What Cinemas Want From Netflix Because It Weighs Longer
- Netflix may experiment with longer movie windows this year.
- It’s something movie executives have been pushing for years.
- Industry leaders believe that a 45-day window would be beneficial for both parties.
Movie theaters chart their comeback story, and
could be part of it.
Theater executives have been trying to convince Netflix to expand their theatrical production for years, and they’re still courting the streamer.
“We are always open to larger theatrical releases from the
companies if they have proper windows,” John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners, told Insider during an interview at the CinemaCon exhibition conference last month. “The door to the theater is open to Netflix if they want to go with a bigger theatrical strategy”.
A source close to the theater industry said theater owners want Netflix to release films with an exclusive window similar to that of traditional Hollywood studios, which has been reduced from the typical 90-day window before the pandemic to, in most cases 30 days or 45 days. And they would expect Netflix to invest heavily in marketing these movies, the person said.
Theater leaders can make their wish come true. Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw reported Sunday that Netflix plans to release some of its films this year in theaters with a 45-day window before they are available for streaming. Some of the films under consideration are the sequel to director Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “Knives Out” and “Birdman” “Bardo,” according to Bloomberg.
Netflix declined to comment on the Bloomberg report at Insider’s request.
A 45-day exclusive theatrical release would be quite the pivot for Netflix, which has resisted longer windows for select titles it theatrically releases, much to the chagrin of theater executives. He gave two-week windows to his two Oscar contenders last year, ‘Don’t Look Up’ and ‘The Power of the Dog’, while his zombie action film ‘Army of the Dead’ played in theaters for a week before airing.
But that wouldn’t be Netflix’s first pivot of late. The company is eyeing an ad-supported tier, something it has shot down several times in the past as it now faces slowing growth. It lost subscribers for the first time in a decade in the first quarter and said Tuesday it was laying off 150 employees.
Theater officials say longer cinema windows are boosting streaming releases
For movie theaters, this would help overcome one of their biggest hurdles on the road to recovery: fewer movie releases, due to studios making more movies directly for streaming and delays in pandemic-related production.
Heading into 2022, Fithian told Insider in a December interview that major Hollywood studios have 90 movies on the theatrical release schedule, up from an average of 120 in a pre-pandemic year.
Meanwhile, Netflix releases dozens of movies a year.
“We’ve played a lot of Netflix movies and believe they could see increased success with an extended window,” said Chris Jonson, CEO of Illinois-based theater chain Classic Cinemas. “They have a smart theater team and produce a wide range of films, so we would like to expand our relationship with them and believe the industry and Netflix would both benefit.”
Getting Netflix to agree to a longer window for the only “Knives Out” sequel would be a major win. The first film, released by Lionsgate, was a surprise box office success, grossing over $300 million worldwide, including $165 million in the United States, on a $40 million budget.
At CinemaCon, theater industry executives were stunned that major Hollywood studios had moved far away from “day and date” releases, such as when movies debut in theaters and on a streaming service at the same time, a most used tactic during the pandemic.
People Insider who spoke at the conference thought an exclusive theatrical release would only increase the buzz for a film’s eventual streaming debut.
Some feel the same about Netflix.
“The prestige and exclusivity of a theatrical release can pay off big in the short term and long term for films that resonate with critics and/or audiences,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “Nothing has the power to create the buzz of a major theatrical release.”
He added that it could also help Netflix with talent relations. The streamer has lured big-name filmmakers like Martin Scorsese and Jane Campion with big checks and freedom, but an exclusive theatrical release goes a long way in building those relationships, too — especially since the company plans more. loss of subscribers.