×

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: Movie Theaters Haven’t Innovated Beyond Popcorn

Asked about his company’s relationship with major theater chains, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings didn’t pull any punches on Thursday. “How did distribution innovate in the movie business in the last 30 years? Well, the popcorn tastes better, but that’s about it,” he quipped.

Hastings made these remarks during a Q&A session with reporters at the company’s headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif., where he suggested that new distribution models could do for movies what cable networks and online services have done for TV shows.

“What Netflix wants to do is to unleash film,” he said. “It’s fundamentally about growing the movie business.”

Netflix has come under fire from major theater chains as well as organizations like the National Association of Theatre Owners for not sticking to the traditional release window model, which lets movies debut in theaters months before they transition to home video.

On Thursday, Hastings pushed back against the notion that the company aims to bypass theaters. “We are not anti-theater,” he said. “We just want things to come out at the same time.”

Shunned by major theater chains, Netflix last fall struck a deal with iPic Entertainment, a small chain with 15 theaters. Under that deal, iPic will show 10 Netflix movies day-and-date with their online releases. This won’t give Netflix movies a huge theater audience, but the deal does allow the company to qualify its titles for the Academy Awards.

Hastings also used the Q&A to comment on a wide range of other issues, including net neutrality. He didn’t seem too concerned about policy changes in this area, despite the new administration’s intent to repeal rules that require internet service providers to treat Netflix’s traffic equal to that of other streaming services. “The culture around net neutrality is very strong,” Hastings said, arguing that consumers would still expect equal access.

Asked once again why Netflix doesn’t release any ratings for its shows, Hastings joked that withholding data would give his company “mystery and intrigue.” He added: “We haven’t released ratings in 10 years, and it hasn’t held us back.”

POPULAR VARIETY VIDEO:

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • netflix latest section

    Netflix Adds Upcoming Titles Section to Its TV App (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix is making it easier to keep track of all of its new releases: The company is adding a new “Latest” section to its TV app that includes both listings of newly released titles, as well as movies and TV show seasons that will be released this week and the week after. Upcoming titles are [...]

  • iQIYI headquarters building in Beijing

    Chinese Streamer iQIYI Squeezed by Changing Content Context

    Chinese video streaming giant iQIYI saw its losses deepen, in the April to June second quarter of its financial year. The company grew subscriptions, but was hit by rising content costs and lower advertising revenue Its parent company, Chinese search leader, Baidu saw its year on year profits drop, though it recovered from loss in [...]

  • westworld awakening art

    HBO Launches 'Westworld Awakening' VR Game With Survios

    Ever wanted to enter the world of “Westworld?” Now you can — except it won’t exactly be like you might have imagined it. Instead of being one of those guests living out their fantasies, you will be a host, slowly coming to grips with your life being an elaborate illusion. “Westworld Awakening” has been produced [...]

  • Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan,

    Spotify Announces Upgrades to Family Plan, at No Charge in U.S. and U.K.

    Just days after reports emerged that Spotify is aiming to increase the price of its family plan in its home market of Scandinavia, the streaming giant announced an upgrade to the plan — with no price increase in the U.S. and U.K., where it remains at $14.99 and £15, respectively. A rep for the company [...]

  • Mike Vaughan

    Former Venmo COO Mike Vaughan Joins Stem's Board

    Los Angeles-based music distribution and payments startup Stem has appointed former Venmo executive Mike Vaughan to its board of directors. Vaughan was chief operating officer of Venmo from 2011 until earlier this year, and is now executive in residence at Oak HC/FT. “The music industry can benefit tremendously from innovation in the way money flows [...]

  • Streamy Awards

    Streamy Awards 2019 Return to YouTube for Exclusive Live-Stream

    The 9th Annual Streamy Awards will again be available to stream live on YouTube exclusively. The 2019 awards ceremony will take place at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills on Friday, Dec. 13 and will stream live globally on YouTube via youtube.com/streamys. Videos from the 2018 Streamy Awards received over 6.9 million views on YouTube. [...]

  • Stefan Heinrich Henriquez - Cameo

    Celeb Video-Shoutout Startup Cameo Hires Ex-TikTok Exec Stefan Heinrich Henriquez

    Cameo, a startup that lets consumers purchase video shoutouts from celebrities, tapped Stefan Heinrich Henriquez as chief marketing officer and general manager of international. Heinrich, most recently head of marketing for short-form video app TikTok, will lead the company’s global growth and branding and play a key role in Cameo’s continued global expansion. He’s based [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content