Exhibitors remain frustrated with Netflix and the limits it has placed on its upcoming theatrical release of GLASS ONION: A KNIVES OUT MYSTERY. While large, national exhibitors have signed on to host “sneak peek” screenings at 600 North American theatres, most small chains and independent theatres have been left off the list.
Obviously, a brief run at select theatres limits the earnings impact of the movie for exhibitors. “We are happy they are experimenting and giving us an exclusive time window,” said Brock Bagby, Chief Content and Development Officer at B&B Theatres, “But we wish it was a long run and we wish it was wider.”
Some distribution execs within Netflix are said to agree with this point of view and are lobbying Chief Content Officer and co-CEO Ted Sarandos to do more with exhibitors. However, Sarandos remains unconvinced, explaining his position in his comments during the company’s third-quarter earnings call with investors.
“There are all kinds of debates all the time, back and forth. But there is no question internally that we make our movies for our members and we really want them to watch them on Netflix. And, of course, within one week of release in theaters, most people will see them on Netflix. Just like they see all movies. Most people watch most movies at home.”
It is worth noting that until recently Netflix’s decision-makers were equally adamant that subscribers would never see advertisements on the platform, and that threshold will be crossed next month when Netflix introduces a new, ad-supported tier of service to serve cost-conscious consumers.
At some point, the combination of intense pressure from competitors and investors will likely lead the company to take another look at theatrical releases in order to reach new customers and tap into new revenue streams.