Director Christopher Nolan has come out against the premium VOD service Screening Room that has divided Hollywood this week.
Backed by Sean Parker and Prem Akkaraju, Screening Room proposes that consumers watch new movies over a 48-hour window beginning the day of its theatrical release via a set-top box that would cost roughly $150. According to the proposal, theater owners and studios would collect as much as $20 each of the $50 fee for a new movie.
James Cameron and his “Avatar” producer Jon Landau are two industry figures who have led the charge against the new proposal, which has driven a wedge between A-list directors and the exhibition community.
“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,” Nolan said in an oddly worded statement that acknowledged the importance of cinemas but didn’t directly address Screening Room beyond complimenting what the “Avatar” duo had to say about it.
That said, it would stand to reason that filmmakers such as Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson would be opposed to Screening Room, given how they have publicly backed film over digital. Tarantino and Anderson have not yet weighed in, nor have many writers, producers, actors and executives who appear content to let directors do all the talking in a conversation that everyone should really be a part of.
Parker has enlisted the support of nearly a dozen industry heavyweights, including directors Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, but the National Association of Theatre Owners is strongly opposed to the idea, and studios aren’t quite sure what to make of it given their different business models. Disney, for starters, isn’t keen on the idea.
Spielberg, Jackson and fellow A-listers J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Frank Marshall are among the early proponents of Screening Room, which they feel is the future of making movies more accessible to the masses — and the future is inevitable. Indeed, many believe that major change in the traditional distribution is a matter of when, not if.
With that in mind, AMC is believed to be nearing a deal with Screening Room, having signed a letter of intent, and several studios are weighing the idea, though none have committed at this time.