Netflix announced it was reopening Manhattan‘s Paris Theatre indefinitely, and is making it into “a home for special Netflix events, screenings, and theatrical releases.” The theater currently hosts a limited run of Netflix Original Marriage Story. So yeah, the company that’s disrupting the tradition of theatrical film releases is now in the theater business.
Netflix revealed it’d signed a lease agreement to “save the beloved institution” which it praised as “a symbol of prestige cinema.” Ted Sarandos, Netflix‘s CCO, said, “After 71 years, the Paris Theatre has an enduring legacy, and remains the destination for a one-of-a kind movie-going experience. We are incredibly proud to preserve this historic New York institution so it can continue to be a cinematic home for film lovers.”
Films are becoming a big business for Netflix, which has traditionally focused more on the television side. Between The Irishman, Marriage Story, Dolemite is My Name, The King, and American Son, Netflix is making a big attempt to compete with prestigious film studios like Fox Searchlight and A24. Still, that doesn’t mean Netflix is ignoring blockbusters. In 2019, competing with companies like Disney means having blockbusters that capture people’s attention. Netflix having a theater means that movies like 6 Underground, Netflix’s Ryan Reynolds-starring movie that looks similar to Universal’s Fast and Furious franchise, could play at a theater. Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, told investors last month that Netflix is getting more ambitious with its film slate.
Netflix needs its movies to play for at least seven days in a theater in order to garner award nominations (hence what happened with Roma last year). The company has numerous films it sees as Oscar award contenders, and those have received limited release windows. Owning smaller theaters across the country could help Netflix play their own films for as long as they want, while also simultaneously releasing those titles on the streaming service, to appease both subscribers and talent.