Napster Founder's "Screening Room" Could Bring New Releases to Your Home

J.J. Abrams, Stephen Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, and more are all on board.

Getty Images/ Justin Sullivan

Napster founder Sean Parker wants to change the way we consume media all over again. His latest venture, Screening Room, would charge customers $50 to buy a film on the day of its theatrical release, letting them catch the latest blockbusters without leaving the couch.

While this may push us a little closer to a world of tiny-brained couch potatoes, Screening Room would give moviemakers an alternate revenue stream in an era of box office decline and rampant piracy. And some big name directors are already buying in: Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Martin Scorsese, Taylor Hackford, Frank Marshall, and Peter Jackson are all on board and reportedly backing the project in some fashion.

The directors think Screening Room, which would let users buy a film for $50 the day it was released, could bring in a new demographic of viewers.

“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,” Jackson said in a statement to Variety. “Screening Room, however, is very carefully designed to capture an audience that does not currently go to the cinema.”

Jackson said Screening Room will have a “robust anti-piracy” strategy, although it’s unclear how that will work.

“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,” Jackson said.

According to Variety, movie exhibitors or theater companies will pocket as much as $20 out of the $50 price of the film, and customers will also get two free tickets to a flick to keep concessions sales afloat. Studios will also get a big chunk of the fee. Though $50 seems like a lot for a film, if you consider that customers will inevitably use it collaboratively, a small group of 5 or more friends could split the cost for a new release — for less than the cost of a box office ticket. So don’t alienate your friend with the largest TV anytime soon, because you may be spending a lot more time on his couch in coming years.

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