Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson Backing Sean Parker’s Bold Home Movie Plan (EXCLUSIVE)

Steven Spielberg
Rob Latour/REX Shutterstock

Screening Room, the Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju-backed start-up that’s looking to offer new releases of movies in the home, has lined up a number of Hollywood’s heavyweight filmmakers as key supporters.

Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard are among those backing the company, according to multiple sources. Only some of them have invested money, but all are shareholders in the start-up, which is represented by powerhouse attorney Skip Brittenham. They join former Sony Pictures vice chairman Jeff Blake, also a stakeholder, who has been consulting for Screening Room for months and helping lead the charge.

The company will offer new movies in the home for $50 at the same time as they open in theaters. It would charge $150 for access to the anti-piracy equipped set-top box that transmits the films. Customers have 48 hours to watch the movies, and the idea is to capture an audience older than teens and young adults, who might have responsibilities such as children that prevent them from going to the theater.

In order to convince studios and exhibitors to back the plan, Screening Room is cutting them in on a significant percentage of the revenue. Theater owners could get as much as $20 of the $50 dollar fee. Customers will also receive two free tickets to see the movie at a cinema, which will further benefit exhibitors when concessions are purchased.

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Studios, Exhibitors Consider Revolutionary Plan for Day-and-Date Movies at Home (EXCLUSIVE)

But exhibitors have long resisted any moves to shorten the amount of time between a film’s theatrical release and its debut on home entertainment platforms. Many believe that any effort to shrink that window undermines the health of their business and encourages people to stay home.

Parker is best known for his roles in Internet companies such as Napster, Facebook, and Spotify. Akkaraju was previously a partner at the electronic music company SFX Entertainment and was a partner at InterMedia Partners.

The endorsement of filmmakers like Spielberg, Grazer, Jackson, Howard and Abrams, who have directed or produced some of the biggest movies in history, will be crucial as Parker and Akkaraju try to convince theater owners and studios to embrace their technology and should help attract additional investors.

Representatives for Parker and Akkaraju and the representative for the company declined to comment. Representatives for the filmmakers declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

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  1. ubuntu says:

    have four people come to your house, thats $10 per person and a much more personable experience.

  2. edmcan says:

    My grandparents in Toronto, had something like this in the early 60’s. I remember you had to feed it quarters, not $50, though. It’s how I saw 101 Dalmations, in black and white : – \

  3. 50 bucks! I’ve always thought about this type of service but at 50 bucks a movie, and not thinking about the anti-piracy equipment charge, is a big ask.

    Also, with many people having crystal clear television screens, the torrent sites with get some very, very bright and shiny uploads.

  4. $50 bucks for 48 hours? I better be able to watch the film as many times as I want in that 48 hour period.

  5. Tyson says:

    So many things wrong with this particular model. First of all, $50! I realize it includes a $50 theater fee… But this doesn’t save Theaters, it subsidizes the major distribution companies that own the theaters. Why are we so concerned about the “theater experience”? Viewers obviously don’t care about it or we wouldn’t need this tech in the first place.
    I didn’t see a subsidy going to Blockbuster when internet distribution started.
    $50 is too much for the mentioned Parents who can’t get to the theater. And yes (before you start typing), I understand that isn’t much once you pay for tickets, buy popcorn, get a babysitter, etc… But you are missing the point if you think the money they spend at the theater is about seeing a movie. It is about getting out of the house.
    I think the flaw of this plan is that it overstates the audiences need to see things the moment they are released in theaters. I know I’m a member of a growing population for whom opening day is the day it is released on “video”. There are big movies that are much better in a theater. Big picture and sound only really enhances big, blockbuster type films. To that end, I find myself filing movies into 2 categories when I see a trailer. “Theater movies”, and “Living Room Movies”.
    The bottom line is that these directors and producers are looking for ways to keep their investors happy. They are grasping at any way to keep the theater chains writing them big checks. Rightfully so! However, like it or not, the future of “Motion picture entertainment” isn’t in the theaters. This article isn’t presenting an alternative to it. It is simply the acknowledgment by the industry of that fact.

    I think it is also important to note the language here. Those big filmmaker names are listed as “supporters”, not investors. It really isn’t much for Spielberg or JJ to say, “sure, I’ll give it a shot once you’ve built it and paid for it!” It is a potential revenue stream. It doesn’t mean they think it is a great idea. They are just saying that if it exists, they will be willing to let it make them money, even if it is only a little bit. It isn’t as if they are signing exclusive distro deals. That would defeat the purpose anyway.

