National Association of Theater Owners president and CEO John Fithian said theater operators are open to playing Netflix movies if the streamer wants to monetize their original movies.
His comments came at CinemaCon, where film companies tout their upcoming slates to exhibitors. The Las Vegas convention comes days after streaming growth — the bane of exhibitors — was thrown into turmoil when Netflix said it lost 200,000 subscribers in the first quarter.
And on Monday, the new head of Warner Bros. Discovery’s David Zaslav said on an earnings call that the conglomerate wouldn’t “spend too much” to ensure streaming subscriber growth. Rather, the studio’s integrated streaming platforms will “complement” existing, traditional TV and movie platforms like Warner Bros. movies and TV series. and HBO.
Asked about Zaslav’s comments at a press conference, Fithian said, “Zaslav has defined what it means to have a movie in theaters. This is blowing up the domestic market.
For years, Netflix refused to conform to a traditional theatrical release. “We love these guys [Netflix]. [Co-CEO] Ted Sarandos knows movies and TV better than anyone in Hollywood. Our doors are open to give Netflix movies a wider play. We would love to play more of their movies,” Fithian said.
Currently, Netflix movies are generally not shown on major channels. One exception is Cinemark, which showed titles like actor Dwayne Johnson red notice.
Motion Picture Association President Charles Rivkin said he couldn’t comment on the matter because its member companies include both studios and Netflix. “Each company has its own strategy,” Fithian said.
During his speech at the annual gathering of theater owners, Fithian took direct aim at the conglomerates’ daily releases. “I’m happy to report that co-publishing is dead as a serious business model, and piracy is what killed it,” Fithian said. “When a blank copy of a movie gets online and spreads, it has a very detrimental impact on our industry.”
Meanwhile, Rivkin pointed out how rampant piracy is for movies that are released simultaneously on streaming and in theaters. In his remarks, Rivkin noted that he was “encouraged by our progress in this ongoing fight against piracy, and I am also encouraged by the surges we are currently seeing at the global box office. These current box office successes show that moviegoers still appreciate the sanctity and social intoxication of shared space.