The Weinstein Company and Netflix’s announcement that they would premier next year’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon II: The Green Destiny on the streaming service the same day as it appears in theaters may have made those interested in seeing the film but who live in areas where its theatrical release might not reach but it has angered a number of theater chains who have declared that they will not book the film for their auditoriums.
AMC, Cinemark, Regal, Carmike, Canada’s Cineplex, and Europe’s Cineworld have stated that they will not book Crouching Tiger II if the Weinstein Company bypasses the traditional minimum three-month exclusivity window for the theatrical screening of major motion pictures before they become available through any other distribution outlet.
The responses from the theater chains various spokespersons (via Variety) were unsurprisingly condescending.
For example, Reagl Theater’s Russ Nunley disparaged the plan by casting aspersions on the film and how people consume streaming content.
While a homevideo release may be simultaneously performing in certain Imax locations, at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3-inch wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.
It should come as no surprise that the theater chains are pushing back on this plan. Historically, they have always resisted the idea of simultaneous releasing across multiple platforms, most notably back in 2011 when Universal wanted to experiment with the idea with the release of the film Tower Heist.
But I think that theaters have to realize that any patrons have abandoned going to movies in favor of staying at home. Home theater systems are becoming more affordable, and they deliver a near cinematic experience without many of the hassles of going to an actual theater. While theaters aren’t responsible for things such as the cost of hiring a babysitter so parents can have an evening out, concession prices, the non-policing of auditoriums to expel disruptive patrons and other distractions are well within their control and maybe by addressing those issues, they might not find themselves worrying about declining audience numbers.