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Businesses Movies The Almighty Buck Entertainment

Peter Jackson and JJ Abrams 'Back' Sean Parker's Screening Room (variety.com) 288

An anonymous reader writes: Reports claim that Napster founder, Sean Parker, is working on a new service, called Screening Room, which would make major blockbusters available at home on the same day as they hit cinemas. The service would apparently charge users $50 per movie, and provide them with a 48-hour window to watch it. Now a new report claims that Hollywood titans Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg and JJ Abrams are among backers of Screening Room.
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Peter Jackson and JJ Abrams 'Back' Sean Parker's Screening Room

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  • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @11:46AM (#51700955) Homepage
    A fool and his money soon parted.
    • Are there actually THAT many people that HAVE to see it on release day.....and can't wait for a later, more convenient day, or maybe just do like I do...and wait for it to come out on BLuRay...rent and watch in the comfort of their own home...?
      • by creimer ( 824291 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:01PM (#51701097) Homepage
        This reminds me of my college days. I always asked my roommates if they wanted cable. They all say YES! I then asked them if they wanted to pay for cable. They all say NO! We never had cable when I was in college.
      • There are plenty of people to whom $50 is not problematic at all for an hour or two of entertainment. Think what dinner at a nice restaurant costs even in a medium-sized city. They could charge more and still have many thousands of customers, but are obviously searching for the sweet spot between cost and number of customers that optimizes their return.

        • Re:High end... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @12:12PM (#51701197)

          It's about what it costs to see it in a theater in many places, when you factor in "practicality". About $20 for tickets, then another $20 for overpriced snacks. Add another $8 or so if it's "3D".

          Still, I'd wait for it to come out cheaper elsewhere unless I hear the movie is exceptionally good from trustworthy sources (not paid for critics).

          • This is almost, but not quite, as stupid as people who watch cellphone video of a movie, at home, when it is released.

            • Re:High end... (Score:4, Insightful)

              by mythosaz ( 572040 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:51PM (#51702071)

              Why? Because it's not how you like to spend your dollars?

              My wife and I could easily have another couple over and this becomes $12.50 per person, which is below the price of good tickets in my city, before factoring in any supplemental costs. Even if I just watch it with my wife, $25/person isn't particularly outrageous for entertainment - especially since it's only another option in long list of entertainment viewing choices. Sometimes, I just want to stay home, order a pizza, maybe put a few drinks in me and not worry about a taxi, and watch a movie. I imagine Deadpool would have been a good candidate for this service - especially if I can pause and rewind.

              Despite the fact that Safeway has rib roasts for $5.77/lb, lots of people still prefer to have people prepare them and serve them to them for $20-50/lb. And, by the same token, despite the fact that I can get good pulled pork with little to no effort at a reasonable price from the nice place up the street, sometimes I like to spend an entire weekend smoking my own pork shoulder, despite the fact that it's not an "efficient" use of my time.

              It's not "stupid" when people place different values on their time and comfort than you do.

          • That was basically what I thought. It seems really expensive and why not just wait to see it on disk or Amazon streaming. But if you had 5 or more people watching it together it would probably be cheaper to watch it at home. Add in the cost of snacks and that you could make a party out of it and get 8-10 people over depending on your room layout then it is damn cheap.

            Of course most people don't have the same sound system an in a theater. Even a fairly good one just doesn't have the size and number of speake

        • Take four people to the movies, and you can easily move north of $50.00.
        • There are plenty of people to whom $50 is not problematic at all for an hour or two of entertainment. Think what dinner at a nice restaurant costs even in a medium-sized city. They could charge more and still have many thousands of customers, but are obviously searching for the sweet spot between cost and number of customers that optimizes their return.

          I happen to have a very goodly amount of disposable income....$50 here and there, are random bar tabs on a weekend, much less dining out at a nice restauran

      • Are there actually THAT many people that HAVE to see it on release day.....and can't wait for a later, more convenient day, or maybe just do like I do...and wait for it to come out on BLuRay...rent and watch in the comfort of their own home...?

        Sure, why not? I can see friends getting together, it's not particularly expensive split between 4. I don't usually go to the cinema at opening, but it was super exciting to see Star Wars at the first midnight showing.

