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?
Reader Feedback - 7 Comments
I've been waiting for a move like this for a while now. However, I feel it's still too early for this to be succesful. The article touches on some key points but I think one of the biggest discussion points will be illegal downloads. On one hand, you have pirates who download because they want to watch a new release as fast as possible, on the other hand you have pirates who download because they can't or don't want to pay. The deciding factor here is which hand contains the most people? I don't have the answer. But if I look at the gaming industry and platforms such as Steam then I know there are many people out there willing to pay for their entertainment of choice to a point where the industry can still thrive. I'm sure part of it might also be due to the nature of games and the way it operates if you're downloading it illegally (it's a hassle, even if it's *free*). Whereas downloading a movie or music is very straightforward. Another part of the people genuinely like to pay the price as long as they don't feel ripped off. I'm unsure of the ramifications this system could have on movies with various release dates throughout the world. Star Wars Episode III still seemed to pulled in some numbers eventhough a decent quality leak was available from p2p networks before the actual release. But that's an action movie with tons of special effects, something that might be more appealing for the general public to watch on the big screen with the highest quality picture and sound (as mentioned in the article). But what with a more subdued and highly anticipated film? If such a film has a release on Netflix on day 1 when other parts of the world only get the release days or weeks later then there's going to be a high quality release by pirates for pirates on the opening day. I live in a country in Europe which has no Netflix, it'll be hard to resist temptation if the above scenario becomes a reality. As far as I know there is no country in South East Asia which has Netflix and we all know how much bootlegging goes on there. Since I don't have Netflix, I don't know how their software works, if there even is software for PC users (I guess it's all through their website). I think an easy to use interface that works crossplatform over all your devices is essential. In the end, this news isn't surprising to me but it's far too soon for it to become a reality. Not too soon to start making that reality possible, though. And I look forward to that day.
Neuromancer on Oct 29, 2013
That's great, especially because some movies don't play everywhere, but this way you wouldn't have to wait!
DavideCoppola on Oct 29, 2013
....And don't forget Netflix's first series (I think) and still the best of the lot - Hemlock Grove.
MovieLuvr on Oct 29, 2013
so would netflix pay them based on how many times the movie is watched or would there be a set amount? it'll be interesting to see how they go about this and hopefully it gets done.
iamNotLegend on Oct 29, 2013
If they truly want to strike a blow to piracy this is the way to go. Worldwide VOD releases for reasonable prices in HD quality. Outside of a few major blockbusters many (often great) movies are still released in theatres in Europe (where I reside) by the time they are available on Blu-Ray (and thus in picture perfect torrent files) in the US ... .
Kenneth Peeters on Oct 29, 2013
this is EXACTLY the future we've discussed in previous Forums here , the 'Director-wants-Hollywood-to-learn-from-music-industry one comes to mind . To be fair to the theatres , how about a week after it's midnight Thursday Sneak Preview ? C'mon u can wait a week .. Because there as so many with 49-70-inch TV screens that NEVER go to movies , hollywood's gotta learn to milk that population too .......or yeah if u wanna watch it the 1st weekend u pay DVD prices , and the theatres get a kickback .
Dominic on Oct 30, 2013
Not going to happen anytime soon.
cobrazombie on Oct 31, 2013
Sorry, no commenting is allowed at this time.