Major streaming platforms Netflix and Amazon are in talks with IMAX about releasing their original films on the super-sized screens, according to CEO Richard Gelfond.
Gelfond said at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference last week that IMAX is in “active discussions with all of the streaming [services],” per The Hollywood Reporter. He also said that if deals are signed with these platforms, IMAX would establish an exclusive theatrical window — or the period of time between when a film premieres in theaters and when it goes live on streaming sites.
Netflix in particular has balked at theatrical windows in the past, as its preferred distribution plan involves a same-day release of films in theaters and on its site. However, the platform has lately arranged exclusive theater runs for some of its upcoming films — including Alfonso Cuaron’s Roma and Alonso Ruizpalacios’ Museo — indicating it’s softening its stance.
“To me, it’s inevitable that these big blockbusters that people are spending all this money on are going to have a theatrical release, and I think almost certainly an IMAX release,” Gelfond said.
Along with theatrical releases, most large Hollywood productions have red carpet premieres, which streaming service films sometimes lack. Gelfond said IMAX can offer avenues for streaming sites to “event-size” their films’ premieres, potentially giving them a more competitive edge against established Hollywood studios.
As for whether streaming service subscribers will shell out to see a film in IMAX if they know it’ll pop up on the service in the future, Gelfond said he believes people will pay for the experience. “The closest analogy I have is, if an airline said to you, you can sit in first class and drink champagne or you can sit in the back row,” he said. “So where are people going to go? I noticed from informal discussions that a lot of them are going to IMAX.”