You’ve been waiting patiently for the movie to finish production, and finally the lights go down low as the opening credits roll. The excitement and expectation is utterly palpable. There is complete silence and eyes are peeled.
… And then the neighbours upstairs ruin the atmosphere by making a racket as the first lines of the film are delivered.
Watching newly-made and released movies at home could be norm after Sean Parker, founder of Napster [yes, that Napster], launches Screening Room. After purchasing a specialist, anti-piracy set-top box for the one-off cost of around £100, users of the service would pay around £30 to rent a new film for 48 hours, and watch it in the comfort of their own homes.
On the face of it, it seems like a fantastic idea.
In a world where you can order food to your door without ever having to do anything more strenuous than click a mouse, what could be better at completing the “vegging out” experience than having latest blockbuster movies beamed to you? And it’s not just for convenience – in a world where not every cinema is guaranteed to be wheelchair accessible / disability friendly, what could be better at ensuring that everyone can enjoy the latest and greatest movies by allowing them to view them in environments that they can not only get to, but feel inherently comfortable in?
But as so often happens in Hollywood, things suddenly get messy as soon as you look at the finances.
We’re living in an era where cinema tickets are getting increasingly expensive, with the price of cinema tickets rising by 26% between 2010 and 2015, and 46% of people claiming that rising costs are the main reason for not seeing movies on the big screen. If someone doesn’t want to pay £15 to watch a film in the cinema, why would they pay double that [plus the oh-so-cheap one-off cost of £100] to watch the same film in their own home? There’s paying for convenience, and then there’s having more money than sense. Plus, if you were paying £30, you’d expect to have the privilege of keeping your chosen film to watch whenever – not limit yourself to a time period of 48 hours.
Reports suggest that around half of the money would go towards compensating theatrical distributors against potential losses. Because, y’know… every time you get an Uber, half of your money goes to a black cab driver in order to apologise for teaching them the hard way that they must adapt to survive. To sweeten the deal for cinemas even more, each Screening Room streaming purchase also gets you two tickets to see the exact same film at a local cinema. As diplomatic as all of these financial compensation measures are, it just makes it seem as though Screening Room are trying to creep into the industry without offending anyone, which may result in keeping everyone apart from the end-customer on side.
Screening Room has got significant creative clout behind it, after being allegedly backed by Peter Jackson [Director, Lord of The Rings], JJ Abrams [Director, Star Wars: The Force Awakens], and Stephen Spielberg [I don’t think I really need to introduce him]. But while showbiz big-wigs are with the idea, only time will tell whether it’s viable and can attract the masses.
*all prices shown above are converted and estimated.
How do you feel about Screening Room? Is it something you would use? Is the price right? Drop me a comment below!
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