If Dreamworks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg has his way, the price to watch a movie will eventually depend on the size of the screen.
You'd pay a premium to see a movie in theaters, of course, but maybe you'll save a little by watching it on your phone instead of the television. In other words, as Katzenberg said at a conference in Los Angeles this week, you'll "pay by the inch you watch."
Katzenberg has banged this drum before. At another conference last year, he also talked about charging less for movies on small-screen devices, partly to appeal to overseas markets. But this time, he seems to have fleshed out the vision. As Variety reports, Katzenberg imagines that movies would only be exclusive to theaters for 17 days, during which nearly all movies make nearly all their money. After that, you'd be able to watch the movie at home, whether it's on a phone, tablet or TV.
"A movie screen will be $15. A 75-inch TV will be $4. A smartphone will be $1.99. That enterprise that will exist throughout the world, when that happens, and it will happen, it will reinvent the enterprise of movies," Katzenberg said.
The proposal sounds good in theory--who wouldn't want a shorter wait to watch a new movie at home?--but it's unclear how Katzenberg would get movie theater operators on board. In the past, theater operators have strongly resisted any tampering with release windows. Outside of a few high-priced experiments and minor timing tweaks, studios have been unable to speed the release of their movies on home video.
Other logistical issues would also have to be hashed out, such as getting the Apples and Googles to fit this system into their platforms, and getting all the movie studios to agree on pricing for each screen size. And right now, it all seems pretty theoretical.
Perhaps that's why Katzenberg said this week that this scenario will take 10 years to play out. If it's even possible, it's definitely not going to happen anytime soon.