Though it’s still far too early to talk contenders for next year’s Oscars, one of the most likely at present would have to be Martin Scorsese’s big-budget gangster drama “The Irishman” for Netflix.
While Netflix and Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” didn’t win the Best Picture Oscar, it did manage to snag three awards including best director along with being a Best Picture nominee. Though primarily released through the streaming service, the film qualified for awards consideration by going three weeks early in select theaters.
Now, THR reports that Scorsese and Netflix are reportedly working together to do something that couldn’t be done with “Roma” – give the film a wide theatrical release. “Roma” made it into cinemas because Netflix ‘four-walled’ theaters – buying out whole cinema sessions. By doing so they didn’t have to reveal box office numbers or be beholden to release windows.
To get a wide release however requires the help of exhibitors like AMC and Regal who refuse to play Netflix’s game. Exhibitors are hostile to the company and the same trade say some have vocally stated they think it devalues the Oscars to see a film that wasn’t released theatrically win major awards. One theater distribution chain in Europe is reportedly calling for Oscar rules to be redefined so that Netflix would no longer qualify for the awards.
Ultimately Netflix may have to release the film theatrically with a minimum three-month exclusivity window before it can come to the service. Once it does that for Scorsese, other directors may demand they do the same for their films. Netflix has numerous other films that could be contenders next year including Steven Soderbergh’s “The Laundromat.” David Michod’s “The King,” and Dee Rees’ “The Last Thing He Wanted”.