Netflix is a company that's been in a state of transition for what feels like the past five years. The DVD provider became a media darling when it launched its mail-delivery service, and earned even more accolades when it started offering streaming films that could be watched directly on your Internet-connected device. The company hit turbulence in recent years -- Hollywood started ransoming streaming rights and an ill-advised attempt to separate the streaming and mail-order services certainly didn't make things better at the corporate offices, but Netflix has proven resilient. Sure, the streaming service is comprised mostly of TV shows and direct-to-video movie fare (with a few blockbusters, notable documentaries and art house films worked into the mix), but Netflix has compensated for that by launching some original television programming that airs exclusively on its service. Now, it appears as though it may be ready to branch out into feature films...
Boss Ted Sarandos is now beating the drum for Netflix to finance its very own "big" film -- one that would potentially debut in theaters and on Netflix's streaming service at the same time. It's an interesting idea -- if only because it shows that Netflix isn't ready to completely capitulate to the Hollywood studio machine's attempts to cut its control of the market.
Sarandos offered up a glimpse of his vision in a speech for Film Independent over the weekend
"What we’re trying to do for TV, the model should extend pretty nicely to movies. Meaning, why not premiere movies on Netflix, the same day they’re opening in theaters? And not little movies — there’s a lot of ways, and lot of people to do that [already]. Why not big movies? Why not follow the consumers’ desire to watch things when they want?”
Sarandos is arguably on to something here. It's become increasingly more obvious over the past few years that the way modern viewers want to consume their media is at odds with the traditional method employed by studios and networks. People want to binge-watch a series over a long weekend as opposed to stretching it out over 22 weeks. People want to be able to see new movies on the big screen or on their TVs at home. Essentially, people want more options, and the future kinda demands that they have more options. Netflix understands this -- and maybe this is a first step in finally changing the paradigm so that it fits what's possible with modern technology.
What's interesting about the comment is the "big" film part -- many VOD services already offer new films at their release or before, but those tend to be art house features or less mainstream entries. Netflix appears to be talking about financing something akin to a summer blockbuster. That's potentially game changing.
There will be hurdles, though -- while Netflix can certainly produce and distribute a movie as it sees fit, it's unlikely that the major studios will be rushing to jump on this bandwagon anytime soon. The theater owners simply won't allow it -- and Hollywood has proven time and again that it's adamant in sticking to its archaic tiered distribution system no matter how much the consumer complains. That being said, if Netflix did manage to produce a huge hit and distribute it in this way, it could certainly start a serious conversation about how best to distribute entertainment to meet the needs and wants of the consumer. That's probably just crazy talk, though.
Watch Sarandos' entire speech below, and tell us what you think.
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