Netflix may be taking one step closer to becoming a traditional movie studio.
On the heels of the streaming giant coming close to winning the best picture Oscar with “Roma” at the 91st Academy Awards Sunday — and still having a historic night with the movie taking home three wins — it is now reloading for another shot at the brass ring next year.
Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” may be the first Netflix movie to get a wide theatrical release.
A source familiar with the release strategy told Business Insider the Oscar winner very much wants a run that goes wider and has a longer life in theaters than Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma.”
The Hollywood Reporter ran a story on Wednesday with similar news, reporting that Netflix is currently out talking to exhibitors to make it happen for Scorsese’s gangster movie that stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci.
But Netflix may have already shown its hand on its release plans for “The Irishman” with the trailer for the movie that ran during the Oscars. Though it didn’t show any footage, its text at the end read, “In Theaters This Fall.” Typically when Netflix runs trailers for movies it gives a theatrical run, the text reads, “In Select Theaters,” or “Exclusive Limited Theatrical Engagements,” like it did with “Roma.”
Here’s “The Irishman” trailer:
“Since that ran in the middle of the Oscars broadcast Netflix knew they had to go wide whether they won best picture or not,” the source told Business Insider. “Filmmakers want awards, but they also want real theatrical releases.”
And if Sunday’s Oscars was any indication, Netflix still hasn’t earned enough clout to get a best picture win.
Though the company broke protocol and gave “Roma” an exclusive limited theatrical release for three weeks before streaming, people like Steven Spielberg were adamant that movies considered for the Oscars should be ones that fully respect the theatrical experience.
“I hope all of us really continue to believe that the greatest contributions we can make as filmmakers is to give audiences the motion picture theatrical experience,” Spielberg said days before the Oscars while accepting the Filmmaker Award at the Cinema Audio Society’s CAS Awards. “I’m a firm believer that movie theaters need to be around forever.”
The biggest chains in the country — AMC, Regal, and Cinemark — have refused to show Netflix titles because the company will not adhere to the industry mandate that theatrical releases have a 90-day run before showing up on any other platforms. And to have a true wide release for “The Irishman,” Netflix will need to have at least one of those major chains on board.
It seems Netflix has begun to realize that to become the first streaming company to win Hollywood’s biggest prize, it has to do something it hates to do: play by the rules.
Netflix did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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