This past week we learned of Sean Parker's new endeavor, Screening Room: a VOD that would allow you to screen films in your own home. The new service would allow you — for a set price — to be able to screen new releases from the comfort of your own home. Here is how the Screening Room works exactly: you purchase a $150 set-top box, which allows you access to current theatrical releases for a $50 rental. The idea sounds really good for many people who aren't able to go to the theater for whatever reason. However, it has so far received a mixed reception in Hollywood, with the latest criticism coming from acclaimed director Christopher Nolan. While the director spoke with Variety about his latest film Dunkirk, he also weighed in on the Screening Room. Here is what Christopher Nolan had to say:
"It would be hard to express the great importance of exclusive theatrical presentation to our industry more compellingly than Jon Landau and James Cameron did."
It looks like the Dark Knight director is opposed to the new medium, just as James Cameron and Jon Landau are as well. This is something that shouldn't come as a surprise though, when you think of how these director are using IMAX cameras more than ever. This, of course, means they would want their projects to be to be seen on the biggest format possible. Jon Landau came out saying earlier to Variety that he and James Cameron were opposed to this idea, also adding:
"We know that this proposal is at the early stage and we have an obligation to speak out publicly against it."
It seems not every director is opposed to this idea though, with J.J Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, and Peter Jackson voicing their approval. There seems to be a real divide between some of the heavyweight directors in Hollywood today. This idea of Screening Room is nothing new, as it was explored by DirecTV back in 2011 but was not met with the same praise by Jackson. When Jackson spoke to Variety about why he supported the idea and not DirecTV's back in 2011, here's what he had to say:
“I had concerns about DirecTV in 2011, because it was a concept that I believe would have led to the cannibalization of theatrical revenues, to the ultimate detriment of the movie business. Screening Room, however, is very carefully designed to capture an audience that does not currently go to the cinema.
That is a critical point of difference with the DirecTV approach – and along with Screening Room’s robust anti-piracy strategy, is exactly why Screening Room has my support. Screening Room will expand the audience for a movie – not shift it from cinema to living room. It does not play off studio against theater owner. Instead it respects both, and is structured to support the long term health of both exhibitors and distributors – resulting in greater sustainability for the wider film industry itself."
It seems that this Screening Room idea has caused quite a civil war between Hollywood's big time directors. Many are praising the idea as the next big move while others still believe in the theater as the main medium. It's going to be really interesting to see how movie releases will be handled if and when this idea comes to fruition. The big question is: will enough viewers be on board with this idea to completely omit the movie theater from their weekend plans? It's an interesting concept and we can only wait and see what comes next, hearing arguments from those who oppose or praise the idea. It will also be interesting to see whether or not we might see Nolan's Dunkirk on the Screening Room. Will the Screening Room be how we view movies from now on, or will it fall flat just like many other similar ideas?