Netflix faces a second round of boycott from the country’s biggest theater chains

“Beasts of No Nation”

Earlier this week Netflix announced that they have bought the worldwide distribution rights to “True Detective” director Cary Fukunaga’s new war drama “Beasts of No Nation”, and are going to release it simultaneously on their streaming service and in theaters later this year. Following the news, Variety reported that the nation’s four largest exhibitor chains — AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike — have announced a boycott to Netflix’s new movie. Insiders have also told Variety that Netflix’s course of action is to fight the boycott by exhibiting the movie at roughly 200 arthouse and independent theaters, many of which have already confirmed their commitment to the movie.

There is an ancient rule in place regarding the protection of the value chain in the film industry wherein producers maintain a  90-day delay between the theatrical debut and the home entertainment premiere in order to guarantee that the theaters have a window of exclusivity with the movie and exclusivity is — or used to be — the key to making a profit in the entertainment industry. By releasing day-and-date, Netflix might seriously endanger the exhibitors profit, hence their harsh reaction.

Netflix has pulled it off before with two Oscar nominated documentaries “The Square” and “Virunga” but this is fiction and that is a very different game. Almost a year ago the internet was flooded with news of the streaming company’s first attempt to break the rules when they announced similar plans to debut “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” simultaneously in theaters and online and were also boycotted by the major exhibition chains.

Netflix is pushing the game forward and that’s a great thing. There’s much discussion as to the role of theaters and if they’re still relevant or not but boycotting movies and the taking the power of choice out of the spectator’s hands is not the answer. The theatre is a magical place and no one would ever stop going just because the same movie could be watched at home. Sometimes, you just want to go to the theatre, right? Instead of acting out like this these large chain would profit from investing in revamping their infrastructure and creating new dimensions to the theatre experience because that’s what patrons want – more perks, not less choices.

On the same note, Netflix is on fire and wont be backing down anytime soon: they’ve also acquired all rights to “Jadotville” starred by Jamie Dornan which is set to debut online but might also be released theatrically for Award nominations purposes, they have a deal with Adam Sandler for four films and another with Weinstein Co. and Imax to debut “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” day-and-date in theaters and on Netflix in August. What do you think of the theater chains resistance to change in the way we consume movies?

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4 thoughts on “Netflix faces a second round of boycott from the country’s biggest theater chains

  1. BrokeMovieGoer says:

    I don’t understand why Exhibitors don’t understand the idea that the more movies they turn down because of Day and Date, the more people are going to get used to watching films at on Netflix and other SVOD services. Some shows/movies I’ll watch on my computer, while others, I prefer to watch on my big TV, and then sometimes there are films that I NEED to see at a movie theater.

    I feel like there are certain types of movie-goers, those that love the Movie Theater Experience and go often, and those that love certain Movies. Those that love the experience, are going to the theater regardless of whether it is available on Netflix. Those that love certain movies, most likely do not go to the theater often, so when that certain film is released, they are going to the theater to see it, whether it is released day and play or not. If these same people aren’t completely sold on a film, they aren’t spending their money at the theater anyway.

    I really feel like the Exhibitors are losing out here. Just look at the Box Office numbers for Birdman. It is released on DVD already, but because of the Oscar buzz, the box office numbers began to increase again. People could have easily rented it from Red Box or VOD, but they still chose the theater.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalia H.V. Justino says:

      Absolutely agree with you, there’s always some movies that one needs to see at the theater. I think their logic actually awknoledges that some movies don’t benefit as much from being seen at the theater and those movies being released day and date would likely diminish their revenues. Still, it’s a defensive and ill-intended approach that makes the movie goer feel like a puppet.

      Like

  2. Giada Palma says:

    I think it’ll be a very dark time for exhibitors if they continue ignoring change. The distribution model will be soon disrupted by accessible distribution to everyone and theaters are going to loose their centrality. They’ll have to reinvent themselves, count on bigger events at higher prices. This arm wrestling is totally insane.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Natalia H.V. Justino says:

      The business model that these large chains employ is simply not viable anymore. In my opinion there will always be a demand for watching movies in theaters, especially the ones that provide a better experience when seen on a big screen (Interstellar), provide a great group experience (Star Wars), the one’s campaigning for the Oscars and the auteur fare (Tarantino) since they cary a large audience that wants to support their films. For the rest, something needs to be done. Going to the theater is an experience and the quality of that has to go up. It’s quite pathetic to see these petty attempts to remain relevant as is while disrespecting the consumers needs. Also interesting to see that the smaller, cult theaters are jumping at the opportunity to screen the movie. I don’t know if you usually go to these smaller theaters but I’m a big fan. The infrastructure tends to be updated and the amenities around the experience are much better (and overpriced, of course) but overall it’s a much better experience.

      Liked by 1 person

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