×

James Cameron Denounces Screening Room as ‘Threat’ to Theaters

James Cameron tore into Screening Room at CinemaCon on Thursday, arguing that the start-up threatens the moviegoing experience, while pledging to continue to deliver epic films that compel people to go to cinemas.

“Together we’re going to continue to make this industry the biggest show on earth,” Cameron told a crowd of exhibitors. “It’s essential for movies to be offered exclusively in theaters on their initial release,” he added. “So boom.”

Cameron took the stage to vent his opposition to Screening Room at the end of 20th Century Fox’s theatrical film slate presentation in the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. He also used the occasion to announce that he will make four “Avatar” sequels instead of a planned three.

He praised theater owners for making investments to improve picture and sound quality, and thanked them for all they did to keep the cinema experience “sacred.” He added that moviemakers need to do their part to bolster the exhibition business.

“Our job as filmmakers is to keep making films that play best on that big screen,” said Cameron.

From television to the advent of video, Cameron said, “There has always been some threat” to moviegoing. But he said that the business has “always answered that threat in the same way. By being great and showmanship. And by creating something in a movie theater that you can’t get anywhere else.”

Screening Room has been a topic of much debate at this year’s CinemaCon. The company wants to offer films in the home the same day that they hit theaters. It plans to charge roughly $150 for access to a set-top box that transmits the movies and charge a $50 rental fee. Consumers have a 48-hour window to view the film.

Screening Room is backed by Sean Parker, an entrepreneur known for his work with Facebook, Napster and Spotify. Prem Akkaraju, a former music industry executive, is its co-founder and CEO.

Many theater owners remain fiercely opposed to the proposal and “Hangover” director Todd Phillips also criticized the start-up at CinemaCon this week. However, Screening Room has lined up supporters such as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Martin Scorsese. No major studios have endorsed the company, but AMC Entertainment, the country’s second biggest exhibitor, has signed a letter of intent.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Visions du Réel Reimagined as Digital

    Switzerland's Visions du Réel Reimagined as Digital Only Event

    Visions du Réel, a film festival in Nyon, Switzerland, has changed the format of its next edition to accommodate the restrictions imposed by the Swiss government in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Originally planned to run from April 24 to May 2, the festival will now be a digital-only event held over a longer period, [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Announces Dues Extension Program for Members During Coronavirus Pandemic

    SAG-AFTRA has developed a program to provide dues relief for SAG-AFTRA members during the Covid-19 pandemic with an extension of the May 1 deadline. “Members experiencing financial hardship resulting from work stoppages related to Covid-19 will be granted a due date extension and an installment plan for those payments,” the union said. “As part of [...]

  • Studio Babelsberg

    Terminated 'Matrix 4,' 'Uncharted' Film Crews Demand Help From Studio Babelsberg

    Germany’s Studio Babelsberg is seeking to find a settlement with hundreds of film crew members following the shutdown earlier this month of Warner Bros.’ “The Matrix 4” and Sony Pictures’ “Uncharted” amid the coronavirus outbreak. The production stop has left many independent film crew members without pay and more than 300 have formed a working [...]

  • Empty movie theater

    Theater Owners Create $2.4 Million Fund for Cinema Workers

    The National Association of Theatre Owners and the Pioneers Assistance Fund have created an initial $2.4 million fund to provide financial assistance to movie theater employees who need help due to the coronavirus pandemic. The organizations said Monday that the first part of the initiative is a grant program that will provide a stipend to [...]

  • Bob Chapek Bob Iger Disney

    Bob Iger to Give Up Salary, Other Senior Disney Executives to Take Pay Cuts

    Disney has joined the list of companies implementing sizable pay cuts for senior executives amid the upheaval caused by the coronavirus crisis. Bob Iger, who shifted from chairman-CEO to executive chairman last month, has opted to forgo his salary for the year. Bob Chapek, who succeeded Iger as CEO, has taken a 50% pay cut. [...]

  • Sundance Horror Movie 'Relic' Picked Up

    Sundance Horror Movie 'Relic,' Starring Emily Mortimer, Picked Up By Film Constellation

    London-based production, finance and sales company Film Constellation has boarded the critically-lauded “Relic,” the debut feature from Natalie Erika James. The film, which stars Emily Mortimer (“Shutter Island”), Robyn Nevin (“The Matrix Trilogy”) and Bella Heathcote (“The Neon Demon”), had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in the Midnight section. The film, which [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content