        And obviously there's value in seeing a film at the same time as general culture, we are social creatures and seeing something while the world is experiencing something is being part of the world around you. Waiting months for DVD means you don't get to have any conversations about the film wi

      • by Kokuyo ( 549451 )

        For one, I spend much more when I go see the movie with my wife if you factor in drink and food, parking and travel.

        Not to mention with twins under two years, we had to bend over backwards to go see Deadpool. And yes, not waiting too long is important. On the one hand you want to be able to discuss it with others as long as the memory is still fresh and on the other, you do know people are dicks on the internet, yes? Spoilers are a major issue.

        Not to mention that you never know whether you'll have a doucheb

      • by Tomahawk ( 1343 )

        It's more that there are a lot of people who want to see something at home and don't want to go to the cinema. With large numbers of people have good home cinema setups, they'd like to use their equipment to view these blockbusters. There are some movies that I really couldn't be bother going to the cimema to see, but may watch at home. (There are some that I'd still go to the cinema for, though). Also, some people just can't get to the cinema for various reasons.

        So, yeah, I probably be tempted to fork

      • There were a bunch of assholes right here on Slashdot broadcasting spoilers for The Force Awakens.

      • Are there actually THAT many people that HAVE to see it on release day.....and can't wait for a later, more convenient day, or maybe just do like I do...and wait for it to come out on BLuRay...rent and watch in the comfort of their own home...?

        Are there that many people who have different priorities than you do? Yeah, I guess there are, weird how that works. Go ask the UFC how much their fights make on pay per view sales, and also feel free to get their opinion on whether or not they care how you choose to spend your time.

        I like how you mention "the comfort of their own home", as if this isn't exactly what is being sold. I've only watched one or two UFC fights in public, and you have to either reserve space or get there hours early for a decen

        • Spoilers can be a pretty big factor.

          I PPV most UFC events. I'm a fight fan, and I can afford them. Friends watch them with me, and bring food. We all win there. ...if I'm watching a fight delayed, I have to live in a spoiler-free bubble of caution and the fear of looking at my phone. ...but other than some movie with a twist, there isn't too much other than a whodunnit, a "blockbuster" Marvel where someone dies, or a Star Wars type spoiler that I think can genuinely ruin a movie for me.

    • True, but for say a family of four.

      This could easily be MUCH cheaper then going to the movie theater, especially if you add in drinks/snacks....

      • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

        This could easily be MUCH cheaper then going to the movie theater, especially if you add in drinks/snacks....

        Eating Kraft macaroni and cheese at home is also much cheaper than going out to a high class restaurant. Your point? Watching a movie in the cinema is not the same as watching a movie at home, even though in both places you get a "movie". Just like horrible, boxed mac and cheese and a $60 angus steak are both "food". But if you can't see the difference then you deserve to pay more for less. If your family of four waits a few months the same movie will be on pay per view for $5, or on cable for the price of

        • It's called Kraft Dinner [kraftcanada.com], thanks. And it's hardly horrible.
        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          In Japan I like going to the cinema, because people are considerate. In the UK I prefer to watch in the comfort of my home on my THX certified TV.

          The best thing about this is that about 15 minutes after the steam goes up the torrent will follow.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Rising Ape ( 1620461 )

          Your point? Watching a movie in the cinema is not the same as watching a movie at home, even though in both places you get a "movie".

          No, it's worse. Not starting at the scheduled time so they can show you adverts, noisy people, no pausing to go to the toilet, expensive (and non-alcoholic) drinks.. I really don't see the point in the cinema any more - is there anything *so* good you can't wait six months?

    • A single viewer watching on their laptop in their parents basement probably isn't the target market.

      I have a friend with a home theater. Big projection screen, proper acoustic dampening, decent sound system, 3d capable, seats 6 (more if people sit on the floor and/or double up on the couch). $50 split 6 ways is cheaper than a movie ticket, and it's way better viewing experience.
    • A fool and his money soon parted.

      Possibly, but for people with their own home theatres this may be a good deal. The real question is what are the conditions around the price. For example, non-commercial, limited to 6 people, etc?

    • Actually, $50 is perfectly reasonable. Just because you do not like movies, does not mean many others do not find them entertaining.

      A typical family will easily spend over $50 to see a movie in the theater, when you take into account concessions and ticket cost, parking. Double that if you need a baby sitter so that you and your spouse could go out to dinner and a movie. Quadruple that if it is a family movie and you want to take your kids.

