May 21, 2019

Why Is Netflix Headed to the Cinema?

“Imagine the typical Netflix experience (apart from “Netflix and chill”): The comfort of your own home, with numerous TV series and Netflix original movies at your fingertips, all for one monthly fee. But in a strategic move, Netflix has decided to open its best movies in cinemas first, withholding them for weeks before migrating them to the streaming service.

Three of Netflix’s films will open exclusively in select theaters in the US and abroad for one to three weeks before paying subscribers can watch them online. The movies include director Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, hailed as a masterpiece and winner of this year’s Venice Film Festival’s top prize; a six-part Western called The Ballad of Buster Scruggs; and Bird Box, a thriller starring Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson.

“Our members benefit from having the best quality films from world class filmmakers and our filmmakers benefit by being able to share their artistry with the largest possible audience in over 190 countries worldwide,” Scott Stuber, head of Netflix’s film group, said in a statement cited by the Hollywood Reporter.

But it’s about more than providing the best movies to subscribers and making sure those movies are seen elsewhere. Netflix’s move is also a bid to win more awards and attract top talent. It’s a big shift for the streaming service. In 2016, Netflix had to partner with small luxury theaters to keep its movies eligible for the Oscars, and it’s vexed large theater chains by premiering movies online the same day they hit cinema screens. The company’s latest act means it can be in awards contention, while also preserving the movie-going experience. And since theaters just had their best summer in decades, that experience clearly still sells.”

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