Cinemas will lose the right to show films before they can be streamed, Netflix says

Laurence Dodds
·2-min read
Wonder Woman 1984  - Warner Bros
Wonder Woman 1984 - Warner Bros

Future blockbusters will be released in cinemas and on streaming services at the same time because it is "what consumers want", a Netflix executive has predicted.

Greg Peters, the online streaming giant's chief operating officer, said on Tuesday that moviegoers do not want to wait weeks to see films in theatres and will continue to demand simultaneous releases after the pandemic recedes.

Speaking at a virtual conference organised by Morgan Stanley, he said the cinema industry was only delaying the inevitable by trying to preserve its traditional privilege of showing films first.

Watch: Coronavirus takes toll on film industry

Cinema chains and Hollywood incumbents have been fighting for several years to preserve the "theatrical window", a period of exclusivity that once lasted six months but has been steadily shrinking since the turn of the millennium.

A bombshell decision by Warner Bros to release all its 2021 films immediately on HBO Max in the US drew backlash from actors, cinema bosses, the Directors' Guild of America and Warner Bros' own star director, Christopher Nolan, as well as a lawsuit threat from producers.

Asked by a moderator whether pandemic trends will continue, Mr Peters said: "Many of us at Netflix are huge fans of the theatrical experience; it's an amazing experience. But... the way we think about it is it should be consumer choice.

"We've been supporting [simultaneous] release for a long time, [and] maybe shorter theatrical windows. So I would say we're enthusiastic to see a shift in enabling more and more of that.

"It's what consumers want. At the end of the day, it's hard to buck that trend for too long, and I think that that's eventually where things go."

Watch: What to watch on Amazon Prime Video in March 2021