Sean Parker isn't your typical entrepreneur. The billionaire is the kind of man who tends to attract attention, and his business ventures often spark fierce debate. The founder of Napster has a new proposal that could instigate a revolution of the cinema industry, and has split opinion across Hollywood's most influential.
A New Way Of Watching New Movies
The idea of anything other than a theater release for new movies is Earth shatteringly emotive. It is, after all, a huge part of the film-goers experience. Directors produce films with the big screen and surround sound in mind.
Yet Parker's project, called Screening Room, could turn this on its head. The proposed service will be accessed through a set-top box, at the cost of $150. For each new release, users will then pay an additional $50, and will be able to view the film only once in a 48 hour period.
To sweeten up cinema chains, the $50 fee will also include two cinema tickets for a local theater, and for each payment, distributors could also receive $20, with Parker's company taking a 10% fee, plus the upfront costs for the set-top box. The box itself will be installed with anti-piracy measures, to prevent those who prefer illicit means from leaking material.
Does It Skip The Best Form?
The likes of James Cameron, Christopher Nolan and Roland Emmerich oppose the move. Cameron and producing partner John Landau have issued a joint statement on the matter, and eloquently argued reasons as to why it was a bad idea. They said:
“Both Jim and I remain committed to the sanctity of the in-theater experience. For us, from both a creative and financial standpoint, it is essential for movies to be offered exclusively in theaters for their initial release. We don’t understand why the industry would want to provide audiences an incentive to skip the best form to experience the art that we work so hard to create.”
And Inception director Nolan entered the argument, concurring with the above statement. He said:
“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.”
Or Result In Greater Sustainability?
And it would be expected that the majority of filmmakers would be on the same page, right? But remember, this is Sean Parker we're talking about. His ingenuity has done enough to persuade some equally colossal directors to pledge support.
Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and J. J. Abrams believe this is a good thing, a way to reinvigorate the platform and target those who don't go to the cinema anyway. Spielberg is particularly surprising, considering his opposition to similar ventures in the past.
However, he feels this time things are different, and that Parker's idea will support the industry, rather than destroy it. He said:
"Screening Room is very carefully designed to capture an audience that does not currently go to the cinema.
"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."
The way movies are digested has been challenged before, with piracy and streaming becoming more prevalent. But not like this. With the influential charm of Parker (portrayed by Justin freaking Timberlake in The Social Network) spearheading the new movement, this could be the biggest shake-up to the industry we've seen.