I Watched the New Mission Impossible at Home for $500

OK, full disclosure: I didn’t really spend $500 of my own, personal, John money; I had a reviewer’s account. But I did watch Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation and Terminator: Genisys and Southpaw in my home theater over a month ago using the coolest piece of technology you’ve probably never even heard of. The company behind it is PRIMA Cinema and their movie player allows an elite group of owners the ability to watch first-run Hollywood films in the privacy of their homes, usually on the same day they are released to the cinemas. Not only that, but PRIMA delivers the best picture quality of anything you’ve ever seen outside Hollywood's ArcLight or El Capitan.

Let’s get the nasty bit out of the way up front: PRIMA is expensive. Like, luxury, extended trip to Europe expensive. And I mean the trip where you fly First Class on one of those Dreamliner sleep pods and then stay in a James Bond-type hotel where you have your own personal water taxi and there is a bottle of ’69 Bollinger waiting on ice in your suite. The hardware is $35,000. There. I said it. For that skrilla you get a large black box with a gorgeous royal purple anodized aluminum rear panel that will be the envy of every other component in your rack and a remote fingerprint scanner housed in a glorious, multi-faceted bit of kit that looks like it could be on display at MOMA.

Connection-wise, PRIMA is all about full redundancy, making sure that once you swipe your fingerprint to purchase the movie -- just one of many security features on board -- it won’t be interrupted barring a power outage. The system features redundant power supplies, dual Ethernet connections, two HDMI outputs, two USB connections (for installers), dual fingerprint scanners, and a 4 Terabyte hard drive in a full RAID array.

Beyond all the AV and power, the near 50-pound PRIMA box is crammed with an insane manner of security features designed to keep Hollywood’s precious content safe and secure. Between whitelisted IP addresses, accelerometers, watermarking, EDID management, dealer Personal Security Keys, biometric sensors, and more, PRIMA guarantees the content is 100-percent safe and secure.

In a way, PRIMA offers the ultimate pay-per-view experience, with each showing costing $500 ($600 for 3D, with some indie titles available for less or even free). Once a movie is purchased, you have 24 hours to finish it. You can pause it and even rewind up to 10 minutes from the furthest point viewed, but $500 gets you one viewing. So think twice before you enroll your kid’s fingerprints and tell them to go nuts with Minions (my daughter watched it twice).

PRIMA currently has agreements in place with 12 studios, including Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate Entertainment, The Weinstein Company, Relativity EuropaCorp, Focus Features/Film District, Roadside Attractions, Gravitas Ventures, Magnolia Pictures, Samuel Goldwyn Films, IFC Films, and Open Road. This means that you won’t be able to watch every movie that comes out. For example, PRIMA probably won’t have The Force Awakens but likely will have Mockingjay Part 2. But with 12 studios supplying content, there is generally always terrific content available for viewing. For example, there were 17 titles available while I had the system, and I had to return the system two days before Straight Outta Compton dropped.

If you’re gonna drop half-a-K on a movie, then you want to be damn-sure it looks and sounds awesome. Rest assured, PRIMA’s video quality is absolutely spectacular, with the system delivering 10-bit, 4:2:2 video signals (the same as the upcoming UHD Blu-ray format). The result on my 115-inch screen were simply gorgeous, with incredibly rich and deep black with no hint of noise or compression artifacts and none of that banding you encounter with traditional HD fare. The night scenes in Genisys and Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation looked stunning, and the costumes in Pitch Perfect 2 had exquisite, razor-sharp detail and color reproduction, reproducing vivid detail. On the audio side, the uncompressed PCM audio delivers huge impact and punch, producing an incredibly lively and intense surround mix.

Is $500 a lot to spend for one showing of a film? Abso-frickin-lutely. And is it beyond the reach of most consumers? Totally. But there is a subset of the one-percenters out there that wouldn’t think twice about taking their private planes on a quick jaunt up the coast, or buying a case of Bordeaux, or spending an evening at The French Laundry to whom $500 is literally chump change. These are the people that have six and even seven figure home theaters with massive Digital Projection or Runco projectors and JBL Synthesis, Wisdom Audio, or Meridian speaker systems that drink the milkshake of any commercial theater. And for these folks, privacy, security, convenience, and wow factor plays a far more important role in making lifestyle decisions than the $500 to watch a movie.

And for those fortunate, privileged few, PRIMA offers an experience truly unlike any other!

COMMENTS
Billy's picture

If only one didn't have to be undeserving or immoral to be in the one percent!

pw's picture

I the IMAX home system going to the 1% way to see Star Wars & ?

Tangential's picture

I find this baffling - $500 just to see a new movie at home. When I got home from seeing M:I - Rogue Nation at the cinema I had an email from Amazon saying I could pre-order it! Home releases now are insanely shorter from theatrical release, why would you bother? Those one percenters should find better and more altruistic ways of spending their money!

kevon27's picture

I'm part of the other 1%'ers who are so POOR that the only way I get to experience a new movie is to have someone tell me about it...

Jonasandezekiel's picture

Billy...really?? Stop whining, please..and take your agenda of jealousy and smear jobs elsewhere.

gunhed's picture

What of the true movie theatre experience ? I go to the movies to watch a film, placed onto a huge screen with a film projector. Any home theatre can only ever deliver merely an approximation of that experience. Hope this makes everyone feel better.

