Would You Pay $50 To Watch A First-Run, Blockbuster Movie At Home, The Same Day It Opens In Theaters?

Would You Pay $50 To Watch A First-Run, Blockbuster Movie At Home, The Same Day It Opens In Theaters?

While the box office had a record setting, $11 billion dollar year in 2015, that number obscures the fact that audience attendance has been stagnant for a while now. The major movie studios have long been trying to figure how to tap into an audience that would prefer to #Netflixandchill than leave the house, find parking, pay outrageous amounts for concessions, only to have someone talk through an entire movie. A few years ago, a program was launched on DirecTV that allowed subscribers to rent a movie, 60 days after they hit theaters, for $29.99. It quietly came and went. In 2011, Universal attempted to make the Ben Stiller comedy "Tower Heist" available to order at home just three weeks after it opened for $59.99, but theatre owners threatened to not screen the movie at all if the studio pushed forward with initiative, and the plan was scrapped. But now, the idea of super-premium VOD is being floated once again.

Sean Parker, who has Napster and Facebook on his resumé, is now part of a startup called The Screening Room, and they have a plan that sounds very familiar. Right now, they are visiting studios in Hollywood and pitching their streaming solution that would require customers to first purchase a $150 box, which would then give them access to day-and-date rentals of Hollywood releases for $50 a pop. Hoping to sweeten the deal on both ends, The Screening Room is promising studios $20 of that $50 price tag, while customers will get two free movie tickets with their rental, which is aimed at keeping theater owners happy. 

According to Variety, there is "serious interest" in this idea from Universal, Fox, and Sony, and The Screening Room is apparently close to closing a deal with AMC, who if their acquisition of Carmike goes through, will be the biggest theater chain in the country. But, does this program make sense?

If you’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a movie, there’s a particular brand value associated with the theatrical experience. One could argue that the excitement of an upcoming Marvel or "Star Wars" movie, for example, becomes diminished if it’s just another thing you can order on television (and it may be why Disney is said to be uninterested in this endeavor). And then there’s the threat of piracy, and while The Screening Room is promising they’ll have technology in place to prevent that from happening, those kinds of vows have been made before by no shortage of industry types, and it usually doesn’t take long for a clever hacker to figure out how to break in. 

For the consumer, this is certainly interesting, though not without its own hurdles. For people who already have an AppleTV, Xbox, Chromecast, or even a laptop, shelling out for another set top box isn’t exactly the most attractive option. That said, for families, $50 to watch a movie at home is far more financially reasonable than dragging the kids to the multiplex and paying $12-15 each plus concessions, parking, and whatever else. And even for a group of friends, pooling together $5 to $10 each to watch it on someone’s home theater system beats going to the mall.

On the flipside, for over 100 years, moviegoing at its finest and most rewarding is a social experience, and further eroding that unique element could have consequences on the industry and the value of feature length narratives that aren’t yet known. And even as art form, movies are served best being viewed on the biggest screen possible. Meanwhile, theaters like Alamo Drafthouse are showing that there is still plenty of life left in moviegoing experience, if you meet the customer halfway, and offer them something different than they’ve had for decades now. 

It’s all early stages, and who knows if it’ll ever come to pass, but what do you think? Are you done with going to the movies? Would you pay $50 to say home and watch the next "Star Wars" movie? Let us know below.

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Hell with the cinema chains. Visionless shallow-pockets who complained about having to install digital projectors into their theatres and reap profits of the most expensive animation and comic-themed films. The two day limit is too short, though. It should be one week, day to day.


I love this idea. I just tried to find the official website of this and found this article. Here, movie tickets costs in between 12 dollars to 18 dollars a ticket. So for my wife and I to go to the movies it can cost us anywhere from 28 to 36 dollars. Then you have the added cost of a snack or a drink. Not to mention, it takes 30 minutes just to drive to the movie theater.

Now you are telling me that I can have the convenience of watching a movie in my own home, without rude movie goers checking out their phone or talking during the movie. Where do I sign up?


What’s to stop people from inviting 10 of their friends to home screenings all around the country? I don’t see how this as beneficial for the studios or the exhibitors. [I work in exhibition so I’m concerned].

Rich Graf

I’m with Pete on this one. When you have a home theater with Atmos or DTS:X, then you don’t miss the theater experience. I may only miss the big screen, but sound-wise, mine can’t be beat. I’m also a fan of 3D in the home theater.

