Movies: Screening Room

No, Screening Room isn't a movie. It would be a different way to watch first-run movies. Except not really a different way, since people watch movies in their homes all the time. So . . .

Okay, so here's the proposal: Screening Room would allow people to pay $50 to watch movies at home the same day they are released in cinemas.

Understandably, the cinemas aren't keen on the idea. Some movie makers aren't either, stating that films should be seen in cinemas, that the cinema experience is key.

Yeah, okay. But I see more films at home than I do in a cinema. So are you telling me I'm somehow missing the point on those home-viewed films because I didn't go see them at the local 'plex?

The cinema experience may be key for some movies, but I don't think it's true for all. Big screen FX movies? Sure. Little indie films? Not necessarily. (And that, btw, is the reason we get more and more of these tentpole movies—they're the ones that make box office because they're the ones people feel the need to watch on the big screen. We've done it to ourselves.)

Nor do I believe that everyone enjoys the cinema experience. I don't particularly like being in a crowd of smelly strangers who don't have the basic, common courtesy of turning off their mobile phones or the sense not to bring a wailing baby to an R-rated movie. Which is one of the reasons I don't go to the movies more often.

With the leaps and bounds in home theatre systems, too, a "cinema" experience can be fairly replicated in the comfort of home. I have a big-screen TV and a fab sound system. I can make popcorn and buy candy. (Okay, it still won't be as good as movie theatre popcorn, no matter what the bag says, but one must make compromises.) And I won't have to deal with all the people mentioned in the previous paragraph. That's worth something to me.

So. IF Screening Room were to roll out, would I use it? Almost certainly. Would I stop going to the cinema? No. I'd probably still go for the big-screen movies. I'd still take my kids to the latest Disney thing. I would still, every now and then, need to go and remind myself why I don't do it more often.

My general recommendation on the whole thing would be to be very selective about which movies were offered via Screening Room. Those indies that otherwise won't get screens? Absolutely. The blockbusters that will take up half the theatre? Nah. There is potential here, but it needs to be used wisely.

*Please note that I haven't read anything in depth about Screening Room, only that there is a bit of an argument over it. These are my extremely generalized thoughts regarding that argument.

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