Netflix says it will ‘reinvigorate’ the movie business, but theatres may not play a part in its plan

‘Okja.’ Netflix

Netflix wants to reinvent movies in the same way it did TV, according to its Q2 earnings letter posted Monday.

In the letter, Netflix focused on the importance of shaking up the movie business, which has seen dwindling numbers of people going to theatres.

“Just as we changed and reinvented the TV business by putting consumers first and making access to content more convenient, we believe internet TV can similarly reinvigorate the film business (as distinct from the theatrical business),” Netflix’s letter read. “This year we will release 40 features that range from big budget popcorn films to grassroots independent cinema.”

That parenthetical implies that while Netflix has a plan to boost the movie business, the traditional movie theatre may or may not be part of it.

Netflix has sparred with old Hollywood over its release strategy, and commitment to having movies play online the same day they play in theatres. While its rival Amazon has played nice and respected the theatres by not streaming movies until the allotted 90 days after their theatrical run, Netflix has refused to do that. This has lead all the major movie chains to refuse to screen Netflix movies.

Most recently, Netflix’s model got folks at the Cannes Film Festival upset as two Netflix titles, “Ojka” and Noah Baumbach’s “The Meyerowitz Stories,” were added to this year’s esteemed competition lineup, though it was unclear if either title would play theatrically in France. The festival quickly announced that beginning in 2018, a film would only qualify for its competition lineup if it has a theatrical release in France.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings responded to the ruling on Facebook by characterising it as “the establishment closing ranks against us.”

In its Q2 letter, Netflix implies both that movies will be a big part of its future, and that it plans to disrupt the business — with or without the help of theatres.