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Hollywood Is Fighting Billionaire Sean Parker's Plan To Let You Rent Movies Still in Theaters For $50 (businessinsider.com) 139

Billionaire Sean Parker's plans to bring movies to your home as soon as they release in theatres has hit new roadblocks. After receiving praises for "Screening Room" from directors and producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson, as well as Hollywood studios, the buzz for the startup has started to wane. From a report: Though Parker and cofounder Prem Akkaraju have promoted the company in the last two years at CinemaCon, it's gotten little traction due to a naivete of the industry, competitors, and studios' and theater chains' decade-long discussion about how to move forward on Premium VOD (PVOD) (alternative source), Business Insider has learned. "Everything you've heard in the press about studios and theaters wanting to explore a PVOD window, nothing about that revolves around Screening Room," a source close to the talks told Business Insider. Screening Room's main pitch to studios and exhibitors has been that it can bring added revenue to all sides of the equation. Out of the proposed $50 rental fee, 20% would go to the movie's distributor, and a participating theater chain would get up to $20 of the fee, plus each customer receives two tickets to see that rented title at their local theater. Screening Room would take 10% of each fee. Sources told Business Insider that all of the bells and whistles Screening Room is selling don't matter until the studios and theaters can agree on a Premium VOD (or PVOD) window. Industry players don't want movies to be available on PVOD simultaneously with theatrical release dates because the first two weeks of a theatrical run are still when studios and exhibitors get a majority of a movie's income. Also read: Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure 'Screening Room' Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal.
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Hollywood Is Fighting Billionaire Sean Parker's Plan To Let You Rent Movies Still in Theaters For $50

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  • At that cost I'd just go to the theatre, or better yet just skip the movie altogether.

    • Re:Why bother ? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Salgak1 ( 20136 ) <.salgak. .at. .speakeasy.net.> on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @12:59PM (#54518941) Homepage

      . . . or pop onto one of the surviving Torrent sites and grab a copy.

      • Re:Why bother ? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@NOSPAM.world3.net> on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:01PM (#54518969) Homepage Journal

        For once Hollywood seems to have some limited understanding of technology. If this goes ahead, no matter how much DRM and other nonsense they wrap it up in, it will be ripped and distributed.

        • Except now they could slap people who are torrenting their movies with fines and lawsuits literally within minutes of the video appearing online.
          The stream could be chock-full of watermarks and hidden data which would identify the account to which that video was streamed.

          What they may be powerless against is private sharing networks which would allow people to stream a recording from a camera to their friends. Sorta like card sharing, minus the cards.
          Still, they'd probably catch a bunch of people who are id

          • Except now they could slap people who are torrenting their movies with fines and lawsuits literally within minutes of the video appearing online. The stream could be chock-full of watermarks and hidden data which would identify the account to which that video was streamed.

            What they may be powerless against is private sharing networks which would allow people to stream a recording from a camera to their friends. Sorta like card sharing, minus the cards. Still, they'd probably catch a bunch of people who are idiots or have idiot friends and whose camera streams would end up online.

            What do you mean within minutes? What makes you think they couldn't do that before? Just because the source was a cheap camera with no watermarks doesn't mean companies couldn't find them. Heck, anyone wanting to download the movie had to do a search for the movie's title to find it.

            • Just because the source was a cheap camera with no watermarks doesn't mean companies couldn't find them.

              Find who? Person who made the recording? How? Using magic?
              Even should their crystal ball or palantir or whatever work - how would they prove that said person was responsible for the distribution of video?
              Even if it came from an IP registered to them - IP is NOT a personal designator.

              With the scheme for paying 50$ to watch at home you literally have to identify yourself with ID and credit card each time.
              Slap a watermark containing encoded ID and last 4 digits of the CC, and if a movie containing those appear

          • by Altrag ( 195300 )

            Because knowing that the video was ripped by "cuckuniversal" using a US VPN via a TOR node somewhere on the planet would be extremely helpful. Sure they could ban the account and there would maybe be the odd rip that was made by an idiot who didn't protect themselves, but any serious ripping would be done by people who go to great lengths to ensure they can't be tracked with any ease.

            Now if the decrypting step was done client side and somehow injected an additional watermark during that step that could try

    • Re:Why bother ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by beelsebob ( 529313 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:00PM (#54518967)

      Because people with children exist, and want to watch movies without disturbing a whole cinema full of people, or having to hire a baby sitter.

      Also, because home movie setups are a lot more comfortable than typical theatre setups.

      Also, because people with older children exist, and 5 cinema tickets costs more than $50.

