There’s plenty to dislike about movie theaters. Aside from the fact that most are pretty gross, the one thing that has kept me away from theaters for years is other people. If I’m paying upwards of $15 to watch a new release, I want to actually be able to watch it without distractions. Crying babies and rude people that talk / play on their phones the whole time have completely ruined the experience for me.
Excluding pirates, only select Hollywood insiders have been able to watch first-run, theatrically-released films at home. Comcast conducted a trial run to deliver new flicks via VOD several years ago although I assume the idea was canned as such a service never materialized that I’m aware of.
PRIMA Cinema is billed as the first and only premium entertainment company to deliver new films directly to a member’s home. Want to host a party and invite your entire family over for movie night? You can do just that with PRIMA Cinema… but it’ll cost you.
The hardware alone is a pretty ridiculous setup. In addition to a state-of-the-art set-top box that requires biometric authentication to rent movies at $500 each (good only for a 24 hour period), there’s a huge rack-mounted system that stores each movie. Films are delivered over the Internet to the box several days before they are released in theaters. They sit there, encrypted, until the movie studio behind the film gives the green light.
The rack-mounted box features two power supplies, dual gigabit Ethernet, dual HDMI and a RAID 5 array. There are even accelerometers that will shut the entire system down if movement is detected. Movies are laced with an invisible watermark so if something does end up online, the company will know where it came from. Owners must also have a fast Internet connection and a static IP address.
The system’s only function is to make new release films available to rent. If you want to watch something a bit older, you’ll need to turn to a standard set-top box like a Fire TV or Roku 3. Films aren’t shown at 4K yet but that’ll come with time as technology matures.
So, how much will you need to shell out for your very own PRIMA Cinema? The hardware alone will set you back a cool $35,000 and new users are required to pay for 10 movies up front at $500 each, so another $5,000.
To most of us, that’s above and beyond anything even remotely reasonable which is the entire point. Movie theaters (and in turn, studios) must protect their revenue stream. An affordable at-home solution would be a death sentence for theaters but by pricing PRIMA Cinema so high, both are ensuring it'll have as little impact on the industry as possible.
To the wealthy, it’s really just a drop in the bucket and probably well worth it to avoid having to deal with the public. And if you’re willing to spend that kind of money on a movie delivery service, odds are you have a pretty kickass home theater setup to go along with it.