Napster co-founder and Facebook’s first president Sean Parker is at it again, this time devising a way to cut out the middle man from a film watching experience: the movie theater. His proposed streaming service, dubbed the Screening Room, would give viewers the opportunity to see every new release, even the superhero flicks that have exclusive first runs in theaters.
The service’s main sell is based on the fact that the typical trip to the movies can range anywhere from $15 to $35 in New York City — and that’s only if you’re going stag. Using the Screening Room, that $30 which usually covers the cost of the ticket, bucket of popcorn and large drink transforms into a $150 fee for the set-top box equipped with anti-piracy technology plus a $50 fee for every movie that you stream. Keep in mind that you can only stream the film once within the 48 hour window after purchase. Inviting friends over and splitting the cost could make each film’s fee cheaper than a normal ticket though.
Disregarding the substantial starting costs, the Screening Room seems to be a dream come true for those who hate paying movie theater prices. No need to wait in line to purchase tickets. No chance of missing out on a movie because it is sold out. No need to sit in the candy-and-butter-and-booger-coated theater seats. But most importantly, no need to pay for overpriced refreshments. Your home becomes the movie theater.
The project is being marketed to an older crowd, appealing to those who have home entertainment systems set up and largely those of whom already have the financial means — a middle or upper-class family. But what will this new streaming service mean for college students, most of whom are balling on a budget and don’t even own a TV? The answer is simple: nothing.
Parker should know by now that young people don’t like spending money, especially after creating the (free) Internet music sharing service Napster for those who didn’t want to pay for music back in 1999. Not much has changed in those 16 years in terms of things that young adults are willing to pay the big bucks for.
Although the Screening Room is more convenient, allowing people to watch Hollywood blockbusters in the comfort of their homes, it won’t always be cheaper than forking over the $30 to see it in theaters. Plus, with the rising popularity of streaming services, namely Netflix, this would just be another reason for college students to hole up in their dorms for days on end without any contact with the outside world.
Of course movie theaters such as AMC and Regal aren’t onboard with this idea, but Parker’s service has nonetheless managed to garner the support of big name Hollywood icons such as Steven Spielberg, J.J. Abrams, Peter Jackson and Martin Scorsese. Even with the star-studded ensemble backing the project, there is an overwhelming amount of opposition to the idea. It is mainly from distributors and exhibitors who worry that the service will be susceptible to piracy, but more importantly, that it will cut into their profits. The next steps for Parker to get this project off the ground would be to get more star power behind it as well finding a way to make the Screening Room more appealing to the key demographic: college students.
Email Dejarelle Gaines at email@example.com.