As streaming video services like Amazon and Netflix gain more and more subscribers, revenue, and pull within Hollywood, it’s become clear that the traditional cinema model of theatrical releases leading to home media several months later just isn’t going to cut it. As the largest streaming service in the land, all eyes are on Netflix, and in a letter to shareholders the company stood firmly behind its current strategy, while opening up the possibility that its own movies could very well appear in theaters, but only alongside the online streaming option.
As the Verge reports, Netflix’s official stance reads like this:
Since our members are funding these films, they should be the first to see them. But we are also open to supporting the large theater chains, such as AMC and Regal in the US, if they want to offer our films, such as our upcoming Will Smith film Bright, in theaters simultaneous to Netflix. Let consumers choose.
It’s hard to read that statement as anything but a challenge and ultimately a dig against the traditional theater experience which, while fun, is often ridiculously expensive. It’s difficult to imagine that letting “consumer choose” would result in anything but an overwhelming majority of moviegoers opting to simply watch new release films on the service they’re already paying (a much more reasonable fee) for.
It’s worth noting that Amazon, which has been building a respectable library of its own original films while living in Netflix’s shadow, has played nice with theaters and pushed some of its movies to the big screen before allowing subscribers to feast on them at home. Netflix doesn’t seem to want any part of that.