James Cameron, Jon Landau Slam Screening Room Home Video Proposal

James Cameron
Newspix/REX/Shutterstock

James Cameron and Jon Landau have declared early opposition against the Screening Room proposal that would allow day-and-date showings at home when studio films are released in theaters.

Landau told Variety that he and Cameron believe that the initial release of films should take place only in theaters.

“We know that this proposal is at the early stage and we have an obligation to speak out publicly against it,” he added.

Early supporters of the Screening Room include Peter Jackson, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Frank Marshall, Taylor Hackford, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Variety first reported last week that Sean Parker had originated the proposal, which would offer new releases in the home for $50 per 48-hour view.

Related

Art House Theaters Slam Screening Room, Say Start-Up Encourages Piracy

Opposition has come from the National Assn. of Theater Owners and the Art House Convergence.

“Both Jim and I remain committed to the sanctity of the in-theater experience,” Landau said. “For us, from both a creative and financial standpoint, it is essential for movies to be offered exclusively in theaters for their initial release. We don’t understand why the industry would want to provide audiences an incentive to skip the best form to experience the art that we work so hard to create.”

Landau and Cameron are the producers of “Titanic” and “Avatar” — the two highest-grossing films ever made, with combined worldwide box office of about $5 billion. They are working on a trilogy of “Avatar” sequels.

Both received a best picture Oscar for “Titanic.”

“To us, the in-theater experience is the wellspring that drives our entire business, regardless of what other platforms we eventually play on and should eventually play on,” Landau said. “No one is against playing in the home, but there is a sequencing of events that leads to it.”

The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

Filed Under:

Want to read more articles like this one? SUBSCRIBE TO VARIETY TODAY.
Post A Comment 27

Leave a Reply

27 Comments

Comments are moderated. They may be edited for clarity and reprinting in whole or in part in Variety publications.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

  1. That's What She says:

    The only difference with Screening Room, other than price, is that it offers movies at a “same day” option. Otherwise, it’s just a rich version of VOD, and we already have that. Just make movies “same day” on VOD. Problem solved! Where’s my Parker-sized paycheck?

  2. John Mooney says:

    I’m all in. I’ve got a great home theater that’s much more comfy then most theaters and I can count on one hand how many times I’ve been to a theater in the past 10 years. At $50 per movie, I read that the theater chains were STILL being compensated. Better for that then not being compensated at all when it comes out for Netflix/Vudu or pirated.

  3. John says:

    Best thing about America is that no industry has the right of making a profit.

  4. B M says:

    Sean Parker out to take away money from the hard working people who make movies. He already did it to the music industry. Hell…why not take out the movie industry too. Movies have already become throw away entertainment due to streaming services.

    And unless you have an excellent surround sound system, no you are not getting the same experience as in a movie theater no matter hard your want to fool yourself into thinking so. Sure HD TVs have gotten so good they could be considered on par with theaters, but sound is half the movie.

  5. don'twantwalleworld says:

    Disturbing that the main complaint about going to a theater is “other people”. Also, a decent setup in the home will set you back 5K, is that cost not considered? Plus, movie theaters have bent over backwards to increase comfort (reclining seats), snack selection, screen size and sound quality and sound (RPX, Imax, 3d) etc. for patrons, yet tickets remain under $15. I don’t go to mainstream theaters very often, but when I do they are pretty nice, very clean, and there is plenty of space. I have not noticed “annoying” people texting, talking or anything. I feel like that idea is very much exaggerated. Why aren’t the same demands made of sporting venues? Do sports fans walk if they have to be around “other annoying people” Maybe all the sports fans should demand recliners and $10 tickets or they’ll stay home.

  6. The men who made the biggest box office successes of all time support box office.

  7. Bob Smith says:

    My home theater experience is better than the experience I receive in a public theater. In fact, I am extremely unlikely to see a movie in a public theater ever again.

    There are lots of people for whom the above statements are true. The producers/directors can make higher revenue from our eagerness, or they can collect a lower fee later. That is their only real choice. The idea that they control anything beyond timing is ludicrous.

