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.
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.