Netflix and Amazon not welcome at one of TIFF’s biggest screening venues

Operators are fighting for movie theater windows at film festivals as Cineplex bans TIFF films from 14-screen Scotiabank streamers.

The battle between theater operators and Netflix over the streamer’s refusal to respect traditional theatrical windows spread to the Toronto International Film Festival, where the owner of one of the event’s largest venues , the Scotiabank Theater, a multiplex owned by one of Canada’s largest chains⁠ – told the festival it would not show any films distributed by a streaming service during the festival’s 10 days.

“Cineplex has been a great partner of TIFF for many years,” festival co-directors Cameron Bailey and Joana Vicente said in a statement. “This year, new restrictions were put in place in our use of their Scotiabank Theater during the Festival. As a result, we have scheduled movies from streaming services in other locations. “

Amazon declined to comment. Cineplex, meanwhile, provided this statement to IndieWire: “There are hundreds of fantastic films showing at this year’s festival and with all of these options, we’ve asked our screens to feature titles from studios that include and appreciate the importance of the theatrical release model. We have a strong and long-standing partnership with TIFF and are proud of our role in creating memorable theater experiences for festival goers, now and for years to come.

The first to note the lack of Netflix titles was Globe and Mail editor-in-chief Barry Hertz. With 14 screens and 4,500 seats, Scotiabank is the main venue for non-premiere screenings at TIFF. On Saturday, these included hot movies like “Parasite”, “Pain and Glory” and “Waves”.

The Netflix and Amazon non-premiere screenings are instead scheduled at the Bell Lightbox, which has six screens with seats ranging from 522 to 41 per theater.

The films distributed by Amazon absent from the Scotiabank Theater are “Les Misérables”, winner of the Cannes Jury Prize, “Honey Boy” by Shia LeBeouf, “The Report” by Scott Z. Burns and “The Aeronauts”. One notable exception is “The Goldfinch”, co-funded by Amazon, which is distributed by Warner Bros.

Among the eight Netflix titles at TIFF are “Marriage Story”, “The Two Popes”, “The Laundromat” and “My Name Is Dolemite”.

The exclusive 90-day theatrical window has become a life and death battleground between streamers and exhibitors. More recently, Netflix has tried – and failed – to get big show chains like AMC, Regal and Cinemark to screen Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” offering the compromise of a 45-day window. The channels have said they cannot go below 75 days, and “The Irishman” will now get an exclusive limited theatrical release on independent screens on November 1 before moving to Netflix on November 27.

After following traditional exhibition windows with earlier releases, Amazon has moved to a model closer to Netflix with films like “The Report” and “The Aeronauts,” both of which will receive theatrical releases two weeks before. to upgrade to Amazon Prime.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

Eric Kohn and Anne Thompson contributed to this report.

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