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Napster's Cofounder Thinks You'll Pay How Much to Watch New Releases at Home?

By Cindy Davis | Miscellaneous | March 11, 2016 |

By Cindy Davis | Miscellaneous | March 11, 2016 |

Are You Effing Kidding Me?

I’ve been wondering for a while now when, how and who would be the first to bring new film releases to a home box, but I hadn’t truly contemplated what the cost of that would be. Theater prices have been steadily skyrocketing, and in my area tickets can range from about $12.00 to $20.00, which is still pretty much shocking to me any time I go to the movies. But, still…I wasn’t quite prepared to hear what the first shot at first run at home was going to be.

Fifty dollars.


I know, I know; I can already hear you mathematicians calculating and your “Well, work it out — them’s the facts, ma’am,” but pardon me if I hadn’t realistically thought about the studio deals and the distributor deals and all the little people who have to make money..and pardon me again, but does that come with popcorn?

The details on Napster cofounder and former Facebook president Sean Parker’s latest venture called the Screening Room are still being hashed out, but essentially, customers would purchase a (yet another) box for $150.00, and then $50.00 for each new release watched at home (that’s for 48-hour access). Variety reports that several studios — Sony, Fox, Universal — are interested in the ongoing wheeling and dealing, but Disney, who I’d venture to guess with create their own watch-at-home service, is not. Obviously, this is a complicated issue, adding in that the Screening Room wants to work in exclusive content deals, and many studios and distributors share with several providers; it’s possible each of the players will end this whole thing before it even starts coming together. Some deals with theater chains (AMC, Cineplex) to release new movies to providers within x days are already in place, and one would expect it’s only a matter of time before all the companies involved in distribution work out their own pieces of the pie; I’m curious to see how far the Screening Room model will get. What’s to stop the bigger fish like Netflix and Amazon (Apple already gets some films early) working out much better — for the consumer — deals?

The bottom line here is really about who’s willing to pay what for instant home release? There’s no doubt it’s coming; theater attendance has been in steady decline for years. (Although, Disney could probably open exclusive theaters for their content and do just fine.) So, would you pay $50.00 to watch first run movies at home? And if so, how often do you see yourself doing that? I’m pretty certain I’d just wait it out, and catch things the same way I do now — rentals/Netflix. Variety’s first poll is pretty definitive, though I’m not sure the movie they chose is properly representative. Superhero movies, the Star Wars universe and films like Mad Max: Fury Road beg for big screen viewing.

What’s the deal, folks? How much will you be willing to pay for first run at home movies?

Cindy Davis, (Twitter)