If you were looking for another reason to hate the rich, Red Carpet Home Cinema is here to help out. For $1,500 to $3,000 per film – that's somewhere between £1,200 and £2,300 – the company will let you rent first-run films from the comfort of your tricked out mansion.
But not just anyone can sign up for this service. To qualify, you have to pass through a strict verification process. The New York Times reports applicants have to own a credit card with a limit of at least $50,000 and those approved must then buy and install a $15,000 streaming box that comes with piracy protections. Furthermore, Red Carpet Home Cinema isn’t available to just any old millionaire. Right now the service is only available in Los Angeles and New York. The company’s FAQ site says it will expand to additional markets later, but that for now, “it is our intent to limit membership in 2019.”
As for rental pricing, the company says films will be “variably priced” with most new films costing in the “low thousands”, with none falling below $500. What that will get you is two viewings within a 36-hour period. So far, the company has distribution deals in place with a number of major Hollywood studios, including Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate, Annapurna, 20th Century Fox, and Fox Searchlight. Current films like Shazam! and Pet Sematary, as well as upcoming features like Rocketman and Detective Pikachu are among those advertised on the company’s site.
This isn’t a novel idea – Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook infamy pitched his version of a home-video service called Screening Room a few years ago and sought to offer movies at home for $50 each (a much more respectable £38). Likewise, Prima Cinema offered a service in 2013 that just required you to install a $35,000 (£27k) box for a $500 (£380) movie rental. Phew.
The main difference this time around is that Red Carpet is founded by two rich businessmen with no desire to disrupt a notoriously rigid industry: Fred Rosen, a former Ticketmaster president and CEO, and Dan Fellman, one of Hollywood’s most experienced film distribution executives. They’re also quite ambivalent when it comes to how many millionaires they need to actually sign up for their service. In an interview with the NYT, Rosen said the company could make $300 million annually if as few as 4,000 customers signed up. “We are a niche offering – I’m too old for disruption – but even if a studio makes $25 million to $40 million annually from us, that’s found money,” Rosen said in the interview.
Cool. Thanks rich people for prioritising other rich people for a service literally everyone would want. Cinema admissions dipped to 1.23 billion in 2017, the lowest number since 1995 according to the National Association of Theater Owners. That number bounced back a bit in 2018 to 1.3 billion, but increasing ticket prices and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video continue to chip away at normal people’s incentive to haul their butts out to the cinema. [New York Times, Engadget]
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