Should Amazon, Netflix Buy A Movie Theater Chain?

New digital media companies looking at old-school entertainment deals? One analyst believes Amazon and Netflix should go in that direction -- and consider buying a movie theater chain

Just to refresh: This is a place where entertainment consumers could be found sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in big venues while watching large screens filled with new movies — hopefully not sneezing or coughing on each other, as we are now warned against.

Movie theaters have been virtually shut down in many states for the last four months — with many strongly considering bankruptcy proceedings. All that means the price could be right for digital media companies.

Such moves by Amazon and Netflix could extend those mostly at-home digital video services, expanding offline, into live entertainment. Amazon has been doing this with other businesses, such as buying Whole Foods.



Netflix has been partnering with movie theaters when it comes to films it produces — mostly to qualify for Oscar- and other award nominations and hardware. In turn, all this promotes its subscription VOD service, where those movies also play.

Nat Schindler, entertainment analyst at Bank of America, says this is a good move, since both Netflix and Amazon are reaching “scale in movie output.”

Netflix produced 60 English-language movies last year -- versus 131 total wide movie Hollywood releases. The major six studios released 87 movies, with mid-size/smaller studios releasing 44.

BofA says mostly streamed movies like Netflix’s “The Irishman” or “Extraction” would have been big U.S. box-office revenue blockbusters in theaters.

Finally, the consumer proposition comes by packaging movie theater access with a streaming premium video membership — a potential industry changer.

The negatives around all of this could be testy partnerships from competing studios.

Longtime movie marketers — Walt Disney, Fox Corp, Warner Bros. and Universal Studios — might see these digital media-owned movie chains as a possible hindrance on their in-theater growth when the pandemic strain eases.

One positive, at least from possible Amazon-owned theaters: Gourmet popcorn and a exotic salad bar from Whole Foods.

3 comments about "Should Amazon, Netflix Buy A Movie Theater Chain?".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, July 10, 2020 at 3:09 p.m.

    It might be a good way to secure Oscar-nomination eligibility.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, July 10, 2020 at 8:56 p.m.

    No tax breaks and they can sit it out for the next year or more, let them buy it with caveats that they show movies from other suppliers - deal to be set.

  3. nerd rage from Nerdrage Inc., July 11, 2020 at 2:21 p.m.

    Disney is the more logical company to buy a theater chain. Netfli doesn't have the big blockbuster brands that make serious box office and Amazon is only now getting into that field (with the rights to Lord of the Rings on streaming and then why not back to the movie theaters with original content?) I could see AMC being rebranded Disney Theaters, the only outlet for Disney/StarWars/Pixar/Marvel movies in your town.

    I'm skeptical The Irishman or Extraction would have been big theatrical hits. It's one thing to click play while lolling on the couch, another entirely to motivate your butt off the couch to a movie theater and all the bother and expense. Netflix might have theatrical franchises from a different direction: they have millions of Stranger Things and Witcher fans on their site now and know how to market to them easily and for free, via the home page. What would happen if Stranger Things or Witcher became big event movies and Netflix got the viewers to go to the local multiplex?

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