Netflix wants to become a first-run distributor for movies—big ones, too, the summer blockbusters you go out to see. Only, these would be in the leisure of your own comfortable living room. No more bright smartphone screens or people talking right beside you in a crowded theater. That’s Netflix’s plan, anyway.
During a speech over the weekend, Netflix’s content boss Ted Sarandos explained the popular streaming service wants to deliver new movies the way it does so with original TV shows. Sarandos asked, “Why not premier movies on Netflix, the same day they’re opening in theaters?” The Netflix exec goes on to say the company wants to fulfill the consumers’ desire to watch content when and where they want. “Why not big movies?” Sarandos said.
The service actually has plans to dip into original movies, with first-runs including documentaries and stand-up comedies—a new comedy special from Aziz Ansari, Buried Alive, is set to hit Netflix on Nov. 1. If Sarandos has his way, Buried Alive will only be the beginning, and will hopefully extend to bigger releases that are normally exclusive to movie theaters. It’s already possible to see some Independent films through distributors such as Apple and Time Warner Cable before they hit theaters, but bigger budget films follow a “windowing” system, and any changes to that is vehemently opposed by theater owners. Not if Netflix has its way.
As AllThingsD notes, film studios are already flirting with the idea of getting big films through other distribution channels sooner rather than later, whether it be to DVD, Blu-Ray, or, in this case, Netflix. Chances are Sarandos and Netflix will have plenty of convincing to do before the formula is changed, so don’t expect the model to be any different over the next few years. But if—and this is a big if—Netflix can at some point start offering big box office movies same-day, it will no longer need to worry about whether or not premium cable channels such as HBO are a threat.