(Editor’s Note: This started as an exchange between Greg Marcus (@greglovesmovies), Julia Alexander (@loudmouthjulia), Entertainment Strategy Guy (@EntStrategyGuy), and myself. I decided it was worth putting together as an editorial from the guy who is CEO of Marcus Corp, which owns the
Here’s the thing. They don’t have a 30 day window. They have aspired to a real theatrical for years now and haven’t been able to get Ted on board to spend on marketing… the only reason it hasn’t happened. Not insane. Marketing is very expensive and isn’t their core mission. It has nothing to do with paying out more on theatrical.
They have been at 600 before, so they aren’t adding theaters… they got AMC to 4-wall some screens for them.
And no, there are no magical secret numbers that make this make any more sense. This is Netflix’s thing. Irrelevant to everyone else’s choice. And changing dramatically in the next year.
There is a reason why Netflix is trying new things now. Subs are flat. Stick pride is down 70%. Ads will be an interesting new journey. And they really only have one film that could have been a sure-fire theatrical hit. Glass Onion. They didn’t hit the gas. And that is their prerogative.
I don’t listen to internet buzz. It’s hysterical and usually misguided. Happy you reported on this is August, but it wasn’t news to Netflix. They are proud of their long theatrical window for Bardo and White Noise and have been trying to do more for others.
Glass Onion is not a successful attempt at theatrical. It’s the best they were allowed.
You may think it’s a win. Your right. But there is no nuts and bolts argument that makes it so. They have had a remarkable year of content popularity. And subs are flat. Subs, until ads settle in, are all that matters.
I've had this discussion a number of times (with some of the people above) and I have two thoughts. A theatrical release makes a lot of sense if you have a movie a bunch of people are going to want to see in the movie theater. Even pre-pandemic, that list is increasingly shorter. Big IP, genres like horror. Sure, I can see the argument for a theatrical release.
But the thing that gets lost in this discussion is that there is a customer acquisition cost for new subscribers, and it's increasing substantially in mature markets like the U.S. If a streamer could make $20 million on a modest theatrical release after marketing costs and profit points, but keeping it a streaming exclusive provides that much (or more) marketing/sub acquisition/reduced churn, then not releasing it to theaters makes sense. And the economics of doing a theatrical release is much different a streaming-only release. A theatrical box office has to be shared with various participants, and to be honest, I don't think there is a way for us to judge any of this from the outside.
The core argument for a theatrical release - especially from the people who believe most movies should be released first in a theater - is that streaming executives are too dense or too set in their ways to pursue a big revenue stream. My experience has been that streaming executives are willing to do all sorts of unpopular things if it brings in more revenue. So maybe they know something we don't?
Excellent editorial. You make it very simple and valuable to remind us of these very basic concepts. Part of the survival of movie theaters is for Studios to stop increasing film rental percentages. The industry needs an average in the lower fifties.
I think the industry can do a better job on discussing this topic in public.