$3,000 to Rent a Movie? Bringing the Theater Home for the 1 Percent

Theater owners, in the meantime, seem to be taking a wait-and-see approach to Red Carpet.

“I have no take on that,” said Adam Aron, chief executive of AMC Entertainment, the dominant theater chain in the United States. In contrast, Mr. Aron has readily criticized start-ups like MoviePass, the subscription ticketing service.

The folksy Mr. Rosen, who took over Ticketmaster in 1982 and helped turn it into a goliath, and Mr. Fellman, who started his studio career in 1964, worked out details for Red Carpet over rounds of golf at the well-to-do Hillcrest Country Club in Los Angeles. The luxury service operates a bit like a private club. There is a rigorous application process, and participants must have a credit card with a limit of at least $50,000. Those who become customers must buy a $15,000 box that connects to a home theater system (installed by a technician) and comes loaded with piracy protections.

Prices for rentals are set by the participating studios, with higher fees for blockbuster-style movies like “Shazam!” and lower costs for dramas like “The Shape of Water.” Each rental allows for two viewings in a 36-hour period.

How big could Red Carpet get? There are more people who can afford it than you might think. Nearly 46,000 Americans have annual income of more than $2 million, according to Social Security Administration data from 2017. Mr. Rosen and Mr. Fellman, however, insisted over lunch in mid-March that they were not interested in size.

“We’re not even looking for 10,000 people,” Mr. Rosen said. With fewer than 4,000 customers, Red Carpet could have $300 million in annual revenue, according to Mr. Fellman’s projections.

Red Carpet, which counts Sherry Lansing, the former chief executive of Paramount, as an investor, has been operating in about 25 homes as part of a beta test since December. “I’m recommending the service to my friends,” the Red Carpet website quotes Ms. Lansing as saying.

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