Can film theaters save Netflix? ‘Door is open,’ says commerce group boss

Netflix has already introduced new methods it didn’t beforehand countenance, together with cheaper subscriptions with promoting.

John Fithian, head of the movie show trade’s commerce physique, is used to shrugging off claims that Netflix will spell doom for the big-screen, popcorn-munching expertise.

But with field workplaces bouncing again from the Covid-19 pandemic, and Netflix inventory plummeting after its first lack of subscribers in a decade, Fithian predicts film theaters may even assist the streaming large adapt to an unsure future.

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“The theater door has been open to play Netflix movies for years,” Fithian advised AFP at CinemaCon, the annual Las Vegas summit held by the National Association of Theater Owners.

Fithian stated he has held “lots of discussions” with Netflix content material chief Ted Sarandos and “urged him to take a shot at seeing if they can also do well theatrically.”

“I don’t look at share prices one way or the other — I just look at the data… you can make more money, even if you’re a streamer, if you put your best movies in theaters first.”

Releasing movies extensively on huge screens earlier than providing them to subscribers would lengthy have appeared anathema to Netflix’s wildly profitable enterprise mannequin, which has despatched the likes of Disney and Warner scrambling to catch up within the so-called streaming wars.

Netflix has revolutionized Hollywood and the way in which motion pictures are consumed, splurging large quantities to lure high stars away from the normal studios and hold cinephiles on their couches.

But Netflix’s lack of 200,000 customers — introduced final week — spooked Wall Street, sending shares plunging greater than 30 % in a single day.

Netflix has already introduced new methods it didn’t beforehand countenance, together with cheaper subscriptions with promoting.

The streamer presently releases its most prestigious titles in theaters for restricted runs — in order that they’re eligible for Oscars — however may a broader theatrical focus be on the playing cards?

“I think the Netflix model might evolve somewhat into that… we hope it does,” stated Fithian.

A run in theaters means a film “pops and stands out better,” whereas “movies that go straight to streaming services get lost,” he added.


The temper at this 12 months’s CinemaCon is noticeably brighter than final August, when a Covid-19 variant was spooking moviegoers, and studios have been bypassing theaters to launch their wars on streaming.

This week, a boisterous Fithian made headlines by declaring in his annual handle that the pandemic-era development of releasing movies on streaming the identical day as theaters was “dead.”

“That wasn’t just pulled out of thin air — that’s in consultation with lots of our studio partners about what they’re thinking on how they’re going to release their movies,” he advised AFP.

Major studios have not too long ago cheered theater house owners by largely reverting to an unique “window” when motion pictures can solely be seen on the large display screen — albeit for 45 days or much less, down from round 90 days pre-pandemic.

“It’s more of a discussion of how long a window — or period of exclusivity — should be. It’s not whether there should be one or not,” stated Fithian.

‘Very involved’

Despite the nice and cozy phrases for Netflix and rosy predictions for restoration, there stay causes for fear.

Fithian stated the theater house owners’ affiliation was “very concerned” about Amazon Prime, noting that the subscription service’s enterprise mannequin was not “trying to make money off of movies” however as a substitute getting shoppers to “buy their groceries and use their shipping services.”

Amazon Prime took over Hollywood’s historic MGM in an $8.5 billion deal closed final month.

On Wednesday, it emerged that MGM’s movie management could be leaving the studio behind the James Bond movies and up to date hits reminiscent of “House of Gucci” and “Licorice Pizza.”

“If they’re buying companies that take movies out of the supply line for theaters, to basically only release them in the home, they’re reducing consumer choice and reducing competition,” stated Fithian.

Last month Apple TV grew to become the primary streamer to win finest image on the Oscars, in a 12 months described by Fithian as “very bizarre.”

“We’re still very concerned about the Oscars, in general,” he stated, mentioning that mainstream smash hits like “Spider-Man: No Way Home” had missed out on finest image nominations.

Meanwhile, theater chains working in Russia have been hit by Hollywood’s embargo over the invasion of Ukraine.

“It’s not an abandonment of the market. It’s a pause until there’s peace, until there’s the right time to come back into the market,” stated Fithian.

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