Why this director thinks Sean Parker's controversial streaming startup will ruin movies


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Since the announcement that Sean Parker and music executive Prem Akkaraju are working on a company called Screening Room that plans to let consumers stream movies still showing in theaters from home for a $50 rental fee, filmmakers have been taking sides

Though the company has big-name shareholders like directors Peter Jackson, J.J. Abrams, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg, and Martin Scorsese, there are major directors also opposed to it, namely James Cameron and Christopher Nolan.

Most of the debate has been focused on the financial pros and cons for theaters if such a bold endeavor were to become a reality. But director Jeff Nichols, whose first studio movie "Midnight Special" opens in theaters on Friday, is opposed to the idea for another reason.

Jeff Nichols Mike Windle Getty

Mike Windle/Getty

Jeff Nichols.

"The thing that nobody is talking about that I want them to is how terrible flat-screen TVs make movies look," Nichols told Business Insider.

Every TV has its own specific settings, meaning images look different on different TVs. Nichols notes that when you buy an expensive television, the demo settings for it are set in a way that makes sporting events look amazing, but movies look flat.


"It looks like a friggin' Spanish soap opera, I hate it," Nichols said.

The director's latest film, starring Michael Shannon as a father who tries to protect his son with special powers from authorities, is filled with dazzling cinematography and special effects. He believes the work he put into making it look its best would be ruined if audiences were given an option not to see it in theaters at all.

"I spend thousands of dollars a day making sure my movies look a very specific way," he said. "So before I could ever get onboard with a home-viewing system that allowed the complete takeaway of the theatrical component, I would want to make sure that people in their houses would see a correct representation of the movie I make."

The current model for Screening Room would allow consumers the option to buy a $150 anti-piracy set-top box to permit them to rent for 48 hours movies that are still showing in theaters. A portion of the $50 fee would go to exhibitors, and customers would receive two tickets to their local multiplex for the movie they rented.


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