Unlikely heroes are reviving the classic cinema experience.
Despite fears that streaming services are threatening the life of big-screen cinemas, new brand investments indicate a heightened focus on the in-theater viewing experience—paving the way for a future iteration of cinematic entertainment.
High-end department store Selfridges is branching into film entertainment catered to their luxury consumer base. In November 2019, the retailer opened an in-store cinema at their Oxford Street flagship in London, in collaboration with independent boutique cinema Olympic Studios. The permanent theater will screen blockbusters and indie films and will offer a premium membership scheme.
Most notably, Netflix—who has been widely blamed, along with other streaming services, for killing the movie theater—is now reviving iconic theaters and restoring the classic movie watching experience. The streaming giant is heavily investing in traditional theaters, turning to the very entertainment habits they originally disrupted in an effort to, firstly, differentiate in a saturated market and, secondly, solidify their credence in the high-brow film scene.
In November 2019, Netflix took a ten-year lease on New York’s iconic 581-seat Paris Theater. The Paris shuttered in August after 71 years, the last remaining single-screen cinema in the US dedicated to first-run platform release movies. Though Netflix has previously rented cinemas, this is the first long-term lease the company has acquired. The streaming giant noted that the theater would “become a home for special Netflix events, screenings, and theatrical releases.”
Additionally, reports began surfacing in spring 2019 about Netflix acquiring the historic Egyptian Theater in Los Angeles. Negotiations are still underway but, according to recent news, the sale would continue to support weekend viewings of historic films, rarities and indie cinema, organized by the American Cinematheque, while Netflix will utilize the theater for screenings and premieres on weekdays. Aside from supporting a continuation of its current programming, the influx of cash would likely also deliver a much-needed renovation and boost the programming by American Cinematheque, according to the organization’s chairman, Rick Nicita.