Netflix executive Ted Sarandos riles theater owners with speech


Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of Netflix, might want to bring his own popcorn and soda the next time he goes to the movies or think about hiring a food taster if he decides to try his luck at the concession stand.

During a speech at the 2013 Film Independent Forum, Sarandos blasted movie theater owners while trying to make the case to movie studios that Netflix should get films the same time they debut on the big screen.

“Why not premeire movies on Netflix the same day they’re opening in theaters?” Sarandos asked. “Listen to the consumer, give the consumer what they want.”


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Theater owners, Sarandos said, are what is holding that scenario up and a reason Netflix is thinking about making its own movies.

“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,” Sarandos said.

In making his case, Sarandos argued that “every new technology that was going to kill the movie business has grown the movie business.”

Theater owners were, as expected, less than thrilled with the speech. Many feel that one reason they are so challenged now is that the window between when they have a movie and when it goes to Netflix and elsewhere is already too short and taking away the incentive for people to go to the movies.

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Indeed, John Fithian, president of the National Assn. of Theater Owners, made some of those points in an interview about Sarandos’ speech with the industry blog Deadline Hollywood.

“Subscription movie services and cheap rentals killed the DVD business, and now Sarandos wants to kill the cinema as well,” Fithian said, adding that the only ones who would benefit from Sarandos proposal is Netflix.

Perhaps the theater owners should ask Netflix if it would mind if the producer of “Orange Is the New Black” let CBS carry the show at the same time it debuts on the streaming service, just so no one is left out.

After all, not everyone has Netflix.

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Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.