Netflix to Debut Some Movies in Theaters Before Streaming

Netflix has confirmed that awards contenders like Roma, Bird Box, and The Ballad of Buster Scruggs will get limited theatrical releases ahead of their debuts on the streaming platform.

A recent corporate model of the media conglomerate was that its original movies and TV series would debut worldwide on their streaming platform, with the release of these movies in theaters ahead of their streaming debut marking a big departure from previous directives.

Films produced by Netflix have previously debuted at festivals, while the service also acquired distribution rights to films that have made the rounds of the festival circuit. As the company has begun cranking up acquisitions in recent years, including awards contenders, the stipulations of some organizations is that a film must screen in theaters for a minimum amount of time, even if it's already debuted on the streaming service.

The big difference with the aforementioned films and there releases being that their theatrical screenings will be in advance of their streaming debut in major cities across the world. Roma, from Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron, will debut three weeks ahead of its Netflix debut.

"Netflix's priority is our members and our filmmakers, and we are constantly innovating to serve them," head of Netflix's film group, Scott Stuber, shared in a statement. "Our members benefit from having the best quality films from world-class filmmakers and our filmmakers benefit by being able to share their artistry with the largest possible audience in over 190 countries worldwide."

The company was formed in 1997 with the goal of renting DVDs by mail, with its vast library of titles and ease of renting making it the go-to rental source for many households. In the late 2000s, the service debuted its streaming media library, which has arguably become the biggest advancement in media consumption in the last decade.

In 2013, House of Cards debuted on the streaming service, its first original programming. In 2018 alone, Netflix has delivered 80 original movies and brings its total of original TV series up near 700.

Despite the many advancements in home theater technology, Netflix and its filmmakers knows the in-home experience can't compare to seeing a film in theaters.

"Seeing Roma on the big screen is just as important as ensuring people all over the world have the chance to experience it in their homes," Cuaron revealed in his own statement. "Roma was photographed in expansive 65mm, complemented by a very complex Atmos sound mix. While a movie theater offers the best possible experience for Roma, it was designed to be equally meaningful when experienced in the intimacy of one’s home.”

Netflix's strategy of debuting films in theaters on the day they hit the streaming service causes complications with exhibitors, with this new strategy potentially being more beneficial to the theaters themselves.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs debuts on Netflix on November 16th, Roma lands on December 14th, and Bird Box hits on December 21st.

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[H/T The Hollywood Reporter]