      • You can also time shift all movies by a year, and get them much cheaper.

        • by ranton ( 36917 )

          You can also time shift all movies by a year, and get them much cheaper.

          And miss out on any social aspect of discussing recent movies with friends, or reading entertainment related news without things being spoiled. Granted that isn't important for everyone, but it is a big reason I see Marvel / Star Wars movies within a couple weeks of their release.

          • You can also time shift all movies by a year, and get them much cheaper.

            And miss out on any social aspect of discussing recent movies with friends, or reading entertainment related news without things being spoiled. Granted that isn't important for everyone, but it is a big reason I see Marvel / Star Wars movies within a couple weeks of their release.

            We used to call this bullshit "peer pressure". These days, you simply label it as the cost of being a member of society.

            Enjoy the brainwashing.

            • I agree. It had never occurred to me before to see a movie or obtain property because of how it would contribute to my social standing. Totally explains Apple, if there are a lot of people like this that exist.
              • Social standing isn't the same thing as a desire to have seen a film that your friends are talking about, so that you may enjoy a conversation about it with them. It's great that you consider yourself so separate from other human beings, that making some effort to be on the same page as them is beneath you. The rest of humanity, meanwhile, is interested in a shared cultural experience - and is willing to pay a bit of money for that too.

                • Social standing isn't the same thing as a desire to have seen a film that your friends are talking about, so that you may enjoy a conversation about it with them. It's great that you consider yourself so separate from other human beings, that making some effort to be on the same page as them is beneath you. The rest of humanity, meanwhile, is interested in a shared cultural experience - and is willing to pay a bit of money for that too.

                  And then there are those of us who hardly define a cultural experience as going to see yet another reboot, or a horribly predictable sequel, which is what comprises 90% of cinema entertainment these days. Discussing which piece of meat fucked the Bachelorette At First Sight last night with the Honey Boo Boo generation is not exactly what I would call enriching discussion either. Scrolling through pages and pages of endless narcissism on social media? I'd prefer to sit and actually talk with one of my fri

                  • Ok, fine. Enlighten us regarding your preferred cultural experiences. Personally, I regard the notion than we have slipped a few rungs as nothing more than laziness - out there, in the real world, beyond Bachelorette and super-hero reboots, which are important cultural artifacts in their own right - there is a vast universe of creative endeavor with which you might engage. Or you could just sit at home at talk to your friend. Your call.
                • Whatever. Real friends want to talk about the movie you want to see and therefore went to see. Real friends will talk about the book you read instead of going to a movie when there were none you really wanted to see. Anything otherwise is you doing things so you can interact with your friends and yes that is about social standing.
            • The OP didn't say that it's the only reason to see those movies, but rather that it's a reason to see them NOW rather than later.
      • by sycodon ( 149926 )

        Because you can rent these movies by just waiting a few months.

        i can personally attest to how much easier life is when you learn to discard these emotions of, "I have to..."

        I have to see it now
        I have to have it now
        I have to go there now
        I have to ...

        • Whether the value proposition of getting to see it at a similar time to your friends, and talk about it at work over lunch vs $50 is a good one is entirely up to you. The point is that there are people who can't "just go to the theatre".

          Personally, if this were priced at $30, and the 2 theatre tickets thrown out, this would be well worth it for anything my wife and I might have gone to the cinema for in the past. At $50 it's steep, but it might be worth it for the occasional mega blockbuster.

        • Yeah, and you don't have to see a movie in the first place!

          But... people do. And people often want to watch it at the same time as everyone else. It would have been really nice to be able to talk to people about Star Wars 7 when it came out (difficult because of various issues at home), rather than trying to avoid discussions and then finding when I finally did watch it I really couldn't participate in a "discussion" as such as everyone else had moved on to something else.

          I watched the movie in the end

          • You can discuss it. Start with: 'Why do people continue to go to movie series when the last four have been incredible stinkers?'

            Sure some people will just get butt hurt and walk away, that leaves you and the other adults to discuss it.

            • That's not much of a discussion. You haven't seen the film, and are therefore in no position to comment on it. Added to which, the assumption running through all the above comments is that you actually do want to see it, but can't go to the cinema for whatever reason, and don't want to have to wait a year for it to come out on DVD. The Cinema's monopoly on newly released material will end soon in any case - Netflix at Cannes is a good example of one of the ways things are going to change. Arbitrarily restri
      • Addendum:
        Because pirates exist and we have been wanting high quality bluray rips to be releases along side the theater releases since day one.

      • Because people with children exist, and want to watch movies without disturbing a whole cinema full of people, or having to hire a baby sitter.

