March 11, 2016

Would You Pay $50 to Watch Theatrical Releases at Home?

A new company wants to iterate on the day-and-date model. But will studios and exhibitors jump on board?

In the summer of 1999, a man named Sean Parker thought he could revolutionize the music industry. With Napster, the file-sharing era was born. Now, that same man intends to disrupt the box office.

According to VarietyParker's new venture, The Screening Room, hopes to ease tension between theaters and video-on-demand providers by allowing everyone to have their cake and eat it, too. The company's anti-piracy technology, built into home box office systems for a one-time charge of $150, will provide a secure platform for new theatrical releases to be screened from the comfort of your home — at up to $50 a pop.

The Screening Room is luring exhibitors and distributors into its model by cutting each a significant percentage of revenue, sometimes up to 50%. Variety reports that AMC, Universal, Fox, and Sony are currently interested, while Disney is not. 

Would you pay $50 not to go to the theaters? Would you want to screen your film with The Screening Room? Let us know in the comments.     

Image Source: Flickr Creative Commons

Your Comment

43 Comments

Not a chance. I don't hate going to a theater as much as some people do. I'm much more willing to go to my local theater less than a mile away than pay $50 to stay at home, especially if it's a 3D movie which I doubt this service will be providing. Maybe I just have courteous people in my area, because I've very rarely had to deal with issues that most people complain about and the local theater runs a very clean house from what I can tell. (And let's be honest - theater popcorn is the BEST!)

I'll stay with the local theater, thanks.

March 11, 2016 at 2:03PM

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Definitely not, not only is this generally more expensive then seeing something in a normal cinema, but it's not even the same experience by a long shot

March 11, 2016 at 2:09PM

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If I had a 85" 4K TV with a ear destroying audio system I would probably pay the $50 and host friends/family to watch the movie. So basically, all I need is a $15000 theater setup. If I had that kind of money the $50 wouldn't be an issue. The idea appeals to me, the reality doesn't.

March 11, 2016 at 2:16PM

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Definitely! I'll be the first to sign up. While I believe in supporting local businesses, local theaters need to support their patrons better. Every theater I've been to since I can remember, the concession prices have been ridiculously inflated. I've been to theaters where a bottle of beer is cheaper than a bottle of water! After 2 tickets, snacks, parking and gas the bill is already close to $50. So, if I can spend that same $50 to stay at home and watch the latest release on my couch eating my own groceries, I'll take that option.

March 11, 2016 at 2:23PM, Edited March 11, 2:43PM

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Barry
News photographer
74

Hi Barry,

you calculations has one wrong point: In the thater bill you count the snacks into the bill, while at home you have 50$ for the film alone - so your food and drink is extra payments...

Anyhow, for me a theater trip is either 5 tickes (family) or I have to find a "baby sitter". 5 persons plus snacks and drinks is easly over 70 Euros over here. So currently we prefer to buy BluRay for our home cinema. That cuts cost at least half, mostly 1/3rd or 1/4th compared to the cinema itself. And we can repeat if we like, we can stop if we need - watch making ofs etc.

As a cinema guy that reality hurts sometimes and I really like going to the theater. However, until children are old enough its the situation I am faced with (and many others too).

For young poeple, the theater is definetly the better option:
- no need for an expensive home cinema investment
- get out with your friends
- watch true 12 bit and possibly ATMOS sound (hard to find in home cinemas)

March 18, 2016 at 10:30AM

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Axel Mertes
CTO / Founder Magna Mana Production Bildbearbeitung GmbH
178

I can see it now! After dropping $200 to watch my first movie that's still in theaters I realize I'm also watching highly compressed video. Then my girlfriend would turn to say "You paid that much to watch The Cobbler 2?"
"Yes the Cobbler made me fucking cry, it set Adam Sandler apart from his terrible past!"
"It's a piece of shit, It climaxes out of nowhere... like someone I know"
"Listen Samantha, I don't have time to talk about my sad sex life. I'm trying to post a comment about the future of video distribution!"
"You mean none of this exists and you're wasting people's time?"
"Yes. Please for the love of God let me end this future discussion now!"

