Netflix may have started a war with major movie theaters!
Netflix may have rustled some feathers after making huge moves in the media distribution realms. After acquiring the rights to “Beasts of No Nation”, major theater chains like AMC, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark have spoken out saying they do not plan to show the film in any of their theaters. According to Variety, they are all in agreement that Netflix is violating the standard 90-day delay that exists between theatrical debuts and home release.
The country’s four largest exhibitors — AMC, Regal, Cinemark and Carmike — separately told Variety that they do not plan to show the drama about child soldiers in Africa because they do not want to provide screens to films that do not honor what is typically a 90-day delay between a theatrical debut and a home entertainment release.
This could be a huge blow to Netflix. Many have speculated that the pursuit of “Beasts of No Nation” was made with Oscar intentions next year. If these theaters are refusing to play the film in theaters, it could hurt their chances of being considered for an Academy Award.
While their chances may be hurt, I don’t think it will be due to their inability to distribute the film. Netflix knew what they were doing when acquiring the film knowing that they would release the film via streaming services just like all of their other content. What will hurt them at the Oscars is the politics of it all. They are upsetting the order of things by essentially cutting out the middle man. AMC, Regal Cinemas, and Cinemark are big names in Hollywood and I’m sure they have an ample amount of influence. Netflix may provide an easy way of distributing the film to all proper parties “for their consideration” but how will these parties be influenced by this change of things?
It’s true that Netflix was successful competing with television, but film is a different playing field. Television and Netflix are both home entertainment and theatrical films exist in a large scale venue outside of one’s home. Many people and even critics may not appreciate the move away from theater viewing. On the other hand, if people do prefer the convenience of in home viewing then the pushback from AMC, Regal, Cinemark, etc. could make an even stronger case for theaters being obsolete.