In a recent Women in Motion talk at Cannes, Tilda Swinton challenged streaming services to “put that money where their mouth is.” She is talking about the dying movie theater industry, and how streamers could ironically be the grand solution to the problem.
Swinton shared that her “great goal is to see more cinemas everywhere.” She went on to explain that she believes major streaming platforms like Netflix or HBO Max should be “building and renovating and putting [theaters] back into every village in the world.”
While this may seem a bit absurd at first, the actress illustrates how this could be beneficial for moviegoers as well as the companies. She says building theaters would be “sincerely a good look” for streamers, because it would, “nix all that bad-mouthing about them not really being interested in cinema.” She goes on, “They say they’re interested in filmmakers and a big screen…well it’s a really easy fix…they just have to put that money where their mouth is.”
This is a bold take from the Academy Award winning actress, but one that is not as farfetched as it may seem. Beyond the good publicity that would come from streaming giants reinvesting into the theater industry, they could also incorporate it into their business model.
Netflix is currently releasing a new movie every single week of 2021. That is almost enough features on its own to occupy a small theater. If Netflix were to open theaters they could be the sole venue for screenings of their high-profile films. This could create an atmosphere of exclusivity to draw in audiences, while also giving their catalogue of impressive films the theater treatment that they deserve.
Streamers are in a unique position to redefine the way theaters work. With their vast catalogue of fan-favorites, they could revitalize theaters from their typical screenings. Imagine an HBO theater premiering the Game of Thrones finale a day early at theaters nationwide for HBO Max subscribers. Or Amazon premiering the first two episodes of its latest drama on the big screen like a double-feature. This could draw massive crowds in and create an atmosphere that cannot be captured at home.
It may be naive to think that any corporation would dive headfirst into a dying industry, but God knows streaming giants like Disney+, Amazon, Netflix and HBO Max have the money. Perhaps they are exactly what it takes to save the industry they have helped to kill.