  8. ahk says:

    Theirs obviously at least two veins of thought in this idea. Cameron and Landou’s fear arent truly the ‘Theatrical’ experience but instead the financial threat they assume that would come in the form of piracy. its justifiable. But piracy is already in full swing and movie blockbusters are still making historical revenue. so the question really is whether piracy truly the big threat that people assume. That would depend on each film individually turning a profit either in the theater or in home release. Even then movies are distributed twice fold via pay television ala netflix amazon hbo etc. In fact the most antiquated experience of viewing a film is theatrical. And that mostly due to the fact that the theater itself has not kept pace with the same levels of advancement as the films shown. Imax ,3d ,digital projection and Dolby Atmos is as far as theaters has moved forward most of which only recently been employed. In fact in terms of immersion and semi interaction has come from theme park motion control rides, which employ all of those above including many additional effects, but is done on a level that cant truly be mirrored in the average town theater. And The home experience has made major leaps and bounds in the form of advance audio systems. 7.1 surround, film resolution large screen Televisions with 3d and unlike a theater of which experience is often ruined by other noisy annoying audience members, the home has safety and privacy. In other words if the theater isnt refreshingly new or charmingly old the experience could be far worst than viewing at home. The point the other directors make is not only that but also the opposite in argument about financial gain. They see home release as a means to make more revenue than even the theaters, because the form of distribution is controlled. ala netflix, hbo, amazon etc. A $50 fee per buy means whether one person or the average five viewers upon the initial release they’re still pulling more of a profit than an actual theater ticket. The profits being higher because the distribution costs are lower, far lower. And repeat revenue from repeat views would also increase due to accessibility. A big blockbuster typically gets two viewings per hardcore fan, one per initial viewing and a second with friends. depending on the city and ticket cost (mind you the fee includes city taxes distributes fees etc) what the studio actually makes is not the full cost of the ticket. certainly the larger percentage as the theaters make most of their money via concessions. I believe their is a middle grown to this. Charge a much higher fee for in home day-of release. half the price upon the films mid mid life in theaters and give the film early distribution via pay television finally blu ray after its run its course.

  9. KathyRo says:

    Dear James Cameron, Jon Landau, et al:
    I have an idea. Since your art is so precious, you should make sure your movies are released ONLY in theaters. I mean, the only reason to release on other media is to make money, right? And you would never compromise your art for that, right?
    Yeah, right.
    STFU and don’t tell me how I’m supposed to experience your art.

  10. Hans Dieter Ulrich says:

    No doubt there will be niche and specialty houses and venues that survive. Just as the death of vaudeville did not mean the end of live theater – most cities still have at least one “legit” theater for touring Broadway shows. But turning the movies, the greatest mass media invention in history before TV, into Broadway is not a winning business model. The central conceit in those who would bring an end to the theatrical window is the naive belief that somehow the theaters will survive…but perhaps more importantly, that someone will still invest $200m to make Star Wars or Mission Impossible. The idea that the movie business as we know it will survive is the fatal self-delusion. Without the movie theaters, it will all be television. There won’t be “event films” – if you don’t like them to begin with that’s fine, but it is what keeps the ship afloat right now.

    It may be inevitable but we shouldn’t think that what everyone thinks of as movies, however you think of it (blockbuster or art house) will just go on – it will not. If you dream of that great indie project that finally explores the depths/heights of true love/romance/hate/bitterness/war/remembrance whatever, you will never have that chance unless a TV network orders it. And if you think the studios are heartless beasts, try pitching a network.

    No — movies, whatever that means to you, will end if the theaters end and the theaters will end when there is no exclusive window.

    But that doesn’t mean all is horribleness. Most people never go to the movies to begin with. We think movie going is ubiquitous, but it’s not. The end of Vaudeville and the decline of “legit” theater was succeeded by film and TV. Game of Thrones is as good as anything you get in a theater and is a different but equally satisfying form of entertainment. Entertainment will change and adapt – but don’t think you will still be making movies. Who would have dreamed of the scale of the game business 40 years ago. 30 years ago Atari dies a death of epic proportions but the console game business rose from the ashes. Personally, I can’t wait to see what the internet channels will finally deliver when someone cracks that formula. Twitch isn’t my cup of tea but it sure is for millions and millions of people all over the world…..who needs movies ultimately? They will die and Sean Parker will pound that stake while Grazer and Howard hold it, but do not cry for its demise….unless movies are how you make a living.

