Movies · Streaming Guides

Don’t Sleep on Netflix

By  · Published on October 10th, 2016

Industry insiders and audiences alike should pay attention to the streaming company’s movie plans.

Netflix has redefined what audiences should expect with their original programming. They changed the expectations for television with series such as: Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Stranger Things, and Marvel mini-series (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage). While their intentions in the film industry have not been unknown, more than ever they are showcasing high quality content that rivals what is being show at the multiplexes.

In a ten day span, Netflix will have released plenty of hotly anticipated titles including Ava DuVernay’s 13TH, which recently was the first documentary ever to open the New York Film Festival. The picture about the U.S. prison system is one of the best reviewed features of the year and will certainly be awards conversations come Oscar time. Other planned releases include the music documentary Justin Timberlake + the Tennessee Kids and Christopher Guest’s Mascots, both of which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.

That is only some of their releases in the past year. Last Fall, Netflix released the film Beasts of No Nation, directed by Cary Fukunaga and starring Idris Elba and also just debut their Siege of Jadotville film starring Jamie Dornan (50 Shades of Grey). Needless to say, they have plenty of projects with big name talent that audiences would be interested in given more general awareness.

Netflix might have just made their most aggressive move yet, According to The Wall Street Journal, Netflix has signed a deal with the luxury theater chain iPic that allows their features to be shown in theaters the same day they are released on the streaming service. Netflix movies will be shown in iPic theaters located in New York City and Los Angeles, with the option of showing them in iPic’s other thirteen theaters. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos says it will cover a “substantial” portion of their films for year.

Hollywood interprets the move as a threat to their revenue streams and they should view it as such. Netflix continues to be ambitious with their plans to be an equal player in the film market, just as they have in the television realm. By opening in movie theaters, the films will be given a higher clout by potential costumers. Siege of Jadotville doesn’t seem like a big picture since it never reached public awareness. Sarandos goes on record as saying “Putting it in a theater might create a shorthand for people to understand these are really big movies. These are not ‘TV movies.’ ” Netflix has written big pay checks to entice A-list talent including Brad Pitt starring in and producing the Netflix comedy War Machine, and Angelina Jolie is making First They Killed My Father, a film based on a Cambodian refugee’s memoir. They certainly aren’t messing around.

Not only does the deal allow for more overall awareness of their offerings and brand, Netflix also gains a partner to market their films for award consideration. According to the Academy Awards rules, a film must play in theaters at least a week in NY or L.A., depending on its genre. Many theater chains don’t like the idea of releasing movies in their theaters the same day audiences can stream them at home. It cuts into ticket and concession sales, when they can be showing exclusive films. Netflix now doesn’t have to fight tooth and nail for proper distribution since they have a partner.

Industry insiders and audiences alike have treated Netflix’s original features differently since the beginning. They don’t have the marketing or visibility of movies released in the multiplexes every week. With a subscriber base of close to 80 million that shouldn’t be an issue, but their films haven’t really been taken seriously. It isn’t for lack of quality either, since 13TH is stronger than any of this past weekend’s multiplex offerings. Netflix’s deal with iPic proves they mean business with their original features and are ready to challenge the movie industry as they have the television industry.

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News Writer/Columnist for Film School Rejects. It’s the Pictures Co-host. Bylines Playboy, ZAM, Paste Magazine and more.