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Warner Bros. CEO: We Won’t Let Screening Room, Other ‘Third Parties’ Control Distribution

Kevin Tsujihara Warner Bros
Eric Charbonneau/REX Shutterstock

The backers of Screening Room may eventually find studio partners for their plan to release movies to customers at home at the same time that theater owners do, but Warner Bros. may not be among the first.

Kicking off Warner’s presentation at CinemaCon, CEO Kevin Tsujihara suggested Tuesday that the studio intends to continue its current relationship with exhibitors. “I assure you we are not going to let a third party or middle man come between us,” Tsujihara said, to applause from the theater owners packing the theater. The Warner Bros. boss went on to say that when new technologies come on the market, “We will explore them with each of you.”

The studios’ two other introductory speakers, global marketing and distribution chief Sue Kroll and worldwide distribution president Veronika Kwan Vandenberg, also spoke about their strong ties to traditional distributors, before the studio kicked off pitches for its slate. They referred to the theatrical film viewing experience as “unrivaled.”

Screening Room, the brainchild of tech innovator Sean Parker, is in Las Vegas this week demonstrating its system to exhibitors and others. The remarks by the Warner Brothers team follow statements earlier in the day by the leaders of the Motion Picture Assn. of America and the National Assn. of Theater Owners suggesting that filmmakers and distributors should determine new distribution efforts.