Netflix’s relationship to the traditional film industry is a little fraught, to say the least. It started releasing its original films in cinemas in order to be eligible for the industry’s top prizes. But the fact they were simultaneously released on its streaming platform indicated this was just a box-ticking exercise in order to have a chance of winning the prizes.
The industry became wise to this, and barred Netflix from some awards like the Cannes Film Festival.
Now Netflix has changed tack. It will premiere three of its original films in cinemas before they’re available to stream.
Roma (directed by Alfonso Cuaron) will be screened in limited cinemas in New York, LA and Mexico on 21st November, three weeks before it comes to Netflix on 14th December. The Coen Brothers’ The Ballad of Buster Scraggs will be in cinemas in LA, New York, San Francisco and London on 8th November and come to Netflix eight days later, while Bird Box will be screened in the same locations on 13th December before streaming on 21st December.
This is a massive change of policy by the world’s biggest streaming service. It’s obviously eyeing up the Best Picture Oscar, and wants to do everything it can to bolster its chances. If that involves repairing its damaged relationship with the Academy and the wider film industry in general, so be it.