This is a question the studios would not have asked before the pandemic. Or rather, it is the one that would not have seemed plausible for several years. The pandemic has simply accelerated the schedule and made sure that studios have enough ammunition to take on the biggest theater chains. Theaters don’t want to be left out of making big movies (Marvel, Star Wars, DC, etc.), and studios want to work with channels to make sure their movies still generate the immediate revenue executives want at home. box office.
The entrance to Netflix
Enter Netflix. Quiet, attentive, watching Netflix from afar. No company was better positioned to take advantage of this moment of change to make the theatrical system work for future projects. Netflix is not changing its core business; the plan is still to put the subscriber first, but Netflix uses theatrical releases to accomplish a few specific tasks. This includes reaching new potential followers, meeting the needs of talent, and increasing its overall cultural footprint. The only thing that ever stopped Netflix was the exclusivity window, as co-CEO Ted Sarandos put it.
“I didn’t want to book a movie for 200 million fans around the world so that I could show it in one theater in New York or Los Angeles for a week,” Sarandos said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter’s Kim Masters. “For me that was the big disconnect… By necessity, people are more flexible and creative when it comes to windowing. If we can put them on screens to give people who want to go out and see a movie the opportunity to do so, that’s a good thing, as long as we can do it in a way that doesn’t interfere with it. the core business. ”
With movie theater windows collapsing, Netlflix may approach Cinemark and other theaters and demand similar treatment from other studios. Netflix is no longer the outlier. Big blockbuster-style movies like Army of the Dead are the type of movies that movie chains are looking for. Even though it’s only a week, it’s not like the multiplexes are overwhelmed with offers for the public right now. Having Army of the Dead might be the type of movie that convinces people to return to the cinema.
As movie theater windows continue to tighten and lines are redesigned to reflect the new normal, movie theater operators want partners whose films will appeal to audiences. Netflix has the power to deliver just that, now nationwide. As Sarandos told analysts in a recent earnings call, Netflix makes the film equivalent of $ 1 billion. This is what exhibitors need. Take AMC, one of the world’s largest theater exhibitors. In its most recent quarter, AMC took in just $ 148.3 million, up from nearly $ 1 billion in the same period a year earlier. The company’s net losses also reached $ 567.2 million. Cinemark and Regal weren’t in much better boats.
That’s why the partnership makes sense for Cinemark – theater chains need a big budget, a big star, and brilliant blockbusters. But why would Netflix want to be in theaters? Earning is probably not revolutionary at just one week, and it is actively delaying subscribers from being able to watch at home the second it is available. Remember, Netflix said very publicly in 2017 that “since our members are funding these movies, they should be the first to see them.”
Two things have become more evident for Netflix: Subscriber growth in the United States has slowed, and Netflix is actively wooing directors who are fed up with the studios they have worked with in the past.
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The former is more difficult to solve, but to remind audiences that Netflix is home to good or fun movies, you need to reach an audience of people who might not have Netflix (or choose to unsubscribe) on their own turf. Theaters are that space. Netflix is already playing trailers before other movies in theaters to remind people of the streaming service, so why not get two bites of the same apple? Add to that that Netflix can say they are doing it so that moviegoers can experience Army of the Dead the way they want, and it looks like an ultimate victory.
Finally, and arguably most important, this makes Netflix a viable partner for directors looking for large theatrical releases. Christopher Nolan has condemned Warner Bros. for its decision to release its 2021 films on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters. Nolan has also made his home at Warner Bros. for almost two decades. If the one thing that kept Nolan from looking elsewhere was theatrical releases to some extent (again, that has all changed over the past few months), Netflix can promise a nearly unlimited budget for any movie and some form of release in. rooms. (Just like Apple and Amazon.) It’s no secret that Nolan has had issues with Netflix in the past, but signs like these, along with changes in the industry in general, could convince one. director like Nolan to consider Netflix.
Same for Snyder. Army of the Dead is a movie people might prefer to watch in theaters, and Snyder is the type of director that can matter. Same thing with Martin Scorsese (The Irishman), Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story) and maybe one day Quentin Tarantino – plus a litany of other directors.
Netflix knows what it’s doing. Executives know which movies to send to theaters, which directors to go to, and how to make it work so that the streaming product is always first. Army of the Dead may be the first Netflix movie to release nationally, but it’s highly unlikely to be the last. In fact, Cinemark plans to do more.
“We think there will be several more,” Cinemark CEO Mark Zoradi said at a conference yesterday, as Deadline reported, adding, “We think there will be future films. to come up.
“I would characterize it as a very progressive and positive relationship with Netflix. “