Todd Phillips on Tuesday slammed Screening Room, the controversial start-up that is looking to debut movies in the home the same day they hit cinemas, saying that the proposal threatened the theatrical experience.
“Why are we in such a rush to turn movies into television,” Phillips said to loud applause at CinemaCon, the annual exhibition industry conference taking place this week in Las Vegas.
“Why are we in such a rush to take the thing that separates us from everyone else — the physical shared experience of movie theaters — and do away with it,” he added.
Though he never mentioned Screening Room by name, Phillips target was clear. Screening Room is the brainchild of Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju. It wants to offer movies for rental for $50 and plans to share profits with theater owners and studios. It has attracted the support of filmmakers such as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and Peter Jackson. AMC, the country’s second largest theater chain, is also interested in the proposal.
Earlier in the week-long conference, another supporter, “Raiders of the Lost Ark” producer Frank Marshall, said he thought Parker was a smart man.
“I think we have to take a look at it,” Marshall said. “We haven’t heard the full story, so let’s hear the full story and then we can all make our own judgments.”
But Phillips is not interested in hearing the pitch. He said going to a theater means, “we laugh as a group, we scream together…there’s truly nothing like it and we need to do everything we can to protect that part of the experience.”
This is not the first time that Phillips has used CinemaCon to voice his opposition to new distribution proposals. In 2011, he told attendees that he opposed a plan by Warner Brothers, Universal and Fox to offer movies on DirecTV two months after their theatrical release. Typically films are in theaters for 90 days before they hit home entertainment platforms.
Phillips was also on hand to show footage from his upcoming Jonah Hill and Miles Teller comedy “War Dogs,” but he used the occasion to take one final dig at Screening Room and showcase his allegiance.
“I look forward to watching it at a local theater with a group of 500 strangers,” said Phillips.