Don’t expect Netflix to make any further forays into owning movie theaters.
The streaming giant already owns the Paris Theatre in New York City and the Egyptian in Hollywood, but according to a new interview with the company’s co-CEO, Reed Hastings, additional Netflix movie theaters probably aren’t in the cards. Something Netflix does want, however, is to “beat Disney in family animation.”
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter to support his new book, No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention, Hastings was asked point blank if Netflix would ever buy a theater chain. “I can’t see us doing a chain or expanding in theatrical,” he answered. “We want to really focus on internet entertainment and trying to just continue to improve our series, our films to make them the best in the world.”
That’s a notable answer considering the Paramount consent decrees were recently overturned, paving the way for studios and streaming companies to start buying up their own theater chains if they so desire. There’s long been speculation that Amazon or Netflix could get into the theatrical exhibition game by buying up a struggling theater chain, since both companies frequently work with filmmakers who still value and appreciate the theatrical experience and want movie theaters to be an option for audiences to see their films. But it sounds like Netflix won’t be investing in a chain of its own, so perhaps it’ll be content with continuing to give limited theatrical releases to top-tier movies from A-list directors.
But as Netflix continues to expand globally in its quest for world domination, it’s setting its sights especially high in one particular area: animation. “We want to beat Disney in family animation,” Hastings said. But he’s also well aware of the uphill road in front of them if they want to achieve that goal. “That’s going to take a while. I mean, they are really good at it. We’re both very focused on building out our animation group and, you know, it’s a friendly competition. We both want to do incredible stories for consumers and we want to be able to raise the bar in that area. We know that they will be a challenger and a competitor for the next 50 years.” So Netflix is playing the long game with this one. But with winners like The Little Prince, Klaus, and I Lost My Body under its belt, and Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio coming up next year, they’re off to a solid start.
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