March 11, 2016 at 2:24PM

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Filmbaker
Writer/Director
484

this is amazing.

March 11, 2016 at 4:05PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1796

One up-vote for you good man :D

March 12, 2016 at 12:15PM

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Umm hail NO! Not a chance I'd pay $50 to watch a movie at home ever. I can wait 3 months for it to go to Redox and watch it for $1.00

March 11, 2016 at 3:13PM, Edited March 11, 3:14PM

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Kaster Troy
Director, DP, Editor
1039

It depends on how you go to the theater. For a single person this is a horrible idea. As you start adding people it begins to make more sense.

March 11, 2016 at 3:31PM

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NOOOOOOOO WAYYYYYYYYYY. I LOVE MOVIES TO MUCH TO DO THAT.

March 11, 2016 at 3:37PM

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I agree with most, it's such a different experience going to a physical cinema and enjoying the film, but then again, people want stuff when they want stuff and they want convenience. I certainly do. This could broaden a movies release run, as cinemas only want to screen films if they can make money, with online streaming, since the overheads are much lower, it's less cut throat because of this.

I think that this would appeal a lot to families, not hardcore movie theatre fans. It would work out cheaper overall, and a lot easier to manage.

It may also offer an avenue down the line to indie films who would have not gotten a theatrical run at all. Happens all the time here in Australia, I find out about great Aussie films from my mates back home in the UK who watched them over there. Craziness.

March 11, 2016 at 3:42PM, Edited March 11, 3:42PM

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Nick Kelly
IBeAFilmDude
164

I disagree with your last paragraph. I think it would hurt indie movies. People will watch the latest Hollywood blockbusters, and indie movies will lose another venue.

March 11, 2016 at 6:53PM

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Minor Mogul
Dilettante
771

Except a lot of indie movies already do this.... just last week I watched a feature on iTunes that was in theaters, it wasn't 50 bucks, closer to 10. I like being able to see it right away as most indies don't screen in my city anyway. I see it as a big plus for smaller films which usually cater to a niche audience and tend to not do well theatrically anyway.

March 11, 2016 at 9:11PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1806

No way. A near-by theater charges $6 for new releases on Sundays. I can watch eight films with $50 and still have change left over.

March 11, 2016 at 3:45PM, Edited March 11, 3:47PM

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Alexandra
Videographer / Documentary Filmmaker
520

I get the sense that this service would be best for people who have invested substantially in a state of the art home theater system. If I had a dedicated room in my house just for watching movies on an enormous screen with killer audio I would jump at this (presumably because that would mean I was considerably more wealthy than I am). It would be an incredible draw for movie night parties. It will never have mass market appeal like netflix though because I imagine most consumers pay to go to the theater because the experience is better than watching a movie in their house. If they market it as a high end service to wealthy cinephiles, it may very well take off.

March 11, 2016 at 4:06PM

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I think this will let hackers get pristine 4k copies of movies easier. I'm sure whatever super-space-age top-secret compression they use, hackers will beat.

March 11, 2016 at 4:07PM

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Ed David
Director of Photography
1796

That price point is kinda rugged. No thanks.

March 11, 2016 at 4:14PM

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Filmmaker Dude
Film stuff
182

At $20 I would consider it; $50 is too much
A distributor getting a major share of $20 massively trumps what they get off even from a set of four standard $10 theater tickets.

March 11, 2016 at 5:53PM, Edited March 11, 5:55PM

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Daniel Reed
Hat Collector
1301

Question: Can you pause the movie? And can you rewind parts of it that you missed or want to see again? Ever sit in a theatre and miss a line someone said really quietly, and you can't focus on the next 5 min of the film because you're too concerned on the fact that you missed that one line and think it's a valuable part of the story and how you wouldn't be in this situation if you just sat at home and torrented the film? Yup I have those types of problems

March 11, 2016 at 6:42PM

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Frogy
Director / Shooter / Cutter
381

If it was half the price and I got to keep the movie and rewatch it any time I wanted, I might consider it.

