Netflix May Buy Its First Movie Theater
Netflix has a weird relationship with movie theaters, which are both an institution they need (a movie can’t be nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award if it only plays on streaming) and also their direct competition. That’s why this story, via Deadline, is so intriguing. They claim Netflix is “in preliminary talks” to purchase the Egyptian Theatre, one of Los Angeles’ most beloved repertory houses, from its current owner, the American Cinematheque. Deadline says the move...
...will put Netflix in good standing with the Hollywood cinephile community as the disruptive streaming company helps to preserve one of Hollywood’s landmark movie theaters and its long tradition. It is also putting the non-profit American Cinematheque on firmer financial footing in the process.
The Egyptian Theatre, first built in 1922, is one of the country’s oldest movie houses, and its programming by the American Cinematheque is top notch. (The exterior entrance and courtyard, with its original Egyptian motif, is also cool as hell.) According to Deadline’s report, Netflix would “program its screenings for weekday nights while the Cinematheque runs screenings, lectures and occasional festivals on weekends on an autonomous basis.”
If that’s how the arrangement shakes out, and it enables the Cinematheque to continue into the future, that’s good. Netflix’s own streaming library is painfully light on classic Hollywood material, and if this partnership helps that, all the better as well. But what does it mean for Netflix’s future as a movie exhibitor? Will they buy more theaters that will allow them to screen their movies before they go to streaming? The way this arrangement is described sounds like a perfect metaphor for the way theaters and streaming services are trying to co-exist in the same space right now. How it works out for all parties remains to be seen.
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