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Are Theater Owners Going to ‘Kill Movies’? Watch This Contentious Keynote Address From Netflix’s Ted Sarandos

Are Theater Owners Going to 'Kill Movies'? Watch This Contentious Keynote Address From Netflix's Ted Sarandos

Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos gave a very interesting, attention-grabbing keynote address at the 2013 Film Independent Forum this weekend in which he spoke about changing business models in the film and television industry. Sarandos suggested that the reason TV has been in ascendance in terms of quality and attention is that the current studio and theatrical releasing model of “antiquated windows” has led to movies “becoming these cold spectacles that have to be sold around the world in order to recoup these huge marketing and production budgets.”

Sarandos in particular called out movie theater owners about their resistance to the idea of day-and-date releasing of films on Netflix’s streaming service, something the company has great interest in and believes makes more business sense for studios. “Theater owners stifle this kind of innovation at every turn. The reason why we may enter this space and try to release some big movies ourselves this way is because I’m concerned that as theater owners try to strangle innovation and distribution. Not only are they going to kill theaters — they might kill movies.”

Netflix has had a momentous year with its original series, and in addition to doubling those efforts in 2014, the company has announced its interest in producing films of its own — and obviously, it’s not afraid to be frank with its desires to shake up current models. You can watch Sarandos’ speech from yesterday in its entirety online below.

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Anne DeAcetis

John Fithian of the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO) came out swinging like crazy on this, accusing Sarandos/Netflix of being the ones who want to kill the movies… Of course, Fithian would rather swat at Sarandos than deal with the actual problem: the tragic lousiness of the in-theatre movie experience. Read my open letter to him here:

Bob Giovanelli

That was a "contentious" address? It was strong, it was thought-provoking, but from that headline I was half expecting to hear boos and a few catcalls. Seemed pretty civil to me.


Ted is right on point. We need to stop holding on to these old models, just because people tell us this is the way distribution needs to be. We are in a new era and we as filmmakers need to break the mold.


The so-called ascendancy of TV is over-hyped. Even the best of these shows only equals or surpasses the lower rungs of mainstream movies. There's nothing really daring or exciting along the lines of Twin Peaks. It still conforms to the strict guidelines of popular entertainment in the US- meaning, the pivot is almost always sex, violence, or questionable politics. That being said, movies obviously have their own problems to contend with.


His analysis is self-serving, but he's right that things are changing. Everyone needs to come to terms with the way consumers are watching now and the direction things are moving in the future.


Just another widget salesman


here's what's killing movie theaters: 3-D (except Gravity) Poor audience behavior, souless mulitplexes that make you feel like cattle to slaughter, endless commercials (for TV shows, no less), endless trailers (before Gravity in IMAX, there were 8 [!] trailers; a week later I can only remember 2), overpriced junk food (pancakes? really?), texting, email, "Large Format Screens (I'm talking about you, RPX) that are nothing more than an excuse to tack on a couple of bucks to regular admission rates, 3-D (except gravity), random acts of violence and the list goes on and on and on and…

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