J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Peter Jackson have reportedly backed Napster founder Sean Parker's controversial new streaming service, Screening Room.
Parker's looking to make major blockbusters available for home viewing the same day they hit cinemas for a $50 (£35) per view fee, with a 48-hour window to view the film. The service would involve the purchase of $150 for a set-top box, which utilises secure anti-piracy technology to transmit the latest releases.
Jackson decried a similar service in which DirecTV would allow rentals eight weeks after theatrical release, leading some to accuse him of backtracking on his beliefs somewhat; "Screening Room will expand the audience for a movie — not shift it from cinema to living room," Jackson stated to Variety in defense of his endorsement.
The company has even attempted to soothe studio fears by cutting them as much as $20 of the fee, as well as trying to prevent tensions with theatre owners by offering customers who pay the $50 two free tickets to see the film at a cinema of their choice, so that exhibitors can still reap profits on concession sales.
There does appear to be interest from several major studios, including Universal, Fox, and Sony; though Disney seems to have zero intentions of joining in on the scheme, possibly due to competing interests with its own movie-streaming service.
It's bound to be a major point of contention in discussions on the future of cinema; with the centrality of the theatrical release inevitably being put into question here. Though last year saw record levels of attendance, with profits crossing $11BN; the overall trend has seen cinema profits flatline.Reuse content