Members of the jet-set who are too good to mix with the filthy hoi polloi can now pay a $15,000 (£11,500) fee and $2,500 (£1,900) per movie to skip the local Alamo Drafthouse and watch first-run films in the comfort of their gilded estates via Red Carpet Home Cinema, which launched in October. Its reverse-Moviepass business model is not going as well as planned, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.
Red Carpet was previously reported to have signed contracts with major studios, but it’s “attracted just a sliver of the customers it hopes to sign up in the U.S. in the next two years,” Bloomberg wrote. Founders Fredric Rosen and Dan Fellman are seeking to enrol around 3,000 customers, which would rake in $45 million ( £34 million) in signup and installation fees alone. The New York Times wrote earlier this year that customers are also required to have “a credit card with a limit of at least $50,000,” which would pay for access to 20 movies at the quoted going rate.
We’ll spare you the runaround and skip straight to the infuriating quotes. Fellman, a former Warner Bros executive, characterised the project to Bloomberg as feasible specifically because it is “not disruptive”:
“Everyone is looking for a new, ancillary business,” said Fellman, who spent 37 years at Warner Bros., retiring as president of domestic distribution. “So we thought: How do we start a small, ancillary business, but that’s not disruptive?”
That’s certainly one way to describe selling more privileges to the ultra-wealthy. Rosen, former CEO of Ticketmaster, explained to Bloomberg that Napster co-founder Sean Parker’s Screening Room startup (which charged $150 for a set-top box and $50 per film to watch films at the same time they’re in cinema) failed to catch on because they didn’t charge enough to flatter the egos of rich people or something:
The ultra-affluent can afford a perfectly functional $150 leather purse, but wait in line to buy $25,000 Hermes Birkin bags. They want the experience of hosting a dinner party and whisking their friends to their private home cinema after dessert to surprise them with a film that’s otherwise only available in theaters, he said.
“You can buy ‘Two-Buck Chuck’ or an expensive bottle of wine,” Rosen said. “People consume the way they can afford.”
According to Bloomberg, the duo estimate they could reach 500 to 1,000 households in both NYC and Los Angeles, and 50 to 100 in the next 30 largest cities in the country. Currently they have under 100, with the biggest feedback being that they want to do private screenings in their private cinemas on their private yachts:
No movie will be priced below $500, and customers get to see a picture twice in a 36-hour period, according to the company website... So far the only gripe is that the service can’t be used on yachts or in private planes – for now the company only has domestic rights.
Fellman previously told the Times that with under 4,000 customers, Red Carpet could make $300 million (£229m) in revenue a year. That would require signing up at least 40 times the number of one-percenters they have now. Best of luck with the hustle, gentlemen.
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