March 11, 2016 at 6:54PM

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Minor Mogul
Dilettante
771

I'm in favor of it. I think it'd be fun to have friends over and screen a new film -a lot of fun actually. Especially for families with kids or parents who can't get a sitter or whatever, or people in small towns who's theaters don't screen indies, or people who hate having strangers ruin a film... People pay that price for a fight on pay-per-view so why not for a film that may have taken millions to make?

March 11, 2016 at 9:18PM, Edited March 11, 9:18PM

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Stephen Herron
Writer/Director
1806

It's a good idea for a niche market, but I can't imagine many filmmakers and cinephiles going for this. I LOVE going to the movies. Generally when I hear someone say that they hate going to the theater and that their TV is better I assume that they basically don't really like movies at all. And I can't see that kind of person being willing to spend $50 to watch a movie.

March 11, 2016 at 9:59PM, Edited March 11, 10:00PM

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David West
Filmmaker
1305

Nope.

March 11, 2016 at 11:34PM

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NO!

March 12, 2016 at 1:58AM

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Jerry Roe
Indie filmmaker
1518

I would. Here's why. My wife and I have a 1 year old. We don't have any close family that live near by. To go to the movie theater we have to hire a sitter which is $30-$50. Plus movie tickets, $20-$30. That's $50-$80 right there. We LOVE movies and mostly wait till they hit VOD but there are certain theatrical releases where we'd pay to watch at home.
Movies like Star Wars ,where seeing it in theater is half the experience, would not be a good option for 'at home' viewing. We'd probably still go to the theater for that one.

March 12, 2016 at 3:14AM, Edited March 12, 3:18AM

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50 dollars is like going to five movies in the cinema where I live.

So NO I would not pay that.

March 12, 2016 at 3:51AM, Edited March 12, 3:51AM

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Viktor Ragnemar
Director/Cinematographer
1210

Yes, I would endorse it. I am all in to support mom and pop movie theaters but these are long gone in my area, and the movie theater we have only play the major releases. We had to drive 100 miles + just to watch Southpaw, in a movie theater full of idiots. Gas money + time wasted + expensive tickets + expensive drinks + expensive snacks + paying to take a piss was well over 50 bucks for both of us. I can see a lot of parents use this too because if you have to go watch a movie with 3 or 4 kids you could easily lose 100$ and all the hassle and crying that comes with.

March 12, 2016 at 4:21AM

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gandulf charpentier
director of pornography
860

I would never do that.

March 12, 2016 at 9:13AM

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Speed Post Tracking
Lighting Assistant
161

Most comments here are "No I wouldn't" which of course is individual preference. This will be really big. Why? there are millions of people who have limited time, access to certain theaters or movies. And lets talk cost. If my GF and I go to the movies on opening weekend fight the crowds, try to get a good seat and then share a large popcorn and each have a drink we spend $45 anyway. If we go with friends or our kids then it would be very cost effective to have a watch party at the house and make it an event. The same (almost) reason that PPV fights are so successful... Have a few friends over and split the PPV cost...

March 12, 2016 at 9:39AM

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Alas, many of the same people who don't have access to a theatre also don't have access to the high-speed Internet connection necessary for this experience. We who live in major cities sometimes forget that.

March 14, 2016 at 8:30PM

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Minor Mogul
Dilettante
771

I have found the experience of going to the movies less special/distinctive since digital projection became so ubiquitous at theaters. It is not necessarily worse and does have many advantages, but there is definitely a cinematic feel that I feel has been lost with the switch (a feel that I loved getting to hark back to w the hateful eight). Now going to the theatre feels more like watching a movie @ home.

That is why I would totally be on board for this. With todays totally reasonably priced projectors/5.1 systems you could put together an awesome home theater for less than $1000 if you have the space. I have an old budget HT system I put together in 2011 that always amazes me to this day with how cinematic it feels.