      So no, $50 is not unreasonable, especially you split the cost wit

      • by creimer ( 824291 )

        Just because you do not like movies, does not mean many others do not find them entertaining.

        I'm curious as to how you came up with that insight that I don't like movies based on a Biblical quote. I usually see one or two movies per month. If I want to watch a movie at home, I wait for the cheapest option becomes available. That can be Redbox, Hulu or a $4.99 special on iTunes.

    • It's amazing how many people here on /. are alone.
      Say a movie comes out and I pay 50 bucks to watch it day-one. I'll be joined by wife, brother-in-law, sister, mother-in-law and (if the movie allows it) my kids. Now divide that 50 bucks to 5 and the price is 10 bucks a person. If it's a kids movie and you divide 50 bucks by 7, it's cheaper (7 bucks per viewer).
      No cinema would beat this.

  • Better have Dolby atoms and at least 4k at $50. Also the system should let you do offsite downloads just so the people with low caps can use other places to download at.

    • nah, home is better than theater. Movie in 40W stereo and 1080p is good enough. $50 for family to go to theater?, I think it's more!

      • by zlives ( 2009072 )

        so just like the fights, invite a bunch odf people at home and watch in home theater and split the cost. over 2 days...

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      Better have Dolby atoms and at least 4k at $50. Also the system should let you do offsite downloads just so the people with low caps can use other places to download at.

      Probably not.

      First off, not every movie has Atmos, or DTS:X. Plenty are just plain old 7.1 Dolby Digital or DTS. A lot of them, actually.

      Secondly, even in the movie industry they may film with 4K+ cameras, but CGI is often still done in 2K, so the resulting output is actually 2K. Most movies are still released in 2K Digital Intermediate form

    • by Kagato ( 116051 )

      Nope. If you want that service it already exists and has for many years for the ultra-wealthy. $500 for a single screening. Credit Check required. The equipment has a fingerprint scanner to verify you authorized the screening. It uses a satellite connection to pull down an encrypted file ahead of time and then the internet connection to get the key to decrypt. It's basically the same source material a theater would use.

  • It's a bit too much for me, even if you watch it with a few other people; perhaps in the future we'll see the price drop to maybe $20/movie after a week or two, and $10/movie after 4 weeks. I usually go with just the wife and that $50 is about what I pay for 2 tickets for a 3D movie with popcorn and pop combo deals.
    • Just watch. If you have more than X people, it will be considered a violation of the license.

      SWAT raids will follow.

      • I am thinking the same thing.

        Something tells me that if this does make it to market, it will be with some pretty crazy restrictions.

        Perhaps you will need a special device and agree to some invasive snooping or something.

    • by Lose ( 1901896 )
      I think the price point is $50 due to it competing with the establishment (e.g. brick and mortar movie theaters). If they charge too much, nobody will use the service. If they charge too little, they are competing with existing streaming services like Netflix and Hulu which would otherwise be declined such early access agreements which could result in lots of lawyers having a very merry Christmas this year.

      I wonder how it would affect their gross revenue on these movies at the lower price point. Apart fr
      • by jfengel ( 409917 )

        I think it's the theater popcorn and merch sales that figure into the price more than Netflix does. The theater owners are going to want to pay much, much less for movies if they don't have a monopoly on (legal) early viewings.

        The total amount of money spent by consumers on the movies (including snacks) will probably about come out in the wash at this price point, but theater owners won't stand for 100% of it going to the studio. They'll demand a cut. I'm not sure in what form they'll get it; it might be a

    • Might not make sense for you and your wife now but if you have kids you probably won't have a good opportunity to go to a theater for several months at least (my experience anyway). A year after that its $30 for tickets plus $xx for a babysitter plus finding that babysitter, etc. A few years after that its over $50 for the whole family just for tickets. Our solution is just wait for redbox or streaming no matter how much advertising and buzz makes us want want to see something. Which works out just fine for

    • $50 is completely unrealistic for me as well.

      The last movie I saw in the theater was a Rifftrax live event about a year ago and even that was less than $50 for 2 people.

      Clearly I am not the target market here.

      Not saying it is a bad idea though. The MPAA could make a killing off of this if it takes off.

