When the most recent set of Oscar nominees were announced, there was a noticeable Netflix-shaped hole.
A number of original films released by the streaming service were part of the conversation around the Academy Awards, but none earned a Best Picture nomination and Steven Spielberg was later among those to claim such films – including The Meyerowitz Stories and Okja – ought not to be considered for the awards.
Furthermore, Netflix got into a dispute with the Cannes Film Festival after rules were changed to require all nominees to get a French theatrical release first in order to be considered for the prestigious Palme d’Or award.
With big-ticket releases like The Irishman on the horizon, Netflix wants to make sure the carrot of Oscar eligibility remains – they certainly don’t want to run the risk of being stung by a rule change similar to the one adopted by Cannes.
Aside from this, of course, winning Best Picture would be good news for the company in any circumstance.
Luckily, they may well have a very clever solution.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Netflix has looked into potentially buying up a number of cinemas, including some in the Oscar-eligible Los Angeles County area.
The Times article mentions the Landmark Theatres chain, which has three Los Angeles locations and dozens elsewhere across the United States.
Following the Cannes changes, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos told Variety the company wanted its films to be “on fair ground with every other filmmaker”; guaranteeing a theatrical release would, potentially, be one way to assure this.
In addition to The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese and set for a 2019 release, Netflix is poised to unveil original films from the likes of the Duplass Brothers and Jeremy Saulnier.
The company spent $6.3bn on original and acquired programming in 2017 – shows to debut last year include American Vandaland GLOW – while that figure is expected to rise to $8bn for 2018.