Sean Parker's Screening Room model: National Association of Theatre Owners respond | EW.com

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National Association of Theatre Owners respond to Sean Parker's Screening Room model

Trade organization says new business models shouldn't be decided by 'third parties'

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Directors such as Peter Jackson, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese are enthused with Sean Parker’s plan to bring event movies to homes the same day they appear in theaters. Theater owners aren’t nearly as excited.

As we reported earlier this week, Parker, best known for disrupting the music business with Napster, has formulated a plan to provide consumers a $150 set-top box and the ability to rent movies the day they bow in theaters for $50 each. The country’s largest movie chain, AMC Theatres, has endorsed the plan along with a slew of directors. 

The studios have yet to share their opinion, and according to one source, Disney and Paramount have yet to even see the proposal set forth by Parker. But most theater owners are concerned the proposal will cannabalize their business and erode the movie-going experience even further then it already has. 

Now the National Association of Theatre Owners, the trade group representing the majority of the country’s theaters, has come out against the proposal, acknowledging in a statement that perhaps more sophisticated distribution models may be needed to keep the movie-going business successful, but those models “should be developed by distributors and exhibitors in company-to-company discussions, not by a third party.” 

The statement reaffirms the belief most studios and theater owners share, that the exclusive release of films in theaters is what makes them successful for the lifetime of the movie. Says the statement, “The exclusive theatrical release window makes new movies events. Success there establishes brand value and bolsters revenue in downstream markets.” 

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The statement is also careful to not alleniate the high-profile directors who are speaking out in favor of The Screening Room. “The owners and operators of movie theaters genuinely appreciate the vision and creativity brought to the big screen by motion picture directors,” continues the statement. “Nothing entertains movie fans better than a great movie exhibited in a modern movie cinema.”

The trade organization is also clear to state that each theater chain must decide what model is right for themselves and NATO can’t direct them to make a decision. 

Not all directors are into The Screening Room idea. According to Deadline, filmmakers James Cameron and Jon Landau have come out against Parker’s proposal.