Theater owners caught off guard by Ted Sarandos comments slash Netflix theatrical ambitions

Theater owners caught off guard by Ted Sarandos comments slash Netflix theatrical ambitions

Just when relations were improving between Netflix and theater owners, the knives are sharpened again.

The country’s biggest film circuits were caught off guard on October 18 when Netflix co-chief and chief content officer Ted Sarandos threw cold water on the significance of an unprecedented deal to play Rian Johnson. Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads for a week at Thanksgiving before the sequel hits the streamer a month later.

“There are all kinds of debates all the time, back and forth. But there’s no doubt internally that we make our movies for our members, and we really want them to see them on Netflix,” Sarandos said on an earnings call. “Most people watch movies at home.”

This kind of message does not make theater owners happy as they continue to recover from the pandemic.

And Sarandos’ comments would seem to contradict what the country’s major circuits – AMC Theatres, Regal Cinemas and Cinemark Theaters – told Netflix film director Scott Stuber and distribution director Spencer Klein before they all first agreed to play a Netflix movie. (Cinemark began airing some of the streamer’s releases during the pandemic.)

Several sources tell THR this Glass Onion was described as the first of several real-world tests trying to determine what kind of financial windfall an exclusive theatrical release might generate for Netflix, and what impact that would have on subscriber numbers, in either direction. At the same time, Sarandos still did not grant permission to publish recipes for Glass Onion, or reserve the film in more than 600 theaters. The current number is around 641, including at least 215 AMC locations. Sources say Stuber would have liked a broader break.

For exhibitors, access to Netflix movies was good news, as they need products as Hollywood studios grapple with supply chain issues.

“This announcement of our first-ever deal with Netflix is ​​significant for AMC and for moviegoers everywhere. As we’ve said many times, we believe theatrical exhibitors and streamers can continue to successfully co-exist,” AMC CEO Adam Aron said on Oct. 6, when the Glass Onion deal was announced. “Beyond that, however, we wanted to find a way to crack the code and work together in synergy.”

Now, AMC is among the circuits disappointed by Sarandos’ remark, sources say. AMC declined to comment.

“Ted is retreating and undermining his own team,” said a show manager. And a marketing executive wonders why the streamer chose the high-profile Thanksgiving weekend if he really doesn’t care about the theatrical impact. It could have easily opened in early December to qualify for awards.

Netflix officially charges theatrical un Glass onion: a mystery at loggerheads in preview (Netflix paid $469 million for the sequel and a sequel). Gross ones won’t be reported, but numbers are bound to come out.

While the Glass Onion hit the headlines, less attention was paid to the second theatrical essay: that of Alejandro González Iñárritu bardo, which will be released widely in cinemas across Mexico on October 27 before debuting on Netflix on December 16. That’s a 50-day movie window, which Netflix has never agreed to before. A third test is brewing, but sources within the exhibitor community wouldn’t say what that movie is.

Cinema owners were probably not the only ones surprised by Sarandos’ comments downplaying the importance of theater. A wide range of top filmmakers, Iiñárritu and Glass Onion‘s Johnson – with Knives out franchise star Daniel Craig – wants a presence on the big screen.

The show industry argues – and many Hollywood studios agree – that a run in theaters can actually increase home viewing by making a movie part of the air. cultural time. Unlike Netflix TV series, original movies have historically had a harder time becoming proverbial water cooler chatter.

In his remarks on the earnings call, Sarandos compared Glass OnionThe week-long release in theaters for screening at a film festival or a qualifying race for buzz-creation awards for a film’s debut on the service.

A senior studio executive responds, “A hornet’s nest has been stirred and has proven that Netflix is ​​nothing more than a Trojan horse that doesn’t care about exposure.”

Other observers note the risk that Netflix will lower its assurances to theater owners.

“If major industry players, both on the big screen and on the small screen, want to talk about how these very different platforms are complementary and not contradictory, then they need to follow the path of this narrative,” says Comscore. chief box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “Only in an environment of cooperation and respect can this synergistic alliance exist.”

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