Count Oscar-nominated filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan among those opposing The Screening Room, Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju’s day-and-date in-home entertainment service for major studio films. Shyamalan joins a growing list of colleagues, many of whom signed a 2011 open letter against DirecTV’s premium day-and-date streaming service: Roland Emmerich, Brett Ratner, Christopher Nolan, James Cameron and producer Jon Landau. The list who are against The Screening Room is close to rivaling those who are in favor: Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Taylor Hackford and Frank Marshall.
The Screening Room team is seeking to grab a higher-income demo with their service, charging consumers for a $150 set-top box and a $50 48-hour rental. The whole notion is to create another revenue stream in addition to the box office for major studio films, particularly those that might fall through the cracks in a tentpole-heavy market. However, exhibition and studio chiefs raise a number of cons about the service. The Art House Convergence, a group of specialty theaters, observed that The Screening Room could decimate Main Street U.S.A. weekend businesses that are connected to moviegoing. Worst of all, piracy concerns prevail: Any consumer can lift up a camera and point it at the screen. One industry vet told Deadline today, “The logic seems to be that since they’re making it available in the home, they’re taking away the reason to steal a film. At $2 a rental, there might be little reason to steal a title, but if it costs $50, there’s plenty of reason for someone to steal the title.”
The insider added, “It doesn’t matter what type of encryption or forensic watermark you put on a streaming title. Then there’s an endless effort to track the person down who copied the film. Before you catch them, the pirated version will spread like wildfire.”
In the meantime, we’ll let Shyamalan’s tweets speak for themselves: