Italy Looking to Legalize Theatrical Window

Italian lawmakers are moving to make law the country’s 105-day theatrical window granting exhibitors exclusive access to new release feature films ahead of home entertainment and over-the-top video.

Culture Minister Alberto Bonisoli said the move was aimed at protecting the country’s cinemas against SVOD services such as Netflix, which typically makes its original movies concurrently available for streaming and theatrical exhibition.

Netflix, as it has in France and the United States, drew the ire of Italian exhibitors following its Venice Film Festival winning entry, Roma from Oscar-winning director Alfonso Cuarón (GravityChildren of Men).

The law would reduce the window to 60 days if a movie is distributed in fewer than 80 theatres and/or attracts less than 50,000 moviegoers.

Interestingly, Netflix has transitioned toward brief theatrical windows in the U.S. for select movies – including Roma– to gain favor with Academy Award voters.

The SVOD behemoth’s first original movie – Beasts of No Nation– was ignored by voters in 2015 despite widespread critical acclaim, including for actors Idris Elba, Abraham Attah and director Cory Joji Fukunaga.

The movie generated just $90,777 at the box office.




Netflix to Screen Warner Bros.’ ‘Mowgli’ Ahead of Streaming; Announces Productions in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

In a flurry of press releases, Netflix on Nov. 8 announced release slates in Asia, Norway, Spain, Poland, Germany, France, Turkey and the U.S., including another theatrical bow ahead of streaming.

Netflix will screen Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle from actor/director Andy Serkis (War for the Planet of the Apes, Lord of the Rings) on Nov. 29 in London, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco ahead of its Dec. 9 streaming debut.

Netflix reportedly acquired rights to Mowgli from Warner Bros., which had planned to launch the movie in October. Based on the Rudyard Kipling novel about a young boy raised in the wilds, Mowgli stars newcomer Rohan Chand, in addition to Christian Bale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Freida Pinto, Matthew Rhys, Cate Blanchett, Naomie Harris and Serkis, among others.

The 17 new Asian original productions from Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, India and South Korea were part of Netflix’s inaugural “See What’s Next: Asia” media showcase.

“Asia is home to the world’s great creative centers producing some of the most compelling films and series of today,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix, said in a statement. “The beauty of Netflix is that we can take never-seen before stories from South Korea, Thailand, Japan, India, Taiwan or elsewhere, and easily connect them to people all over Asia and the world.”

Sarandos said more than half of Asian content hours viewed on Netflix in 2018 are viewed outside the region.

“So, we have confidence that our upcoming slate of Asian productions will find fans in their home countries and abroad,” he said.

Other content announcements included “Narcos: Mexico Mano a Mano”; second season renewal of “Kingdom,” which streams Jan. 25, 2019; and “Busted!” from showrunner Chang Hyukjae.

Anime series “Pacific Rim”, which seeks to expand upon the two live action movies; “Altered Carbon,” which is set in the same universe of the Netflix live-action sci-fi series; “Cagaster of an Insect Cage,” about a post-apocalyptic world where a mysterious disease “Cagaster” turns people into giant murderous insects.

In “Yasuke,” a war-torn feudal Japan of mechs and magic, a retired ronin must take up his sword when he is charged with the task of transporting a mysterious child who dark forces want to eliminate.

Trese,” set in Manila where the mythical creatures of Philippine folklore live in hiding amongst humans, Alexandra Trese finds herself going head to head with a criminal underworld comprised of malevolent supernatural beings.

Thai Language Originals include “The Stranded,” about an 18-year-old who survives a devastating tsunami along with thirty-six of his fellow students at an elite private high school on a remote island in the Andaman Sea; “Shimmers,” a drama series about five teenagers at an isolated school in Northern Thailand. Over a school break, they find themselves haunted by the ghosts of their pasts, only to discover they are threatened by a much more terrifying mystery.

Chinese language originals include “Triad Princess,” about a young woman who defiesher father’s wishes and takes on a gig as an undercover bodyguard for a famous actress at an agency, where she must navigate the unfamiliar world of glitz, glamour and even love.

Separately, British-based actress and comedian Katherine Ryan will return to Netflix with a new scripted series and stand-up comedy special, titled “The Duchess,” and “Glitter Room.”

Uncorked, starring Mamoudou Athie (Patti Cake$, The Front Runner), Niecy Nash (Selma, Claws, Getting On) and Courtney B. Vance (Ben is Back, American Crime Story) is a father/son story about love, sacrifice and following your heart and is loosely based on writer/director Prentice Penny’s own family history.

“Ragnarok” is a six part Norwegian language series unfold in the small fictional town of Edda in the middle of the vast and enthralling Norwegian countryside and is a modern day coming of age drama rooted in Norse mythology, set in a high school arena.

In Spanish original series, “Alma,” a young adult supernatural drama written by Sergio G. Sánchez (Marrowbone, The Orphanage), and produced by Belén Atienza (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Marrowbone), Sandra Hermida (Arde Madrid, Marrowbone) and Jesús de la Vega (Intruders, Hierro).

In addition to Poland’s  1983 and Germany’s Dogs of Berlin, Netflix is launching new original shows from Italy (Baby, 30 Nov), France (Plan Coeur, 7 Dec) and Turkey (Protector) before the end of the year. Netflix also announced in recent weeks five new German projects and seven new French titles, as well as season 2 of Spanish show Elite.

Netflix Reverses Script, Bowing Three Movies Theatrically

The old adage, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” has been taken to heart by Netflix when it comes to theatrical releases.

The streaming video-on-demand behemoth revealed it will debut original movies Roma, from Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity); The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Joel and Ethan Coen) and post-apocalyptic thriller Bird Box, from Danish helmer Susanne Bier (Oscar-winning In a Better World) in limited domestic theatrical releases – ahead of streaming.

Netflix, through a longstanding mandate by CCO Ted Sarandos to upend the theatrical window, has always made its original movies available theatrically and streaming at the same time.

The stance has angered the Hollywood status quo, notably some film festivals (Cannes) and exhibitors – the latter refusing to screen Netflix movies also available to its 130 million subscribers.

It has also kept Netflix movies out of Oscar award consideration, whose voters apparently prefer watching new titles in the theater. And Netflix feels it has a trio of possible contenders. Hence the policy the change.

As a result, Roma will bow in theaters in select markets Nov. 21, followed by streaming on Dec. 14. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (featuring Tim Blake Nelson, James Franco, Liam Neeson and Stephen Root, among others) will hit the box office on Nov. 8 – eight days ahead of streaming. The same time gap for Bird Box, starring Sandra Bullock and Sarah Paulson, which hits screens Dec. 13 and SVOD on Dec. 21.

“These upcoming engagements are following the success of our theatrical and Netflix releases of Private Lifeand 22 July,” Scott Stuber, head of original films at Netflix, said in a statement. “There’s been an overwhelming response to all of our films this festival season, including Outlaw King, which will be in theaters and on Netflix next week, and this plan is building on that momentum.”

Stuber said the policy change reflects the Netflix’s desire to attract the best filmmakers and talent.

Indeed, one of Netflix’s first original movies – Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba and Abraham Attah, and directed by Cary Fukunaga (“True Detective”) was ignored by the Academy Awards despite strong critical reviews. A move many saw as an industry rebuke of Netflix’s release strategy.

“Our members benefit from having the best quality films from world class filmmakers and our filmmakers benefit by being able to share their artistry with the largest possible audience in over 190 countries worldwide,” said Stuber.


Netflix Releases Theatrical Slate, Making Nice in France

Netflix has released a fall theatrical slate that continues to thumb its nose at the traditional box office window.

The streaming video behemoth is reportedly launching 22 July, a reality drama about the 2011 terrorist attack in Norway that killed 77 people, including mostly school children, on Oct. 10 in about 100 theaters worldwide. The debut coincides with the film’s streaming access globally.

Oscar-nominated director Tamara Jenkins’ Private Life heads to theaters and streaming Oct. 5. The critically-acclaimed film will be released in 21 theaters in the U.K., Toronto, Los Angeles, New York City, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC.

The film, starring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn, had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year and will next be seen at the New York Film Festival.

Separately, Netflix is attempting to smooth over its complicated relationship theater with France’s cinematic infrastructure.

The service is producing three original French series, while acquiring four French movies and documentaries. It’s also re-opening a French office in Paris while reportedly agreeing to pay a 2% tax on local SVOD revenue.

Netflix has been at odds with France’s cinema industry regarding the release of Cannes Film Festival selections on streaming concurrent with theatrical. French law mandates minimum four-month box office window – a time frame that can be reduced by one month if a film sells less than 200 tickets (!) in its first month of release.

“We are delighted to announce today three new French series — a witty comedy about friends, family and weed; a psychological horror series; and a modern, coming of age vampire tale in Paris,” Erik Barmack, VP of international originals at Netflix, said in a statement.

Titles include “Family Business,” a half-hour comedy about a young man who recruits his best friends to help save his family’s business, by transforming their butcher shop into France’s first coffee shop.

In “Marianne,” an acerbic young novelist discovers the terrifying characters she writes in her bestselling series of horror novels, might also be living in the real world.

And an untitled series adapted from the book, “Vampires,” by Thierry Jonquet, features a young rebellious teenage girl becoming a vampire as her overly protective mother engages in a race to find a cure.

Documentaries include “Banlieusards,” about Noumouké, 15 years old, the youngest of three brothers from a sensitive suburb of Paris who must choose which of his two brothers’ footsteps he wants to follow.

In “La Grande Classe,” two best friends from a small town decide to return to their hometown for a high school reunion with a secret agenda: take revenge on their former bullies and come to terms with their teenage crush.

To give voice to ordinary heroes – or extraordinary humans — “Solidarite” follows the destinies of five men and women who are symbols of resilience and bearer of hope in humanity.

Initiated through a crowdfunded campaign, “Paris est une Fete” is a real-time French love story filmed over three years on the streets of Paris, without any permits, amidst the crowds in a city scarred by terror attacks and social upheavals.

“Each project involves such talented French storytellers and producers that we are thrilled to be working on what promises to be very exciting times to come,” said Barmack.




Cast of ‘Ocean’s 8’ Promotes Anti-Piracy Video in the U.K.

The cast of Warner Bros.’ upcoming $70 million female-driven heist thriller Ocean’s 8 has created a video to combat piracy in the United Kingdom.

Working together with The Industry Trust for IP Awareness, a British-based copyright protection organization, Warner Bros. created the trailer in which cast members Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling, Sarah Paulson, Rihanna, Awkwafina and Helena Bonham Carter discuss the appeal of the cinema experience.

In its own research, The Trust found that most movie pirates are avid moviegoers who covet ubiquitous access to content.

The trailer — part of The Trust’s “Moments Worth Paying For” anti-piracy initiative — directs viewers to the U.K. industry-funded movie search engine ( to help them buy tickets, packaged-media releases or digital editions.

“Having the cast come together to help deliver the message is truly thrilling and a massive endorsement on the important work the Trust does,” James Gallagher, senior marketing manager of The Industry Trust, said in a statement. “The latest round of our campaign effectiveness research shows that featuring key talent resonates strongly with audiences and results in a likely increase in cinema trips and spend in the category.”

“We want audiences to get completely immersed in every twist and turn of this summer’s biggest heist movie and experience all the movie moments worth paying for in the way they are seen best of all — on the big screen,” added Josh Berger, president and managing director, Warner Bros. U.K. and Ireland.

Ocean’s 8 opens in the Unites States June 8, and June 18 in the U.K.

Film Enthusiast’s Release Report Chronicles Two Decades of Disc, Home Entertainment Industry

It is a statistic perhaps only Ralph Tribbey might notice.

The theatrical-to-disc window of top films would break the 100-day mark for the first time in more than two decades this June.

“On June 12, the 52-week moving average of films grossing $25 million or more at the box office will pierce the 100-day mark for the first time in the 22-year history of the DVD format,” Tribbey wrote in a Special Report edition of the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report that he has been producing for more than two decades.

“That’s the first time that we’ve cracked it,” Tribbey said. “I think that by year-end we could be pushing 95 days.”

It’s a statistic that it particularly important to theatrical distributors that have been under siege from digital services such as Netflix, which has been releasing its films online at the same time they hit theaters. The faster films hit aftermarket distribution, the shorter the time theaters have to capitalize on content income.

“I think digital is driving the marketplace,” Tribbey said, noting there has been a “breakup of traditional distribution patterns.”

Beginning in 2016 the studios collectively began to move things through the pipeline much faster, Tribbey noted.

“They’re squeezing the theatrical to a point where theatrical will be squeezed to the point where it doesn’t make any sense anymore,” he opined.

Tribbey is in a unique position to observe these changes. A native of Los Angeles, after studying economics, he took a job offer as a business analyst for Dun and Bradstreet in San Diego, but soon realized his passion was theatrical exhibition and changed careers. During the early 1970s he worked for Loews Theatres, General Cinema, National Cinema and Great Western Theatres. By 1975 he was running a six-theater chain in partnership with future film producer Steve Lane (The Howling, Lawnmower Man) in San Diego and Orange Counties, which included the arthouse venues, The Strand in Ocean Beach and The Balboa in Newport Beach. During that time, he brought The Rocky Horror Picture Show midnight screenings to San Diego and Orange counties. The chain also operated two first run theaters in Escondido, which Tribbey said proved to be too successful for the larger chains to ignore, as they began building larger theaters and squeezed his independent chain out.

During the period, he opened the second video rental store — after Barry Rosenblat’s Video Library — in the city of San Diego (in a small outlet adjacent to The Strand). This small video retail outlet introduced him to local distributor Herb Fischer and a life-long personal and business relationship followed.

The transition from theatrical exhibition to home entertainment included VP of operations for Jim Lahm’s Orange County-based Video Crossroads, the publishing of close to 100,000 poster-sized newsletters for independent video rental outlets each month, a year and a half as managing editor of American Video Monthly Magazine, the designer and publisher of Coast Video Distribution’s monthly mailer, and marketing for Key Video, a subsidiary of 20th Century-Fox, with Herb Fischer as the president.

As entrepreneur with many hats, he jumped at the chance to take over marketing for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer’s MGM/UA Home Video label in 1987.  He worked alongside former Sony Pictures Home Entertainment president David Bishop at MGM (1987-1990); he was VP of marketing while Bishop was VP of sales. He left MGM when Kirk Kerkorian sold the company to Giancarlo Parretti.

Following his stint at MGM, he served as SVP of marketing for replicator MediaCopy for three years, followed by marketing consulting positions simultaneously with Cabin Fever Entertainment and Orion Pictures. It was during this period that the DVD format was being developed and Tribbey said it then occurred to him that there might be a business in tracking and reporting on DVD releases and patterns.

Tribbey thought, “Why not track DVD from day one and see how it develops?”

He made up his mind to follow the data when Cabin Fever and Orion were both sold within a 48-hour period. Thus, in 1997 he launched the DVD Release Report (later called the DVD & Blu-ray Release Report to accommodate a new disc format). For 22 years, Tribbey has tracked box office take, disc release dates, retail prices and other data for the home entertainment business.

In the process, he’s noted various changes.

“There was the huge rush from 2000 to 2006 where the format took off,” he said. “Everybody was on board. Everybody was converting their libraries to DVD.”

Then he found that Blu-ray Disc peeked as digital delivery exploded.

Now, manufactured-on-demand discs are beginning to dominate.

“I think this year, we will have more MOD SKUs released than manufactured SKUs,” he said, adding MOD dominates “deep catalog, special interest, foreign-language and obscure titles.”

In his spare time, Tribbey is working on books, including one on the chronological theatrical release history of horror, sci-fi and fantasy films of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

“It’s fun,” he said.

But he’s still a big proponent of disc.

“For things that you want to keep, I think hard copy is the way to go,” he said.

Ted Sarandos Reiterates Netflix Mandate for Concurrent Streaming/Theatrical Release Strategy

With Netflix not entering original movies in the upcoming Cannes Film Festival due to France’s mandate that all feature films abide by the country’s traditional 36-month theatrical window, CCO Ted Sarandos was asked if this strategy impacts the ability to attract talent and source film content.

Sarandos didn’t think so, adding Netflix released 33 movies in theaters in 2017, day-and-date with their streaming availability.

“I think it’s become more and more accepted as part of the distribution norm,” he said on the April 16 earnings interview. “Defining distribution by what room you see [a movie] in, is not the business we want to be in.”

When asked if such a stance could hinder talent being considered for industry awards such as the Oscars, Sarandos said Netflix titles have been nominated for industry awards in the past.

“Keep in mind, we had five projects nominated for the Oscars last year – all released in this model,” he said.

The executive said Netflix’s global distribution model has benefited original series in Germany (“Dark”), Denmark (“Rain”), and Brazil (“Coisa Mais Linda”) by giving local content creators a wider audience, including in the U.S.

“There [are] incredible storytellers and producers around the world that just have not had access to a global audience before, and we’ve been able to find them pretty effectively,” Sarandos said.

He said Netflix would continue empowering content creators with a “great place to work,” and trusting their choices and offering global distribution.

Netflix will soon launch “The Umbrella Academy,” an original series about a family of dysfunctional superheroes, based on the eponymous comic book series published by Dark Horse Comics.

“At the end of the day, I think the winners will be those who pick up their shows that people can’t live without, and they become associated with that kind of intense fandom that we can keep bringing to them day in and day out,” Sarandos said.


Netflix Skipping Cannes Film Festival

Netflix won’t have an official presence at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival May 8-19 in southern France.

The SVOD behemoth is skipping the marquee film festival after organizers mandated all film submissions must follow France’s strict 36-month theatrical window .

Netflix, which has been making inroads with French consumers after a sluggish start, prefers making all original content – including feature-length films – available globally day-and-date with any theatrical screenings.

At last year’s competition, Netflix entered Bong Joon-ho’s Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories – angering local exhibitors unwilling to screen the titles concurrent with their global digital launch. Other original movies include Mudbound and Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father.

While Netflix isn’t entering any films this year, and CCO Ted Sarandos said he would not be attending Cannes, other executives from the SVOD pioneer will be attending.

“We loved the festival,” Sarandos told Variety. “We love the experience for our filmmakers and for film lovers. It’s just that the festival has chosen to celebrate distribution rather than the art of cinema. We are 100% about the art of cinema. And by the way, every other festival in the world is too.”

Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux April 12 said Netflix was always welcome to the film festival. Indeed, the service had planned to screen Orson Welles’s unfinished 1970s film, The Other Side of Wind in an out-of-competition slot.

Welles, whose seminal film, Citizen Kane is considered one of the best movies of all-time, is a Palme d’Or winner and once headed the festival’s jury. Welles died in 1985.

“We regret it because it was a lovely gesture of cinema undertaken by Netflix and now they block it,” Fremaux said at an April 12 press event announcing the Cannes film line-up. “It would have been a nice … but they didn’t want to do it. The debate is still open.”