From humble beginnings, Netflix has grown into an industry behemoth with over 125 million subscribers worldwide. But what could be the next step for the streaming site? According to recent reports, the company is considering buying physical movie theaters.
Citing people familiar with the situation, the Los Angeles Times writes that Netflix has been exploring the possibility of purchasing movie theaters in New York and LA and using them to screen its original content.
A small number of Netflix films such as Okja and First They Killed My Father have released simultaneously in theaters and on the site, but Variety reports that major cinema chains won’t carry a movie that uses this day-and-date release format.
The situation has caused issues when it comes to Netflix’s films competing for awards, especially at Cannes. Both Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories were eligible for the Palme d’Or award last year despite their lack of theatrical runs in France, which caused a lot of controversy and saw both movies booed by audiences.
“Last year, when we selected these two films, I thought I could convince Netflix to release them in cinemas. I was presumptuous, they refused,” said festival head Theirry Fremaux.
The situation led to Netflix being banned from competing for the Palme d’Or last month, and the company subsequently pulled out of the event completely.
Not only would it help promote its movies, but having its own theaters could also ensure Netflix is eligible to compete for major industry awards. It’s already looked into buying Mark Cuban’s Landmark Theatres in Los Angeles but decided against any deal as the price was reportedly too high.
Despite spending $8 billion on original content this year, some filmmakers still turn their noses up at Netflix. Steven Spielberg said its movies shouldn’t be allowed to compete for Oscars, while The Dark Knight and Dunkirk director Christopher Nolan has also been critical of its movie policies.