Purchasing new hardware? Read our latest product comparisons

PRIMA Cinema delivers current-release theatrical films to the home – at $500 a pop


November 28, 2012

PRIMA Cinema is a new service that allows subscribers to watch first-run theatrical films in their own home cinema

PRIMA Cinema is a new service that allows subscribers to watch first-run theatrical films in their own home cinema

Image Gallery (3 images)

For decades, Hollywood movie moguls have been able to watch currently-running theatrical films in their own home cinemas, thanks to a local distribution network informally known as the Bel Air Circuit. Traditionally, this has involved film prints or other physical-format copies of films changing hands. California-based PRIMA Cinema, however, has created what could be described as an internet-based public version of that circuit. Subscribers will be able to watch current-release theatrical movies in their own homes – if they can afford it.

The process starts with the PRIMA folks working out distribution deals with individual studios. Once a studio is onboard, PRIMA encodes their films – this occurs shortly prior to the films’ wide theatrical release.

All movies are automatically downloaded to each subscriber's dedicated PRIMA Cinema Player. A theatrical-quality 1080p-resolution digital copy of each film is stored on the player’s hard drive, and can be watched any time – as long as the title is still in wide release.

PRIMA’s Shawn Yeager told us that the player delivers 30 percent more color than Blu-ray, and 25 percent more pixel depth. Its HDMI 1.4 output will reportedly work with any projector or surround sound system.

The PRIMA Cinema Player, created by BMW DesignworksUSA

Along with the player, users also receive a biometric security device. This not only prevents unauthorized users from accessing the player, but it also places an invisible subscriber-specific “watermark” on all downloaded films – should the film subsequently be copied (even with a camcorder) that watermark can be used to identify the subscriber.

So, no, users can’t copy their films. They can, however, invite a bunch of their friends over to watch them ... as long as they don’t charge admission, and they only show the movies within a residence.

In development since 2009, PRIMA Cinema is now in the midst of its commercial “soft launch.” If you want a system of your own, however, you’d better free up some cash – the player and security device will cost you US$35,000, with individual movies going for $500 per title watched ($600 for 3D films). As Yeager pointed out, however, that hefty price tag should keep theater-owners from worrying about PRIMA putting them out of business.

Source: PRIMA Cinema via Uncrate

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

PRIMA’s Shawn Yeager told us that the player delivers 30 percent more color than Blu-ray, and 25 percent more pixel depth.

This is so awesome!!! 30% more color, 25% more pixel depth but only 10 times the price of a blue-ray disc. I'm in for 10.

(I don't even know what he meant by pixel depth, but it sounds very positive and swag to me)

Vinh Tran

Ridiculous. And I have the money to spend. I'll wait for the Blue-Ray release thanks or better yet, I'll get off my ass and take my family to the movies. You know..to live a little

Rocky Stefano

Does anyone know if this new (and presumably expensive) movie subscriber service include the captioning of the movies?

Jenifer Simpson

A _ and his _ are soon parted. Me, I will take the sticky floors and stadium seating. If I want comfort, I'll spring for one of the luxury theaters that are springing up with better chairs than I have at home and personal food and beverage service at a touch of a button.

Bryan Paschke

I like the theatre space, but still I'll hold on to the dvds I got and save $500 a pop.


I imagine this is not meant for the average person, but individuals like the presidential family, or stars who cannot go to a theater without worrying about mobs. I always wondered how certain political or public figures enjoyed the cinema without worry of security. I guess this is how.

Michael Wilson
Post a Comment

Login with your Gizmag account:

Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our articles