The times they are a changin’. But if you make your money out of the past, then you won’t be a fan of guys like Reed Hastings, the Netflix boss who is continuing to push the boundaries of film and TV distribution.
Appearing on some stage somewhere to talk about his business, Hastings was happy to share his view of how distribution ought to, and inevitably will, change.
“[it’s] inevitable that the current window system breaks down,” Hastings told Recode’s Peter Kafka. But rather than see the system butchered, Hastings believes there’s room for day-and-date releases on Netflix and cinema, for big titles.
“Just like you go out to dinner even though you know how to cook,” was his analogy. It’s not one we agree with here, because we have a huge TV and detest watching films in filthy multiplexes.
Hollywood has enjoyed a long, hugely-profitable set up over the last hundred or so years. The studios initially owned their own cinemas, but were finally forced to stop doing that in the late-40s, instead they supply their movies to a bunch of cinema chains who agree to show them, while making almost no money out of it (hence why you have to pay so much for popcorn and chocolate).
The cinema chains protect their exclusive windows vehemently. The likes of CineWorld and Odeon insist on having every theatrical release for 90 days before the moviemakers can start selling them through the home entertainment channels.
Any movie that dares to break the 90-day rule is either the kind of low-budget, low-quality title that ends up on Sky Store (they call it day and date), the kind that the chains don’t care about, or… well that’s it. Any half-decent movie that threatens to break the 90-day rule will be shunned by the cinemas entirely, depriving the studios of the big box office paycheque.
We can only hope that the envelope-pushing Netflix continue to piss Hollywood off, because they really are getting with the times.