  6. andy collins says:

    This is nothing new, 2929 Productions (Mark Cuban) has been doing this same thing for years now,,,,

  7. eddie willers says:

    The biggest problem for cinema is that the better writers are now working for “Peak TV”. I am unaware of any Hollywood release I would pay $10 for, much less $25.

  8. eddie willers says:

    Good idea, bad price.

  9. Eric Shawn says:

    Ridiculous. This sounds like Pay-Per-View meets Netflix at ten times the cost with a fraction of the allowed viewing time. This product is not designed to offer convenience to people, it is designed to exploit people who are simply not able to go see a movie or perhaps don’t feel safe going to a theater. If Hollywood wants to be the big dogs of the entertainment industry again, then they have to accept that things have changed, think of a creative solution, and break their ‘follow-me’ mentality.
    Think of the theater as a viewing platform. Why don’t you treat the theater like a subscription or a theme park? Buy a day pass at $50, see whatever movies you want, and then go home. Theaters pay a license fee to studios, maybe a little extra on the backend for the very successful ones, and everybody gets what they want. That makes a lot more sense paying $18+ per viewing (plus another $20 for snacks and another $6 for those HappyMeal-grade 3d glasses) or, God, $50 to watch it on my smelly, old, piss-stained couch. People want to go to the theater and see movies, but without having to refinance their home every time they buy a ticket.

  10. TheBigBangof20thCenturyPopCulture says:

    It’s a good idea that may be priced out of the home pay per view market for content reasons. Mature target audiences are not going to pay $50 for millennial home box office dreck cast with man boys and waifs with no screen presence to carry films beyond CGI special effects. In order for it to work, Spielberg and co. will have to exhibit strict quality control over the movie projects, make sure they are epics and not outsource juvenile cinema to hipster remakes and the usual new age Hollywood dystopia that passes for lemming, one size fits all entertainment.

  11. Ben Miles says:

    Being able to watch a new release at home, with my decent home theatre setup, would actually be fantastic! I have been banging on about this for years. I’m glad someone is finally managing to get something happening. I’m happy to pay $50 for a new release.

    As much as I like going to the movies, it’s very difficult for me to go. I live two hours from the nearest cinema so it’s a real commitment to go; especially since I have a 2 year old kid so my wife has to go solo for the day when I want to go and watch a film.

    I’d still want to watch some big films at the movies – there’s nothing quite like it. But for the fall back ability of renting it – I’m in.

  12. ............. says:

    Why would you pay $50 to see a movie once, when in 3-4 months you can buy the bluray for $10?

    • Ben Miles says:

      $10? Jesus! Lucky you. Most Blu-rays are $30 in Australia. We all know someone is going to spoil a film for you, inadvertently or not, so waiting for those 3-6 months isn’t always a good idea.

  13. Bill says:

    I’m amazed at the people backing this truly terrible idea.

  14. jack says:

    I’m not sure if I would ever use this. $150. for the box and $50. for the first movie is $200. That’s Netflix and Amazon Prime for a year. When my wife and I go to the movies we can spend close to fifty bucks, but we only go three or four times a year because there is nothing to see. We just wait to see the the ones we don’t want to spend fifty bucks on.

  15. EddieO says:

    I don’t think I would use it. I like the theatre experience. I can see others doing it. If I were an exhibitor I would be a bit nervous about the idea.

  16. Anti piracy you say? What if people film it at home and release it as a cam on torrent sites? Im sure they didnt skip this in the thought process right?

  17. IT--2--IT@hotmail.com says:

    ‘Boldness’ from the INTEL RUN franchise slum mafia?

    – – —-RRRRRIGHT.

  18. metaxeno says:

    Pirates are going to have a field day with this. Other than that, I think it’s a decent idea. I will miss a good movie screening at a theater, hopefully some of the good ones will stick around and survive. I won’t miss idiots talking and texting during movies I paid to see, long lines, tasteless overpriced concessions, bad seats

    • metaxeno says:

      Also, will this be the beginning of the end of the 200,000,000 plus blockbuster? Maybe if they spent less on marketing they wouldn’t be in this mess. Do you really need to market a movie like Avengers that much?

  19. Chris T says:

    Screening Room = Godsent. How do I sign up Sean ? I would have bought 2 movies in the time it took to write this post!

  20. Miranda Smith says:

    I think a home movie idea is great but would many people pay $50 for a film?

