Netflix Hopes to Win First Oscar After Partnering With iPic Theaters

Empty theater with red chairs. Rear view.

To be nominated for an Oscar, is is required that a film be publicly screened for paid admission in Los Angeles County and in New York City. While a number of Netflix original television series have been nominated for Emmys — and won many as well — the streaming service has yet to win an Oscar due to the screening restrictions. Now, Netflix is trying to change that.

Most of the population will see at least one film in theaters every year. In 2014, 77% of people did. But if films that people want to see are being shown on Netflix and not the theaters, then it makes sense that potential movie-goers would opt to stay home — especially given the high cost of movie tickets.

Netflix’s home streaming service is inherently counterproductive to its efforts to be nominated for an Oscar. Amazon, Netflix’s main streaming competitor, has mentioned the idea of winning an Oscar in recent years as well. Unlike Netflix, however, Amazon is willing to allow theaters the exclusive right to screen their films before they are streamed on the service.

Earlier this month, Netflix signed a deal with iPic theaters. This lucrative deal allows iPic Theaters to show 10 Netflix original films in their theaters. iPic operates theaters in both LA and NYC.

The difference is that Netflix still plans to release the films to the public for home viewing, giving customers the option to either pay for a ticket to see the film at an iPic, or pay a comparable amount (likely less) to see it from the comfort of their own home, as well as stream other films and shows for a month’s time.

John Fithian, the Chief Executive of the National Association of Theater Owners, has expressed great concern for Netflix’s bold move. In a recent statement, Fithian said “Simultaneous release, in practice, has reduced both theatrical and home revenues when it has been tried.”

But Hamid Hashemi, iPic founder and CEO, says that dual release will not prevent viewers from seeing Netflix films in theaters. While 98% of iPic customers do subscribe to streaming services, Hashemi vets his theaters as superior to home theaters.

“You can have a great kitchen in your house and yet you still go out to restaurants,” said Hashemi, making a point.

The deal is also open for other theaters, like Regal and AMC, but they have been more hesitant to jump on this particular bandwagon.

Regal CEO Amy Miles says that the company is open to a partnership, as long as it is guaranteed to pay off. As other Netflix proposals have not met the criteria in the past, Regal does not plan on streaming any Netflix films without being compensated.

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