Napster & Facebook’s Sean Parker Thinks You’ll Pay $50 To Watch New Movies At Home

Image courtesy of Eric BEAUME

The latest effort to convince studios they can simultaneously release major new titles theatrically and on home video comes from Napster co-founder and old-school Facebook-backer Sean Parker, who believes that the $50 price point isn’t too high for people looking to watch a blockbuster at home instead of trekking to the theater.

Variety reports that not only would the service — currently dubbed The Screening Room — cost $50 for a 48-hour rental of a newly released movie, but it would charge $150 for the set-top box needed to access these titles.

The biggest roadblock to simultaneous releases hasn’t really been the studios. They have been pushing to narrow the gap between theatrical and home video releases for years. It’s the theater owners who have balked at the idea, concerned that early home video availability will further cut into ticket sales.

To ease that concern, exhibitors would get a substantial chunk — upwards of $20 — of each Screening Room rental, reports Variety.

Revenue sharing is a tactic that’s been tried before. Paramount made deals with AMC and Canada’s Cineplex last year that would cut the theater owners in if the studio went out earlier than usual on a home video release.

But one thing that the Paramount model doesn’t take into account is that theater operators make much of their money from concessions. That is likely why the Screening Room would provide renters with two free theater tickets for each $50 rental, to hopefully get some butts in line at the popcorn stand.

Like Paramount, Screening Room is reportedly close to making a deal with AMC. Having an arrangement with the second-largest theater chain in the U.S. would have been significant on its own, but with AMC poised to purchase Carmike and become the nation’s biggest exhibitor, that could give Screening Room the needed leverage to make deals with other theater operators.

A potential problem for Screening Room is that it wants to be the exclusive provider of opening-day home video releases. Some studios — especially those with streaming and on-demand services of their own, like Comcast-owned Universal, and Sony — may balk at that requirement.