Theatrical Releases at Home

What’s Bad About The Screening Room?

It’s easy to see why filmmakers like Nolan and Cameron are against The Screening Room. Both are passionate filmmakers who long to preserve the experience of seeing a movie on the big screen, and it’s hard to argue with the magic of seeing certain movies on a massive movie theater screen. And it may seem strange that filmmakers like Spielberg and Abrams, who make the same kind of big screen fare that deserves to be seen in theaters, supporting the service.

It seems that Spielberg and Abrams see that allowing audiences the option of seeing their movie at home really doesn’t hurt the bottom line. If people are paying to see the movie, then that’s all that really matters. And if a movie truly demands to be seen in a movie theater, then people will still go out of their way to leave home and pay for a ticket at the box office.

However, movies from these big name filmmakers aren’t really the ones that struggle to get an audience on the big screen. It’s the lesser known filmmakers and lower key dramas, comedies and indie movies that could end up being affected, perhaps having a harder time getting big screen distribution as theaters put more attention on movies guaranteed to make money. After all, releasing a movie on VOD is infinitely cheaper than a theatrical release. That could end up dashing the dreams of some filmmakers who hope to see their movie on the big screen, but it also has its perks.

What’s Good About The Screening Room?

Around awards season, plenty of hopeful contenders get a limited release, and general audiences usually aren’t able to see them until after nominations are announced. If The Screening Room comes to be, more audiences could see lower profile awards contenders earlier, thereby building the buzz and allowing more people to see films that might otherwise never make it to multiplexes in smaller towns. Plenty of those films deserve to be seen on the big screen as much as something like Captain America: Civil War or an equally big movie, but the problem is that audiences in general aren’t going to the movies as much. The Screening Room could help the audience grow, albeit outside of multiplexes.

Movie theater attendance has been struggling for years now, and movie theaters aren’t doing much to make that experience more appealing. In fact, the rising prices of tickets and concessions, meant to help offset the declining attendance numbers, aren’t doing anything to make it any more appealing. So moviegoers may not see the benefit of watching a film in theaters anymore, with occasional exceptions for blockbusters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens or Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice that demand to be seen on the largest screens possible. Therefore, this may actually end up getting more people to see movies at a premium price.

Plus, we’ve already talked about how great this service can be for those who have family members who are immobile and can’t make it to a movie theater, as well as families who have children who may have some kind of health condition that keeps them from being able to tolerate the movie theater environment.

A Bittersweet, Potentially Complicated Innovation

Even though The Screening Room seems to benefit a lot of people without shaking up the film distribution game too drastically, it’s almost sad to see a major chain like AMC Theatres showing interest in The Screening Room as a viable venture, rather than trying to preserve the big screen experience by making it better. These movie theater chains have to do something in order to survive and still make money off audiences, and they really have nothing to lose if they get in on The Screening Room at the ground floor. Otherwise, they risk missing out on some potential revenue.

My question is how would The Screening Room help multiple theater chains? If AMC Theatres gets involved, does that mean other chains can’t jump on board? And if there are multiple chains involved, does the fraction of the fee that goes to movie theaters get divided among them? Can users choose which movie theater their money goes to? We don’t know, and that could prove to be complicated and even controversial for the movie theaters that don’t get involved with The Screening Room.

On the next page, get our final thoughts on The Screening Room.

Continue Reading The Screening Room: Civil War >>

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