        Also, because home movie setups are a lot more comfortable than typical theatre setups.

        Also, because people with older children exist, and 5 cinema tickets costs more than $50.

        Not sure if you've noticed or not, but most movies these days are geared for the adult age group, so they don't really care what your 5x movie expenses are.

        In short, fuck your ticket costs. They figure if you can afford to have children in the first place, you can afford to take them to the random Disney movie. After all, you're spending a shitload more than that just raising them.

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      I believe this service is aimed at people who have so much money, that it has little value to them below a certain amount. Not unlike how you and I might view a nickle. I can see a very select clientele for whom paying $50 for a movie is nothing, enjoy movies, and perhaps have some celebrity status thus making going to a public theater difficult.

      Does LeBron James go to his local AMC to watch the latest Star Wars release? I doubt it. But he's probably willing to spend $50 to watch it in the comfort of his ho

      • Re:Why bother ? (Score:5, Informative)

        by enjar ( 249223 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:18PM (#54519095) Homepage
        I can tell you that I spend over $50 to go to the movies already. So do a lot of people. Who are these fat cats who blow $50 or more on going to the movies? Parents with kids. In my area, movie tickets for a evening show are at least $13/adult and $10/child. If we want to go when something opens it can be even more expensive. Matinees don't save much. Add in a drink or snack and we are talking $100 for a night out.

        $50-100 is by no means "just a nickel" of us, we budget monthly and a trip to the movie theater to see a first run movie is a big treat for us. We watch most of our movies at home in some fashion, and there's also a second run theater that makes it affordable. And this is also cheaper than when we had to leave the kids at home and get a sitter to see a movie, so there's that.

        If I could see first run moves for $50 I would pay for that in a heartbeat.

        I'm also aware of torrents and sneaking candy in, too :)

        • If they target the medium to large home theater market, they could probably charge $150 and it would be kind of a social event. 15 people would only be $10 each.
        • "If I could see first run moves for $50 I would pay for that in a heartbeat."

          This scheme is explicitly not first run, just slightly sooner than availability on Redbox or Netflix.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Its not. Its aimed at hoping to convince the distributors that they'll earn enough money to forego the potential drop in theater ticket sales.

        Its the typical media company mindset of pricing things to their desires rather than to yours. They just take the (already arbitrary) value of a theater ticket, add on the profit they want to make, add on the amount they have to pay off to the various distribution and production companies, round it up to something "nice" and that's the ticket price, regardless of wh

    • by Hadlock ( 143607 )

      In major cities, $50 is a steal; $17 x 2 + uber/taxi fare to the theater both ways? $34 + 14 = $48. Plus they've introduced assigned theater seating in my city, which means all the good seats are taken by teenagers with too much time on their hands six weeks in advance.

      The little crappy theaters they move the film to after opening weekend doesn't feel much larger than my own TV, seats generally are terrible, and booze costs a fortune there (if they serve it at all). If we do a double date night at

      • The little crappy theaters they move the film to after opening weekend doesn't feel much larger than my own TV,

        You just discovered why this ain't worth fifty bucks. The only reason you spend that much is to go out and see it on the big screen. The only other benefit is seeing it right when it's released, but who gives a shit? The only benefit to that is that you get to discuss the movie with all the other people who paid see it early, and frankly, if my life is down to discussing what Hollywood is doing this week, fucking shoot me.

        • frankly, if my life is down to discussing what Hollywood is doing this week, fucking shoot me.

          Sure. I don't want to discuss the latest Adam Sandler movie either.

          But occasionally something comes up that's actually a big deal (think "Star Wars" as an example. Also I'm told the first decent DC movie since Batman Returns* is coming out this week, which sounds interesting), and I'd like to talk about it when everyone else is, in the same way as people like to see certain sports games live and talk about the

          • I just become less and less interested in the poptart starlets and popcorn bullshit movies, and less interested in talking with people who don't have anything more interesting to talk about. I find it especially horrifying when people compare things happening in real life to the movies. I can't remember the last time something came out that I really felt I needed to see on the big screen, though. I have a now somewhat antique 52" LCD TV and that seems to be big enough for my needs when coupled with some fle

    • At that cost I'd just go to the theatre

      Not me. I am in a family of four, so $50 is $12.50 each, which is about the same as cinema tickets. I would prefer to watch at home, and save gas and driving time. We can watch it at the exact time we want, and we can pause for bathroom breaks.

    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      At that cost I'd just go to the theatre, or better yet just skip the movie altogether.

      Because $50 is a trivial amount of money compared to the cost of going out. And if you're not going to see a movie, then you won't be spending $50 on the movie anyways.

