Sean Parker made headlines last year with a startup known as Screening Room. If you don't already know, Sean Parker is a tech billionaire and the man behind Napster.
Screening Room is all about giving viewers the ability to watch movies that are still in theaters. Of course, you have to pay a fee for such services.
Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Ron Howard, and Steven Spielberg praised Sean Parker and his forward-thinking idea. On the other hand, Kevin Tsujihara, James Cameron, and Christopher Nolan do not agree. They voiced out the idea of exclusivity that comes with the theater experience.
Screening Room's pitch to exhibitors and studios says that it can bring added revenue for all of the people involved. It's estimated that it could bring an additional $8.5 billion to the film industry.
There's just one problem. In the industry, there's a term known as Premium Video on Demand (PVOD). It's a term that denotes film titles which are available for rent or purchase. It could also mean getting access to films from a streaming service.
Here's the thing, big industry players don't want to do a film's theatrical release and PVOD release simultaneously. This is because during the first two weeks of a film release, it's where most of the exhibitors and studios make money. Having a new film PVOD may mean decreasing the overall income of studios and exhibitors. However, Sean Parker has an ingenious solution.After a film's first two weeks of theatrical release, there's a time window in which it won't be available as a PVOD. This time window is also known as the "dark zone" within the film industry. It's the time when a film's earnings drastically drop. According to Sean Parker, this is the perfect time for a film to be in the Screening Room.
There's a large debate among film industry players when it comes to the exact time in which a film should be made available for the likes of Screening Room. Once they have figured out that part of the equation, then the next step is to make a deal. However, the truth is that Screening Room is not the only player in town.
In fact, there are at least three major companies vying for the same niche. Some studio executives are not a fan of how Screening Room is trying to muscle its way into the industry. At the moment, Screening Room is making a lot of demands, which isn't helping Sean Parker's start-up. Then there's another big problem for Screening Room, and that is iTunes.
For years, studios have been working with iTunes whenever they want to PVOD a film. If studios want to make money within the "dark zone" time frame, then it's most likely that they are going to talk to iTunes rather than a newcomer like Screening Room.
As of the moment, Sean Parker's Screening Room is having a lot of problems. However, if he can persuade the exhibitors and take some of the power from iTunes, then Sean Parker just found himself another cash cow.