It looks like IMAX may be getting into the streaming business to maximize original content from Netflix, Amazon, and other platforms. IMAX CEO Richard Gelfond says that he is in “active talks” with all of the platforms to figure out a way to “super-size” their new releases. Movie theater attendance is at a 25-year low, and many blame the popularity of streaming platforms for the decline, especially since they have been creating their own big budget original content.
Though streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have been pulling amazing talent for their original content, Richard Gelfond says that “there’s not an opening day,” for streaming films, and says that one of the best ways to experience these potential blockbusters in an IMAX theater. Gelfond went on to say that “it’s inevitable that these big blockbusters that people are spending all this money on”, are going to make it to the big screen, so why not make it an awesome IMAX experience when doing so?
Netflix was recently banned from the Cannes Film Festival this year since their original content is relegated to limited screenings. Hurting matters for theaters is the fact that Netflix debuts their original content through their platform first, and then holds premieres. There has been talk of the streaming giant purchasing its own theaters, but it’s unclear how successful that endeavor would be. Viewers pay a few bucks a month and can watch a lot of original content from the comfort of their own home, but Richard Gelfond thinks that people are willing to get an experience for something that cost the platform an arm and a leg to create.
Richard Gelfond may be right for a certain number of cinema fans, but recent IMAX screenings of Marvel’s Inhumans didn’t go so well. Granted, that’s a TV series, but it’s debatable whether or not people will pay to go see Netflix and Amazon original content in a theater when they can watch it earlier and from home. If IMAX can get exclusive premieres, ahead of the stream street dates, they might have a select number of fans who make it out to the theater to see a special screening.
IMAX is definitely the place to go to immerse yourself in a film, but it often comes with a pretty hefty price tag as well. However, it’s only a matter of time before Netflix and Amazon start to utilize IMAX cameras in an effort to bring people into theaters for an experience, as opposed to watching a movie on their tablets, laptops, or large flat screen TVs. With that being said, it will still be a small group that heads over to the nearest theater to experience something that they can watch in bed for a fraction of the cost. The Hollywood Reporter was the first to announce a possible agreement between streaming platforms and IMAX theaters.