Would you rent a same-day theatrical release for $50? Napster founder is betting yes



In an attempt to bring theatrical releases into the home theater on opening day, a startup called Screening Room is currently in talks with movie studios on renting access for a price of $50 per film. Detailed by Variety, Napster co-founder Sean Parker is leading the charge and attempting to champion a platform that offers anti-piracy technology that will keep digital copies of the films off the Web.

To access one of these same-day rentals, consumers will be required to purchase a set-top box for $150 that’s specifically designed to deliver the film into the home theater. If a consumer wanted to rent a film like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice on March 25, they would pay a $50 rental fee for access to stream the film over a 48-hour window. Presumably, the film could be watched multiple times during the rental access window.

Interestingly, Screening Room would cut in movie theater chains as much as 40 percent for each rental. This is an attempt to avoid a severe backlash from theatrical chains that are vehemently against any technology that keeps moviegoers at home. By cutting in exhibitors on a huge chunk of the rental fees, that would be advantageous to all parties. Screening Room also wants to offer the consumer two free tickets with each rental to see the movie in the theater, thus opening the potential for lucrative concession sales.

Distributors would also receive a cut of the rental fees while Screening Room only wants a ten percent cut of each rental. Of course, it’s likely the company would make money off sales of the set-top box as well. At this time, Screening Room representatives have indicated that the company is in final discussions on a deal with AMC, one of the largest exhibitors in the United States.

Of course, this isn’t the first attempt to bring same-day theatrical releases into the home, but it’s one of the most ambitious plans based on the price being offered to the consumer. Prior to Screening Room, Prima Cinema started offering hardware for $35,000 that brings theatrical releases into the home for a hefty fee of $500 per film.




March 10, 2016