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Netflix originals will now screen in movie theaters the same day they start streaming

Brittany Martin

We’ve all been there. You kind of want to go out in the world—but then again, there’s also all those Netflix shows you could be catching up on at home. You may now be able to do both at once thanks to a new deal between Netflix and the iPic movie theater chain. The agreement will give iPic exclusive theatrical rights to show Netflix original films, with releases timed to hit the big screen the same day they go up for streaming.

Not everyone thinks this is such a great idea. The L.A. Times reports that the National Association of Theater Owners is none too happy about this arrangement. They’ve pushed back against Netflix before, like when the brand wanted their film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny to play in IMAX movie theaters on the same day it arrived on the streaming platform, encouraging most of their member screens to decline the offer. Mainstream cinema owners think it’s very important to preserver the traditional gap between theatrical release and the ability to watch a film at home.

If exclusivity is the only way to push movie tickets, then what’s in the deal for iPic, where tickets to see a movie at their Pasadena and Westwood theaters can run $32 for a peak-time show? They’re banking that the luxury cinema experience they offer will be enough to get people out to enjoy a buzzy Netflix original that they could otherwise watch at home. The small chain has also brought legal action against bigger cinema chain players Regal and AMC—both members of the National Association of Theater Owners—claiming they use their size to block out indie chains from the Hollywood distribution pipeline. 

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