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Netflix Opens Brick and Mortar Movie Theater, Building its Classic Image “Marking its Territory”?

▲ Netflix leases 70s old cinema “Paris Theatre” in New York to show its own movies causing a huge external buzz (Source of the photo: official Netflix Film twitter page)

The saga between Netflix and the traditional entertainment industry, various major film festivals, and brick-and-mortar theaters are well-known. For instance, Cannes Festival in France publicly refused to include Netflix in the festival, while Netflix posted a long response saying that we are the future of of cinema, and if Cannes is choosing to be stuck in the history of cinema, that’s fine. CEO Reed Hastings even publicly stated that movie theaters are strangling the movie business.

What is even more shocking is that the “theater killer” is actually starting to run movie theaters! Netflix announced in November that it will be leasing the Paris Theatre on fifth avenue in New York City, where the Netflix original movie “Marriage Story” is currently released.

▲ Netflix original movie “Marriage Story” is currently released on fifth avenue in New York. (Photo source: Official Netflix Film twitter page)  

▲ Netflix founder and current CEO Reed Hasintings had once openly criticized Traditional movie theaters for lacking any innovation.

What is your impression of Netflix as a normal viewer? The convenience of many carriers, great cost–performance ratio, and high image quality. The Netflix experience receives consistent good reviews. If we were to talk about Netflix original content, that would be a bit more messy.

In recent years, Netflix has not spare any funding for original content, which has often been criticized for its uneven quality. The company has shown its aggressive ambition towards various major film festivals. On the Oscar Awards in early 2019, the black-and-white drama “Roma” won Best Cinematography, Best Foreign Picture, and Best Director. Despite the indicative victory, it is still difficult for Netflix to shake off the general public’s impression of being a “series provider” and “binge-watching tool”.

Who represents film classics?

While it is convenient to watch movies at home, the silver screen viewing experience is irreplaceable. There are also various elements in the cinema such as the paper ticket, dating, the smell of popcorn,… which have become intrinsic cultural symbols over the past hundred years. Even if our rationale cannot differentiate the two, our sensible mind still thinks that we must go through the “movie theater ceremony” to see a “real movie”.  Netflix disregards the rules above to create a brand new viewing habit and business model. All the five major American movie companies have a history of nearly one hundred years. Netflix is only over 20 years old, a truly young company.  But wouldn’t it be too superficial if we deem this a standoff with “traditional/class movie cultures” because of this?

A new interpretation of purpose of brick-and-mortar movie theaters

Netflix’s main original content movies such as the 2019 award-winning “Roma” and the 2020 Oscar competitor “The Irishman” are even more artistic realism and tougher than the general public blockbusters in the traditional American film industry. The actual theater space today is also a rescue operation for a 70 year-old theater in danger of shutdown. This must be a huge plus in the hearts of young American cultural film buffs.

Netflix has always loudly declared itself to be “the future of movies”. What is the company’s purpose in going backwards and running a movie theater?

Many major movie awards require a movie to be shown in a theater to be eligible to enter. The outsiders mostly interpret Netflix’s action as being its own boss and showing its own movies considering that it is not compatible with regular movie theaters.

However, maybe Netflix wants its viewers to judge them under the same conditions through this brick-and-mortar movie theater, so viewers will see that Netflix original movies are not inferior to other movies. During this period right before the streaming content war begins, Netflix is marking its own brick-and-mortar territory to let the world know: “Not only are we the future, but we are the classic.”

▲ Photo source: Official Netflix Film twitter page  

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