Netflix has taken over the lease for the Paris Theatre in New York. The Paris Theatre is a historic and photogenic single-screen cinema in midtown Manhattan and is commonly regarded as a New York institution that has survived for 71 years but had recently shut down operations in August this year.

The theatre had been suffering from poor revenues largely due to its poor programming choices over what shows to screen. It had picked arthouse films which were not talked about in the cinephile community and had also refused to screen repertory titles that are iconic of New York, like ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’.

Netflix saved the cinema from being shut down, with Netflix’s chief content officer declaring that they are very proud to be able to preserve the historic site. They will now be able to use it for special events like premieres, or to recruit directors who desire to have an opening night vibe instead of just a launch on the streaming platform.

Read the full article on The Guardian: What does the first official Netflix cinema mean for Hollywood?

Analysis:

It is ironic that the company which made it so convenient to watch movies at home is now taking over ownership of a cinema. Why might Netflix want a cinema in its arsenal besides its stated goal of preserving a historic New York institution?

With a cinema, Netflix strengthens its bid for Oscar awards. Steven Spielberg has lobbied the Oscar awards to require Netflix to release its films exclusively in cinemas for 28 days before putting them online. While the Oscars have not decided to implement this rule, having the cinema gives them the opportunity to screen their Netflix films before putting them online without having to work with other cinemas.

Given the slew of Netflix original films, it would be interesting to observe which films have the opportunity to be screened at the Paris Theatre. This would reveal which films have earned the greatest production budget or are being tipped as Oscar forerunners as well. 

Questions for further personal evaluation: 

  1. Would you watch a film at a Netflix cinema when the film will be available for streaming on Netflix? What if you had to wait a month before it hits the platform?
  2. Do you think it is problematic for a streaming giant to be the owner of a brick-and-mortar cinema? Why or why not?

Useful vocabulary: 

  1. ‘repertory’ (as in theatre): a system of production in which an acting company or cinema presents a selection of different works that are either alternated or rotated
  2. ‘gauche’: lacking ease or grace; unsophisticated 

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