Can You Watch Theater Movies at Home—Legally?

Can You Watch Theater Movies at Home—Legally?
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So you’ve got a great home theater setup at home. A soft and cozy recliner chair, state-of-the-art home theater surround system, food delivery at the tip of your fingers, the works! But can you watch theater movies at home on their release dates?

If you could, then that would perfect! No more driving to your local cinema house, waiting in line, suffering rude moviegoers who keep talking, and paying for all the hassle. Well, you could always wait for the film to be available in DVD format or in the streaming site you’ve subscribed to, but sadly you’d be too late by then to talk about the film to friends who are already onto the next movie hit.

So, Can You Watch Theater Movies at Home?

The simple answer is yes!

And as the title suggests, we’re not talking about breaking the law by downloading from torrent sites or watching a poorly recorded video of the movie with silhouettes of people standing below the screen. That’s one option though—but one we don’t recommend.

And we’re not talking about 90-120 days after the movie’s release either—although you can do that as well if you like!

Sounds too good to be true? Read up and see for yourself!

The Prima Cinema

If you’re dreaming of going straight to your entertainment room instead of on the day a movie is set to hit the cinemas, then the Prima Cinema is what you need. If you haven’t heard about this eight-year-old company, then maybe that’s partly because of its prohibitive costs.

For the luxury of enjoying release date films in your PJs at home, you need to shell out a whopping $35,000 for the set-top box and installation. Plus, you have to pay $500 for every movie you want to watch.

The Prototype: The Bel Air Circuit

The business model was inspired by the Bel Air Circuit, which dates back to the 1930s. It was used by Hollywood hotshots who wanted to enjoy first-run movies without leaving their homes. A traveling projectionist set up private screenings in exclusive clients’ mansions with 35mm or 70mm prints of movies in hand.

The Bel Air Circuit continues up to this day only the movies are digitally streamed.

The Prima Cinema Model

Prima Cinema co-founder and CEO Shawn Yeager, together with his partners, modernized and expanded the Bel Air Circuit model by reaching out to a bigger network of rich people.

So, how did Prima Cinema manage to get the nod of major studios? First, they developed a set-top box that effectively prevents piracy—a risk that has made online streaming a hard sell to studios. Prima Cinema, by the way, doesn’t stream movies. The company delivers the movies to the device via a secure connection.

Their piracy-proof device is stationary and equipped with sensors, so it will know if it’s being moved. Additionally, it uses biometric authentication to access the movie. Only fingerprints enrolled in the device and to the system will grant access to a movie. Thus, all transactions can be traced.

Besides the $35,000 set-top box and $500 per movie fee you should be able to pay, you also have to pass a background check conducted by the company to make sure you’re no sketchy character who can turn this luxury into an investment.

And should you own a screening room, it should also meet the following requirements:

  • Has no more than 25 seats
  • Has a screen that measures at least 100 inches diagonally
  • With a static IP address and fast Internet connection

With all the stringent measures and, of course, a cut from the purchased titles, Prima Cinema got the backing of many major studios. Movies from Universal Pictures, Lionsgate, Focus Features, Paramount Pictures, and Samuel Goldwyn Films are among the films that you can enjoy with the Prima Cinema.

So, if you think you can meet all the requirements, then there’s nothing keeping you from making that dream of plopping in your recliner in your PJs to watch theater movies at home from happening!

And if you belong to the ultra-rich clique, then you might want to forego the $35,000 set-top box in favor of the 4k version at 12-bit, which comes with a staggering $50,000 price tag!

What Are the Other Options Available?

The Screening Room

A hot topic for debate a few years back was the Screening Room, a brainchild of Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame, which would have provided a much more affordable option to movie lovers who want to watch new theatrical releases at home. For $50 per movie and a $150 set-top box, you and your group can already enjoy a premiere night at home.

Unfortunately, the Screening Room was met with too much opposition by movie companies and some Hollywood directors that it has not seen the light of day. It simply lacked the anti-piracy features of Prima Cinema and was too risky altogether for the movie industry to get the backing of studio moguls.

Different Hollywood Studio Models

While it was a sad death for Screening Room, especially for average Joes rooting for it, some studios have seen the need to keep up with the times by shortening waiting time for new releases to be viewed from home via premium video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

There are different proposals afloat. Warner Bros. is going for $50, shortening the regular 90- to 120-day waiting time to 17 days. Fox, on the other hand, is proposing $30 and a 30-45 day from the theatrical release. Meanwhile, Universal Studios’ proposal is at $40 after ten days.

Apparently, only two things are keeping us from taking that step forward—the coming to an agreement of the studios to what model to use and the impending death of the cinema chains in the age of Netflix.

Final Thoughts

So, can you watch theater movies at home without breaking any law? If you belong to the ultra-rich and you love movies enough to get a Prima Cinema, then it’s a yes! And you can watch them on the same day they debut in movie houses. If not, then it’s still a yes, provided you can wait for the films to be available in DVD formats or your premium video-on-demand service provider.

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