As Netflix plots theatrical releases for its awards season fare such as Alfonso Cuaron’s upcoming Roma, and festivals like Cannes debate playing streaming movies, National Association of Theaters chief John Fithian said today, “The movie door is open to Netflix.”

Essentially if the streaming giant wants to take advantage of the exclusive theatrical window, they may do so. Currently, Netflix is planning qualifying theatrical week runs for Roma, The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Paul Greengrass’ 22 July. While the buzz is that these pics will stream at the same time as their week theatrical run, they are not day and date theatrical releases rather limited to a 10-12 theater big city runs. Roma may get an extended run, but keeping a Dolby Atmos theater during Christmas remains the trick.

“Streaming has been great this year and we’ve had a great year at the box office, both can co-exist,” said Fithian concurring with Cineplex exhibition president CEO Ellis Jaocb who said that in the wake of a great box office year that’s paced to best $11 billion “streaming can live at the same time as big movie theaters”. AMC boss Adam Aron at CinemaCon asserted the same philosophy, it’s not either or for moviegoers especially in a year that’s delivered record openings in Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War. They’re enjoying and consuming both without a Sophie’s Choice.

The panel which included 20th Century Fox Domestic Distribution president Chris Aronson, The Front Runner producer Helen Estabrook and Oscar-winning filmmaker Sebastian Lelio (last year’s foreign language winner A Fantastic Woman), emphasized that despite all the disruptions throughout the decades to cinema going, moviegoers still want to commune and see movies outside the living room.

Jacob did say that if you have ask the audience how many saw the last original Netflix movie, “a dozen people may raise their hand, but if you ask if they saw Mission: Impossible -Fallout, Avengers, or Crazy Rich Asians, I’m sure many people have seen it. The buzz is created through that cinema channel. It’s a $40 billion industry, $11.5 billion made in North America and it’s not going away any time soon.”

Jacob has been a progressive exhibitor up here in Canada. His chain has been quite successful with the $19.95 Super Ticket which allows moviegoers to buy a ticket to a movie and its ultimate digital download at the same time. There was a point in time when studios were all the rage about PVOD when an experiment was going to take place up here in Canada at Cineplex.

In emphasizing the high stakes of the theatrical business, Aronson emphasized that audiences “have no tolerance for subpar films. If a film is made for some reason and there isn’t an audience for it, they’re not going to consume it, nor are they going to consume it in the ancillary market. The challenge for all theatrical content is to make movies that people want to see. If you give them what they want, they will go.”

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