In the past when Netflix has released a new original movie into theaters it came with about a week, or maybe 10 days, of theatrical exclusivity. It would be positioned as arriving at the end of a press tour, a big triumphant feat for the fans that can't wait another week to stream it at home and must see something like...Red Notice on the big screen. Other films from the streamer have gotten theatrical releases as well, typically for movies eager for an Oscar run like Mank or Roma. Now it seems like the streamer may give movie theaters what they want, an actual exclusive release window.
A new report from Bloomberg reveals that "executives at Netflix have discussed" the possibility of a theatrical release for some of their movies with a window as long as 45 days. The two titles that they're reportedly considering are the Knives Out sequel and a new film from Oscar winner Alejandro González Iñárritu. The outlet notes that if the test, whatever movie it ends up being, is successful, that Netflix could end up releasing "as many as a dozen titles in theaters going forward." As noted by Bloomberg though, Netflix's experimentation with theatrical exhibition has been without partnering with AMC and Cineworld, the largest movie theater chains in the world.
Recent weeks have revealed that Netflix is facing a drastic dip in subscriber growth, and in fact may lose a huge chunk of paid subscribers in the next quarter. As a result Netflix has buckled down and begun pinching their pennies, updating internal documents to advise employees "spend our members' money wisely," and starting layoffs around the company. A major hurdle to Netflix becoming a big player in theatrical exhibition is the cost associated with marketing feature films for movies, which can be incredibly expensive for major blockbusters, something that Netflix doesn't typically invest in at the same rate as Disney or Warner Bros. That and their recent financial misfortune in mind, it's unclear how likely Netflix is to pursue a major wide release for a movie when it won't be on their platform for at least six weeks.
In any event, the Knives Out sequel is scheduled to be released later this year and could prove itself to be the perfect guinea pig for such an experiment. The first movie, released in 2019 by Lionsgate, went on to gross over $310 million at the global box office. Netflix reportedly paid more than double what Lionsgate was able to offer for rights to Knives Out 2 and 3, so the confidence in the title, and willingness to spend, is clearly there.
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