Amid Theater Boycott Netflix Defiantly Plans New Movies, Plus 3 TV Shows for 2015

Netflix Inc. (NFLX) has already shaken up the television world, becoming the first company to produce web-served original television series content capable of beating out traditional television for top industry awards.  House of Cards, a political-drama series, scored four Emmy awards and a Golden Globe.  And early this year Orange is the New Black, an ongoing series, won three Emmy awards.

I. More Exclusive Shows

So far Netflix has produced seven television series, plus dozens of continuations, mini-series, and exclusive direct-to-Netflix films.  Hot on the heels of the announcement that Adam Sandler would star in four Netflix-exclusive comedy films and that Netflix would get exclusive rights to the Weinstein Comp. sequel to the blockbuster Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Netflix is still swinging for the fences, announcing a trio of new television shows.

Among the trio of upcoming series, is a new “sci-fi thriller” starring Jennette McCurdy, a 22-year-old former starlet of Viacom Corp.’s (VIA) Nickelodeon channel.  McCurdy gained attention with a reoccurring role in iCarly, which led to a starring role in Nickelodeon’s Sam & Cat.

She’s since gotten deep into the internet in many ways.  She was one of the celebrities to have nude photos leaked in the recent “Fappening” hack of Apple, Inc.’s (AAPL) iCloud.  And she’s also starring in What’s Next for Sarah?, a comedic web series loosely based on her own life.  That series is featured on the IAC/InteractivCorp’s (IACI) web video service Vimeo.

Her new Netflix gig will be a series entitled Between.  The show is set in the future and the premise is that a mysterious disease has killed off everyone in the world over 21 (a somewhat ironic plotline given her real life age).  The show is set for a release in 2015 and is being co-funded by Canadian telecom Rogers Communications Inc. (TSE:RCI.A)(TSE:RCI.B), which will get exclusive rights to redistribute the show via its Canadian streaming service “Shomi”.

The second series is an animated comedy, F is for Family.  The story and some of the voices for the show come from the mind of Bill Burr, a standup comedian and actor best known for his role in Breaking Bad season 5 and his appearances on The Chappelle Show.  Burr, who also shares production credits on the show, describes to Variety:
[The show explores] a time when you could smack your kid, smoke inside, and bring a gun to the airport.
Previously Burr had already done an exclusive standup video, You People Are All The Same, which was a Netflix exclusive.

Bill Burr of Breaking Bad fame is writing, producing, and doing voices for a new Netflix exclusive animated series “F is for Family”. [Image Source: AMC]
His new series is being co-produced by slightly-more-famous comic actor Vince Vaughn.  It’s being developed by distributor Gaumont SA’s (EPA:GAM) Gaumont International Television (GIT) and Gaumont Animation, according to IndieWire.  Gaumont Animation has primarily has distributed cartoons to European audiences, and its past cartoons like Robotboy and Galactik Football aren’t very well know to American audiences.  The cartoon will launch in 2015, following in the footsteps (or hoofprints) of Netflix’s first animated series, BoJack Horseman.

The last of the trio of new exclusive series is a drama/suspense series.  Entitled “Bloodline”, it’s due out in March 2015.  Netflix describes:
“Bloodline” is a dramatic thriller that explores the demons lurking beneath the surface of a contemporary American family. The Rayburns are hard-working pillars of their Florida Keys community. But when the black sheep son comes home for the 45th anniversary of his parents’ hotel, he threatens to expose the Rayburns’ dark secrets and shameful past, pushing his siblings to the limits of family loyalty.

The show stars Kyle Chandler (Gray’s Anatomy, Friday Night Lights), Ben Mendelsohn (The Dark Knight Rises), and Linda Cardellini (Freaks & Geeks, ER, Scooby Doo (live action), and Mad Men).

II. Cinema Anger Mounts at Movie Studios for Dealing Direct to Netlfix

Not everyone is happy for Netflix’s success.  The nation’s largest theater chain, the Regal Entertainment Group (RGC) says it will boycott any movie that appears first as a Netflix exclusive before its cinematic release.  Regal owns owns 527 theaters in 37 states.  It writes in a statement to Hollywood Reporter:
At Regal Cinemas, presenting movies on a grand scale is our promise to movie fans as we work to continually enhance the moviegoing experience. We recognize that there is a tremendous slate of films scheduled for release in 2015 and we couldn’t be more excited by the prospects.

While a home video release may be simultaneously performing in certain IMAX locations, at Regal we will not participate in an experiment where you can see the same product on screens varying from three stories tall to 3″ wide on a smart phone. We believe the choice for truly enjoying a magnificent movie is clear.

Regal Theaters, the largest U.S. theater chain, is boycotting any movie that appears first on Netflix.
[Image Source: PixGood]
Cinemark Holdings, Inc. (CNK), America’s third largest theater chain (334 theaters in 40 states), also announced it was joining the boycott, stating:
Cinemark does not play day-and-date movie releases on any of our screens including the Imax screens that we operate.
Some other theaters have agreed to play the film, which is an IMAX exclusive in its theater run.

One must wonder whether television companies might join the boycott, refusing to give Netflix access to their content, should its success continue to go.  Thus far, a handful of premium cable networks, like CBS Corp.’s (CBS) Showtime and Time Warner Inc.’s (TWX) HBO have refused to give Netflix access to their most popular programming.

Most TV networks have played ball with Netflix, but that could change in time if the networks feel threatened enough.  On the flipside, Netflix pays good cash for its third-party programming, so turning that down ready revenue would be a tough sell for Netflix’s network partners, even if they grumble about its growing original content ambitions.