“Star Wars” director J.J. Abrams on Monday boldly defended Sean Parker’s controversial proposal to allow new movies to stream at home the day of their release to an auditorium full of theater owners, imploring: “We have to adapt.”
Abrams spoke on stage at the annual CinemaCon convention in Las Vegas, where several thousand exhibitors had gathered. As he accepted the Showman of the Year Award, he called for the film industry to adapt to technological change, obliquely defending his support for Parker’s Screening Room plan to allows customers to stream new movies for $50 after buying a set-top box for roughly $200.
“Much has been said of other technologies that threaten the theater experience — and of course I am no expert, and I’m open to all points of view and good ideas to keep theaters thriving — but we need to do everything we can in this age of piracy, digital technology and disruption to be thoughtful partners in the evolution of this medium,” Abrams said.
“As the world evolves, all of us are evolving with it,” he said, urging the crowd, many of whom are known to oppose the new system, “We have to adapt.”
Abrams let the exhibitors know that he still embraced the theatrical experience: “It’s going to be required of all of us. We need to meet that challenge with excitement and create solutions and not fear. But in my view it’s simple: There is nothing better than going to the movies and there never will be.”
Parker’s proposal to upend the traditional theatrical business caused outrage for some in the exhibition community when it was announced months ago, as it would erase the current window of exclusivity theaters have with films before they hit VOD platforms for at-home consumption.