Oscar-winning Imagine Entertainment partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer have issued the following statement in favor of the Screening Room, Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju’s day-and-date streaming concept. Their response comes a little more than 24 hours after Peter Jackson expressed his vocal support of the proposed service.
“When we met Sean (Parker) and Prem (Akkaraju) last year it was clear Screening Room was the only solution that supports all stakeholders in the industry: exhibitors, studios and filmmakers. The SR model is fair, balanced and provides significant value for the entire industry that we love. We make movies for the big screen and for as many people to see it. Screening Room uniquely provides that solution.”
Yesterday, Deadline broke the news that the Screening Room’s board of shareholders and advocates also includes Martin Scorsese, Taylor Hackford and Frank Marshall. They join Jackson, Grazer, Howard, Steven Spielberg and J.J. Abrams.
Jackson, who originally signed a 2011 open letter from the Hollywood creative community protesting Universal’s proposed day-and-date streaming of Brett Ratner’s Tower Heist back in 2011, addressed his change of heart yesterday stating:
“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.”
Parker, who was one of Napster’s co-founders, has been pitching studio and exhibition on the Screening Room, a streaming service whereby consumers can rent a major studio film on the same day as its theatrical release for $50 (after a $150 set-top box purchase). Exhibition stands to make $20 a title. In addition, consumers renting a title (good for 48 hours) will receive two tickets to the same move at a local theater, this way an exhibitor can potentially recoup on concessions. The concept is said to be in its infancy stage with only Warner Bros, Sony and Fox having heard presentations. AMC Theatres reportedly has signed a letter of intent. The Screening Room is trying to persuade studios that this could restore the safety net they lost when DVD revenues cratered. When news hit last Wednesday about The Screening Room, Deadline heard a chorus of protests about the service from theater chains and studios.