The $50 sounds high at first, but between concessions, babysitters transportation whatever you can recoup it pretty quickly especially if you have 4+ people. This might not be for everyone, but sounds like an awesome niche product.

March 12, 2016 at 12:51PM

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This has already been said many other times in many posts, but I'll add my vote of yes I like this idea.
First lets get the topic of the movie going experience. Yes a movie theater will have an amazing visual/audio experience and there is something about that big screen that can't be beat, but it isn't always about the quality. The average consumer will want convenience over quality. When itunes launched the quality of downloads was not on par with CDs. When netflix streaming launched its quality was not on par with DVDs and still isn't quite blu-ray level quality, yet people don't want to go to blockbuster to rent the dvd or blu-ray.

Now lets talk economics. Would I pay $50 to watch the movie by myself, no I wouldn't. Some people say oh well after parking/getting concessions i'll pay close to 50. The only problem I have with that statement is I don't have to pay for parking and I don't buy concessions because they are ridiculously priced. That said, I often go to the movies with a group of people sometimes reaching up to 10-12 people. Tickets near me cost $11 If can get just 4 other people to come over to watch it then it makes sense.

March 12, 2016 at 1:20PM

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Fuck no..... Why the hell would I pay twice as much for a less intense experience?

You still have to buy snacks when watching at home, and if Im staying in, Im not getting anywhere near a cheap candy store, so Ill probably end up spending as much on candy as I would in the theatre.

And then the next point.... The one that we are all afraid to mention. What about the people pirating?
If you are not the type of person that would watch a movie on opening night, if you are able to wait for fx 2-3 months, a pirated version would be out and then again..... Pay 50$ or pirate it?

But again.... I go to the cinema for the experience purely... For the hype. Ill never get that at home.

March 13, 2016 at 12:59AM

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Torben Greve
Cinematographer
1123

I'd pay $25.

March 13, 2016 at 3:12AM

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Why would I pay more for worse experience? This is crazy :)

March 13, 2016 at 11:31AM

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I personally would not pay $50 because I don't have a good/ large enough TV and sound system at home. Also, I like going to the cinema. I like being 'forced' to watch a film in a room that you can't leave, so even if it is a bad film, I am not able to switch it off and watch something else. I have to sit through it and in the past this has been a blessing when a film gets better towards the end or has a long introduction but worthwhile climax.

March 13, 2016 at 1:11PM

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Well that's one way to make piracy easier!...

March 14, 2016 at 3:04AM

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Matt Carter
VFX Artist / Director / DP / Writer / Composer / Alexa Owner
859

I'm all for it. It wouldn't replace the theatre experience, but have a few people over, split the cost and your paying less then you would at the theatre anyhow.

March 14, 2016 at 8:13AM

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Brandon Lapierre
Editor // DP // Steadycam Operator
15

There is no way that I would pay for that service. Half the joy of going to the cinema is seeing the film on a larger than life screen -- The cost isn't even the issue. There is more to seeing a movie than just the film itself. What ever happened to the romance of going to see a movie?

March 15, 2016 at 12:31PM

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I don't even like watching movies on my phone. It doesn't do the film justice.

March 15, 2016 at 12:32PM

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Definitely I would pay $50 dollars to see films currently running in cinemas. I still love the cinema but rarely have the time to go anymore.
And anyway it now seems the cinema is also a place to munch on things that make noise or to comment out loud or to check facebook during the boring bits, that I can live without and it would most definitely be worth 50 notes to watch at home.

March 18, 2016 at 10:47AM

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I have a better idea, how about showing great classic films in theaters for lower price. Instead of a remake, re-screen the originals for a reduced rate. It would be amazing to see Jaws, Ben Hur or the original theatrical release of Star Wars on the big screen for those of us who missed it the first time around. There are plenty of amazing older films that could be re-released between great new productions. It would be a boost to theaters and a way for Hollywood to make money off of assets they already own.

March 20, 2016 at 11:49PM

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Ryan Gudmunson
Recreational Filmmaker
870