Netflix today announced it was reopening Manhattan‘s Paris Theatre indefinitely, and is making it into “a home for special Netflix events, screenings, and theatrical releases.” The theater currently hosts a limited run of Netflix Original Marriage Story. So yeah, the company that’s disrupting the tradition of theatrical film releases is now in the theater business.
Netflix revealed it’d signed a lease agreement to “save the beloved institution” which it praised as “a symbol of prestige cinema.” Ted Sarandos, Netflix‘s CCO, said, “After 71 years, the Paris Theatre has an enduring legacy, and remains the destination for a one-of-a kind movie-going experience. We are incredibly proud to preserve this historic New York institution so it can continue to be a cinematic home for film lovers.”
After closing earlier this year, The Paris — New York’s last single-screen theater — reopened for a limited run of MARRIAGE STORY. Now, the iconic theater will be kept open and become a home for special Netflix events, screenings, and theatrical releases. pic.twitter.com/fr82Oq2j8I
— Netflix Film (@NetflixFilm) November 25, 2019
The Paris Theatre opened in 1948 and originally ran French films exclusively. It’s since changed owners and, at the time its lease expired in 2019, it was the last remaining single-screen theater in New York City. Netflix reopened it earlier this month to show Marriage Story, and today the company said the doors would remain open, with the space playing host to Netflix‘s biggest original releases.
Earlier this year rumors circulated that Netflix was interested in purchasing the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood for much the same reason — namely, theatrical runs for its prestige projects. This is critical for Netflix if it wants its films to qualify for Oscars — the Academy demands that a film must be “for paid admission in a commercial motion picture theater in Los Angeles County … for a theatrical qualifying run of at least seven consecutive days,” in order to be eligible.
One of the things Netflix has always lacked compared with the more traditional Hollywood it’s disrupting is a certain glamour and ceremony. Regardless of the comparative quality of what each platform offers, the premiere of a Hollywood film is an event, and the premier of a Netflix film isn’t. It’s not something I’d wager most viewers particularly care about, but it might be something that bothers filmmaking traditionalists — or Netflix, for that matter.
So while having films release in the Paris Theatre won’t qualify them for Oscars (presumably that’s what the ongoing negotiations for the Egyptian are for), it’s a first step towards bridging the gap between Netflix and old-school Hollywood. And hey, if this means that an historic location like the Paris Theatre remains open, I think it’s a win for all of us.
via Business Insider