The buzz around Sean Parker’s startup Screening Room, in which customers pay $50 to stream movies still available in theatres, has died down of late, but that doesn’t mean things aren’t going on behind closed doors.
In a piece in Deadline celebrating the “disruptive” career of filmmaker and Oscar winner Peter Jackson — one of the backers behind Screening Room along with fellow directors Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, and Martin Scorsese — the director unveiled for the first time details about the streaming startup’s security and what its backers hope to achieve for a movie industry that Jackson believes is “dying slowly.”
“We want to inject health into it, to give the cinemas money they can use to improve the experience, and to give the studios money to get more films made,” Jackson told Deadline.
A big problem with the movie industry currently is that while it’s hitting box office records for grosses (thanks to the expensive cost to go to the movies), fewer people are going to theatres. Jackson points out that there was a 10 per cent drop in attendance from 2014 to 2015.
“Screening Room is designed to sell movie tickets to people that want to buy them but can’t,” said Jackson.
The filmmaker said what sold him on Screening Room was a non-target audience survey the company did asking those who took it if they’d pay $50 to see a film at home:
83% of that non-target audience said no. That’s what we want, for those people to continue seeing movies in cinemas. We asked the same question to our target audience; the people stuck at home, the 25-39 year olds. And 70% said yes they would spend $50. This is what persuaded me.
The article did not indicate how many people were surveyed.
The business model of Screening Room is not to shut out movie chains. According to previous reports, the company has proposed giving theatre chains a slice of the revenue, as much as $20 of the fee. Distributors who participate would take 20% of the $50 rental fee, and Screening Room would take 10% of the fee. The $50 rental (you also have to pay $150 for a set-top box) also gets you two tickets to see the movie in theatres.
Jackson told Deadline that this can help the movie industry’s theatergoing problem.
“If we can get Screening Room into 20 million households, and they rent 12 movies a year, then the exhibitors and the studios will get over $8.5 billion dollars a year,” he told Deadline.
Jackson also went into some of the security Screening Room is developing, which will help with the industry’s constant combat against piracy:
Screening Room is only going to be sold as a membership from a Screening Room website, and there will be thorough security checks done where you’ll provide all your information, including social networks. Screening Room is being sold to an individual person, not to anonymous people who walk into Walmart and walk out with a box.
The movies will also be watermarked so Screening Room will know not only if a member pirated a movie but which member did it.
However, Screening Room still has a long climb to gain support within the industry.
A company that is familiar with what Screening Room is trying to accomplish is Prima Cinema, which offers streaming of first-run movies to the super rich for $500 per rental.
When Business Insider asked its CEO Shawn Yeager about the chances of Screening Room being accepted by Hollywood, he said it doesn’t make sense for movie studios to go with the model.
“The movie business is smart enough to realise that you never want to trade analogue dollars for digital pennies, which is what would happen under that scenario,” he said.
Jackson told Deadline that conversations about Screening Room are ongoing with studio heads and others within the industry.
Read the full story over at Deadline.
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