The Screening Room could kill cinema – The Jungle Book’s director doesn’t want that to happen

The Jungle Book director has his say on the next big seismic shift for Hollywood.

Jon Favreau The Jungle Book
Jon Favreau A film director but not a sitcom one. Image Picture Donald Bowers/Getty

Hollywood could be about to undergo its biggest upheaval in decades, if Napster founder Sean Parker’s latest project the Screening Room comes to pass.

Parker is planning to launch a premium movie rental service that’ll bring the latest film releases into your home months before DVD, Blu-ray or Netflix streaming debuts.

This means you’ll be able to watch films like The Jungle Book and Captain America: Civil War for $50  a pop on the weekend they hit cinemas – from the comfort of your own home.

This has already become a hot topic in the film industry, with A-list filmmakers taking sides. With The Screening Room a potential threat to cinemas, the likes of James Cameron and Christopher Nolan have come out to oppose it.

On the flipside Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, JJ Abrams and Peter Jackson are among those in favour.

Jon Favreau, director of The Jungle Book, tells Loaded that filmmakers need to “raise the bar on what we’re presenting to the audience to keep the theatrical experience relevant”.

Favreau’s Jungle Book, which is showing in 3D and IMAX, says a shift towards VOD home viewing like Parker’s is inevitable – but it shouldn’t come at the expense of losing cinemas.

“The business model will change at one point, whether it’s this technology or another one. There are people who want to see movies in a different way than going to the movie theatre,” says Favreau.

Sean Parker The Screening Room
Sean Parker v Hollywood The man behind Napster is launching a film service that could have huge repercussions. Image Picture Justin Sullivan/Getty

“There are certain movies that I want to see in the theatre and I don’t want to see the theatrical experience disappear.

“There are certain movies I want to see in the theatre and I don’t want to see that disappear.”

“If a new technology will help support that, preserve the theatrical window in addition to showing movies in different ways then I’m more open to it. It would be very sad to see as one of the consequences of new technology to lose that communal experience of going to the theatre.”

Actor-turned-filmmaker Favreau, whose other movies include Iron Man and Elf, says Hollywood has to keep producing blockbusters that the “audience has to choose to leave their house to see”.

“You can see great content at home, but I remember when I saw Avatar I felt like I got why I’m wearing glasses and seeing it in 3D – I got why I was paying more for IMAX,” he says.

The Jungle Book is released in cinemas on April 15.

Video editing by Luke Remon

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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