Netflix’s Bela Bajaria Reveals How the Streamer’s Future Plans on Theatricals Makes It Different From the Competition

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Summary

  • Netflix stays true to its streaming roots, refusing to embrace theatrical releases like its competitors Apple and Amazon Studios.
  • The company’s commitment to streaming-first content is evident in its focus on delivering high-quality movies directly to its members.
  • While some limited theatrical releases have occurred, they are exceptions and not a shift in Netflix’s overall strategy.


Netflix remains steadfast in its commitment to streaming-first content. This strategy, outlined by Netflix Chief Content Officer Bela Bajaria, distinguishes the company from competitors like Apple and Amazon Studios, who are increasingly exploring theatrical distribution.

Per Deadline, Bajaria’s discussion of Netflix’s forthcoming plans at a recent press conference offered a transparent look at the company’s approach. Amid a trend where streaming services are experimenting with theatrical releases, Netflix appears to be charting a different course. “We’re the only real pure-play streamer and our members love films and they want to see films on Netflix,” Bajaria stated, underscoring the company’s dedication to its original platform. Bajaria said:

“I think a lot of companies and business do theatrical and it’s a great business for them. It’s just not our business.”

“Our business is to make sure that members come to Netflix, they’re in the mood for a movie and they get that movie that they want to see and that is always going to be the focus for us: Making great movies for Netflix that members want to see.”

This commitment to streaming is not a new development for Netflix. Since autumn 2018, starting with the multi-Oscar winner Roma, Netflix has occasionally offered certain titles a limited theatrical release, primarily to qualify for Oscars. For instance, the Bradley Cooper-directed Maestro received a theatrical window before its Netflix debut, resulting in significant Oscar buzz. However, these moves are exceptions rather than a shift in overall strategy.

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It makes for no surprise that more often than not, film fans have turned to streaming services like Netflix as the source of their new viewings.

Netflix’s strategic direction sharply differs from that of its rivals. While companies like Apple and Amazon Studios have embraced theatrical releases as a way to augment their streaming content, Netflix has resisted this path. Despite the financial success stories of theatrical releases like Top Gun: Maverick, Netflix maintains a different perspective on the role of theaters in its business model.

Bajaria’s comments come at a time when Netflix, under the soon-to-depart chairman and film boss Scott Stuber, continues to solidify its identity as a streaming-centric entity. Stuber, known for his support of theatrical releases during his tenure at Universal, is set to leave Netflix to start a media company focusing on theatrical content. This move further highlights the differing views on the importance of theatrical distribution within the industry.


Netflix Stays True to Streaming Roots Amid Theatrical Experiments

Netflix’s limited theatrical engagements, such as the $15 million-grossing release of Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery and the upcoming Beverly Hills Cop: Axel F with Eddie Murphy, are not indicative of a larger shift but rather strategic exceptions. The dedication of Netflix to its original streaming model offers a fascinating study within the wider film and TV industry.

While other players diversify their distribution strategies, Netflix’s focus remains clear: to deliver high-quality movies directly to its members through its streaming platform. This approach, rooted in the company’s origins as a streaming service, reflects a belief in the enduring value and appeal of immediate, accessible content for its global audience. Whether this strategy will continue to set Netflix apart in a competitive and ever-changing market remains a subject of interest for industry observers and consumers alike.

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