of course are hesitant but they’re already losing money to torrent sites that are illegally releasing movies before they even hit theatres.
Here’s how Screening Room will work.
1. Consumers would buy one of the company’s secure anti-piracy set-top boxes for $150. Some may grumble at that price but gaming systems go for several hundred more and so do phones.
2. Once the box has been purchased customers can rent a movie for 48 hours the day it’s released for $50! Again, some may grumble but a family of four spends more than that to go to the theatres to see a movie by the time you add up tickets and snacks. That’s where theatre owners are concerned. They’re afraid they will be losing revenue.
3. But wait, there’s more. When “Screeners” rent the new release they get two movie tickets included. That way if they want to see the movie in its full THX surround sound glory they can. Not only that, but as much as $20 of the $50 fee will go to theatre chains, $20 goes to movie distributors and Screening Room gets $10.
According to an article by Los Angeles Times, “[Screening Room] faces opposition from exhibitors and filmmakers who view the simultaneous release of movies in theatres and homes as a threat to their business.”
In an effort to help those opposed understand how Screening Room can enhance their business the system is scheduled to be shown to industry professionals in private meetings during CinemaCon April 11-14 in Las Vegas.
Film fans, folks that couldn’t get tickets to midnight showing and families whose sitters cancelled at the last minute aren’t the only ones supporting the Screening Room idea. Hollywood power house producer and director Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are advisors to the company. Other supporters include Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, and Peter Jackson. Producer of the film “Pulp Fiction” Lawrence Bender asked the group if he could invest in the company after seeing the demo.
Universal, Fox and Sony studios are willing to experiment with other avenues to make up for lackluster DVD sales. According to Variety, no deals have been finalized but the studios are interested in the concept. They are in the initial stages of reviewing the business plan and deal terms.
Not everyone is interested in the concept. The Walt Disney Company, director James Cameron, and The International Union of Cinemas, the European trade group representing theatre owners are opposed to the idea. The National Association of Theatre Owners, the largest exhibition trade organization in the world, representing more than 32,000 movie screens in all 50 states, and additional cinemas in 82 countries worldwide does not support the idea of Screening Room either. With so many opposed it will be hard to make in-home new releases a reality. However, theatre’s need to continue to move forward to compete against streaming services such as Netflix or face the possibility of being phased out like drive-ins and video stores.
According to Variety, Screening Room is close to finalizing a deal with AMC Theatres, one of the largest theatre chains. In fact, they’ll be the world’s largest if a pending acquisition goes through. AMC is currently the only theatre chain even entertaining the idea. Tim League, owner of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is against the idea of simultaneous release. We reached out to several theatre owners and they all declined to comment.
We’ll keep you posted on this story and at some point we’ll find out if the latest Hollywood blockbusters will be coming to a theatre – in your home.