‘Glass Onion’ and ‘Matilda’ test Netflix’s approach to theatrical releases

'Glass Onion' and 'Matilda' test Netflix's approach to theatrical releases
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That enthusiasm was short-lived, snuffed out when Mr Sarandos underscored his commitment to streaming during last month’s earnings call.

Some of the big exhibitors were considering pulling out of the deal after his remarks, according to one of the people familiar with the inner workings of the company. They only stayed because they hoped a success story would change the way senior executives think. This helped Netflix spend a healthy budget on marketing ‘Glass Onion’, running ads during ‘Sunday Night Football’ and ‘Saturday Night Live’, and running the trailer in theaters ahead of shows. movies like “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and “Ticket to Heaven.”

“We want as many people as possible to see it in theaters,” Mr. Johnson, the director of “Glass Onion,” told The Hollywood Reporter this week of the film. “And then we want it to do incredibly well when it comes to Netflix — so a lot of people see it and so it shows everyone, especially Netflix, that those two things can co-exist.”

Mr. Sarandos’ thinking goes against what other top studio heads now believe.

“I’ve seen the data,” David Zaslav, managing director of Warner Media Discovery, said at a recent investor conference. “A movie that opens in theaters plays five times as well as a movie that you put straight to streaming.”

Yet releasing films in theaters is far from a sure thing these days. The U.S. box office is down about 32% from 2019, and the pandemic has dramatically changed movie-going habits. Older moviegoers haven’t yet returned to theaters in large numbers, and studios are making fewer movies, 36% fewer, in fact. An exponent said that if the big three streaming companies – Netflix, Amazon and Apple – released about 20 movies in theaters each year in total, that would help fill the gap and could potentially get the business back to a healthy place.

Until then, theater chains are hoping that releases like “Glass Onion” and “Matilda” will convince companies to try more like them.

“Hopefully ‘Glass Onion’, even though it’s a very limited release, will provide enough numbers that will definitely spark some interest in doing something more in the future, because they have movies incredible things to come,” Vue International’s Mr. Richards said. “They are moving slowly but hopefully there will be a change in mentality.”


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