The buzz surrounding billionaire Sean Parker's Screening Room has died out and may not happen after all. The tech entrepreneur's latest startup idea would give users the ability to watch new movies at home that are still being streamed in theaters for a fee of $50.
Parker and his cofounder, Prem Akkaraju, have promoted the potential service for the past two years at CinemaCon – the official convention of The National Association of Theatre Owners. The concept promises studios and exhibitors added revenue to all sides of the industry.
For $50, the movie would become available for 48 hours, with its profits being dispersed to the movie's distributor (20%) and Screening Room (10%), and a participating theater chain would also receive up to $20. Each viewer would receive two tickets to see the rented title at their local theater.
Many industry players are against the bigger picture: Movies available on premium video on demand (PVOD) platforms simultaneously with theatrical releases. The first two weeks of a title's theatrical run are when studios and exhibitors make the majority of their income.
Once decade-long questions about PVOD are answered, Screening Room may stand a better chance, but there are other systems aiming to do something similar.
"It seems to me it's often an individual company that comes along and believes it has figured out how to make all the money in the theater space," Barbara Twist, the managing director of the Art House Convergence, which represents smaller theaters, told Business Insider. "Personally, I have yet to see a new version that ensures that everybody keeps making the amount of money currently being made."
Twist added, "We would welcome a discussion along the lines of them saying: 'We have this idea. We would like to help the moviegoing population see more movies. How can we work with you?' rather than a PowerPoint presentation."
But yet another hurdle for the 37-year-old businessman remains: iTunes. For years, iTunes has gotten the opportunity the provide movie titles for home viewing before other providers, and many think iTunes is the most logical choice for the movie industry.
"It's what everybody has, and if the price point is right, Screening Room is cut out. Nobody needs them," said Jeff Bock, the senior box-office analyst for Exhibitor Relations. "And to build that infrastructure with Screening Room would take a long time. Screening Room has a really tough hill to climb."