Netflix may hit the big screen big time
Future. Netflix is considering screening up to a dozen movies in theaters for about 45 days — a major about-face from the streaming-first model it popularized. With recent theatrical-first titles proving immensely popular on streamers even after their cinema runs, Netflix may find that going theatrical proves to be excellent marketing for when their movies do end up on the service… and may even resuscitate subscriber growth.
Netflix is reevaluating many of its long-held beliefs, such as offering to advertise, curbing password sharing, and introducing live television. And now, it might be considering one of its most drastic changes yet, going theatrical.
- Bloomberg reports that Netflix execs have been meeting with reps of major theater chains in order to discuss putting some of its movies exclusively in theaters before they hit the service.
- The streamer is thinking of releasing a few titles — Knives Out 2, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo — for as long as 45 days (quickly becoming the new industry standard).
- If Netflix likes how the movies perform at the box office, it could release a dozen titles a year moving forward.
But here’s the rub for both Netflix and theater chains: if Netflix wants to release movies on the big screen, the major exhibitors want Netflix to actually market that they’ll be there. As of right now, Netflix doesn’t market much to begin with (but it does spend a pretty penny on Oscar campaigns).
Room full of revenue
We know what you’re thinking — yes, Netflix already does release some of its movies in theaters (blockbusters like Army of the Dead or awards hopefuls like The Power of the Dog). But those debuts have typically only been for about a week and never in an AMC or Cineworld — which demand that movies play for a normal amount of time. Netflix almost had a 45-day deal back in 2019 with The Irishman… but theaters balked at such a short amount of time. COVID changed that after every studio used its leverage to demand a 45-day window.
But the times they are a-changin’ — Netflix is looking to jumpstart growth after its first subscriber downturn (though that’s mostly the fault of pulling out of Russia), and movie theaters are looking for revenue (the box office is still 40% below pre-COVID times). To make up the difference, theaters need more movies to show. And as Bloomberg’s Lucas Shaw notes, “No company in Hollywood makes more movies than Netflix.”