Netflix has done very well of late and its original programming catalogue is giving even the most established cable providers pause for thought. Orange is the New Black and House of Cards have quickly become household names and it looks like Netflix intends to continue that success with original movies.
It seems that we are moving towards a new era of narrative film and television and that those mediums are becoming increasingly blurred. Consumers want to access media when and where it’s most convenient to them. In fact director Nicolas Winding Refn recently told Deadline that:
“Young people will decide how they see it, when they want to see it. Don’t try to fight it. Embrace it. That’s a wonderful opportunity.
We’re at the most exciting time since the invention of the wheel in terms of creativity, because distribution and accessibility have changed everything. A camera is still a camera whether it’s digital or not; there’s still sound; an actor is an actor. Ninety-nine percent of what you do is going to be seen on a smart phone.”
Hyperbole aside, the internet has democratised the way that we create and consume media and this is slowly being reflected in the distribution models of platforms like Netflix. The streaming service intends to deliver it’s own movie catalogue and further cement itself as a premium provider of great content.
Netflix has already shaken up the television landscape and now it looks set to challenge the traditional studio/indie production of feature films. The first original film to be released on the online platform is The Weinstein Company-produced sequel “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: The Green Dragon.” The film will be released on both Netfilix and in Imax Theatres simultaneously.
This won’t be the only movie from Netflix and the service intends to develop and release several movies following this model. But the question really is can Netflix deliver the type of high budget entertainment people expect from the cinema? Television is a much easier medium to create content for and it can be much cheaper to produce. The film industry often relies heavily on distribution sales so it remains to be seen if Netflix can adapt the very entrenched film/studio relationship and succeed.
According to THR those doubts are also shared by Regal Cinemas. They have 86 IMAX screens and are currently refusing to take part in the new Netflix paradigm.
“At Regal Cinemas, presenting movies on a grand scale is our promise to movie fans as we work to continually enhance the moviegoing experience.
While a home video release may be simultaneously performing in certain IMAX locations, at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3” wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.”
Perhaps this speaks of Regal Cinema’s desire for integrity or perhaps it says something more about the company feeling challenged by this new approach to cinema. Regardless though Regal Cinema is only one voice in this conversation and it seems likely that the majority of consumers will ensure that Netflix does very well.