Can theaters save Netflix? ‘The door is open’, says head of the trade group

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Las Vegas (AFP) – John Fithian, head of the movie trade’s commerce physique, is used to shrugging off claims that Netflix will spell doom for the popcorn-eating expertise on the large display.

However with field workplace gross sales rebounding from the Covid-19 pandemic and Netflix shares plummeting after the primary lack of subscribers in a decade, Fithian predicts that theaters might even assist the streaming large adapt to an unsure future.

“The cinema door has been open for years to point out Netflix films,” Fithian informed AFP at CinemaCon, the annual Las Vegas summit held by the Nationwide Affiliation of Theater House owners.

Fithian mentioned he had “quite a lot of discussions” with Netflix chief content material officer Ted Sarandos and “urged him to attempt to see if they will do effectively in theaters too.”

“I do not have a look at inventory costs a method or one other – I simply have a look at the info… you can also make extra money, even if you happen to’re a streamer, if you happen to get your finest films in theaters first.”

Releasing films extensively on the large screens earlier than providing them to subscribers appeared anathema to Netflix’s wildly profitable enterprise mannequin, which has seen corporations like Disney and Warner wrestle to realize the so-called streaming wars.

Netflix revolutionized Hollywood and the best way films are consumed, spending big sums to draw prime stars from conventional studios and maintain moviegoers on their couches.

However the lack of 200,000 Netflix customers – introduced final week – scared Wall Avenue, inflicting shares to tumble greater than 30 p.c in a single day.

Netflix has already introduced new methods it didn’t beforehand approve of, together with cheaper subscriptions with promoting.

The streamer presently releases its most prestigious titles in theaters for restricted runs – so they’re Oscar-eligible – however might a broader theatrical focus be on the playing cards?

“I believe the Netflix mannequin might evolve slightly bit in the direction of that … we hope so,” mentioned Fithian.

A rush in theaters means a film “seems and stands out higher”, whereas “films that go straight to streaming providers get misplaced,” he added.

‘Lifeless’

The temper at this 12 months’s CinemaCon is noticeably brighter than it was final August, when a variant of Covid-19 was scaring viewers away, and studios had been bypassing theaters to launch their wares on streaming.

This week, a boisterous Fithian made headlines by declaring in his annual speech that the pandemic-era pattern of streaming films on the identical day as theaters was “useless.”

“This wasn’t pulled out of skinny air – it was in session with quite a lot of our studio companions about what they’re serious about releasing their movies,” he informed AFP.

Main studios have lately applauded theater house owners for largely reverting to an unique “window” when films can solely be seen on the large display – albeit for 45 days or much less, down from the roughly 90 days pre-pandemic.

“It is extra a dialogue of how lengthy a window – or interval of exclusivity – needs to be. It isn’t whether or not or not there needs to be one,” mentioned Fithian.

‘very frightened’

Regardless of heat phrases for Netflix and upbeat predictions for the restoration, there are nonetheless causes for concern.

Fithian mentioned the theater house owners affiliation was “very involved” about Amazon Prime, noting that the subscription service’s enterprise mannequin wasn’t “attempting to earn money from films” however slightly getting customers to “purchase their groceries.” and use their remittance providers”.

Amazon Prime took over Hollywood’s historic MGM in an $8.5 billion deal final month.

On Wednesday, it emerged that MGM’s movie management would go away the studio behind James Bond movies and up to date hits like “Home of Gucci” and “Licorice Pizza.”

“In the event that they’re shopping for up corporations that take films off the provision line to theaters, to mainly solely launch them at residence, they’re lowering shopper selection and competitors,” mentioned Fithian.

Final month, Apple TV+ turned the primary streamer to win an Oscar for finest image, in a 12 months described by Fithian as “very weird.”

“We’re nonetheless very frightened in regards to the Oscars generally,” he mentioned, noting that blockbusters like “Spider-Man: No Manner Residence” missed out on finest image nominations.

In the meantime, theater chains working in Russia have been hit by the Hollywood embargo on the invasion of Ukraine.

“It isn’t an abandonment of the market. It is a pause till there may be peace, till the time is true to return to the market,” mentioned Fithian.

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