Outside of Netflix’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon sequel, streaming movies haven’t really had a chance to shine on IMAX screens. They might make a regular appearance before long, though. IMAX chief Richard Gelfond told investors that his company is in “active discussions” with “all” streaming services about IMAX releases.
It’s not certain how close the two sides are to a deal, but Gelfond saw it as just a matter of time. If streaming firms were going to have a giant “opening day” for their releases, the executive argued, the best way to do it was on an equally giant IMAX screen.
It was “inevitable” that theatrical releases would be more common given the money involved, Gelfond added.
There’s little doubt that Amazon, Netflix and others are pouring lots of cash and publicity into blockbuster movies — you just need to look at Bright or the new Coen brothers movie as proof. Moreover, IMAX’s willingness to support limited theatrical runs is well-suited to online services that might not need their movies in theaters for several weeks or more.
The question is whether or not movie theaters will play ball. Many of them refused to screen Crouching Tiger on IMAX, and they see simultaneous theater-and-internet releases as threats to their bottom line. Unless there’s a shift in attitudes, internet services may have to be content with modest debuts that are more symbolic than anything.