An Open Letter to Netflix’s Ted Sarandos

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Dear Ted:
You’ve been bugging us a lot over the past several months. First it was your arrangement with The Weinstein Company and IMAX to bypass theatres with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2, then the deal with Adam Sandler to distribute and make four of his next features.

You must have learned growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, that “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it.” It appears that you are more interested in eliminating movie theatres than in helping the industry.

Next year is likely to be the biggest year ever at the theatrical box office, with so many major titles including Star Wars: Episode VII, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Fast & Furious 7, Jurassic World, the new James Bond movie, Pixar’s Inside Out and the finale to the Hunger Games franchise. Theatre owners are continually upgrading their cinemas and investing huge amounts of money, with luxurious seating, immersive sound, laser projection, 3D and 4D. So why are you trying to upset the apple cart?

Oh, because you think the system is antiquated and does not work anymore. Sure, digital has changed things and windows have gotten shorter, but a release in movie theatres before delivery to other ancillary media outlets has proven time and again that the theatrical run enhances a picture’s value in these other markets. So why are you championing the bypassing of exhibition in favor of VOD, streaming to iPads and mobile devices? Have you run your plan by Christopher Nolan, and asked his reaction to his film Interstellar playing first on computer screens, mobile devices and televisions? You must know that what you are doing, Ted, as you are a smart man, but you continue to incur the wrath of the exhibition community and the Hollywood studios. Or do you? You know, Ted, in just a few short years you have earned the reputation of being an enemy of theatrical exhibition.

How does your plan expand the movie business for everyone, Ted? People want to see films on large screens with great sound and in the company of other patrons. Is this outdated, Ted?

There certainly is room for Netflix in the motion picture industry–especially now that you are investing in production. But going about it your way is going to cost you in the end.

Do you really believe, Ted, that “many movies are just as good if not better at home”? Because if you do, then you are beginning to truly believe your own hype. Going to the movies is an American pastime. Do you want to be known, Ted, as un-American?

A Major Force in Thailand
Anyone who has ever traveled to Bangkok, Thailand, and has gone to the movies there has experienced some of the finest cinemas in the world. Major Cineplex venues have exclusive entertainment offerings, from restaurants and fast-food places to fashion and video stores, gaming arcades, posh lobbies with comfortable seats and art displays.

In celebration of the circuit’s 20th anniversary, Major’s CEO and chairman Vicha Poolvaraluk is being honored at CineAsia as the International Exhibitor of the Year. Khun Vicha is a true pioneer in Thailand. He built the first true cineplex venue, Major Cineplex Pinklao. His vision was to create an integrated lifestyle and entertainment complex with a comfortable, casual atmosphere where customers can linger before or after a movie by patronizing a wide range of restaurants, shops, arcades and other related businesses.

His vision and willingness to take a risk have resulted in a circuit that operates 500 screens, with a total market share of 75 percent of the country. This passionate devotee of the movie industry is not sitting back on his laurels—he plans another 500 screens by 2020.

CineAsia has indeed picked a worthy professional to honor at their 2014 show. Congratulations, Khun Vicha. We know that the best is yet to come.

Gearing Up for CineAsia
Times are very exciting in the Asia/Pacific Region for the motion picture industry.
* Fact: This is now the largest region in the world in terms of box-office revenue.
* Fact: The region has overtaken EMEA in the number of digital screens.
* Fact: Thanks in large part to this region, Twentieth Century Fox hit an all-time record internationally of $3.254 billion.
* Fact: Warner Bros. set a new global record at the box office of $5.035 billion.
* Fact: China is now the second-largest territory for film revenue.
* Fact: More film companies are participating in CineAsia than ever before.

All of these facts signal a very good turnout at CineAsia this year. The largest show dedicated to exhibition in the Asia/Pacific region, it kicks off in Hong Kong on Dec. 9. Professionals from 31 countries will meet at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre to see new film product, network, view new technologies and screen feature films.

Programming at the show is geared to an array of topics that include:
* Promoting and Protecting Content in Today’s Multi-Screen World
* Key Exhibitors and Distributors Discussing Issues Facing the Industry
* Monetizing Your Digital Investment with Pre-show Entertainment and Lobby Displays
* Laser Demonstrations
* Immersive Seating

One of the more interesting aspects of CineAsia is a special summit that brings together the top exhibition companies in the region and the major Hollywood studios. Special programming is geared for this group and includes the future of digital technology, projections for 2015, and high-level movie trends and the industry’s growth potential in the Asia/Pacific region.

Finally, the Awards Luncheon is always a highlight. This year’s honorees include Exhibitor of the Year Vicha Poolvaraluk of Major Cineplex, Distributor of the Year Cinema 21 Group, DLP Cinema Marketing Achievement Award winner Tokyu Recreation, and Asia-Pacific Copyright Educator Award winner Maya Barack-Evans.