  • Yes Please (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bruha ( 412869 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @11:48AM (#51700981) Homepage Journal

    I have a 4K HDR Dolby Atmos dedicated theater in my basement. Sure a 100 foot screen is great and all, but I have better sound and video on my 133" screen than any theater within a 18 hour drive. I would gladly pay that fee, it would be cheaper than me and my wife going because of the cost of a sitter.

    • At first I thought, $50? Way too much.

      But then I thought, to be able to see a movie I've really wanted to see the day it opens, instead of waiting for six months to a year for the Blu-Ray...

      As long as I could watch it a few times in the viewing window, I'd be interested.

      The price is also more reasonable if you think about splitting the cost among a small group of friends who watch it together (I'm sure explicitly disallowed by license but whatever).

      I do see that DRM could kill this idea dead by making the

      • by ThePyro ( 645161 )
        IANAL, but I bet the license only mentions public performances. If only your friends are viewing the movie then it's not a public performance, it's private. The fact that ya'll agreed to split the cost would be moot - it's not like you're making a profit here.
    • I have a 4K HDR Dolby Atmos dedicated theater in my basement. Sure a 100 foot screen is great and all, but I have better sound and video on my 133" screen than any theater within a 18 hour drive. I would gladly pay that fee, it would be cheaper than me and my wife going because of the cost of a sitter.

      Also... if it's a movie for the kids too, $50 can easily be cheaper. I took my kids and my wife to see Zootopia last night and spent $52.50 on six tickets, plus another $45.40 on overprices sodas and popcorn, not to mention gas. The theater is a little better experience in some ways, worse in others, but all in all I'd consider my home theater a reasonable alternative, and for the whole family $50 is much cheaper.

      Of course, we could also wait a few months and buy or rent it on Google Play, Amazon, etc. fo

  • "and along with Screening Room’s robust anti-piracy strategy" LOL are they serious? If you can see and hear the movie you can record and redistribute it. Period. At first I'm sure they'll have the stream locked down but pirates will just record it using a capture system and re-encode. And quickly the stream will be compromised and they won't even have to do that. Don't get me wrong I like the idea but if they're under some delusion that there won't be releases on every torrent site after a couple hour
    • You already could get copies of movies everywhere, sometimes even prior to release. The only real change is that you don't get a lot of shaky cam releases from someone who tried to film it in a theater.

      If they were really serious about anti-piracy measures, they'd give each person a custom version of the film that inserts slight, but largely unnoticeable graphical anomalies that would likely persist through any capture and re-encoding or even if someone just points a camera at their screen to side step a
  • Well $50 isn't that bad if you plan on having friends over to watch it together instead of going to the cinema. I don't see how they can make real money on it because most people are tired of shelling out $15+ just to go see the movie so I doubt they'll pay $50 just for the sake of staying in.

    On the other hand, at least pirates will be able to a good rip on day one to enjoy at home.
    I don't see this really coming to fruition because of that.
  • When I take my twins to a movie it goes like this:
    $40 for tickets
    $20-30 for food/drink (not counting the trip to Walgreen's for candy)

    So $60-70 total (minimum actually, game room is another money sink at some theaters).

    $50 to watch it at home? Shoot, I'd almost pay a higher premium.

    And even if it's just my wife and I watching, it's still cheaper than the UFC (which we watch regularly - mixed martial arts if you aren't familiar with it).

  • I assume they'll be leaning on some kind of "unique purchaser identification" - like, we can identify your copy of the film in some kind of robust way, we'll require some kind of secure ID/credit in order to purchase, and we'll come eat your face if "your" copy of the film gets leaked?

    Because it's obviously not going to be possible to prevent people from setting up a video camera in their own house.

  • they make the shows $2 after it goes to dvd/br release.

  • I like going to the theater. I always have. The home theater is great but for the kind of movies that I think would motivate someone to spend $50 to sit at home and watch I think the giant screen and the crowd add something to the experience. I won't really have much use for this service.
    • The home theater is great but for the kind of movies . . . I think the giant screen and the crowd add something to the experience.

      Yeah, it just isn't the same watching at home. Just getting my living room floor authentically sticky is already bankrupting me. When the new Star Wars came out I dropped a couple hundred dollars on a 55-gallon drum of corn syrup, but it still wasn't quite enough to replicate the experience.

      • We've all been to that theater you're alluding to but honestly I haven't been to a theater with the stereotypical sticky floor in years. Maybe I've just been lucky but usually they're pretty clean where my wife and I go.
  • It seems extremely unlikely that this will work.

