Movie Theater Owners to Beleaguered Netflix: ‘Our Door Is Open’

Movie Theater Owners to Beleaguered Netflix: ‘Our Door Is Open’

The trade organization representing American movie theater owners isn’t gloating about Netflix’s recent stock misfortunes — they’re opening their arms, they say.

At CinemaCon, the annual Las Vegas convention of theatrical exhibitors, leadership from the National Association of Theatre Owners touched on Netflix’s recent subscriber losses and subsequent jaw-dropping $54 billion loss in market cap.

Netflix’s sign of softening brought a screeching halt to the prevailing industry logic that going all-in on streaming investment was the way to please shareholders. While some speculated this would benefit traditional theatrical releases, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav sweetened the pot on Tuesday morning by saying he was less inclined “to really collapse the entire motion picture business on streaming.”

NATO president and CEO John Fithian smiled at a Tuesday press conference following his State of the Industry address, and admitted to his bias.

“I represent the movie theater owners,” Fithian said in praise of Zaslav’s comments, “but Netflix? We love those guys. Ted Sarandos knows movies and TV better than anyone else in Hollywood. He’s crazed about his content.”

Less than a decade ago, the movie theater owners revolted at the idea of concurrent streaming and theatrical releases. Slowly but surely, they’ve warmed to limited theatrical runs of Netflix content (largely for Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” and other awards qualifying runs). Fithian said the exhibitors would be open to playing some of Netflix’s movies on a broader scale.

“Our door is open for bigger, broader play of Netflix movies if that is a path they want to go down,” Fithian concluded. “They’re movie fans like we’re movie fans.”

Nearly a week ago, Netflix shares plummeted to their lowest point since January 2018 as investors reacted to the streamer’s first subscriber loss in more than a decade. Their upcoming movies include Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans’ “The Gray Man,” Ana de Armas’ “Blonde,” Adam Sandler’s “Hustle” and Jennifer Lopez’s “The Mother.” 

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