Netflix Says They Won't Buy a Theater Chain (But Will Dominate Elsewhere)

The pandemic has us all relying on Netflix, and they know it. 

I cannot think of a button I've pressed more while stuck in quarantine than the one that brings Netflix to my TV. It feels like the company holds my comfort, my hopes and dreams hostage. My comfort and my hopes and dreams rest in their catalog right now. 

That's a pretty good position of power. 

Netflix is dominating the industry. They'll have a ton of new movies this fall, with notable awards contenders like Mank and The Trial of the Chicago 7, and fun family movies like Adam Sandler's Hubie Halloween

They are truly kicking ass. And they know it. 

“We want to beat Disney in family animation,” says Netflix CEO Reed Hastings when asked what area of programming he felt that the streaming giant, which releases hundreds of titles around the world each year, has yet to master. “That’s going to take a while. I mean, they are really good at it.”

Hastings sat down with The Hollywood Reporter and talked about the future of his company. He describes his role at Netflix as “sort of a cheerleader and coach, rather than executive decider.”

“You gotta earn your job every year at Netflix,” says Hastings. “We really model ourselves on professional sports and trying to assemble the championship team.”

These are big words, but what is Netflix actually doing behind the scenes? 

Well, they are still learning, which makes them different than the studios, but they are trying to be the same. 

Hastings says "The thing that many studios are able to do is create great franchises. We’re making great progress on that with Stranger Things and other properties, but compared to Harry Potter and Star Wars, we’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got a super exciting project, Three Body Problem, we just announced that David Benioff and D.B. Weiss are producing for us. That has great potential. So, we’re getting there and we’re learning things bit by bit."

But it's not just about franchises, with famous people turning to Netflix with their passion projects, and the new rules about Academy Award movies needing to have theatrical distribution. Many have speculated that Netflix would be among the studios to buy its own distribution chain. 

But Hastings says not so fast...

"We don’t want anyone to abandon the theaters, we just want consumers to have choice," Hastings continued, "I can’t see us doing a chain or expanding in theatrical. 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."

So, how do they expand? 

The answer lies in what they want to add. Like animation. 

"We want to beat Disney in family animation. 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."

One thing is for certain, Netflix is determined to make moves more indicative of where entertainment is going, and not where it's been. 

Where would you like to see them expand? 

Let us know in the comments.      

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1 Comment

Still, I think theater chains should have talks with Netflix, also.
Might even get more popularity and interest.
Sort of an interesting concept, no offense. I just thought it would be a good idea.
Plus, maybe some animated miniseries, but other companies should at least try a concept like that, too. Warner Bros, Disney, Universal, Netflix, Amazon, Apple TV, Hulu, etc. The reason? Animation needs to evolve.

September 10, 2020 at 10:25PM, Edited September 10, 10:26PM

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Jesse J. Tripp
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