NATO President and CEO John Fithian was greeted with applause at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this morning when he said that movies “should reach their full potential in theaters before heading to the home.”
“There’s no doubt that home entertainment consumption moves toward streaming more with each passing day. As large media companies look to establish direct relationships with consumers through streaming platforms –and the options grow in the home grow– competition for directors and stars who want their work on the big screen will only intensify.”
“There is nothing revolutionary about movies skipping theaters,” said Fithian.
“How does any given movie stand out among choices in the home? A robust theatrical release…which provides a prestige release that can’t be replaced,” said the NATO boss.
“Theatrical exhibition is the keystone of this industry and there is no replacement for the impact of a breakout hit,” said Fithian. “Theatrical and streaming are two completely different experiences and each have their own places.”
Fithian’s comments here come at a time when Netflix is pondering a wider theatrical release for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman. In order to do that the streamer will need the help of the big three circuits – AMC, Cinemark and Regal.
While Roma played a consortium of art house theaters, distribution executives who’ve distributed day-and-date or limited theatrical/VOD releases told Deadline that at best Netflix, if skipping the big three exhib chains, could score a 500-theater run for any theatrical release.
Like MPAA Boss Charles Rivkin before him, Fithian gave a shoutout for diversity on the big screen.
“Diversity is a key driver,” said Fithian. “Moviegoers sent a clear message that they want to see themselves on the big screen, represented by well-rounded characters. There is still room for progress but we are encouraged by studios and content creators.”