The distance between films being released into cinemas and then heading to On Demand has never been shorter. But while there are some cinematic purists out there that believe this reduction is a death knell for the industry, J.J. Abrams has now insisted that it is inevitable that the gap will ultimately become non-existent. J.J. Abrams recently spoke out at a dinner party in Beverly Hills to explain,
People do want to see movies, and can't always get to the theater. It seems like an inevitable thing that movies become available at a premium.
This discussion has been a thing for a while, but it was raisedonce again back in March, after it was revealed that Sean Parker had tweaked his Screening Room idea ahead of CinemaCon, where he then pitched it to a variety of studio heads and exhibitors. For those of you that aren't quite up to speed, Screening Room would see films released into homes on the same day that they hit cinemas, at a per-movie fee of around $50. Studios were originally skeptical because they believed that this would allow films to easily be pirated, but those in control of the project have since adjusted its security protocols, and while some major studios are resisting, it now seems like a possibility for the future.
As you can imagine, there has been quite a lot of resistance from filmmakers on the subject. James Cameron previously insisted that he doesn't see why there would ever be an option "to skip the best form to experience the art that we work so hard to create," a statement that Christopher Nolan endorsed.
However Sean Parker's Screening Room does have the backing of some of the biggest names in Hollywood, though, as Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Peter Jackson, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and, as you can probably guess from his above comments, J.J. Abrams sit on its board of advisors. Each of these filmmakers believe that Sean Parker's approach is a platform that allows audiences to watch their movies from the comfort of their homes and also provides an equally satisfiable cinematic experience.
Of course, the proof is in the pudding, though, and we'll only know if Screening Room, or some other equivalent, does actually suffice when it finally becomes a reality. There's every chance that the above individuals are only so supportive of the device because they have particularly good home entertainment systems that are comparable to going to a cinema anyway. The real test is when it is used on less impressive screens, and then whether, in these conditions, the film is still able to make an impact.
According to The Wrap, J.J. Abrams made these comments about the Screening Room during a discussion with Apple senior vice president of internet software and services Eddy Cue and director Jon Favreau at the Milken Global Conference. When Jon Favreau chimed in on the matter he recalled how his debut film as a screenwriter Swingers only found a second-life after it was released in 1996 because people bought it on video, and he now believes that this "was a harbinger of things to come." Whether that proves to be right or not, what we do know for certain is that big changes are on the horizon for how movies are released, and you can already tell that it's a little bit divisive.