Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos delivered the Executive Keynote address at the 9th annual Film Independent Forum Saturday at the Director Guild Theatre. In the video below, he does not hesitate to target the major studios and theater chains for not seeing things the way he thinks they should.
Sarandos attacks exhibitors for refusing to innovate, going so far as to suggest that they “might kill movies.” He also exhorts the studios to release their movies on Netflix concurrent with their release in theaters.
“Why not premiere movies on Netflix the same day they’re opening in theaters? And not little movies. There’s a lot of people and a lot of ways to do that. But why not big movies?
He blamed theater owners for not getting behind the premium VOD model, for resisting any digital release that would compete with their windows. (In fact it's up to independent theaters and distributors to experiment with these models.)
Why not follow with the consumer’s desire to watch things when they want, instead of spending tens of millions of dollars to advertise to people who may not live near a theater, and then make them wait for four or five months before they can even see it? They’re probably going to forget.”
“Theater owners stifle this kind of innovation at every turn. The reason why we may enter this space and try to release some big movies ourselves this way, is because I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution, not only are they going to kill theaters–they might kill movies.”
He was tougher on theater owners than studios, who are after all are his suppliers and partners: “I don’t blame the studios for what they’re doing and I don’t fault them, because the studios are always trying to innovate."
Sarandos examines the bottom line statistics from the recent studio spending spree that yielded less than stellar return on investment for the summer box office. Meanwhile Netflix is soaring with more than 31.1 million subscribers as it plans to double its spending on original content such as "Orange is the New Black" and "House of Cards," which is winding up shooting Season Two and may return for another go, he suggested.