First he disrupted the music business with Napster, then he helped Mark Zuckerberg craft Facebook, changing the way we live our lives.
Now Sean Parker wants to make movies in theatres more easily available for home-video viewing.
A company called The Screening Room, founded by Parker and Prem Akkaraju (who is also CEO), is making the rounds at Hollywood studios pitching $50 rental fees for movies still in theatres. The service would use the company’s secure anti-piracy set-top boxes, according to Variety, which broke the story Wednesday evening.
The Screening Room would reportedly charge $150 for the set-top box and $50 per rental (available for 48 hours).
As DVD sales continue to plummet, studios will listen to any ideas that can bring them revenue. According to Variety, The Screening Room has found serious interest from Universal, Fox, and Sony. Disney, according to the story, has no interest.
And The Screening Room is trying to extend an olive branch to exhibitors by offering customers two free tickets to see the movie they buy in theatres, which would soften the blow of violating the standard 90-day theatrical window for movies before they move to home-video and streaming platforms.
The Screening Room is also proposing 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, according to Variety.
The basic idea isn’t a new one in Hollywood. Back in 2011, the Ben Stiller comedy “Tower Heist” was offered as a video-on-demand option to 500,000 Comcast customers at a price of $59.99 for rental. The “test,” as the film’s studio Universal called it, was a bust. Most customers didn’t go for it.
Though The Screening Room has come up with a plan that intrigues both distributors and exhibitors, it’s still a big unknown if the public would dish out $50 to see the next Marvel or “Star Wars” movie at home instead of going to the theatre for a significantly lower price.
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