Netflix Might Be Getting Into the Cinema Game With Its Own Chain of Theatres
It's the potential next step for the streaming giant, which will spend up to $8 billion on original content this year.
For 125 million film and television lovers around the world, Netflix's two-note intro sound is synonymous with one thing: settling in to watch an episode or movie on your TV at home (or on your computer during your lunch break, or on your phone during your commute, let's face it). Soon, however, it could also echo through cinemas, with the streaming platform apparently looking into buying its own theatres.
First reported by The Los Angeles Times regarding the sale of one particular US chain — Landmark Theatres, which Netflix ultimately opted not to purchase — the potential move would assist the company in achieving two things. Firstly, it could give the company a bigger footprint within the entertainment landscape. Secondly, it'd provide a cinematic outlet for its films. And, as you might've noticed, there's no shortage of the latter.
Indeed, whether it's snapping up flicks at festivals, funding them from the get-go or saving the day when traditional distributors want to back out of putting their movies in theatres — as happened with both The Cloverfield Paradox and Annihilation earlier this year — Netflix's slate of originals is only growing. It has released more than 20 so far this year, and will more than double that number by the time December comes to a close. In total, Netflix will spend up to $8 billion on content in 2018 alone, and CEO Reed Hastings has recently said that's not enough.
You mightn't think screening their films in cinemas would be important to the streaming behemoth, but playing in theatres is absolutely essential for one thing: collecting Oscars and other industry accolades. And they're starting to do just that, with Netflix's Icarus picking up the Academy Award for best documentary this year, while drama Mudbound garnered four nominations. Both had a short cinema run, something that's a necessity to meet the Academy's criteria. But, unsurprisingly, few existing theatre chains are eager to screen flicks that are also available on the streaming platform at the same time or shortly afterwards.
On the international front, it's a battle that saw Netflix withdraw its films from this year's Cannes Film Festival, after the fest announced it had banned flicks that wouldn't also play in French cinemas. Part of the prestigious event's requirements is that movies also screen locally; however France also stipulates that a film can't make its way to home entertainment platforms, be it DVD or streaming, for three years after its big-screen appearance. Obviously, that doesn't work for Netflix. Last year, Okja was available online a month after it premiered it Cannes, while the Noah Baumbach-directed, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller-starring The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) released in October.
Just how far Netflix will pursue their cinema prospects is yet to be seen, but the company isn't known for doing things by halves. At present, reports centre on opening theatres in the US, with no word on any international plans.
Published on April 22, 2018 by Sarah Ward