Netflix's original films are coming to a theater near you. But while this might be great news for those who suffer from serious FOMO (after hearing all about the quality original programming and are missing out because they have already used their free trial to the service), the deal is furthering tensions between Netflix and theaters.
Netflix signed a deal with luxury movie theater chain iPic Entertainment this week to bring its original films to the big screen.
As part of the deal, 10 of Netflix's original movies will be screened on the same day that they stream on the platform at the iPic locations in New York City (which opens on Friday, Oct. 7) and Los Angeles starting next year.
There is a chance that Netflix could expand this partnership to also have its films played in the chain's 13 other locations that include Texas, Florida and New Jersey.
The first film to be released will be The Siege of Jadotville in L.A. this Friday, which stars Jamie Dornan, Guillaume Canet and Emmanuelle Seigner about the true story of Irish soldiers on a U.N. mission in Africa. Then the mockumentary Mascots will be released on Oct. 13 in New York.
For Netflix, this is one smart deal. While it was not made public how ticket revenues would be split between Netflix and iPic, regardless of the breakdown it will bring in some funds for the platform - especially since ticket prices at iPic are higher compared to other theaters. This is because iPic provides a premium movie watching experience, complete with comforts like leather recliners and lobster rolls.
The deal also serves as a way for Netflix to expand to be more than just a popular streaming site. The company has been focusing on increasing its original programming and will continue to do so over the next years. Releasing original films in theaters will help Netflix make a name for itself in the movie biz instead of audiences just assuming it makes made-for-TV types of movies.
And many of Netflix's original films are worth watching, such as The Fundamentals of Caring starring Paul Rudd, and we assume David Ayer's Bright starring Will Smith and the Brad Pitt-produced War Machine will also be.
However, grab some popcorn at the front seat of this fight because Netflix is stirring the pot with this deal, and theaters are really pissed.
The National Association of Theatre Owners voiced their concerns about Netflx's deal with iPic. And rightfully so because Netflix is stepping on their turf and putting a threat to the windows theaters usually have before audiences can stream them from the comfort of their own homes.
Many might remember that theaters like AMC, Regal and Cinemark boycotted the Netflix original Beasts Of No Nation when the company had plans to the release it last year. The film was released in theaters, but to poor box office numbers. The same thing happened again when Netflix released Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny in select IMAX theaters.
"We all should tread lightly and be mindful that over the years, the film industry's success is a direct result of a highly successful collaboration between filmmakers, distributors and exhibitors," John Fithian, president and chief executive of NATO said in a statement. "Simultaneous release, in practice, has reduced both theatrical and home revenues when it has been tried."
We can all agree that the deal messes up with the traditional flow that movies are first released in theaters then on DVD, to cable networks and then to streaming services.
Who would want to go pay to see a Netflix original in the theater anyway if they can do so for free (as part of their monthly membership) at home? Only time will tell if this is a brilliant deal or not.