15 Years of Film Distribution… and Netflix
To celebrate its 15th year anniversary, indiWIRE, with the Film Society Lincoln Center, organized a panel to look back at the last 15 tears of film distribution with panelists Richard Abramowitz (Abramorama), Bob and Jeanne Berney (FilmDistrict), Arianna Bocco (IFC Films/Sundance Selects), Ira Deutchman (Emerging Pictures), Amy Heller ( Milestone), Bingham Ray (SnagFilms and FSLC’s ), and Mark Urman (Paladin).
Moderated by indieWIRE editor-in-chief Dana Harris, the first hour of the panel was dedicated to the panelists experience and views on what happened, what is happening and what’s to come. The last half hour was opened to questions from the audience.
It is a panel worth watching and well-balanced, almost every panelist had a chance to speak, feding a healthy conversation. It is interesting to notice though that, as the majority of the panels going on lately, this panel mainly focused on the recent past. Everybody agreed today that they have no clue what is to come in a very near future, and the old system seems so outdated compared to today’s consumers’ habits that it is only evoked with trembles of nostalgia in the throat.
Held a week after the Netflix’s price raise, an interesting conversation took place about the company and its relationship with independent movies. Although many panelists agreed that Netflix was a good structure today for independent and foreign movies, if not the only one for the latter, Ira Deutchman predicted that Netflix’s strategy will soon conflict with the expansion of its independent catalog:
The reality is, if you look at the competitive landscape, as Netflix moves away from physical disc and go straight to streaming, then their competition is HBO. Basically they are in the same marketplace. HBO is going to start moving toward a subscription VOD model while Netflix moves toward a broadcast model. Netflix is already invested in their first mini series which is going to be head to head competing with all the original programming on HBO, and the same thing is going to happen on Netflix that has happened on HBO which is that they are going to turn a corner and say ‘we are not interested in independent films anymore. We have a mass audience we want to deliver them what they want.’ There was a moment in time where Netflix was great for small independent films but that’s when the Studios didn’t want to sell them anything.
Netflix currently pays $30 million per year to Starz for access to their catalog, and as the contract is about to expire numbers as high as $200 to $300 million have been thrown for a possible renewal. Netflix paid $400 million in total on licenses for streaming only last year. This looks like a beginning of an explanation for what seemed a brutal raise to us, consumers, and supports Deutchman’s predictions. Netflix is now a big player in the Industry and there is a real chance that the window it opened for independent and foreign movies is about to close.
For more on what has been said about Netflix and 15 years of Film Distribution, watch the full panel below: