“Netflix has a bizarre aversion to supporting theatrical films,” Nolan said. “They have this mindless policy of everything having to be simultaneously streamed and released, which is obviously an untenable model for theatrical presentation. So they’re not even getting in the game, and I think they’re missing a huge opportunity.”
Netflix has released some of its movies in theaters, like war drama “Beasts of No Nation” and Ava DuVernay’s civil rights documentary “13th,” but has maintained a policy of making its content available on its streaming service the same day, giving cinemas no exclusive window. As a result, Netflix movies haven’t played in the major theater chains like AMC and Regal — although the company has expressed an increased willingness to work with them in recent months.
On the other hand, Netflix streaming rival Amazon has given theaters an exclusive window to show its films before they hit Amazon Prime Video, partnering with traditional distributors like Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate to make movies like “Manchester by the Sea” and “The Big Sick” more widely available. Nolan was happy to draw a comparison between the two.
“You can see that Amazon is very clearly happy to not make that same mistake,” he said. “The theaters have a 90-day window. It’s a perfectly usable model. It’s terrific.”
And while Netflix, with its $6 billion content budget, has given filmmakers plenty of opportunities to pursue projects that may not have fit in with traditional studio budgets, Nolan said that doesn’t make up for its theatrical policy.
“I think the investment that Netflix is putting into interesting filmmakers and interesting projects would be more admirable if it weren’t being used as some kind of bizarre leverage against shutting down theaters,” Nolan said. “It’s so pointless. I don’t really get it.”