Netflix Canada strikes back

by | Oct 30, 2015 | A&E

Ali Amad
Senior Reporter

A new hope has come to the north.

Canadians are rejoicing after Netflix confirmed to CBC News that the hotly anticipated movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be available to stream in Canada only.

The movie, slated to hit theaters December 18th, will be available for streaming on Canadian Netflix eight months after its theatrical run.

The eight-month clause was announced when Netflix Canada negotiated a licensing agreement with Disney last year.

Disney purchased the rights to Lucasfilm, the production company that makes Star Wars, in a $4 billion USD deal in 2012.

According to a report by Variety on Friday, the reason Netflix was able to secure the movie in Canada exclusively, “has to do with the timing of when Disney’s pay-TV distribution deals were up for grabs.”

“From Netflix’s point of view, it’s a very smart strategy,” said Michael Glassbourg, Film and Television Production program co-ordinator at Humber College.

Glassbourg said it’s Netflix’s ability to pay lump sums in advance for films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens that gives it unlimited power, no pun intended.

“I think it will happen quite a lot,” he said. “They’re doing it with high profile films so that Netflix gets an even higher profile as a bona fide distribution network.”

“I would imagine the theatre owners are very nervous about it. It’s one more thing that eats into their box office,” said Glassbourg.

Diehard Star Wars fan Andrew McGuire, a first-year Computer Engineering Technology student, said the announcement won’t sway him to skip viewing it in normal theatres.

“It’s cool to know that Netflix is trying to pick up high quality titles,” said McGuire. “But big fans will get the DVDs and merchandise and all that so they won’t need it.”

Star Wars fans aside, Glassbourg believes this move is an early sign of a growing shift in the film industry, and one that has traditional cable services like Rogers On Demand reeling.

“They’re so expensive that most people are going with Netflix,” said Glassbourg, who believes Netflix’s move has more to do with the bottom line than bringing the best entertainment for its audience.

“All these businesses are cutthroat. They’re in it for the money, they’re not in it to make you and I happy,” said Glassbourg.

“If people think they’re really getting a variety of movies with Netflix, they’re not. But it’s a great way to get entertainment and now it’s starting to be a great way to get first-run theatrical features,” he said.

With files from Nicole Williams.