Over decades, art-house theatres have forged a creative niche inside the broader market of motion picture exhibitions. In most cases, art houses set themselves apart based on their innovative programming and more direct and personal connection with movie lovers from their surrounding communities.
The pandemic has bludgeoned art houses in equal measure with the national chains, forcing theatre owners to come up with creative solutions to generate revenue and maintain their relationships with loyal customers. In some cases, that has led to introducing options for watching movies online. A handful of art houses in New York City are partnering with the global streaming service MUBI to offer Mubi Go, a service that combines at-home, online access to a curated catalog of hundreds of independent films as well as one ticket per week to watch a movie at any participating theatres, including Film Forum, Film at Lincoln Center, IFC Center, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Nitehawk Cinema, and Paris Theater. Think of it as a Netflix/MoviePass bundle, centered on independent film and New York art houses. Mubi is planning to partner with theatres in other urban markets, adding Los Angeles sometime next year.
This is an interesting case of streamers and exhibitors partnering to create a hybrid solution that encourages movie viewing at home and in theatres, as part of a single bundle. If the model shows success, it may give life to more partnerships between studios, streamers, and exhibitors to better consumers.