Netflix Is Starting To Change Its Mind About Theatrical Releases

James Franco in The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
(Image credit: (Netflix))

Netflix may soon join the ranks of having Oscar-winning films under its belt. 2018 marked the year that the streaming service tied with HBO in Emmy wins after years of highly-acclaimed original series releases. Now the company has made a case for film recognition by backing the projects of masterful directors, including Alfonso Cuarón and the Coen Brothers. The studio is now also officially giving three of their releases exclusive runs in theaters before placing them on its streaming service.

Netflix initially planned on simultaneously releasing its award hopefuls in theaters and for streaming, but theaters were understandably concerned. Why would Netflix users pay admission for a ticket to see a movie when it's already waiting for them in their queue at home? Of course, giving one's full attention to a film on the big screen and an at-home watch are completely different experiences, but convenience would sway most in favor of streaming the titles. According to The New York Times, Netflix is cooperating with these concerns and will give its movies Roma, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs and Bird Box some time in theaters before moving them to the streaming platform.

The films will get a limited release period of one to three weeks in theaters to give them each a chance to make box office numbers and garner the attention of the Academy and Hollywood talent to work with them on future projects. Depending on how well the movies do commercially, Netflix expects the select theaters to keep them in their line-up once they hit the streaming platform as well. This compromise hasn't fared well with big theater chains such as AMC and Regal, which still insist upon a 90-day exclusivity period, but maybe the releases could still end up on their rosters.

Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón both penned and directed his Mexico-set passion project inspired by his childhood. Critics who have seen it along the festival circuit have been calling it a masterpiece not to be missed on the big screen. The film is a deeply-emotional chronicle of a year in the life of a family living in Mexico City in the '70s. The film is set to come to theaters on November 21 before hitting Netflix on December 14.

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a six-part western anthology from the Coen Brothers starring the likes of James Franco and Liam Neeson. For fans of the filmmakers behind cult hits including Fargo, The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?, it has certainly earned a shot at the big screen. Bird Box similarly has a star-studded cast as it stars Sandra Bullock, Sarah Paulson, John Malkovich and Lil Rel Howery. The Quiet Place-esque thriller has Bullock hiding and protecting her family and fellow survivors from an unseen threat that can manifest itself into one's darkest fears if seen.

Unlike Roma's near-month theater exclusivity, Buster Scruggs will have theatrical engagements starting on November 8 before it hits Netflix on November 16 and Bird Box will premiere in select theaters on December 13 before its December 21 Netflix debut.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.