Netflix Wants 'Big Movies' for Theaters & Streaming Simultaneously
In the television world, Netflix has been shaking things up by moving from just streaming existing TV series through Netflix Instant, to creating their own original programming like David Fincher and Kevin Spacey's Emmy-nominated "House of Cards," the popular "Orange is the New Black" and the revival of "Arrested Development." Now it sounds like they have their eyes set on changing the face of film distribution as well. Speaking at Film Independent over the weekend, Netflix head honcho Ted Sarandos talked about financing their own films, but they don't want to be limited to just independent projects.
"What we’re trying to do for TV, the model should extend pretty nicely to movies. Meaning, why not premiere movies on Netflix, the same day they’re opening in theaters? And not little movies — there’s a lot of ways, and lot of people to do that [already]. Why not big movies? Why not follow the consumers’ desire to watch things when they want?”
While there are plenty of VOD outlets to premiere independent movies at the same time, or even before, a film hits theaters, this model has not been applied to blockbuster films. But as Steven Spielberg pointed out over the summer, there might be an implosion of the film industry on the horizon, and the distribution model of movies is going to change. Spielberg said, "You're gonna have to pay $25 for the next Iron Man, you're probably only going to have to pay $7 to see Lincoln." In fact, the director added that his Best Picture nominated drama was extremely close to becoming an HBO film instead of a theatrical release. George Lucas echoed his sentiments, but added "I think eventually the Lincolns will go away [from theaters] and they're going to be on television." Maybe that's what this hopeful move from Netflix will accomplish.
At the end of the day, there are some movies that people are going to want to see in movie theaters. Blockbusters like Iron Man, The Avengers and more should be experience on the big screen. That's not to say smaller, more dramatic films like Lincoln, 12 Years a Slave or The Wolf of Wall Street shouldn't be experienced in movie theaters, but there are plenty of people that don't feel the need to pay the increasing ticket prices in theaters with overpriced concessions, when they can watch it from the comfort of their own home. Even if a studio charged $25 for something like Iron Man, a whole family could sit and watch it at home, and it's worth the cost.
The face of distribution is changing and people want more options. Eventually, audiences will be able to see blockbusters either at home, on their phone or in theaters simultaneously, but we're still a little ways off from that happening. One thing is for sure, theater owners are scared and outraged over Netflix's endeavors to start making big movies, which is where theaters make their money (not because of tickets, but because of big audiences buying concessions). Netflix has dabbled in filmmaking before with small projects like the "Comedians of Comedy" documentary with Patton Oswalt, Zach Galifianakis, Brian Posehn and Maria Bamford, but these new ventures will be considerably bigger. And if "House of Cards" and "Arrested Development" are any indicator, they should be able to put some impressive projects together. Thoughts?