      But assuming you were going to see a movie, $50 doesn't go far - a few tickets and concessions and you've already spent that much money. More if you're driving to the theatre and include the costs of gas and all that in the trip. If you have kids, add in bab

  • drop the two tickets / price part!
    also cable / sat system want to be able to sell VOD / PPV at the same time as well They may want to sell them for $20-$30 a pop with them taking there cut.

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      You may have missed the point: the tickets are not there for the customer, they're there for the theater chain. This company is trying to do something that the entire film industry hates, so in order to make that happen it needs to get all of the members of the industry on board. That means cutting in the movie theaters, even though they're contributing nothing to this.

      The tickets are there so that everyone can pretend that the theaters are a relevant part of this deal, and possibly for legal reasons. It
  • participating theater chain I have over 4+ of them in my local area so what one will get it?


  • How about everyone's plan?? -with the exception of certain figures in Hollywood...

    FFS why are we held hostage to middlemen, distribution "media companies" and the like. If I want to pay a premium for watching movies in the comfort of my home why is this not provided?

    This eventual culmination was a foregone conclusion. Just some greedy fuckers gasping their last breath to stay in the loop before we bump them out of the chain.

    ...and another thing it's ABOUT FUCKING TIME THIS HAPPENS.
    • Because they don't see this as a premium. They see this as a net loss. There's the overhead of the system, the chance you'll invite 10 people over to watch, the chance you'll capture it and torrent it, the chance you'd have spent more at the theater.

      The entire business model is designed around theater viewing until it's not profitable, then abusing limited runs on disk. From trailer making to aspect ratios to video and sound files, I'm guessing everything is built to do this. To think about doing s

  • Opening weekend of new kid's movie, under existing system. Family of four:

    Tickets: At least $40
    Popcorn and concessions: At least $30

    Opening weekend of new kid's movie, under "Screening Room." Family of four:

    Theater cut: $20

    • I was going to say the exact same thing. The money isn't really in the ticket sales. It's in the theater's ability to gouge $7 for $0.50 worth of popcorn, or $5 for a soda that costs maybe $0.20 to make. I'm sure other concessions net similar profits... when you can get the same candy at a gas station for half the price, or a grocery store for 1/4th the price, you know someone is seeing dollar signs.

      • I was going to say the exact same thing. The money isn't really in the ticket sales. It's in the theater's ability to gouge $7 for $0.50 worth of popcorn, or $5 for a soda that costs maybe $0.20 to make. I'm sure other concessions net similar profits... when you can get the same candy at a gas station for half the price, or a grocery store for 1/4th the price, you know someone is seeing dollar signs.

        You know, if you could refrain from stuffing your mouth with food for two hours, you don't have to pay anything for concessions.

    • by pr0t0 ( 216378 )

      In your family of four scenario:

      Tickets: retail $40 - theater keeps about $9, the rest goes to the studio. Depending on the movie, this can be $0 for the first few weeks.
      Concessions: According to Business Insider [businessinsider.com], the average spending for AMC customers in 2014 was $4.46, putting the real amount spent around $20 today I'm guessing. The actual materials cost is small - maybe a couple of bucks mostly for the containers. But then there's the cost of the candy-monkey to serve it to you and operate the register,

      • It effectively becomes a restaurant, which have notoriously thin margins.

        My neighborhood theater has closed for the summer to renovate the space to have theaters on one side and a full-service restaurant with alcohol on the other side. Hence, it'll be a dine-in theater.

  • Why is the physical theater getting a cut? I would reject it on this principle alone. There is no reason to give the physical theater anything at all (other than they want their customers to pay for Parker's failure to negotiate a proper deal.) It is obvious that they have to give the theaters something and the tickets are the bone they threw back. Its like having a tax on cars to assuage buggy whip makers that it will all be ok.
    • Existing distribution contracts and clauses.
      If they have lawyers I'm sure they've included various protections for themselves in those contracts they've made with movies studios.
      And vice versa.
      Just like movie studios can't just switch to a new theater chain and leave the ones they've signed contracts with to dry - neither can theater chains simply dump one studio for another without paying penalties.

      Its like having a tax on cars to assuage buggy whip makers that it will all be ok.

      No. It's like making a contract with businesses who already have mutually obligating contracts with each othe

  • by Anonymous Coward

    fight change, even if it means we will lose money in the long run. Instead of embracing change (streaming) and making a lot more money, but we can't see that because this is all new and frightening and we have can't deal with the very minuscule possibility this might lose money instead of what will really happen and make tons more money.

