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Netflix Distribution in Independent Cinemas: Open Letter

This week programmers and curators from FAN lead organisations and cinemas across the UK wrote an open letter criticising the inaccurate coverage of Netflix releases in the media and calling for Netflix to expand their theatrical release strategy. (Read the full letter below).

Film Hub Scotland supports Scottish cinemas, festivals and exhibitors to bring great cinema from around the world to diverse audiences across Scotland to enjoy the in a collective way. 

Access to titles remains a key issue for the sector, with many exhibitors still unable to access films on day and date, however recent changes to the way films are being distributed means that some titles are not being made available at all to the majority of exhibitors to book.

We want as many members to be able to access the widest range of films.

To this end, we will work with partners in exhibition and distribution, and with agencies responsible for film across the UK, to share member concerns and continue to advocate for access to the broadest catalogue of titles for them to draw from.

Recent reports in The Guardian and Screen would suggest that Netflix films will be available in cinemas across the UK through a theatrical release with Curzon. We are writing to point out that this is not the case.

We as independent cinemas are not able to book and screen Netflix films because the deal is, in fact, exclusive to Curzon. The exception of Outlaw King being on in Glasgow Film Theatre and Filmhouse we can only assume is because there is no Curzon in Scotland – certainly, other indie cinemas in that part of the UK are not able to book the film. 

This non-availability in huge parts of the country is not only frustrating for us as independent cinemas who promote film culture (we gave The Coen Bros, Alfonso Cuaron, Paul Greengrass and David Mackenzie their cinema breaks) but also frustrating and deeply confusing for audiences across the country. The signatories to this letter all perform important cultural functions as illustrated previously but we also perform an important economic one too. Our cinemas regularly come out very highly – if not top – in box office gross and admissions for independent and arthouse titles. By having such significant audience numbers can only add to Netflix in raising awareness and audiences for their online business model as we regularly do with other online providers – Curzon included!

We appreciate that Netflix may prefer not to fully engage in traditional theatrical distribution in the UK with the restrictions that the windows create and stick with this business plan of exclusivity with Curzon but we would encourage Netflix to work with a wider range of cinemas across the country to get these films – and indeed their brand – out to bigger cinephile audiences nationwide. This would ensure that cinema audiences across the country are given the chance to see Netflix’s brilliant slate of films on the big screen.

Joan Parsons, QFT, Belfast

Mark Cosgrove, Watershed, Bristol

Chris O’Neil, Triskel Arts Centre, Cork

Alice Black, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee

David O’Mahony, Irish Film Institute, Dublin

Paul Taylor, Eden Court, Inverness

Jake Harvey, Phoenix Leicester

Carmen Slijpen, Depot Cinema, Lewes

Olly Meeks, Rio Cinema, London

Jason Wood, HOME Manchester

Andrew Simpson, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle

Caroline Hennigan, Broadway Cinema, Nottingham

Ian Wild Showroom Cinema, Sheffield

Kevin Markwick, The Picture House Uckfield

Adam J Marsh, Quad Cinema, Derby

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