  21. Chris Tuvey says:

    Sean – how do I get a box I am in. The system of theaters and studios are last century. People below are clueless. Give me a break. This fights piracy not fuels it. Easy of copy doesn’t fuel piracy, lack of legal sources does! How do I sign up ?

  22. harry georgatos says:

    Thank God the end of cinemas!! No longer to be stuck in the session from Hell. In Sydney Australia a cinema ticket is an outrageous $25.00!! I’ll be the first to sign up! Best thing that can happen!

  23. druxmanworks says:

    $50? I’d rather wait 2-3 months and rent the Blu-ray.

    • Bob says:

      Seriously, I’d rather wait 2-3 months and get it from the library. After a fairly short wait, I got Spotlight and Bridge of Spies sitting here waiting to be watched. Creed, Brooklyn, The Good Dinosaur, and The Peanuts Movie are coming soon. Would I have paid $300 to watch those? Not even with Tom Hanks sitting next to me.

  24. There is a startup called XCINEX that is building a system that will not only stream theatrical movies but live & specialty events such as concerts, musicals, operas and more on a per-viewer basis. It’s much more advanced than this system and offers a real feasible model. XCINEX detect the number of viewers and facilitates ticket sales per-viewer. Check it out for yourselves at xcinex.com.

  25. CA says:

    Well it sounds like they have covered the rear end of content providers and the exhibitors but what do consumers get? A $50 price tag lol.

    What if I pay $50 to watch Batman vs Superman and invite 20 of my buddies over? I don’t think the $50 fee will cover the loss. Unless they can detect each viewer and sell individual tickets, this is a fantasy no matter who is backing it. It’s simply not feasible.

  26. Sunneva Joh says:

    This is exactly what I’ve been waiting for. I personally don’t like going to the theatre for many different reasons so this is perfect – I don’t care about the price – just let me watch it at home !! (Plus, the price will change, this – if it becomes a reality – will evolve just like everything else).

  27. John Shutt says:

    Yeah, good luck with this plan Sean even if you got the backing of Abrams and Spielberg.

  28. tom says:

    Ridiculous idea.If you watch 4 movies a month is $200.

  29. Maggie N says:

    I totally disagree. I work at a studio for the past 7 years and the film industry is on life support and needs innovation. No one is excited about comic book movies every weekend. They are making low light cameras that will be able to do the same in theaters. This is exactly what the industry needs. Anyone who doesn’t see this and works in film industry needs to do everyone a favor and quit.

  30. Charles J. Wesoky says:

    As much as I respect all those who are involved, including the expertise of Jeff Blake, this is rife with problems for diminishing the already steady decline or stagnation of movie goers. The first run home experience is not a solution for those new and old filmmakers trying to have their vision presented in the most professional format. Nor do any of these backers have a way to stop the obvious ‘entrepreneurs’ from setting up mass screenings in their homes or venues and charging for them in competition to the professional exhibitors. The exhibitors need to think this through more clearly than just trying to believe this will increase their bottom line when it really could be the genesis of no way back from a slow end to the Magic of The Movies.

  31. Mike P. says:

    As ticket prices go up and the public is decrying the increases and taking other alternatives to movie watching, the Industry gives us the option to watch the movies at home for $50? A movie that I can wait for for 3-4 months and be able to watch it for a fraction of that cost? What am I missing here? I can understand for certain audiences (families in particular with many kids) this is practical, but for the every day person, the idea seems good but the cost seems completely out-of-touch. It is going to be hard to convince people to pay Pay-Per-View-event prices for something that isn’t unmissable or eventful. The reason folks pay for those events is because they’re live and they don’t want to have the outcomes spoiled. For a movie, these characteristics don’t really come into play so paying such a high premium for a product that doesn’t glitter like a Pay-Per-View event is flawed.

  32. Pete Mels says:

    Sounds like great news as it means tripod-based color-corrected HD-Cam quality video with line-based audio recordings will be available for download on the torrent sites the day of the release… Anyone who thinks this will not happen is brain-dead…

  33. Jack Black says:

    Yes, that’s what I want to do, pay 2x the already outrageous movie prices for me and my wife. It never ceases to amaze me the 1% creating experiences for other 1%ers. $50 is a ripoff. I’ll wait for Netflix, Amazon Prime, or iTunes. Especially with the crap Hollywood is putting out these days.

  34. Elizabeth Abbott says:

    I have 3 young kids at home. I need this service so I can finally watch movies. $50 is a fair price – I would would pay twice that. How do I sign up???

  35. Mark Gunner says:

    This team is unstoppable. Congrats boys. The industry needed this for years.

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