Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

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Opinion: The content-ification of Netflix ruined the theatrical experience

Opinion%3A+The+content-ification+of+Netflix+ruined+the+theatrical+experience
Aditi Patel

Theodore Anthony Sarandos Jr, Ted Sarandos for short, is the Joker of the movie theater industry. The co-CEO and former Chief Content Officer wants to have his cake and eat it too; he wants Netflix to have big-budget, award-winning movies but wants to do the bare minimum in allowing said films to be viewed in the best way possible (or sometimes even viewed at all). Sarandos has prioritized his form of content based filmmaking even if it means killing the theatrical experience.

Recently, I tried to see “May December” in theaters but was unable to because its nearby showings were limited to one theater in downtown Chicago. Netflix chooses the number of theaters to release its movies in, and “May December” drew the short straw.

“The Killer,” another Netflix original, got a slightly wider release, so I did get to see it in theaters. It was a great experience in part due to the immersion of the dark theater, and rewatching it on Netflix just can’t live up to that.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie, a fight often shot in the dimly lit corners of the house it takes place in, was nearly impossible to see when watching at home because of Netflix’s terrible streaming quality. The only way to truly see this scene again is to hope a third party picks it up for a disc release, which seems unlikely. A movie that played so well in theaters was quickly gone, dropped into the middle of Netflix’s endless pages of content to scroll through.

Netflix’s treatment of movies as simply content also means they are constantly devaluing the theatrical experience. To qualify for the Academy Awards, Netflix will only release their movies in about the bare minimum number of theaters (about a week in one of the six biggest cities). Netflix doesn’t typically release exact numbers, so it’s hard to know, but “May December” released in exactly one theater in Chicago with about two weeks of exclusivity before it was dropped on Netflix.

For its more premiere releases, like “The Irishman” (and only when directors like Scorsese really fight for it), Netflix will give out bigger releases. Even then, they’re typically far below the normal theatrical release. For example, “The Irishman” released in 1,100 screens worldwide for a limited 26-day run. Scorsese’s latest, “Killers of the Flower Moon,” released on 3,628 screens and is still showing in some theaters, months later. This is a similarly large release to the latest Marvel and Hunger Games movies, which opened in 4,030 and 3,776 theaters respectively.

This is annoying because, as someone who holds the immersion of the theatrical experience in high regard, Netflix makes it almost impossible to view its movies this way.Unfortunately, there’s not much to do but complain. Even after a massively successful year for movie theaters, Sarandos still stands by Netflix’s model, stating in an earnings call this year that, “Driving folks to a theater is just not our business.”

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About the Contributor
Mack Gowan, Opinions Editor
Mack Gowan is the opinions editor for Central Times. Mack is a senior and this is his third year on staff. He loves putting information all over his stories. In his free time, he enjoys solving puzzles, cooking and listening to Dolly Parton, Marty Robbins as well as Bladee. Mack wants to be a filmmaker when he grows up.
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