Netflix Exec Thinks Exclusive Theatrical Release Windows Will Go Away

Chief operating officer Greg Peters says the future for streaming getting releases earlier is already here.

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Netflix product chief Greg Peters, who also became the streaming service's chief operating officer in 2020, says the company is poised to help lead the charge for further eroding theatrical windows preceding streaming debuts for content. Speaking with Deadline, Peters predicted, "It's what consumers want. It's hard to buck that trend for too long and I think that's eventually where things go."

In December when competitor Warner Bros. announced it intended to put its entire theatrical line-up onto streaming services such as HBO Max, production companies, directors, and actors were predictably not pleased. It was also not exactly a shock to learn that Warner was reportedly trying to offset that surprising move by offering bonuses to stars impacted by the move to streaming-only releases--one report had Denzel Washington receiving $20 million plus a backend fee, for example. In an interview, veteran director Christopher Nolan summed his feelings up bluntly, calling the move a "real bait and switch" and "very, very, very messy" and that there is "such controversy" because Warner Bros. "didn't tell anyone… [filmmakers are] being used as a loss-leader for the streaming service."

Noticeably absent from the complaints, Peters says, were the audiences. "We have created the most compelling collection of entertainment available at the click of a button that's ever existed. That's incredible for consumers and for our members. For us, as user experience designers and builders, it creates a challenge because across that wide range of choice, our job is to distill that down into something that makes it easy and fun and exciting to pick what you want to watch next."

Or to put it another way, the coronavirus forced a reassessment in the film industry when the reality quickly became--and still is--that audiences cannot safely get to the theater. As more and more streaming services emerge, and more exclusive content populates each ecosystem, it's clear the only direction we can go for watching movies, and for the time being it isn't to how things were before COVID-19.

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