Report: Netflix Has Looked Into Buying Its Own Movie Theaters
Netflix wants to be your one-stop shop for all things entertainment. They make movies. They make sitcoms. They do standup specials. They have talk shows. There’s a bunch of cooking shows. I don’t think they have workout videos yet, but otherwise they pretty much every possible film or TV interest covered. (Note: They may have workout videos. I’m lazy and don’t work out.) Their whole model seems to be, plant your butt in front of your television and we’ll take care of the rest.
But apparently, there are some things you can’t do from the comfort of your own home, like, for example, qualifying for an Academy Award, or the legitimacy that comes with a real theatrical release. And so we now get news from the Los Angeles Times that Netflix “has explored the idea of buying movie theaters in Los Angeles and New York that would enable it to screen a growing pipeline of feature films and documentaries.”
One of the ideas Netflix reportedly considered was trying to acquire Landmark Theatres, the arthouse chain co-owned by Mark Cuban. The streaming giant supposedly decided not to go through with the deal because “executives believed the sale price for Landmark was too high.”
[Netflix opening title noise fading to cash register noise]
This news comes amidst an ongoing battle between Netflix and the Cannes Film Festival, which changed its rules to disallow Netflix movies from its competition (because Netflix movies don’t get theatrical releases) followed by Netflix retaliating by pulling its non-competition Cannes titles from the festival. Having its own theater to screen all of its movies would give Netflix access to spaces where only theatrical films dwell, and (assuming the movies made money) a new revenue stream.
That’s a pretty big if, though. There are one or two theaters in New York City that occasionally book Netflix movies, and I have never gone out of my way to watch something there. Why would I spend upwards of $15 to watch one movie once, when I can watch it an unlimited number of times (along with hundreds of other things) at home for the $12 I’m already spending?
There is one other major upside for Netflix if they do decide to buy into the theatrical space: It would help the company attract filmmakers who still want to make movies for the big screen, rather than for an iPhone. (Although that didn’t stop Martin Scorsese from making The Irishman with Netflix.) And it would also make a convenient defense against those who see Netflix as systematically destroying the movie theater experience. Can’t destroy movie theaters when you own movie theaters yourself, I suppose.
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