    Been to the premiere of a Grand Opera lately? Probably not….but Puccini was a contemporary of Irving Berlin and George Gershwin. La Fanciulla del West (The Girl of the Golden West) was inspired by cowboy movies. Caruso wore spurs and chaps in the premiere performance at the Met. Puccini was in an historical context, a contemporary composer, who knew the gramophone, saw movies and heard jazz. His world is gone and not that long ago considering…….but music didn’t die. (Although Silicon Valley keeps trying to bury it.)

    Besides, the Chinese are one international blockbuster away from putting us all out of business anyway. 你怎么说,在中国摔断腿?

  11. Billy Bob says:

    Finally someone who is sane and understands the business. Right on Cameron! Sean Parker is out for his own self-interest and not looking out for what is best for the health of our business.

  12. MovieBill says:

    i’m with Cameron….and really surprised at how Spielberg and his friends eagerly joined on. Especially Scorsese. Shame on them. Streaming is convenient, sure, but so is watching TV. This is just pay-per-view crap. Like Bob Hope said, “Oh yeah…TV….that’s the place where movies to when they die. Besides…i’ve yet to find streaming to be as clear or consistent or equipped with features as a blu ray disc. That’s still the best home viewing experience. But the best VIEWING experience period is at a movie theatre. We’ve become far too isolated as a society…shutting ourselves up at home. People have forgotten how to be part of an audience. Plus—Hollywood has really fallen down on how to market movies.

  13. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    These cinema effetes are proponents of a big screen art forum that is hurting for lack of quality. Outside of a few leftover icons who are still active, modern filmmakers no longer make the effort to appeal to universal audiences. Diversity exists but demographic genres are segregated. With remake serial franchise product, everything is for kids or casual fans who will see and like anything. Meanwhile, a good breakthrough script that is meant to stand out on the written page is often filtered by focus groups and/or ad libbed by new age directors with chaotic vision. As a result, high concept content often gets short shrift since there is always something in the committee mix to ruin it. Like weak plot development or poor casting. In the end, with less and less singular vision to merit the old fashioned standard release system, old school Hollywood talents aware of what older mature audiences want, are now opting for home box office, quality direct alternatives.

  14. The Truth says:

    What Cameron and Landau don’t get is that for legions of movie fans, the theatrical experience is not “the best form to experience the art.” Even most AMPAS members prefer to watch Oscar screeners at home than schlep to state-of-the-art theaters.

    The notion that watching a movie in a big dark room with a bunch of strangers is somehow “sanctified” is preposterous. Is the optimal place to experience a book in a library? Should you have to go to a live concert to experience the music before you can buy it and enjoy it anywhere you want to? Should you be forced to go to a bricks and mortar store to purchase a product you can more easily order online? Yet those who want to watch a first-run movie in the comfort of their homes or on mobile devices should be shut out by an outmoded sequenced distribution system that forces them to wait until the theater chains have reaped their box office receipts? Ridiculous.

    The Screening Room proposal doesn’t give audiences an incentive to skip in-theater showings. It simply makes the first-run experience more convenient and pleasant a massive consumer base. Any purist who wants to endure traveling to a theater to see a movie would still be free to do so. And Luddite filmmakers who don’t want to make their precious work available to Screening Room could simply withhold their films from the service. But it’s likely that those who elect to do so will find themselves on the short end of the financial stick.

    I’d rather pay a premium; stay home with my reasonably-priced snacks, alcoholic beverages, and other favorite intoxicants; and enjoy the latest tentpole blockbuster on my ultra definition flat screen or my VR headset. And the millions who have young families, are elderly, or are just sick and tired of boorish theater audiences are right there with me.

