Unlike the major chains, the Eddie Tamir family-owned cinemas are screening The King, The Irishman, Marriage Story and The Two Popes three weeks before each title’s Netflix premiere.
However the proprietor of Randwick’s Ritz Cinemas and Melbourne’s Lido, Classic and Cameo cinemas insists he supports the traditional theatrical window of 90 days.
“It’s a complex and fine balance,” Tamir tells IF. “We have a major investment as we own the freehold of our properties and we’re in it for the long haul. As long a window as possible is obviously better for cinema. At the same time, we want to give our customers the best films in the world that are on offer.
“This discussion seems to miss the critical point that film is an art as well as being entertainment. It is made with the intent to be appreciated in a cinema with an audience and no mobiles, no breaks and no fast forwarding.
“That’s what all the people on the long list of credits worked so hard for. Our imperative as cinema owners and film lovers is to make the cinema experience as compelling as possible which includes screening the best films available.
“I am not an advocate of collapsing windows. It’s a balance we make decisions on, on a case-by-case basis.”
The other locations that are screening the Netflix titles are Mel Gibson and Bruce Davey’s Dendy Cinemas, Mike Walsh’s Hayden Orpheum Picture Palace, Peter Souris’ New Farm Cinemas and The Elizabeth Picture Theatre in Brisbane and The Backlot in Perth.
Tamir points out that streaming on Netflix does not necessarily curtail a film’s cinema life. For example, he cites Alfonso Cuarón’s Academy Award winning Roma, which ran for more than four months at his cinemas and on the Dendy circuit.
The major chains and most independent exhibitors are unlikely to book Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang if it has a short window before premiering on Stan as a Stan Original. “If and when we view the film and we think it is compelling and part of the conversation that we want our customers to be exposed to, we would screen it,” he says.
He would like to expand the range of content in cinemas by screening episodes of TV shows of the ilk of Game of Thrones simultaneous with their broadcast premieres.
“We want our cinemas to thrive and survive and be compelling and relevant,” he says. “Hence give us a Game or Thrones or whatever is great and we will take the risk and trust that our offer can compete with anything.
“We’re screening The Irishman at the Lido in Dolby Atmos and on our rooftop and outdoor cinemas. You can’t get that on Netflix.”
Meanwhile Tamir plans a major upgrade of the 6-screen art deco Ritz Cinemas, which he bought earlier this year. He will add two screens and an outdoor venue for summer screenings over the next year or so.