Will the box office ever come back?

Startup Xcinex has a platform called Venue that may chip away at movie theater audiences.

Brian Cooley Editor at Large
Brian Cooley is CNET's Editor at large and has been with the brand since 1995. He currently focuses on electrification of vehicles but also follows the big trends in smart home, digital healthcare, 5G, the future of food, and augmented & virtual realities. Cooley is a sought after presenter by brands and their agencies when they want to understand how consumers react to new technologies. He has been a regular featured speaker at CES, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and the Publicis HealthFront. He was born and raised in Silicon Valley when Apple's campus was mostly apricots.
Expertise Automotive technology, smart home, digital health. Credentials
  • 5G Technician, ETA International
Brian Cooley
2 min read

The pandemic's stay-at-home habits and the rise of streaming have conspired to create a strong appetite for watching new movie releases at home instead of in theaters. Parks Associates research indicates that 25% of US broadband households would prefer to watch new releases at home. Deloitte research found that 65% of respondents want at least the choice to stream a new release at home when it debuts.

Interest in movie release to home streaming

Deloitte research indicates a vast appetite for at least the option of streaming new releases at home rather than enduring an exclusive cinema window.


But we're used to paying $3 or $4 to watch a movie on demand via OTT, with unlimited views and viewers in a 24- or 48-hour window. Those economics don't work for Hollywood feature production. Now what?

Cihan Atkin is founder and CEO of XCINEX, a startup with a plan to reconcile the convenience of home movie release with the economics of big Hollywood productions. Their Venue platform sells individual "tickets" to watch a stream and uses an image recognition camera to monitor how many people are watching while not making personal identification. Should too many people enter the room and look at the screen, playback will pause until more tickets are purchased or the number of people watching is reduced to match the number of tickets purchased.

Xcinex Venue Lite camera

Xcinex will make offer two audience recognition cameras: A $25 model for smart TVs with a USB port (shown) and a more elaborate $100 model for TV's that can't natively run the Venue app only have HDMI inputs. 


"We're bringing all things that are premium and ticketed under one roof," says Atkin. "We want to create a platform that can replicate that exhibition and stream it to the comfort of your home."

XCINEX plans to take 20% of the ticket price, which is set by the content rights holder. That seems to be a more attractive split for the rights holder than the roughly 50-50 revenue share typical with traditional movie theater exhibition. 

Atkin also thinks his platform can rejigger the pricing of expensive pay per view events like boxing matches. "Rather that the traditional route of paying $60 or $100 to watch a fight, now it can be priced on an individual ticket basis so more single and double viewers can attend versus being priced out," he says. It remains to be seen if rights holders agree they can do better in that model rather than selling pricey pay per view access that groups of people often gather to watch and sometimes pitch in to pay for. But the behaviors forged by individual phone viewing and COVID-19 at-home habits might help Atkin's argument.

Cihan Atkin shared more insights into his theory of viewing change and how he plans to succeed in this ultimate David and Goliath scenario. Watch Brian Cooley's interview to hear the details.


Now What is a video interview series with industry leaders, celebrities and influencers that covers trends impacting businesses and consumers amid the "new normal." There will always be change in our world, and we'll be here to discuss how to navigate it all.