U.K. Movie Theater Owners Claim Screening Room Poses ‘Massive Risk’

Screening Room 50 dollar VOD Home
gary musgrave for Variety

LONDON — The U.K. Cinema Association, which represents British movie-theater owners, said Friday Screening Room represents “a massive risk” to the industry.

In a statement, the association said: “‘The Screening Room’ represents a massive risk to the future prosperity not only of this association’s members and their counterparts in other territories, but also of colleagues across the wider film industry.”

The organization, which represents 90% of U.K. cinema operators, added: “It is difficult to envisage how this proposal — if adopted — could do anything other than present an unprecedented opportunity for film piracy while at the same time damaging the foundations of a cinema business which remains the key driver of revenue for the entire business.”

The statement continued: “The cinema experience represents not only over 40% of total film revenues, but also generates ‘word of mouth’ marketing which benefits every other subsequent platform. This proposal would therefore inevitably lead to a loss in overall income for the film industry.

Screening Room, the brainchild of entrepreneurs Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju, offers movies for $50 at the same time as they open in theaters.

The British exhibitors’ body claimed: “There is no evidence to suggest that significant numbers of people are willing to pay £35 ($50) to watch even the biggest films at home on day of release.”

On Wednesday, U.S. exhibitors’ lobbying group the National Association of Theatre Owners dismissed the startup, while reaffirming its commitment to theatrical release windows.

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  1. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    In other news, Hollywood film content still sucks too much to make screening room or the home movie plan as of yet feasible. Mature audiences are not going to pay $50 for cinema dreck that appeals to millennials.

  2. The Truth says:

    So being forced to go to a movie theater when you’d prefer to view a first-run movie at home makes you want to go to the theater even more? Uh, no.

    The only reason theatrical revenues represent 40% of the take is because you have to wait for months to see the movie the way you really want to — on your high definition flat screen whenever you desire in the comfort of your home. But unless the piracy issue can somehow be overcome by technology, Screening Room is likely to be a non-starter. Too bad, because in-theater viewing is no longer the optimal way to experience a movie, and as home-viewing technology improves the qualitative deficit will grow even larger.

    It’s inevitable that the future of first-run movie viewing is not in theaters, but we’re not there yet. Let’s see some projections on how the revenue model changes if the theatrical window is reduced to six or four weeks. I’ll bet the increase in streaming purchases will eclipse theatrical income.

  3. Bry says:

    The piracy threat is greater if a legal way for people to pay for release-date, in-home viewing does not exist. A certain segment of the viewing population is not going to just throw up their hands and resign themselves to seeing the film in a theater. They are going to find a way to watch it illegally. By not giving viewers an industry-sanctioned way to do it, you’re essentially putting gunpowder in the pirate’s cannons. The Screening Room is a fair solution as it provides revenue to exhibitors while still capturing a segment of the market that wouldn’t be going to the theater anyway. It takes dollars away from pirates and negates their smoke-screen argument that this is about freedom of information and not flagrant, greed-inspired copyright violation.

  4. John Harris says:

    It”s a THEATRICAL FILM. Leave it there! Period.

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