Could the Netflix tide be changing when it comes to theatrical rollouts? A few months ago, with major films from prestige filmmakers like Alfonso Cuaron and The Coen Brothers on the horizon, it was reported that Netflix was considering potentially breaking its rule and giving select films an exclusive theatrical release before those films hit streaming. We may have just hit the first step in that plan, as Variety reports that Oscar-nominated United 93 director Paul Greengrass’ new film 22 July is getting one of the widest theatrical releases in Netflix’s history.
Per Variety, the film will be released on roughly 100 screens around the world on October 10th—although the film will also be hitting Netflix on the same day. Indeed, 22 July won’t break the “streaming and theatrical at the same time” rule, but it will get a much larger showcase than past Netflix films like Mudbound, which were played on only a handful of theaters to qualify for awards.
22 July chronicles the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway, when a far-right terrorist killed 77 people. Greengrass’ film captures the horror of the event in realistic fashion, but the final 2/3 of the film focus on the aftermath, and how victims and bystanders can ever possibly find the courage to stand up to such evil. It’s a terrific, compelling, and extremely relevant film for 2018, and it’s already earned high praise on the festival circuit—click here to read Matt’s rave.
The film hits Netflix and those 100 theaters on October 10th, and will be released in Los Angeles, New York City, Albany, Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Indianapolis, Miami, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Seattle, St. Louis, and Washington, DC. Domestic theater chains that have agreed to play the film include iPic, Landmark, IFC, Alamo, and Laemmle
Indeed, the issue with Netflix movies and theatrical releases in the past has been theater chains’ reluctance to show Netflix films. They have a rule against showcasing films that are already available on VOD services—why waste screens on films that are readily available on Netflix when the theater can instead use those screens for movies that aren’t easily seen elsewhere?
And while 22 July is still a day-and-date release, Variety notes that Netflix is still in discussions about potentially giving Cuaron’s ROMA, a major Oscar contender and Best Picture hopeful, an exclusive theatrical run that would presumably be picked up by far more theater chains. Right now it’s still unclear how that rollout would work or even if it’ll happen, but it does feel like as Netflix launches its most significant awards contenders yet, they’re beginning to broach the idea of embracing a more traditional feature rollout. Here’s hoping.