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

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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