Dr Prince

If a significant number of people start streaming first run movies at home, what will become of the movie theaters. I think they will follow Blockbuster Entertainment and go out of business. Many of them are already marginally profitable and this could be the final straw.


Why don’t more theater owners adopt the Alamo Drafthouse model? What’s their secret? Tap into that and bring the people back to the cinema. :)
I think all the access to movies is fine. VOD hasn’t killed the industry so far but I know I’d prefer to see a big blockbuster at the cinema and keep the small indies for home viewing. With over 600+ films released each year, VOD is needed to a degree.
If theatres were more willing to stand up for the art form of cinema and try and get more people to be courteous during the viewing, I think more will come back to the multiplexes.


I’d want it to be on media rather than download as our internet (rural) is rubbish. Given that then $50 is less than cost of tickets and petrol, so it makes sense to me.


Naturally, I prefer the theater experience, but if I have to deal with screaming children, like I did in Straight Outta Compton and Inherent Vice, once more, or deal with jackasses on their phones. I think if theaters want to keep audiences, they have to keep those experiences pure.


R.I.P. cinema 1902 – 2016


OR… Families could wait just six months and only pay $48 per movie by renting it on Redbox. All they need is patience. Ha! If they are definitely going to see the movie, it’s like someone saying, "Hey, I’ll give $48 if you hold off seeing this movie for just six months." If they do this several times a year, now that’s a lot of money saved.


I can see the argument against using this service in terms of the cinema experience and being expensive for a single person or couple but being married with 4 kids this pays for itself for movies my kids want to see but I could care less about. That and my wife is never ready in time: I could finally see the first 5 minutes of a movie on a consistent basis!


I would go on a long rant about this plan but it would very explecit so I’ll keep it short, to the point and PG-13 friendly. I would not go for this plan at all as the theatrical experience is too sacred to me and I hope it does not come to fruition.Any Studio or exhibitor agreeing to this should definitly reconsider


You know "Netflix and chill" means having sex, right? It doesn’t literally mean watching Netflix at home …


"The major movie studios have long been trying to figure how to tap into an audience that would prefer to #Netflixandchill than leave the house" Hahaha. Then they need to drastically change what goes on in theaters.


Not going to the theater is almost sacrilegious for most films that release. But getting the two movie tickets, and then being able to come home and watch the movie again? hm. I just dont think enough people will go that route. And to the general public going the cinema is more important to me than my own convenience.


Watching a brand new movie you’ve been dying to see for months in a controlled environment and zero interference from strangers who 9 times out of 10 will sway your movie going experience for a mere $50? Fine with me. Just invite 3 or 4 other people to watch it with you and you’re actually spending less money than if you went to the theater.

Get Real

Absolutely not.


There is no better place to see a movie than in the theater, and families like to get out as a family to do something special. Often, the movie isn’t the endgame, it’s the doing something together. This venture is bound to fail.


make it a monthly subscribtion instead of $50 for a single viewing and i would gladly sign up


I think I would entertain that plan just for convenience. Now I love movies, but my home theater system and tv are awesome enough to make me think twice about a $50 charge. The only time I enjoy going to the movies now is when no one is there, I’m not a grouchy person but there are a lot of people who cause distractions in the theater. But of course only the big tent poles would be worth it, I can’t see myself paying $50 for The Danish Girl at home.


I love the whole experience of going to the theater and would definitely prefer that. The $50 issue would be interesting if that pays for multiple viewings.


Seems that I’m in the minority here but I for one would love this…

Franquelis Diaz

I pray this doesn’t come to fruition but one cannot ignore where media is heading. Like you said Kevin, it’s financially viable for families to buy this box and purchase films instead of dragging their kids to the cinema and spending an absurd amount of cash on cconcessions. I for one will continue to go to my local cinema and support them in any way that I can even if it means spending $10 dollars on a small soda.

Christian Childress

Paying $50 to stay at home for a new movie is ridiculous to me. I’d much rather pay 11 or 12 dollars at the local theater and see it how it was intended to be seen. I’m sad even reading this article to be honest.


I think this is a great idea in some cases. For example…How I came to this article was because I googled “first run movies for hospice patients” My mother is in home hospice and she LOVES movies. We would go as a family every Tuesday to watch a movie, but now she is in hospice and can’t leave the house. She is still very much aware and mentioned how sad she was she can’t watch movies anymore in the theater. She want’s to watch The Jungle Book and Finding Dori. Sure she could wait for DVD, but she may not be here then. We would pay $50 to be able to see movies at home with our mother while she was still here.

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