    What Abrams, Jackson and the other rich director/producer types are thinking:
    Movies cost about $15 each ticket and up so a family of four could find this to be a good deal!

    What will really happen:
    The same family of four that will pay $60 or more to go to the movies will balk at paying a slightly lower charge at home because they won't make the "This is cheaper than 4 individual tickets" connection that the big shots think. They will see it as "I c
    • ...because that family of four gives a lot of that money to the theater, not to the movie distribution company.

      On opening weekend, which is who this service is marketed for, a family of four might pay the same $50 for four theater tickets as for the PPV service, but the $50 they give at the theater might only return 70% of that -- the percentage is higher on opening weekend -- or $35. If they can keep $45 of the $50, this becomes a win for them if the average tickets "lost" per $50 sale is fewer than 5.

      Als

  • When you consider that it costs $150+ to pile a family of 5 into the Canyonero and drive to the movie theater, pay $15/ticket and $15 a piece for a small bag of stale popcorn and small sugary soda, and watch a movie surrounded by people talking on their phones and calling a play-by-play of the film, I would HAPPILY, VERY VERY HAPPILY pay $50 to watch a first-run movie at home on the night it is released in theaters.

  • It wouldn't take many guests to justify this cost.

    I don't plan on using it (though I have an awesome Entertainment room). But who knows.

    The real question is how they will keep Mom and Pop from trying to make a buck off the Neighbourhood?

    The cost is trivial for large families and those that entertain.
    High for us one child family or smaller types.

    Expect some future iteration to include a camera monitoring the audience size.

  • Ok, Anti-Piracy is going to be a big deal. There has to be some sort of camera visible, not human visible watermark on the film, so that it can be traced back to an individual user. Cue the scrubbing video crowd. But for some time this will be difficult to discern. I suspect the reason for the box is so you don't have to create an individual version on the fly, but the box adds the watermark. The other point of the box is to keep the software from being hacked easily.

    The biggest problem is going to be

  • Wait a minute... they are trusting the guy who created Napster, who essentially "let the genie out of the bottle" regarding music as MP3s -- to do something that *won't* have the exact same effect on films?

    How fast before the Chinese develop a box that plugs in between HDMI cables, intercepts the stream to the monitor, and spools out the movie via USB to any convenient hard drive? In fact, I'm willing to bet such a box already exists. If I can think of it, so can someone else with more talent than me.

    John O

    • Napster didn't invent anything. They took MP3 (already out there) and the internet full of people sharing files (since the fucking BBS days before the internet) and created a platform for them to do this, easily. As easily as sorting your own collection of music in winamp (yeah, i'm that fucking old, I whipped the lamas ass.) Naspter created NOTHING but a culture of entitled college students and mislabeled music. Anyhoo, this system would likely work on secured HDMI only, so there's no routing the strea
  • Let me tell you how this will play out. You pay 50$ to stream the movie, you do so during the 48 hour in your home. Using various technologies you pirate the movie, and because you have no morals and need to recover the 50$, you provide an pristine HD copy of the movie, on release day, to a release group. This group then releases said movie to the internet. And.... you go to jail for 10 years because the thing is audio/video digital fingerprinted. $50? No, sorry, that's never going to work. The exact
  • This is much cheaper than going to the movie theater if you have kids. Baby sitter and movie tickets are easily 50$. Add in cost of food or drinks it swings even more towards the staying home. Also, you can have as many drinks as you want and not have to worry about driving. Even if you don't have kids, 4 adults watching the movie and this is cheaper than a theater.
  • by Not-a-Neg ( 743469 ) on Tuesday March 15, 2016 @01:10PM (#51701701)

    This will greatly improve the quality of cam torrents as pirates use stolen credentials and private VPN service to capture the latest movies day&date with theatrical release in their own home.

  • I'm married and have two kids. To go to see a movie in the theater, we shell out $44 for two adult and two kid tickets just to get in the door. If the kids bring friends, we break fifty bucks. Then, of course, you have the overpriced concessions. Mom can only stuff so much candy in her purse.

    If the wife and I want to see a movie alone, we have to shell out probably $60 for a sitter plus $24 for tickets alone, plus we generally add in dinner, too. Spend $50, skip the tickets and add in a nice bottle of wine

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