The movie industry may be nearing an unprecedented change in the way it releases new films to the public. Streaming services like Nettflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have enjoyed a large growth in subscribers in the past few years; Netflix alone has gained over 71 million subscribers since 2011. Netflix has recently been making strides to profit from the $11 billion-dollar movie theater industry. The streaming service hired Scott Stuber in late March, the former vice chairman of worldwide production at Universal Pictures. Stuber has produced dozens of films like Ted and Battleship, and Netflix may be embarking on a new business plan with his hiring. The firm may be attempting to shake up the movie industry and have more producers create films that will release exclusively on Netflix and not in theaters.
Netflix has been wildly successful since it began releasing Netflix exclusive movies and shows. Multiple original Netflix films are among its most streamed movies according to a report by 7Park Data. Along with the hiring of Stuber, Netflix has renewed its contract with Adam Sandler to have him produce a total of eight original movies since 2014. Even Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese has agreed to release his next movie, The Irishman starring Robert De Niro, exclusively on Netflix. With these recent moves, the streaming giant seems to be attempting to directly appeal to theater-goers.
In the future could one see Netflix becoming the main source for new films to be released rather than theaters? Although possible, it will take years for this to happen. More and more people are subscribing to video streaming services, yet this has not negatively affected the movie theater industry, as 2016 was a record year in revenue brought in from theaters. Consumers still enjoy going out to the movies to watch a film in high quality with surround sound on a 50-foot screen. Phones, computers, and televisions just can’t compete with the quality that a movie theater supplies. However, the convenience of having these items in one’s home may just be enough to lead film producers to one day release exclusively on streaming services.
With a change this substantial to the way we watch movies, a new pricing policy could be possible for streaming services. Netflix’s current pricing policy constitutes a monthly fee ranging $7.99 to $11.99 in exchange for unlimited monthly viewing of 100s of movies and television shows. Despite the money saved from not purchasing overpriced candy at theaters, prices may increase for Netflix users if the company were to begin releasing typical theater blockbusters. The firm could create a “Netflix Premium” which would grant a user access to these blockbusters. Another option is a standard increase in the monthly price due to the expensive fee Netflix will pay for the exclusive rights of release. If Netflix decides to do a “pay-per-view” style, movie watchers may pay a price for each exclusive release watched.
Moves like the ones Netflix has been making may have the potential to put theaters out of business, as seen in its ability to put Blockbuster out of business. Although Netflix clearly has the power to accomplish this, it is highly unlikely that movie theaters will become obsolete anytime soon.