Prima Cinema to Offer Films Same Day as Theatrical Release - for $20,500

The startup company hopes to install its system in 250,000 homes within five years, and has the backing of Universal Pictures, an investor.

NEW YORK - Cable giant Comcast and others have in the past suggested that one day, movies will come into living rooms day-and-date with theatrical releases.

Start-up Prima Cinema is looking to make that happen starting in late 2011 - for a one-time fee of $20,000 for its digital delivery system and $500 per film, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

The news comes as studios have looked to make select films available in a new premium VOD window - between theatrical and DVD releases - starting next year for $20-$30 a pop.

Due to the high cost of the planned Prima service, some Hollywood executives wonder if the service will reach more than a few thousand users, the Journal said. But Prima hopes to install its system in 250,000 homes within five years, and some argue it could carve out a super-premium niche.

Prima has met with all major and some smaller, independent studios and expects that at least some will sign on, according to the Journal.

"While this is a niche market, there is a chance for significant upside," Adam Fogelson, chairman of Universal Pictures, which is an investor in Prima, told the Journal.

"We are trying to create new revenue streams for studios and new viewing opportunities for moviegoers," Prima founder and CEO Jason Pang said.

NATO president John Fithian said film exhibitors are opposed to new windows that could cut into movie going, but said his organization will react "on an individual company basis." He highlighted the risk of piracy that the Prima service could cause, saying it "risks millions to make pennies."