Netflix is taking three of their Academy Award hopefuls out for extended theatrical runs before they appear on the streaming service. This is a change from their past practice of releasing their Oscar contenders for limited theatrical runs and through their own service simultaneously.
Currently, Netflix plans on releasing Alfonso Cuaron’s drama Roma for a limited theatrical run three weeks before it becomes available for streaming, while the Coen Brothers’ The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs and director Susanne Bier’s Bird Box will each get one week in cinemas.
To be considered for Academy Award nomination, a film must have a one week screening run in Los Angeles county and New York City. Previously, Netflix has met these requirements for their Oscar hopeful films, but their theatrical runs coincided with the films premiering on the streaming platform.
This move from Netflix is being seen as a concession to the fact that cinematic presentation is an important part not just of the movie experience for audiences, but economically for the business as whole. In the past, Netflix has been rather adamant about simultaneous theatrical and streaming releases of their films, stating that they were acting in what they felt were their customers’ best interests. It is an attitude that has put them at loggerheads with the National Association of Theater Owners, who argue for a three month window between theatrical release and eventual home video/streaming release for all films.
Now, it appears that the streaming company is willing to bend a bit in terms of how they may present their own product in the face of that reality. And getting their awards contenders out in numerous theaters does help build a buzz about them that might not have been possible by limiting their access to just Netflix subscribers.
Cuaron’s Roma is being set for the biggest theatrical push, premiering on an unspecified number of screens November 21 in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico. The following weekend, November 29, it will expand to a number of top markets in the US as well as London. It will go even further wider on December 7 before becoming available on Netflix on December 14.
The Coen Brothers’ western anthology film The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs, which started off initially as a limited series for Netflix, will play in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and London starting November 8 before adding a number of cities and availability to watch on Netflix on November 16. Bird Box, which stars Sandra Bullock, will theatrically debut on December 13 in the same four cities as Buster Scruggs, and will expand similarly on December 21, the day when it becomes available on the streaming platform.