×

Netflix and Byron Allen Could Be Getting Into the Movie Theater Business

Landmark Theatres, a high-end chain known for its art-house offerings, has been quietly on the market for some time. But this week, two would-be buyers emerged as potential suitors: Netflix and Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios.

The names of both companies floated in the press illustrates the seismic changes happening in the movie industry. At a time when ticket sales are on the decline, owning a theater doesn’t have the same profitability margins it once had. But there are other perks that could appeal to unconventional owners.

Netflix, which has been flirting with getting into the theatrical exhibition space as a way to qualify its films for awards consideration and to serve as a kind of test-kitchen for corporate experimentation, looked at the chain. However, it’s not interested in the company, according to sources.  (Netflix declined to comment.)

Netflix received four Oscar nominations this year for Dee Rees’ Southern epic “Mudbound,” but it has yet to crack the best-picture race with one of its movies. Although the streaming giant has had day-and-date releases for a handful of titles, such as “Okja” and Angelina Jolie’s “First They Killed My Father,” none of the major chains will carry a move if it’s simultaneously available on home platforms. If Netflix owned a theater, the company would be able to sidestep this barrier.

Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios has also said it is kicking the tires on Landmark, as a way to give the newer distributor a higher profile in Hollywood. Some studios, worried about domestic attendance declines, believe that they need to more closely align themselves to the theatrical experience. Neon, for instance, was co-founded by Alamo Drafthouse head Tim League and the studio has used the theater-chain to engage in innovative promotions for its films, handing out merchandise and outfitting staffers with pins tied to its upcoming movies. And there have also been mutterings that Amazon Studios could be interested in buying a theater somewhere.

Popular on Variety

Disney owns and operates the historic El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, using it frequently to tout its releases and to host premieres. It’s all part of a larger trend, where content creators are trying to forge a deeper bond with their consumers.

Disney is starting its own streaming service, following in the footsteps of CBS, and more entertainment companies are planning to build out their own over-the-top offerings as a way of better establishing their brands. Netflix already enjoys that kind of relationship with its users, having affixed itself in customer’s minds as a one-stop shop for video consumption.

It wasn’t always this way. Decades ago, studios owned the theaters that showed their films. That changed with United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc., a landmark 1948 Supreme Court decision that ruled that this kind of distribution system was an anti-trust violation. That required most cinemas to be owned by third-party operators, requiring studios to have something of an arm’s length relationship with their clients.

The Landmark sale is a sign of changing business models. Studios are worried their films aren’t getting enough TLC when they’re screening in theaters and they may make start spending money to change things.

More Film

  • Sonic (Ben Schwartz) in SONIC THE

    How Internet Backlash Helped 'Sonic the Hedgehog' Avoid Box Office Disaster

    It’s not a stretch to say Universal’s “Cats” and Paramount’s “Sonic the Hedgehog” had two of the most polarizing movie trailers in recent memory. Both caught fire online for all the wrong reasons after fans on social media torched the questionable CGI. “Cats,” an adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical, used a new science called [...]

  • Neumond Berlin Germany Restaurant

    Berlin Offers Diversity in Restaurant Scene

    Berlin Film Festival attendees have a chance to sample the diverse cuisine of a foodie city. Some of the top pics for a pre-film repast: Adana Grillhaus  A hugely popular Turkish restaurant in Berlin’s Kreuzberg district, Adana Grillhaus now has a second location right around the corner. Manteuffelstr. 86 +49 30 6127790 Skalitzer Str. 105 [...]

  • my salinger year

    Berlin Festival's New Selection Committee Takes Off

    Berlin’s new seven-member selection committee — four women and three men — comprises the core of new director Carlo Chatrian’s programming staff, which is led Canadian critic Mark Peranson. Peranson was the Locarno Film Festival’s chief of programming when Chatrian headed that Swiss festival. This year, Berlin is opening with “My Salinger Year,” starring Sigourney [...]

  • Mariette Rissenbeek Berlin Film Festival Executive

    Mariette Rissenbeek Faces Challenges as Berlin Festival Executive Director

    Making her debut as the new executive director of the Berlin Film Festival this year, Mariette Rissenbeek is facing some big challenges after taking over management duties at one of the world’s biggest public film fests. Rissenbeek and new artistic director Carlo Chatrian succeed Dieter Kosslick, who left an indelible mark on the fest after [...]

  • Carlo Chatrian Berlin Film Festival Artistic

    Carlo Chatrian Leads Berlin Fest Into New Era

    Carlo Chatrian’s rapid rise to becoming Berlin’s artistic director stems from the steely resolve of a soft-spoken film lover with smarts and a clear sense of what he considers meaningful in contemporary cinema today. The Italian film critic and curator previously served a five-year stint as artistic director of Switzerland’s Locarno Film Festival. He is [...]

  • Jimmy Carter

    Tribeca Film Festival to Open With 'Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President'

    The 19th annual Tribeca Film Festival will open on April 15 with the world premiere of the documentary “Jimmy Carter Rock & Roll President.” The film explores Carter’s lifelong passion for all genres of music and how it helped propel him, a former peanut farmer from Georgia, all the way to the White House. Carter’s [...]

  • Berlin Film Festival Entry Cristi Puiu’s

    Berlin: Cristi Puiu’s ‘Malmkrog’ Debuts Trailer (EXCLUSIVE)

    Variety has been given exclusive access to the trailer for Cristi Puiu’s “Malmkrog,” the opening film of the Berlin Film Festival’s new competitive strand, Encounters. Shellac is handling world sales. “Malmkrog” is set at the manor house of an aristocratic landowner in Transylvania. Among the handpicked guests who have arrived to spend the Christmas holidays [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content