Netflix has unveiled a new service that allows consumers who are not subscribers to watch select shows for free. The streaming service is looking to persuade more people to sign up, while taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to solidify its position in the marketplace.
Only recently have theater owners begun a major reopening. The film “Unhinged,” a violent black comedy/thriller starring Russell Crowe, opened as a box-office win the weekend of Aug. 21 to Aug. 23.
Now, Netflix is offering the Oscar-nominated “Two Popes,” the horror-thriller “Bird Box” and “When They See Us” for free.
A Netflix spokesperson told Gadgets360: “We’re looking at different marketing promotions to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience.” The free content includes a selection of films that can be watched in their entirety, but for TV shows only the first episodes are available.
Also on the list: “Stranger Things,” “Murder Mystery,” “Elite,” “The Boss Baby: Back in Business,” “Love is Blind,” “The Two Popes,” “Our Planet” and “Grace and Frankie.”
With live theater in shutdown mode, Netflix is even venturing into Broadway shows. The streaming service is gearing up to offer The Broadway musical “Diana.” The move is an unconventional one, where the cast of the show will perform in an empty theater so the production can be aired on Netflix.
The pandemic has upended all the usual arrangements for offering live performances and releasing movies.
“Unhinged” was the first major wide release to hit U.S. theaters since March, when the industry ground to a halt amid country-wide shutdowns. Since then, it’s been hard times for the movie industry as a whole, and for theater operators in particular.
Studios had one option available to them: to release films directly to home streaming. Pre-pandemic, theater operators required Hollywood to agree to a theatrical release window, with studios waiting to release movies to streaming services for at least three months.
Now, new deals are being struck. AMC Theatres reached a deal with NBCUniversal that allows the studio to release films to premium video-streaming services after just 17 days of play in cinemas.