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Screening Room Headed to CinemaCon; Brett Ratner Checks Out Technology

Screening Room  and its CEO Prem Akkaraju will be meeting with exhibitors at CinemaCon, the annual exhibition industry trade show unfolding next month in Las Vegas, Variety has learned.

The day-and-date home entertainment platform has raised the ire of some theater owners, who fear that the company will undercut their business.  That could result in a chilly reception. However, Screening Room is appearing in Sin City at the request of some theater owners, and is not looking to disrupt the gathering or be disrespectful, according to a source close to the company. It will be hosting demonstrations of its technology.

The company has lined up a number of big-name directors such as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson and Ron Howard, and has drawn criticism from the likes of Christopher Nolan and James Cameron. One critic, “Rush Hour” director Brett Ratner, has softened his position after coming out in opposition to the company. He witnessed a demonstration of the technology, and while he remains opposed to the day-and-date model and continues to support theatrical windows, he was impressed with the product, a spokeswoman told Variety.

The startup is backed by Sean Parker of Facebook and Napster fame. Screening Room plans to charge about $150 for access to the set-top box that transmits the movies and charge $50 per view. Consumers would have a 48-hour window to view the film.

To get exhibitors on board, the company proposes cutting them in on a significant percentage of the revenue, as much as $20 of the fee. As an added incentive to theater owners, Screening Room is also offering customers who pay the $50 two free tickets to see the movie at a cinema of their choice. That way, exhibitors would get the added benefit of profiting from concession sales to those moviegoers should they choose to see the film again on the big screen.

Participating distributors would also get a cut of the $50-per-view proceeds, also believed to be 20%, before Screening Room took its own fee.

Major movies typically appear exclusively in theaters for 90 days before hitting home entertainment platforms. In recent years studios have flirted with ways to shorten that period of time, believing that will allow them to capitalize on the marketing campaigns they launch for a theatrical debut, potentially saving them money.

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