PLUS: Forest Whitaker joins Black Panther; and more…

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has hit out at cinema exhibitors for stifling innovation in the theatrical distribution world.

“Movie theatres are strangling the movie business,” Hastings reportedly said this week at the New Yorker magazine’s TechFest event. “There’s been no innovation in the movie business in the last 50 years.”

Hastings claimed that an “oligopoly” among exhibitors is causing the Hollywood studios to fear reprisals if they experiment with distributing films directly to consumers.

Earlier this week Netflix announced a deal with luxury US exhibitor iPic to release ten original films in theatres on the same day as the films become available for streaming by Netflix subscribers.

The National Association of Theatre Owners responded to the deal with a statement saying that “Simultaneous release, in practice, has reduced both theatrical and home revenues when it has been tried.

- Forest Whitaker has been added to the cast of Marvel Studio’s Black Panther, set for release in February 2018 by Disney. Ryan Coogler is directing, with Chadwick Boseman starring.

- A contingent of young filmmakers from Saudi Arabia are to take part in the first Saudi Film Days, a two-day short film showcase running November 3-4 in Los Angeles. The curated event will screen a dozen films, with the filmmakers in attendance. A private, invite-only industry screening will be held at Paramount Studios on November 3 and a free public screening at the Theatre at Ace Hotel in downtown Los Angeles on November 4.