Ever since Sean Parker‘s startup The Screening Room was announced last month, with plans to offer day-and-date blockbuster releases for viewers at home for $50, there has been lots of debate about what this could mean for the future of moviegoing. Surprisingly, Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, and Steven Spielberg have been among those who support the idea, while lining up against it has been James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, The National Association Of Theater Owners, and art house cinemas, who all see the plan as a real threat. And naturally, the conversation has continued this week at CinemaCon, where the divide in the industry was clearly felt.
On Team VOD, Abrams sees The Screening Room as a chance for the industry to finally get ahead of the digital curve. “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,” the director said (via The Wrap). “As the world evolves, all of us are evolving with it. We have to adapt.”
However, Todd Phillips sees things much differently, and puts his opinion in far blunter terms. “Why are we in such a rush to turn movies into television,” Phillips said (via Variety). “Why are we in such a rush to take the thing that separates us from everyone else — the physical shared experience of movie theaters — and do away with it?”
And really, that’s probably the single more important question Hollywood needs to ask themselves. If you take the element that makes your artform distinct out of the equation, what are you selling exactly? And while the major studios mull their position on The Sceening Room, Warner Bros. made it pretty clear they aren’t really rolling with the move toward premium VOD.