Having inked a deal with Amazon for the release of the Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones film “The Aeronauts” in Imax theaters, Imax CEO Rich Gelfond said it is open to working more with the streamers – on condition that they respect the theatrical windows and deliver blockbuster content.
Imax will release Tom Harper’s “The Aeronauts” in North America for a week starting Oct. 25. “For us it’s more content, and if the content is what I call ‘Imax-worthy,’ meaning it can be a wonderful experience that we can enhance and people across cultures can enjoy…then we want to be involved and to do it, with the [caveat being] as long as it respects the windows,” Gelfond told reporters at a Cannes luncheon.
“I think we’ll do more of it,” he told Variety, adding that there were preliminary talks with “The Aeronauts’” sub-distributors in some international territories with a view to releasing the film elsewhere in the world. Asked whether Imax would also play Netlix movies, he said: “When they respect the windows, we’d love to do something, and I think they will.”
Gelfond said the other issue in terms of working with the SVOD players is “there really hasn’t been an Imax-worthy film that a streaming service has released until now.” He added: “Despite a lot of talk about the streaming services going into blockbuster content, they really haven’t pulled it off yet. They are just starting to migrate into that area. I think they will continue to, but they are a long way away.”
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Speaking at a Cannes beachfront eatery, the Imax chief shied away from taking a position on the tensions between the festival and Netflix. “Netflix and Cannes have their own dynamic because the windows in France are so long, so that’s a fight I’ll leave to others,” he said. But he added that he detected movement in the positions of the studios, streamers, and distributors, on windows, with a compromise likely.
“I think with a lot of trends such as the studios getting into the streaming business…the streaming companies making more blockbuster films, there’s going to be a lot of incentive over time to reach some kid of compromise,” he said.
What the Imax boss does not see happening is a new streaming window. “I think if the windows shrink, they’ll shrink for everything, because frankly, if you look at the 500 movies or so being released, there are only five from streaming services, maybe 10, that are theater-worthy,” he said. “I don’t think anybody is changing the windows to accommodate a small percentage.”
Gelfond said his hunch is that the window in the U.S. will settle somewhere between four and eight weeks.