Netfix’s stand-off with movie theater change that has been raging for a while now has just come to a head, and a recent memo from Netflix suggests that a war is coming.
As you are surely aware, Netflix is fast becoming a global giant in the worlds of movies and TV. As of now, in fact, Netflix is just shy of 100 million subscribers worldwide. With this resounding success have come efforts by Netflix to become a studio that can offer its own Netflix originals content instead of relying on existing video entertainment. Netflix originals include hit TV shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos, but, especially over the past year or two, Netflix has begun to add big budget movies to their arsenal of self-produced content.
Not surprisingly, movie theaters are none too happy about Netflix’s rising popularity as a destination to check out new big-studio films as soon as they debut. After all, who would want to pay good money to see a certain movie at a theater when that person can stay at home and watch the movie basically for free? Even if they are not a Netflix subscriber, a one-month membership to Netflix costs just over $10 — likely only a bit more than a single movie ticket would be. And this is especially applicable is Netflix begins securing a good amount of huge-name movies that people would rather see than anything playing in cinemas.
Needless to say, if Netflix keeps growing and stealing away customers from theaters, it will put the big chains like AMC and Cinemark in very hot water, financially speaking.
Most recently, reports Fortune, Netflix forked over an astounding $90 million for exclusive streaming rights to the upcoming Will Smith sci-fi movie Light. This is extremely scary for theaters, which are now starting to actually boycott Netflix movies by never paying Netflix for the rights to show any of their produced content.
Unfortunately for the theaters, Netflix is not balking at the boycott. And that is not all that surprising, considering that Netflix itself reports its users have dedicated about 500 million hours to the viewing of Adam Sandler movies since the actor signed a three-movie deal with Netflix in 2015. The deal has since been extended to seven Adam Sandler movies that Netflix will hold full rights to, demonstrating how confident and determined the streaming king is.
Recently, however, things have changed. In a recent letter Netflix released to its shareholders, it says Netflix will be making its content available to movie theaters if they want to buy it. Netflix did remain adamant on one point, however: its content will always made available to Netflix subscribers on the day it comes out for no fee in addition to their regular Netflix subscription, whether theaters want to show it or not.
“Since our members are funding these films, they should be the first to see them,” Netflix writes in the letter, upholding its historically customer-oriented business model. “But we are also open to supporting the large theater chains, such as AMC and Regal in the US, if they want to offer our films… let consumers choose.”
As noted by Quartz, Netflix’s softening on its anti-theater stance may have something to do with the fact that the growth count of new Netflix subscribers in the last fiscal quarter was lackluster. Presumably, Netflix is hoping that putting its big titles in movie theaters, which are still a more mainstream stage than streaming, will give them more exposure to the masses, who might buy a Netflix subscription after witnessing the (hopefully) great content the company can produce.
Reportedly, though, movie theaters are not entirely satisfied with Netflix’s offer. They see the fact that movies will be available online on the day of release as too big of a downside to shell out big bucks for the titles, which is a fair point.
On the other hand, as The Nevada Sagebrush points out, seeing a movie in the theater as opposed to on a laptop, iPhone, or even a big-screen TV is a totally different experience. In fact, the article argues, in a theater is really the way most movies are meant to be seen. The question is, does enough of the public realize this to make movie theaters’ purchase of Netflix titles worth it?
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