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Screening Room: Is it the Death of Cinemas?

Variety reports Peter Jackson backs Screening Room, a new service which allows theatrical debuts to be streamed into your living room for $50. The director of LORD OF THE RINGS thinks it help will grow the movie industry, by allowing people who aren’t going to the movies an option to screen new releases. More people are staying at home with so many entertainment options available.

Screening Room

A lot of the audience have already cut the cord and watch movies on Netflix or another streaming service instead. Jackson thinks a whole segment of families don’t attend the cinema because of scheduling issues or negotiating a babysitter for their children. The other side of this equation is how many people would stop going out to the theater if they have the new Screening Room device at home?

Jackson joins other legendary filmmakers who are supporting Screening Room, including the massively influential Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, JJ Abrams, and Ron Howard. This new entertainment service was created by Sean Parker, who you may remember from THE  SOCIAL NETWORK, or from real life as the other guy behind Facebook and Napster – which just so happened to help ruin music. Will he do the same with movies?

screening room

A hidden benefit might be more people take a risk on indie films if they a lower rental price of around $10 – $20. This would be an awesome development, as small movies that normally wouldn’t reach a wide audience now get that option. A great example of indie acceptance was the performance of BEASTS OF NO NATION on Netflix recently. The streaming service doesn’t release numbers, but reported that it was in the top trending movies. More people saw that movie than would have paid to go out.

Screening room

Here are the details: $150 gets you an anti-piracy set-top box, $50 “rents” you the movie, you have 48 hours to watch it. As an added bonus incentive to keep theaters afloat, chains will get $20 from each sale. Also, customers will be given 2 free tickets for the cinema. Since theaters make more money from concession, this sounds like a good way to say “Sorry” for stealing away (what’s sure to be) so many customers.

Screening Room

For families, this streaming box is cheaper than going to the theater, plus you can press Pause (ruins the flow of the pacing, but helps the flow if you have to pee). There’s also the triumphant feature of parents not having to watch children’s movies. They can turn it on, entertain the kids, and do something more entertaining, like watching paint dry. This also begs the question, will Pixar-like family movies ever be Number 1 at the box office with the Screening Room option available?

On the other end of the spectrum, you can get together with some friends, split the cost, and have a movie party like it’s UFC on Pay-Per-View. You could even do movie themed food. You could Super Bowl it up, or make a drinking game out of DEADPOOL.

Screening Room

Will this mark the death of cinema? Will theatrical experiences shift to high-class dining-like events? How long until this new “box” gets cracked by hackers?

What do you think?

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