Magazine article Variety

Inside the Bold Plan to Disrupt the Movie Biz

Magazine article Variety

Inside the Bold Plan to Disrupt the Movie Biz

Article excerpt

Schedule a meeting with Sean Parker at, say, 10 a.m., and the tech guru will likely take hours to show up. People who work with the visionary entrepreneur, whose peripatetic career has taken him from Napster to Facebook to Spotify, refer to it as Sean Parker Time. It's the cost of doing business with one of the boldest minds of the Internet Age.

"He has his finger on the Zeitgeist," said Arianna Hufftngton, founder of the Hufftngton Post, and a friend. "He's incredibly convincing about where the world is going."

When it comes to movies, Parker believes that the future is a couch-based one, but that view has its detractors. Theaters have resisted efforts to shrink the time between a film's debut on the big screen and its launch on home entertainment platforms. That resolve could crack, after news broke in Variety that Parker and partner Prem Akkaraju have teamed to launch Screening Room, a start-up that offers new releases in the home for $50 per 48-hour view, and have managed to enlist such high-wattage stakeholders as Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. Hollywood's biggest rainmaker, attorney Skip Brittenham, is representing Screening Room.

Another industry vet, Jeff Blake, a former vice chairman of Sony Pictures, was recruited as a consultant.

"It's the first real shot across the bow," said David Weitzner, a former studio marketing chief. "There can't be an exhibitor worth anything that doesn't know this is where we're headed. Short of surrendering and sticking their head in the sand, this is something both sides need to work on."

Parker and Akkaraju are trying to broker a peace using a persuasive olive branch - money. Their plan is to give exhibitors $20 of the $50 fee, and to offer two free tickets to a movie in hopes of encouraging customers to visit a theater and buy concessions at a future date. Akkaraju has industry ties from stints as chief content officer at electronic music company SFX Entertainment and as global head of operations at Sanctuary Records Group. He also has Wall Street ties, having worked at JPMorgan Entertainment Partners and Intermedia Partners.

To pitch their wares, Screening Room's leaders and their reps have crossed the globe, flying to Philadelphia to meet with Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, whose entertainment conglom owns Universal, and touching down in China to pitch Dalian Wanda, the parent of AMC Theaters.

Screening Room appears close to a deal with AMC, poised to be the world's largest exhibitor with its pending deal to buy Carmike Cinemas.

That said, the idea remains a tough sell to exhibitors, perhaps as daunting as the one Parker faced when he tried to convince the music industry to view Napster, the music-sharing site he founded, as friend, not foe. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.