Recently, a new startup from Napster co-founder and Facebook catalyzer Sean Parker has made its way into the limelight. Screening Room would let you stream new releases to your house the same day they hit theaters. Not surprisingly, theater owners aren’t happy. Meanwhile, some of Hollywood’s most powerful directors think it’s an excellent idea.
But for all the kerfuffle, folks might be getting mad about not too much. First-run movies at home could have a bad effect on the way the film industry works. And that’s the reason it most likely won’t happen.
So far Screening Room has tried to keep a low profile. The website gives nothing more than a bizarre logo, a few addresses, and some slightly ominous music. The startup is still in its beginning phase, according to Deadline, but looks to already be in talks with Hollywood execs.
But here is reportedly the idea: Instead of going to a theater to catch a new release, the Screening Room would offer it to you at home for $50 bucks, and you’d have two days to watch it. The company has proposed charging a one-time fee of $150 for a cable box-like piece of hardware fitted with tech to stop piracy.
For Hollywood, such a change would create an industry-wide earthquake, and the fault lines are quickly appearing. In letters this week, the National Association of Theater Owners practically called for a cease-and-desist from the outsider, and indie theaters group, Art House Convergence, warned of the possibility for piracy. Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, and J.J. Abrams, who are reportedly shareholders, appear to support the idea, while Christopher Nolan and James Cameron have publicly opposed it.
Either way, the current system seems ready for change. Theater ticket sales are low. DVD sales are down. Studios are looking for ways to increase their bottom lines. At the same time, movie lovers have become used to an on-demand world. We want what we want when we want it, particularly when it comes to entertainment.