Theaters and Studios Are Discussing Home Viewing Again

By  · Published on December 19th, 2016

It’s the thing that nobody wants or it would’ve happened already.

Arguably the best part about going to the movies is the actual experience itself: the big screen, surround sound, comfy (or at least sort of) seats, the movie snacks, the trailers. There aren’t many movie fans who would sacrifice that experience to instead watch a current theatrical release at home. Yet for some reason, people keep trying to make it happen. Every now and then it pops back into the news circuit and then eventually disappears. You’d think that would be a big enough hint that maybe this isn’t what anyone wants.

Apparently not. Last week The Hollywood Reporter disclosed that studios are again (again!) in talks with companies like AT&T and Comcast to bring theatrical releases to everyone’s televisions. There’s almost nothing new here – now they are toying with the idea of offering films approximately 17 days after a theatrical release for the price of approximately $50 and Disney is still not interested in taking part because obviously – so it begs the question: why again?

Last year, Sean Parker tried this same thing with a start-up called Screening Room and nothing ever happened with it. Variety reported that while it gained traction in the news, Parker had a hard time getting studios on board. Screening Room was almost identical to what THR is reporting, with the $50 fee and everything. In 2011, Universal tested out the home viewing option with Tower Heist of all things and it did not go so well.

Perhaps instead of “why,” we should be looking at “who.” As in, who would be interested in this service? The aforementioned cinema lovers would be hard pressed to opt to stay at home rather than go to a movie theatre. Many people don’t have a good enough home entertainment set-up as well to justify the price tag. But let’s take families into consideration: a family of four could easily drop $60+ on movie tickets and snacks so $50 could be attractive. And Dolby Atmos likely isn’t at the top of the average family’s list of what’s absolutely necessary to the movie experience. Location could be a factor: if you live in an isolated area and don’t have access to movie theatres, something like this could be incredibly appealing.

You could also be thinking that this is an option for rich people that don’t want to go to a movie theatre with all the plebes. Well, you’d be wrong because they already have their own thing apparently: Prima Cinema. Have tens of thousands of dollars to drop on equipment and would come up clean in a background check? Congrats, you qualify!

Which brings us back to: who is the target audience of the attempt to bring theatrical releases to home television? Families? People who live in isolated areas? People who are almost at Prima Cinema level but not quite? (Keep dreaming big, tiger.)

Without the “who” it’s almost impossible to figure out the “why.” And so, like it always does, this story will fade away, completely forgotten, until sometime next year when someone else tries to make it a thing again and we’ll be asking, “Whyyyyyy?” again. Until then.

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