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Ted Sarandos Backpedals on Day-and-Date Movies

5 Nov, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Ted Sarandos

Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos has backed away from comments he made last month to indie filmmakers suggesting the streaming service would like to greenlight movie productions earmarked for simultaneous theatrical and digital launches.

Speaking Nov. 4 at “The Business of Entertainment” confab in Los Angeles, Sarandos insisted he didn’t really mean to imply that offering new-release movies at the same time with theatrical was the only strategy to take.

Since Sarandos’ comments Oct. 26 at Film Independent Forum, the executive has reportedly met with John Fithian, president of National Association of Theater Owners — the latter stressing that theater operators would not condone screening titles released at the same time on Netflix.

“I wasn’t calling for day-and-date with Netflix,” Sarandos said. “I was calling to move all the windows up to get closer to what the consumer wants.”

Yet, advocating for day-and-date theatrical launches with digital is exactly what Sarandos said at Film Independent. He said Netflix’s strategy of offering all episodes of a series at launch was changing the way people watch TV. And extending that policy toward first-run movies, instead of artificially restricting consumer access in the home by several months makes sense.

“What we’re doing for television should extend pretty nicely to movies,” Sarandos said last month. “Why not premiere movies on Netflix the same day they’re opening in theaters? And why not big movies?”

The CCO said theater operators’ dogmatic approach toward release windows, including stifling all attempts to create a premium VOD market, is driving Netflix to consider producing major movies.

“The reason we may enter the space and release some big movies [via streaming], is that I’m concerned that as theater owners try and strangle innovation and distribution, not only are they going to kill theaters; they might kill movies,” Sarandos said. “Let’s give the consumers what they want [day-and-date movie streaming], and see if they turn out.”

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