Napster founder Sean Parker aims to re-invent the movie streaming biz.
With his new product Screening Room, Parker and his partner Prem Akkaraju, are looking to make marquee film titles available in-home on the same day as their theatrical release. The endeavor is being backed by major Hollywood players as shareholders, including Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson, Ron Howard, Martin Scorsese and others, according to Variety
But unlike video on demand, which already makes certain titles available while the film is still in theaters via iTunes, Amazon, cable and the like, Screening Room will bring in blockbusters to satisfy an audience who no longer likes going to the theater. It will come at a price, though, with each film slated to cost $50 a pop for a 48-hour rental that will be streamed through a set-top box transmitter equipped with anti-piracy features. That will go for $150.
Variety notes that Jackson has taken a hard stance in the past on the distance between theatrical release and in-home availability. He stood alongside directors like Kathryn Bigelow, Guillermo del Toro and others in 2011 to prevent satellite cable provider DirecTV from offering new films fewer than eight weeks after its cinema release. Jackson has made a statement to Variety on whey he’s changed his tune this time around:
I had concerns about ‘DirecTV’ in 2011, because it was a concept that I believe would have led to the cannibalization of theatrical revenues, to the ultimate detriment of the movie business.
Screening Room, however, is very carefully designed to capture an audience that does not currently go to the cinema.
That is a critical point of difference with the DirecTV approach – and along with Screening Room’s robust anti-piracy strategy, is exactly why Screening Room has my support.
Screening Room will expand the audience for a movie – not shift it from cinema to living room. It does not play off studio against theater owner. Instead it respects both, and is structured to support the long term health of both exhibitors and distributors – resulting in greater sustainability for the wider film industry itself.
Film studios are currently in talks regarding their participation, but no agreements have been made at this time.