Theater Chains Pout, Boycott Netflix's New Movie To Protect Antiquated Release Windows

from the taking-my-ball-and-go-home dept

As part of its continued foray into film and more flexible release windows, Netflix this week announced it had acquired the Cary Fukunaga film "Beasts of No Nation." Based on the novel by Uzodinma Iweala, the movie stars Idris Elba and examines the impact of civil war on an unnamed West African country. Like the company's acquired sequel to "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," Netflix is using the opportunity to kick down the doors of antiquated release windows, pushing the film to theaters the same day it will be available on Netflix instant streaming.

Given this would challenge the aging structure of the film industry, you'll probably not be surprised to learn that the primary response to Netflix's move has been of the hissy fit variety. That home video viewing will kill theaters has been the refrain of theater owners for decades now.

So, when Netflix announced it would be offering its Crouching Tiger sequel in IMAX on the same day as streaming availability, AMC, Regal and Cinemark -- which, combined, run 247 of the 400 IMAX theaters in North America -- unsurprisingly announced they'd be boycotting the movie this summer. Similarly, those same chains have joined forces to boycott Netflix's release of "Beasts of No Nation," insisting they need to do so to protect the 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and a home entertainment release.

That inflexibility has opened the door to folks like Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League, who somehow grasps the immeasurably complicated idea that sometimes people like going out to the movies, and sometimes they like staying home. League shot down the idea that tinkering with release windows was a death knell for theater owners:
"I’m agnostic about this sort of thing,” said Tim League, the company’s CEO and founder. “I look at films I want to play and I play them regardless of the release strategy." League noted that Alamo Drafthouse had success showing “Snowpiercer,” even though that science-fiction adventure debuted last summer on-demand while it was still in theaters.

"I don’t look at myself as a competitor to Netflix,” said League. “I think that argument is a little bit of a red herring. I watch a lot of movies at home, but there comes a time where I want to get out of the house. I look at cinemas as one of those options that compete with restaurants or baseball games or all of those things I can’t do in my living room."
Flexibly focusing on the consumer instead of crossing your arms and making a pouty face when inevitable industry evolution occurs? Ridiculous! Somebody clearly forgot to inform League that change is always bad, and pouting like a petulant child is the only effective and profitable path forward when history and technology threaten to rattle the status quo.

Filed Under: beasts of no nation, crouching tiget, day and date, hidden dragon, movies, release windows, theaters, uzodinma iweala
Companies: alamo draft house, amc, cinemark, imax, netflix, regal


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  1. identicon
    Pragmatic, 6 Mar 2015 @ 5:20am

    Re: Free Market

    @ Timothy Leary we live in a capitalist country but it doesn't have a free market at all, unless your definition of choice is "Take it or leave it."

    Anti-competitive practices abound, and the above article is but one example. Breaking up monopolies and ending anti-competitive practices is the best possible solution. This will result in a more free market.

    Now before you say, "But regulations and government are bad," let me point out that incumbents, if left to themselves, aren't going to change their ways until they become unprofitable. That is not how a free (or mostly free) market works. Again, "Take it or leave it" is not a choice and it's certainly not freedom.

    Theaters ought to be allowed to choose which movies to show or not, end of discussion. But as we've pointed out, they're not. The theaters themselves are probably not the problem, it may well be the threat of having major new releases not provided to them that's causing this.

    Now imagine a world in which they can show what they want, when they want. "Beasts of No Nation" and other Netflix-provided movies would no doubt be showing there. There aren't a lot of independent theaters around, are there?

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