It's lining up to be a showdown worthy of a superhero movie. Facebook and Napster wonder Sean Parker has divided Hollywood with this startup, The Screening Room, which is aiming to give customers day-and-date theatrical releases at home for $50, promising studios and distributors a healthy cut of the action, assuaging industry types they'll have the technology to fight piracy, and assuring theatre chains they are part of the equation too. And while Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Brian Grazer, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and more have all thrown their weight behind the plan, this week has seen plenty of pushback. Groups like The Art House Convergence and The National Association Of Theater Owners have issued statements criticizing the premium VOD, and now filmmakers are making their voice heard.
Speaking with Deadline on behalf of himself and James Cameron, producer Jon Landau argued passionately for the value of the moviegoing experience. “Both Jim and I remain committed to the sanctity of the in-theater experience. For us, from both a creative and financial standpoint, it is essential for movies to be offered exclusively in theaters for their initial release,” he said. “We don’t understand why the industry would want to provide audiences an incentive to skip the best form to experience the art that we work so hard to create. To us, the in-theater experience is the wellspring that drives our entire business, regardless of what other platforms we eventually play on and should eventually play on. No one is against playing in the home, but there is a sequencing of events that leads to it. The in-theater communal experience is very special.”
“Once something is available in the home, you open yourself up to a vulnerability of piracy and what we have learned is that people who watch pirated movies, do not care about the quality of what they watch,” he added.
It's a pointed response, and it's one that Christopher Nolan agrees with. "It would be hard to express the great importance of exclusive theatrical presentation to our industry more compellingly than Jon Landau and James Cameron did," Nolan said in a statement (via THR).
Both filmmakers are dedicated to creating unique big screen experiences, and it's understandable why they don't want to spend a year or two on a movie, only to have it viewed out of the gate on a TV screen. And with these two leading the way, it's likely that more filmmaker voices will join them. Let us know what you think in the comments section.