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The $35,000 Movie Streaming Box

May 12, 2015

Do you like to see movies right when they’re released? Are you also incredibly rich?

Prima CinemaWith internet-enabled “smart TVs” and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, it’s easy and cheap these days to see recent movies at home five bucks or so. But to see a brand-new movie, like one that’s still playing in theaters, you have to go to the trouble of seeing it at a theater and pay $10 a head or more. If that seems like a lot of trouble to you, and you’re stinking rich, the Prima Cinema system might be for you. Similar to a cable box or Roku streaming device, Prima Cinema is a $35,000 box you put on your TV that allows you to watch first-run movies.

But that $35,000 price tag doesn’t get you those movies for free. Each rental—which lasts for 24 hours—costs $500. If you want the movie in 3D, it’s $600, but what’s another hundred bucks at this point?

There are some drawbacks to the system. Prima does not have deals in place with every movie studio (so far only Universal, and a handful of smaller companies), so you can’t get just any first run movie you want. It also warns customers that first-run movies often come to the system after a week or two in theaters…meaning they’re not exactly first-run anymore. For example, right now you can use Prima to watch The Age of Adaline and Furious 7, but The Avengers: Age of Ultron isn’t available, nor will it be anytime soon. Still, the technical quality of the films are unmatched. They’re downloaded—not streamed—so the picture and sound are always smooth, and presented with Dolby sound.

The system is so elite and it includes standard security features. The person whose name is on the Prima account must be present for all movies watched, a piracy-limiting measure. That’s enforced with a “biometric” security protection—that’s a fancy word for “fingerprint scanner.”

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