Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wants Theatrical Windows to be A Thing of The Past

Courtesy of Netflix

With Netflix starting to pursue original movies and documentaries, could theatrical windows soon be a thing of the past?  This was the big discussion that took place during the Cannes Film Festival in May given a few Netflix films being exhibited.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made some interesting comments during Cannes about how there will come a time when the theatrical window won’t even be a thing any more.  Both Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories competed during the festival and the outrage only led to more publicity for the two Netflix properties.  Hastings doubled down on his comments during an appearance at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.  Recode’s Peter Kafka moderated the discussion, which lasted just over a half hour.

“We’re in a transition period where the movie theater chains around the world are not willing to allow consumers to choose, but eventually they will,” Hastings said. “So big movies will come out and they’ll be on Netflix and on Amazon … and also in theaters. If you want a communal experience with your friends, you’ll go to the theater, just like you’d go to a restaurant even though you know how to cook.”

The average theatrical window right now tends to be about 3 months before it’s released for digital and home viewing.

Hastings also joined CNBC’s Julia Boorstin for an interview on Squawk Alley on Wednesday.

Hastings touched on War Machine, which cost Netflix $60 million and played in few theaters.

“Some people love to watch movies in the theaters and that’s fine,” Hastings said.  “We want to have consumers be able to choose.  So far, the large chains in the US like AMC and Regal have ot carried these films, so they are very small theaters.  We hope over time that the theaters will wake up and say we should provide consumers choice.  We are into giving customers choice.  They can watch it on Netflix or in the theaters on the same day.”

Boorstin asked Hastings about whether or not Hastings can get the theaters to change their model in order to play films on the same day they get released on Netflix.

“Consumers may pressure the theaters,” Hastings said.  “It is really not for us to do.  We are trying to produce the greatest content and have it on Netflix.  We are also open to the movie.  Some people would prefer the big screen experience.  That’s fine.”

Boorstin asked Hastings about whether he thinks other studios could follow Netflix in trying to close the theatrical window.  Studios have agreed in the past but nothing has happened on this front according to Hastings.

In full disclaimer, I get a large number of films each year to review via screener links.  While I like that I can watch it at home, it doesn’t offer the same atmosphere that I would have at the movie theaters.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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