CinemaDude's picture

Well, gunhed, if you go to the movies to watch a FILM, you are going to be very disappointed. You won't be watching FILM in any commercial cinema playing current releases and it's been that way for quite some time now. What you ARE watching in a commercial cinema is video and more than likely than not, 2K video at that, because only a small percentage of cinemas have junked their $70,000 2K projectors that they bought only a few years ago to turn them into fancy planters and then invest in replacement 4K video projectors (2K to 4K is not an upgrade, it's a junk-and-replace proposition). Even more of an issue is that your home theatre setup with a half-way decent LED or especially an OLED display and a good sound system can easily beat what you are going to see in a commercial cinema which can let their xenon bulbs burn way past their efficiency point...have silver screens for 3D but which cause very pronounced hotspots that are terrible for regular 2D movies, a problem you don't have on a decent LCD/LED display. And I can guarantee that the near-2K quality of your BluRay playback on a 55" or 65" display has a good chance that it will look MUCH better than the 2K image the cinema video projector is blowing up to a 50 FOOT image!

Digital was supposed to correct the over-stated (and many times fabricated) ills of film like scratches and dirt, all of which could easily be fixed had theatre owners kept skilled, professional projectionists in the booths to handle film properly -- film prints didn't come from the lab with scratches and dirt -- that happened because of ill-trained and underpaid "manager/projection attendants" who replaced real projectionists in the final days of film before the digital invasion. Turns out digital video projection, like all technologies, has its own set of flaws and artifacts that we now have to live with. And when they add 3D (which I happen to love...in theory), it can get down right offensive and which they have the gall to ask us to pay extra for. I just saw THE MISSION and the image was so under-lit that you would think they were using a flashlight for the light source -- detail was gone, color was anemic and the night scenes were unwatchable. Digital is far from perfect and commercial cinemas can be hit and miss in terms of quality presentation.

Then there's that argument that you sometimes hear that going to the cinema as opposed to staying at home to watch a movie is a plus because you are "experiencing" the movie with other people. Why is that a good think? They talk and text chomp on their food stuffs and can have bad hygiene. At least at home I know who I am sitting next to and if they dare talk during the movie they know they will be banished forever. I also know there is no chance I will pick up lice or bedbugs sitting in my sofa.

The TRUE movie-going experience is to see the movie as close to the way the director and cinematographer saw it in their screening as they created it (and you can bet they weren't watching it along with the unwashed hordes); I contend that the closest you can get to what they created the better, and in many of today's commercial cinemas, you are nowhere near that goal...don't knock the experience of seeing a movie in a good home theatre. Then again, paying $500 to see a movie that would be available in a short time or one that could easily turn out to be a piece of trash anyway is, well...insane.

CinemaDude's picture

Well, gunhed, if you go to the movies to watch a FILM, you are going to be very disappointed. You won't be watching FILM in any commercial cinema playing current releases and it's been that way for quite some time now. What you ARE watching in a commercial cinema is video and more than likely than not, 4K video at that, because only a small percentage of cinemas have junked their $70,000 2K projectors that they bought only a few years ago to turn them into fancy planters and then invest in replacement 4K video projectors (2K to 4K is not an upgrade, it's a junk-and-replace proposition). Even more of an issue is that your home theatre setup with a half-way decent LED or especially an OLED display and a good sound system can easily beat what you are going to see in a commercial cinema which can let their xenon bulbs burn way past their efficiency point...have silver screens for 3D but which cause very pronounced hotspots that are terrible for regular 2D movies, a problem you don't have on a decent LCD/LED display. And I can guarantee that the near-2K quality of your BluRay playback on a 55" or 65" display has a good chance that it will look MUCH better than the 2K image the cinema video projector is blowing up to a 50 FOOT image!

Digital was supposed to correct the over-stated (and many times fabricated) ills of film like scratches and dirt, all of which could easily be fixed had theatre owners kept skilled, professional projectionists in the booths to handle film properly -- film prints didn't come from the lab with scratches and dirt -- that happened because of ill-trained and underpaid "manager/projection attendants" who replaced real projectionists in the final days of film before the digital invasion. Turns out digital video projection, like all technologies, has its own set of flaws and artifacts that we now have to live with. And when they add 3D (which I happen to love...in theory), it can get down right offensive and which they have the gall to ask us to pay extra for. I just saw THE MISSION and the image was so under-lit that you would think they were using a flashlight for the light source -- detail was gone, color was anemic and the night scenes were unwatchable. Digital is far from perfect and commercial cinemas can be hit and miss in terms of quality presentation.

Then there's that argument that you sometimes hear that going to the cinema as opposed to staying at home to watch a movie is a plus because you are "experiencing" the movie with other people. Why is that a good think? They talk and text chomp on their food stuffs and can have bad hygiene. At least at home I know who I am sitting next to and if they dare talk during the movie they know they will be banished forever. I also know there is no chance I will pick up lice or bedbugs sitting in my sofa.

The TRUE movie-going experience is to see the movie as close to the way the director and cinematographer saw it in their screening as they created it (and you can bet they weren't watching it along with the unwashed hordes); I contend that the closest you can get to what they created the better, and in many of today's commercial cinemas, you are nowhere near that goal...don't knock the experience of seeing a movie in a good home theatre. Then again, paying $500 to see a movie that would be available in a short time or one that could easily turn out to be a piece of trash anyway is, well...insane.

Jonasandezekiel's picture

My home theater sounds infinitely better than your garden variety local cinema. Its not up to the same level on the VISUAL side, but that's not as important to me. Its not hard or expensive to exceed the very average sound coming from the speakers at the local multiplex.

palmharbor's picture

I would suggest that if they went on the show...Shark Tank.....they would not get one investor and probably would be told that they have wasted their time.