The domestic box office may have set a new overall record in 2015 with $11.3 billion, but attendance is still dropping and people continue to complain about the many hassles associated with going to the movies. Netflix and VOD are providing people with some great reasons to stay home instead and studio execs are starting to think that if they want to compete, they’ll need to bring current theatrical releases to the home market at the same time. Theatre owners have fought any such ideas tooth and nail, worried that it would completely destroy the industry. Despite this, last year Prima Cinema launched a service for high-end customers charging $35,000 for the equipment and $500 per movie. Now this year there is a much more affordable service in the works, courtesy of Napster cofounder and former Facebook president Sean Parker. Hit the jump for more details.
According to Variety, tech entrepreneurs Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju are launching a new digital movie service called the Screening Room, which will offer movies at home on the same day that they hit theatres. Their plan is to charge $150 for access to a set top box and $50 per movie. Customers will have 48 hours to watch the movie, which will be encrypted with secure anti-piracy technology.
The big challenge that the company faces is getting all of the industry players on board. They are reportedly offering a major cut of the $50 charge to both exhibitors and distributors while the rental of a movie at home will also come with two tickets to watch it in theatres, thus encouraging additional theatrical attendance and concession sales. Word on the street is that Universal, Fox and Sony have shown serious interest and that AMC is close to signing a deal. They are inevitably still facing an uphill battle, however, as this is something that would shake up the movie business in a pretty major way. Would you pay $50 to watch a current theatrical release at home? Could movie theatres still survive if Screening Room became a reality?