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Netflix Ready For Its Closeup With 'Irishman' Debut

Jayson Derrick

Streaming video giant Netflix Inc (NASDAQ: NFLX) spent $300 million to produce the mob movie "The Irishman," which goes live for streaming Wednesday, but the company's ambitions extend beyond recouping its cash, CNET senior writer Joan Solsman told CNBC.

Scorsese, Disney Disagree 

Netflix spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars to be able to say it is the home of a Martin Scorsese "masterpiece," Solsman said. The film release comes at a time when Scorsese is locked in a very public feud with Walt Disney Co (NYSE: DIS) over its film strategy.

"The fact that Martin Scorcese has been out there talking and maligning Disney instead of maligning Netflix as the thing that is killing cinema — that speaks for itself," she said.

Theater Implications

The prevailing thinking in the movie industry is that the amount of time a film is shown in theaters before it can be made available online will shrink, New York Times media reporter Ed Lee said on "Squawk Box."

As it stands today, theater owners want the rights to show a new movie for at least 70 days. Netflix showed a willingness to work with theaters if the period of exclusivity extends to just 45 days, but theater owners weren't budging, Lee said. 

Disney holds the ultimate say, as the company dominates the box office, the Times reported said. Yet the company needs to find an appropriate balance, as it needs to juggle ticket sales and streaming subscriber growth, he said. 

'Spend, Spend, Spend'

The companies that dominate the streaming video market will combine for "tens of billions" of dollars of losses through 2025, Ovum consumer and entertainment chief analyst Ed Barton said on CNBC's "Street Signs Europe" Wednesday.

One company alone, AT&T Inc.'s (NYSE: T) HBO, said it will spend around $24 billion through 2025 on customer acquisition and content spending.

"The next four to five years is going to be spend, spend, spend," Barton said.

Fast forward to 2025, and HBO said it expects to see a return of just $1 billion, he said. But the need for all companies to continue spending tens of billions of dollars isn't going to go away, Barton said. 

Netflix shares were trading 0.59% higher at $314.34 at the time of publication Wednesday, while Disney shares were up 0.15% at $151.80. 

Related Links:

Nickelodeon Original Content Is Coming To Netflix

Disney+ Reportedly Gaining 1 Million New Subscribers Daily

Photo courtesy of Netflix. 


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