    NOBODY (well maybe 0.01% of people) want to go to the fucking theater. Most of them suck ass and you have to deal with low level inbred assholes who want to watch their ph

    • Everyone I know wants to got to the drive-in, there just aren't any around.
      • by orev ( 71566 )
        The idea of a drive-in is much better than the reality. There aren't any around because when they were around people went once, realized they are crap, and didn't go anymore. You really want to watch a movie through your dirty windshield while listening to it on crappy window speakers? You get a better experience at home.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Wednesday May 31, 2017 @01:26PM (#54519153)
    1970s and 1980s - people went to arcades to play video games. The "best" games earned their reputation at the arcade, and were ported to home console systems and PCs.

    1980s to 1990s - transition period, with the first blockbuster console games without a corresponding arcade release (Super Mario Bros).

    2000s and 2010s - all games are now released directly to console or PC. Ask a kid if they want to go to the arcade, and they'll reply "What's an arcade?"

    Times change. Except for live events like concerts or sports, where being part of the crowd is part of the experience, people prefer viewing their entertainment at home. Movie theaters are not a necessity, they were just a way to amortize the high cost of the projection and sound system across all viewers. As the cost of big screen TVs, projectors, and home theater sound systems continues to go down, movie theaters are going to become a relic of the past, just like arcades. The benefits I've seen from watching movies on my projector and HTS are:
    • No jerk behind me making rude noises/comments or spoiling the movie. Likewise others don't hate you if your kid starts having a meltdown.
    • Adjust the volume to our comfort level.
    • Can pause if someone needs a bathroom break, or rewind if we missed something or want to see a scene again.
    • Consume our own choice of snacks and drinks - no need to sneak bottled water in to avoid paying $4 for it.
    • Can stop the movie if it turns out to be bad, and immediately pick a different movie to watch (from the beginning).
    • 1980s to 1990s - transition period, with the first blockbuster console games without a corresponding arcade release (Super Mario Bros).

      Actually, that's not correct. Super Mario Bros in fact did have an arcade release: Vs. Super Mario Bros. [wikipedia.org]. But this is an interesting development because unlike the previous period where successful arcade games were adapted to home consoles and PCs, it was backwards: SMB was success on the consoles first, and then ported to an arcade version. Nintendo did this with a bunc [wikipedia.org]

      • There are a number of 'arcades' around here in Southern Ontario, Canada. They're not a hole-in-the-wall commercial space in a mall anymore, though... they're big, big spaces, usually with a bar and restaurant.

        Bigger screens, linked cabinets for PvP, etc. Now you use a house card to pay instead of quarters. And they still have those stupid play-for-tickets games.

        • Yep, the Gameworks I occasionally visited back in the 2000s was like that too, really large with a bar/restaurant in the back. And I seem to remember a car-racing game where they were all linked. I guess they haven't changed much.

      • For arcades we had / have

        the mail ones (In the past some ticket no or ticket games) maybe 1-2 of the big driving games / pinball level varys (Now days more ticket stuff)

        Chuck E. Cheese (mainly kids party's) and lot's of ticket stuff. Maybe some pinball.

        bowling places very some have small game rooms / some have good sized Billiards area / some have a big ticket game area.

        Gameworks like places still kids geared but also has an sports bar vibe and big games / big banks of linked driving games some places are 2

    • by suutar ( 1860506 )

      don't get in as much trouble for kicking the guy in front of you who won't stop turning on his phone

  • Why doesn't Hollywood focus on putting out a better product then worrying about it's distribution methods. While big movies still make a large amount of money the quality of most films is just not there. I will happily spend money on entertainment I find enjoyable, whether it be music, movies or TV. I would go to the theater or rent a movie for $50 that sucks anyway.
  • I'd rather be able to rent a small theatre to view older movies with some friends.
  • For me there has to be a compelling reason to watch a movie at the theater. 98% of the time I will wait until I can buy or rent it from Amazon. The last 2% consists of Star Wars, Star Trek and a few Marvel movies tossed in if I want to get out of the house. And even then I require a theater with reserved powered recliner seating and selectable flavored soda vending machines. It use to be if you didn't catch the movie at a theater it could be a year or more before you could get a VHS copy from the video stor
  • What about the cost of maintaining servers that are going to get bombarded on every single major release date? That can't be cheap. Customer satisfaction is going to be terrible when that server crashes too. You can bet that the motion picture companies are not going to be thrilled about giving out refunds to irate customers. They'd probably have to hire call centers full of staff just to handle the complaints and refunds. At least that's good for the economy, right?

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