    • DannyIndio says:

      You make a fair point but the analogy of watching a movie in theaters to reading a book in the library is not equivalent. There is a qualitative difference in watching a movie on the literal BIG screen than watching it on TV. A better analogy is to compare it to watching a sports game live at a stadium to watching the game on TV.

      • The Truth says:

        There is certainly a qualitative difference between reading a book in a library and reading it in your home or anywhere else you want to whenever you want to. Home viewing technology is steadily invalidating any qualitative difference between watching a movie in a theater and watching a movie at home. When all the ancillary logistics are factored in, the convenience and comfort of home viewing is preferred by many millions, and that number will only escalate as technology inevitably improves and becomes more affordable. The massive television audience for sports hasn’t killed live attendance because technology cannot yet come close to replicating the live experience. Increasingly, this is not the case with movies.

    • TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

      Again, proponents miss the point. The home movie plan target audience is not seeing movies at theaters anymore because the quality, subject matter and casting has steadily deteriorated for the last dozen years.

      • TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

        What is your market research for these stats, moviegoers under 40? Media consumers left out cling to old formats and reject the digital cloud. You must be a bean counter whose chief concern is financial figures and low rent taste demographics. Here are some facts for you. Modern cinema is mediocre as a result of lack of age group diversity. If special effects star, it is because today no one fits their roles with the casting of too many young actors who are not believable as mature leads. Meanwhile, there are still 100 million entertainment consumers whose taste and demand for quality is totally ignored. This is rather ironic when we all spend more of our lives getting old than being young. This ageist cinema business model follows the dystopian theme of the sci-fi film, Logan’s Run. That may make money but it insures that there will be no such thing as classic films anymore. This is why the freer choice of the web as a time machine to the past is a threat to standard media and the New York Times stopped listing Oscar winners in the early 2000s.

      • The Truth says:

        2015 was the third lowest year for theatrical movie attendance in the last 20 years. Video store and kiosk movie rentals of physical discs are in precipitous decline. Even mailed rentals and downloads are decreasing, but digital streaming is soaring. These are facts. Research demonstrates that the audience wants to watch movies at home or on their devices whenever the mood strikes them, not on a movies theater’s schedule. They don’t want to wait for a DVD in the mail from Netflix or even take the time to rent a cheapo from Red Box at the grocery store. If what you say is true, viewers in search of “quality” films with serious subject matter and lauded actors should be streaming in droves when such movies are offered. But there is no huge unmet demand for quality at the cineplex or at home. The reality is that most consumers of movies aren’t looking for quality. They just want an affordable movie with a lot of wow factor special effects action or belly laughs that don’t require a major investment of attention or intellectual engagement. While some serious films do succeed, most don’t. And those that do don’t come close to the revenues of sci-fi superhero and cartoons.

  15. craigggc says:

    I suppose I’m open to the idea of offering the option, but a.) there’s no way in hell I’m forking over $50 for a film, and b.) most films are mixed for the theater experience – I doubt my $100 soundbar will truly replicate what sound engineers had in mind.

  16. Tom says:

    So the guy with a financial interest in movie theater exhibition opposes a plan for people to watch at home. I am shocked, shocked I tell ya.

  17. Ken says:

    Thanks Mr. Cameron! I’m with you on this one! Hoping to see the AVATAR sequels sometime in my lifetime – in a theatre on a huge screen, the way nature intended!

  18. Jar Jar Box-Office says:

    Still workin’ on those Avatar sequels that no one is excited about, guys?

    • dat doity boidy says:

      I’m excited about them, I’m curious to see how they expand that world and universe. I also bet you anything you’re gonna see at least one of those sequels…

      • Jar Jar Box-Office says:

        I’ll see the first sequel, but not more than once and won’t see the rest if that one doesn’t deliver. In a post Star Wars and Avengers world where every big movie is released in 3D, the next Avatars don’t stand a chance at record-breaking b.o., which is the ONLY chance they have of making a profit since they’re investing a near-billion in them. I love James Cameron but I think he is in for a rude awakening.

More Film News from Variety

Loading