As digital content delivery has become increasingly prolific, a tension has built between theatrical film exhibitors and movie studios. The latter would like to shorten the amount of time between when a film opens in theaters and when it releases on home video. Exhibitors oppose that, for obvious reasons. However, a deal may be in the works that would enable film fans to experience new films streamed to their televisions on the same day and date as their theatrical release. Variety reports:
Individuals briefed on the plan said [the startup company] Screening Room would charge about $150 for access to the set-top box that transmits the movies and charge $50 per view. Consumers have a 48-hour window to view the film.
To get exhibitors on board, the company proposes cutting them in on a significant percentage of the revenue, as much as $20 of the fee. As an added incentive to theater owners, Screening Room is also offering customers who pay the $50 two free tickets to see the movie at a cinema of their choice. That way, exhibitors would get the added benefit of profiting from concession sales to those moviegoers.
Participating distributors would also get a cut of the $50-per-view proceeds, also believed to be 20%, before Screening Room took its own fee of 10%.
Spending $50 to watch a film at home may seem ridiculous. But consider the pros. You’re sitting in your well-worn living room grooves. You control the environment. You can pause to use the bathroom or get snacks. And when you divide the cost between a family of four, you’re not necessarily paying more than if you went to the theater. You may even be paying less.
This could prove particularly attractive to film fans who, for whatever reason, cannot easily get to a theater. Parents with small children. People with disabilities. Residents of far-flung rural areas. Each could have access to first-run films that they might otherwise never get to.
Sooner or later, we’ll probably see something like this come to fruition. The market will find a new balance. There will always be value in the theatrical experience, especially as theaters continue to incorporate higher technology which can’t be fully experienced in the home.