Netflix CEO says company won’t buy movie theater chain

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Netflix co-Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings told The Hollywood Reporter that his company isn’t looking to acquire cinema chains, despite buzz of the contrary.

In the last two years, Netflix bought Hollywood’s historic Egyptian Theatre and it inked a long-term deal to lease the New York City’s Paris Theatre, raising questions about the company’s designs on eventually buying a cinema chain.

Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that the pandemic has but a financial stranglehold on cinemas, making them a ripe acquisition target.

“I can’t see us doing a chain or expanding in theatrical,” Hastings told THR on Thursday. “We want to really focus on internet entertainment and trying to just continue to improve our series, our films to make them the best in the world.”

While the pandemic crushed movie houses like AMC, Regal and Cinemark. all of which shuttered in March, it has been relatively positive for streaming services, which have benefitted from housebound consumers.

Some Hollywood studios like Universal Pictures and Disney put new movies, such as “Trolls World Tour” and “Mulan” on their streaming services instead of waiting for the films to hit theaters. Media watchers predicted those moves to be the start of a new trend that would further diminish the power of movie theaters.

Hastings brushed that notion off.

“Once COVID recedes, I’m sure we’ll go back to bars, we’ll go back to sports stadiums, we’ll go back to restaurants and we’ll go back to movie theaters,” he said.

Hastings, who has been particularly vocal this week in order to publicize his new book, “No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention,” which was released Sept. 8, expounded on the importance of having both movie theaters and streaming.

“We don’t want anyone to abandon the theaters, we just want consumers to have choice,” the exec said. “Think about cooking. You can cook a great chicken at home or you can go to a restaurant and have chicken. The restaurants don’t say, well, we need to have an exclusive on chicken. Instead, they just say, we do a better job. It is great to go to a restaurant, and it’s great to go to a movie theater.”

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