Sean Parker’s day-and-date movie viewing concept Screening Room is one of the buzziest topics on Monday at CinemaCon, the annual four-day convention for U.S. exhibitors.
While theater owners, executives, vendors and press piled into Caesar’s Palace Las Vegas for the formal kick-off, a previously reported informal meeting between Parker and a select group of studios scheduled sometime this week has the convention talking — since it could have broad ramifications for the entire industry.
“Obviously, I’m aware of why the Screening Room folks themselves are excited — and I know they understand and are aware of what the challenges are from other parties,” STX Entertainment Motion Picture Chair Adam Fogelson told TheWrap.
Others see more hype in the project, which would allow consumers to pay about $150 for a set-top box and access to new releases for $50 on the day of their theatrical release.
“They’re doing a pretty good job of selling themselves without having anything to show,” said one studio consultant, who sat through CinemaCon’s international programming.
Parker’s proposal to upend the traditional theatrical business caused outrage for some in the exhibition community when it was announced, as it would erase the current window of exclusivity theaters have with films before they hit VOD platforms for at-home consumption. Under the proposal, movie theaters and distributors would each receive $20 of the $50 fee, with Screening Room keeping $10.
Parker and his team have lined up the endorsement of major filmmakers like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, many of whom stand to gain financially if the project is realized. But most major exhibitors as well as filmmakers like Christopher Nolan and James Cameron have voiced their opposition.
“The general topic of windows has been a huge hot button issue for a long time,” said Fogelson, whose 18-month-old studio will deliver a new slate on Tuesday morning. “The quality and pedigree of people advocating for the Screening Room puts it in a unique class in terms of having to take it seriously. Everyone understands why we’re all talking about it but no one has come to a consensus yet.”
He noted that STX has not yet met with Parker or representatives for the service, though studio execs are scheduled to sit down in Los Angeles in a few weeks.
Whatever pitch Parker and his team makes in Vegas will be outside the scope of CinemaCon itself.