From The Daily Beast:
A war is raging in Hollywood—and no, I’m not referring to this weekend’s titanic throwdown between the Caped Crusader and the Man of Steel. Rather, it’s a battle being waged over the future of movie distribution, and it’s been instigated by Sean Parker, the entrepreneur who rose to Silicon Valley fame as the cofounder of Napster and, later, as the initial president of Facebook. Along with partner Prem Akkaraju, Parker has forwarded an idea dubbed “the Screening Room” which will allow people to watch new movies at home on the same day they make their big-screen debuts. That proposal has led many of cinema’s biggest names, as well as the theaters themselves, to square off in a debate that, at heart, is about the delivery model that has long guided the industry.
The thing is, triumph or disaster, the Screening Room is merely another sign that the cineplex’s demise (at least as the movies’ foremost venue) is not-so-slowly approaching.
This isn’t to argue that AMC, Regal, and Cinemark—the country’s three biggest chains—should turn off the lights, lock the doors, and board up the windows just yet. Rather, it’s to suggest that regardless of the Screening Room’s ultimate destiny, the fact that such a plan has been floated by a name as big as Parker, and supported by a raft of cinematic luminaries like Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, reconfirms the notion that in the long term, technology is apt to make the traditional movie-distribution template outdated—or, at least, a far more marginal, niche business.
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The particulars of Parker’s plan are simple: purchase a $150 proprietary set-top box that connects to your TV, and then use it to rent premiere movies for $50 per title (watchable over a 48-hour period). According to Parker, this idea supposedly won’t steal business away from theaters, since it’ll only appeal to those customers—primarily older adults with kids and jobs—who don’t have the time or patience to head out to the multiplex. Plus, to placate distributors, they’ll get a cut of the set-top box fee, as well as 20 percent of each $50 rental.
Who’s on board for that? Well, apparently lots of filmmakers, including Spielberg, Howard, Peter Jackson, and J.J. Abrams, all of whom are reportedly shareholders in the venture.
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While watching movies outside a movie theater may not be preferable, the convenience of doing so is a powerful draw—and as younger generations grow up consuming videos of all sorts (not just feature films, but also TV shows and YouTube clips) on their handheld devices, and via Apple TVs and Rokus, that entitled desire for everything-at-your-fingertips expediency will grow.
Link to the rest at The Daily Beast and thanks to Dave for the tip.