Pop-up experiences. Merchandising. It seems like no major entertainment brand can work without these extra components anymore. And so perhaps it’s no surprise: Netflix will be opening its first physical locations, known as Netflix Houses, that will include both.
In news broken by Bloomberg, Netflix will be opening the first two Netflix Houses where fans can “play, shop, and eat” in 2025. With a mix of retail, food, and live theatrics, the houses will be something of a modernized, experience-first theater. Visitors may be able to try a Squid Game obstacle course, for instance, but whether fans will actually be able to attend screenings of Netflix shows is still unclear. (Netflix declined to share more details for this piece.)
In any case, the trend follows an insatiable groundswell that our not-quite-post-COVID world has for live, in-person experiences. We’ve seen ludicrous pricing for Taylor Swift tickets, the launch of the technological wonder Las Vegas Sphere, and even Netflix itself toured 20 cities around the globe over the last year offering the The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience. For tickets starting at $49, Bridgerton fans have been able to dress in full regalia while costumed performers hosted a Victorian-era ball. And if they needed something to wear, Bloomingdale’s hosted an accompanying pop-up shop. Netflix claimed over a million people had attended all of its pop-up events as of early 2022.
Now it seems that Netflix is planning to solidify a longer term strategy, and a business model, around experience-first theater. The opportunity seems significant—and to some extent, all movie theaters need to evolve to support activities off the big screen. Whether it’s the long running play Sleep No More, or theme parks like Harry Potter World or Galaxy’s Edge, or pop-up restaurants like Saved by the Max, immersive worlds have been bringing the public deeper into storylines than ever before.
But these experiences are costly to build and maintain—and finding the sweet spot of exclusivity and accessibility is tricky. No company knows that more than one of Netflix’s fiercest competitors, Disney. Following years of development, the company decided to shut down its new Galactic Starcruiser Star Wars hotel within just six months of operations, which promised to put visitors into a full weekend of immersive storylines for $2,500 per night. Someone be sure to let the Queen know that’s not in this squire’s budget.