Netflix has signed a deal with upscale theater-chain iPic Entertainment to simultaneously screen its original movies in theaters the same day that they appear on the streaming service. This isn’t Netflix’s first experiment with showing its original movies in theaters, but it’s their biggest such effort yet. The deal will cover 10 original movies to begin with on iPic’s New York and LA theaters — war thriller The Siege of Jadotville will kick things off this Friday.
The agreement is a significant run against long-standing Hollywood business practices, where cinemas get the exclusive rights to show new movies before they become available for home viewing. Netflix contends that the traditional release window is out of step with changing consumer habits, but not everyone is pleased with this deal.
Particularly, the National Association of Theatre Owners has sent out a public statement claiming that “the film industry's success is a direct result of a highly successful collaboration between film makers, distributors and exhibitors”, and that “Simultaneous release, in practice, has reduced both theatrical and home revenues when it has been tried.”
iPic on the other hand wants to prove that its movie going experience is enticing enough to get people into their theaters, even if the movies are available online for much cheaper. The relatively small theater-chain focuses on an upscale experience complete with fine food, alcohol and special seating. Tickets can cost as much as $30 per person.
A theatrical presence will help Netflix's original movies gain extra promotion and is important for the company’s awards ambitions. Films need to play in Los Angeles and New York theaters for a minimum of a week in order to be considered for an Oscar.