How Much Am I Willing to Pay to Watch a Film at Home on Release Day

Since building a dedicated home theater I have stopped going to public cinemas (for the most part). I haven’t had too much difficulty waiting three or four months for their Bluray releases, and am happy to add them to my collection when they are available. But when I say “not too much difficulty” I mean there are still some movies that I would like to see on release day. The problem is that all theater owners are vehemently opposed to the idea of simultaneous releases in the theatre and the home for obvious reasons. Here’s just a few examples:

There is a service out there called Prima Cinema which does offer same day releases at home. But with hardware that costs $35K, and each rental clocking in at $500, this is clearly targeted at the super rich. And even if you could afford it, each customer is vetted by the company before they are even authorized to join the club.


So if by some miracle studios and theater owners can devise a model that gives us same day releases at home (via VOD, or something similar), how much would I be willing to pay? Let’s assume the model looked something like this:

  • Video on Demand via a service that lets you start the movie after a specified time and date.
  • Allows you to download the video file with Bluray quality video and audio to prevent any buffering.
  • The video can be paused during playback.
  • The video file will become unplayable after one watch.
  • The cost is per movie, and not per number of people watching the movie.

So what exactly would I find most appealing about something like this.

  • I wouldn’t have to wait months to see new release films.
  • I could watch the film from the comfort of my dedicated home theatre.
  • I could share the cost of the film with a group of five friends (since my theater seats six).
  • I wouldn’t have to pay for parking, or struggle to find parking downtown on a Friday night.
  • Snacks would be cheap.
  • I wouldn’t have to worry about inconsiderate theater patrons, unless of course my friends decided to pull out their phones during the show.

Taking all of this into account I think I would be willing to pay up to $100 for a same day home release. This may seem like a lot on first glance, especially if you’re not sharing the cost with friends. Let’s break down the typical costs of going to a public theatre.

  • I would likely only take advantage of this service if it was a movie both my wife and I were interested in seeing. That takes the cost down to $50 each.
  • Our snacks could  cost basically nothing. When we go to public theatres we typically spend $20 between the two of us. That takes us down to $40 each.
  • No parking costs. Take off another $10 to get us to $35 each.
  • Even though we have two kids, we wouldn’t save anything on babysitters since we are fortunate enough to have our parents babysit for free.
  • The cost of an adult ticket at the VIP cinema in our city is $22 each. That takes us to $13.

So when you look at it like this, at $100 we would each be paying a premium of $13 to watch a new release film at home on opening day. When you split this cost with a small group of friends, it becomes a no-brainer, making me think that studios and theater owners would want to somehow enforce a per person price. Either scenario seems reasonable to me as a consumer, especially since there are few films I would even consider paying for a simulatenous release. In the very least I would be doing this at least once a year as new Star Wars films are released.


A few smaller studios and independent filmmakers have started down this path, but I don’t think we’re anywhere close to having major blockbusters hitting the home on opening weekend. For the time being I guess I’ll just have to suck it up and continue waiting for Bluray release dates, which coincidentally have been getting closer to their theatrical premier.

Would you be willing to  pay a premium to watch a new film on opening weekend in your home theater? How much would you be comfortable with?

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