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Netflix Considering Theatrical Releases — in France

26 Apr, 2017 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Netflix is discovering that sometimes being a disruptor has its limits — especially when awards are at stake.

The SVOD pioneer said it is considering releasing original movies in theaters in France to abide by rules associated with content submitted to the Cannes Film Festival.

The move would represent a departure of sorts for Netflix, which heretofore has made original movies on launch date simultaneously available for streaming and theatrical consumption. That strategy has resulted in most domestic theater chains skipping Netflix titles, and Netflix, in turn, skipping theatrical distribution.

The French National Cinema Federation earlier this month called on Netflix to debut nominated original movies The Meyerowitz Stories and Okja in local theaters — a requirement of the competition.

In a media statement, Netflix said it is exploring day-and-date distribution of the movies in France theatrically (limited) and streaming. The company reiterated CCO Ted Sarandos’ longstanding claim that improved distribution options have made possible watching movies anywhere and anytime.

“We are certain that French film lovers do not want to see these films three years after the rest of the world,” Netflix said.

But consumer access is not really the issue. Netflix’s ubiquitous approach to distribution upends an industry foodchain predicated on windowed releases, a tradition that underscores the box office and home entertainment markets.

That said, Netflix is not above tradition, recognizing the theatrical component of the industry awards process.

“We are thrilled to explore any and all options that will give these films an opportunity to be viewed by as large an audience as possible, on a variety of screens, because similar to French exhibitors, we want to continue to contribute to the development and financing of films,” the company said.

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