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Ron Howard, Brian Grazer Defend Sean Parker Home Movie Plan

Brian Grazer and Ron Howard confirmed their involvement in Screening Room, saying that the controversial start-up aimed at providing new releases in the home is a way to bring theater owners and studios together.

Backed by Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju, Screening Room rents films for $50 while they are still in theaters. Exhibitors have long resisted any attempt to shorten the length of time between a film’s theatrical debut and its release on home entertainment platforms, but Screening Room tries to entice theaters and studios by cutting them in on a slice of the revenue.

“When we met Sean and Prem last year, it was clear Screening Room was the only solution that supports all stakeholders in the industry: exhibitors, studios and filmmakers,” Grazer and Howard said in a joint statement. “The SR model is fair, balanced and provides significant value for the entire industry that we love. We make movies for the big screen and for as many people to see it. Screening Room uniquely provides that solution.”

Howard and Grazer run Imagine Entertainment, the company behind such hits as “A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13” and “American Gangster.” They are stakeholders in Screening Room, along with such prominent filmmakers as J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson and Taylor Hackford.

On Sunday, Jackson released a statement contending, “Screening Room will expand the audience for a movie — not shift it from cinema to living room.”

The company has attracted interest from the likes of Universal and Fox, but so far no studios have signed deals. AMC is believed to be interested in partnering with Screening Room, but some exhibitors, such as Regal, are not participating, believing their business would be harmed.

In addition to the rental fee, Screening Room charges $150 for access to a set-top box that is said to be anti-piracy proof. Parker is best known for his roles in Internet companies such as Napster, Facebook and Spotify. Akkaraju has ties to the entertainment industry from stints as a partner at the electronic music company SFX Entertainment and as global head of operations at Sanctuary Music Group.

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