As you’ve probably heard, Netflix is going to be releasing one of the first original movies on the service this month when Beasts of No Nation starts streaming October 16th.
This is a bold step for cinema, as rather than a mass release, the film will head instantly to Netflix. Normally this would seem like a negative, reminiscent of the ‘straight to DVD’ days of years prior, where after production everyone involved on the project realizes the failure and keeps the damage to a minimum while still trying to recoup some cost.
But this is quite different. Netflix actively sought out a major win like this, and found its opportunity with Beasts of No Nation.
Director Cary Fukunaga has stated Beasts never really had much of a chance for a wide release, but commented in an interview with Vulture that he still was hoping there would be a way for folks to see Beasts in the theater. Then he started talking about the possibility of Netflix movie theaters, and our ears instantly perked up.
At the end of the day, as personal home technology continues to improve, TVs get bigger, sound systems get louder and theaters keep getting more expensive, there’s certainly an incentive to stay home for all our entertainment. But even with that in mind, it’s still an experience to actually go to the theater. Something about seeing a movie on the big screen is still worth the trouble, at least on occasion, and if more and more movies release directly to Netflix, a small part of the whole experience disappears.
From the interview, Fukunaga offers an alternative:
My excitement comes from the idea of convincing Netflix to open up cinemas that they can four-wall. It’s basically free advertisement for their streaming service, and I think people would love to see a lot of their stuff on the big screen. I would’ve loved to have gone to see House of Cards or something in a theater. I mean, True Detective is great to watch on a big screen. I screened the first episode for my friends in New York at the Jane, and to watch it with a group was so much fun.
It’s an interesting concept. Could Netflix releases thrive in a theater setting? What if these “Netflix theaters” were more affordable than the traditional AMC/Regal/Lowes of the world, instead using them as a loss leader to promote Netflix subscriptions? Certainly a long shot but seems like an idea worth entertaining.
For those without Netflix subscriptions, you will still be able to see Beasts of No Nation in your local independent theaters, at least in some areas and for a limited run. The film is poised to get some nominations for awards (we’re betting it sees a few Oscar nods), so it must adhere to at least a minimal theatrical release schedule.