When it comes to releasing the movies they make or buy in movie theaters, Netflix has been peerlessly stubborn. With the exception of specialty screenings in places like New York and L.A., the streaming giant generally won’t let its products beam onto a silver screen. And yet Netflix higher-ups seem to have had a sudden change of heart with some of its products.
According to Deadline, three of the platform’s choicest products will get some essential award-qualifying runs in actual movie theaters this fall. The following titles will all play on big screens, for those who don’t want to only watch them on their phones or laptops. There’s 22 July, Paul Greengrass’ Norwegian political thriller made in Norway with Norwegian actors, which will bow on October 10.
The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, the Coen brothers’ Western that was supposed to be a TV show until they changed their minds; will come out in select theaters on November 16. And, perhaps most anticipated of all, Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, the director’s follow-up to Gravity; that’s out December 14. All these dates are subject to change, of course, but the important fact here is that they will all be available for viewing outside of having a Netflix login.
Does this mean Netflix has caved? Not necessarily. Each of these runs will only be in ten to twelve cities, not nationwide. They’ll also almost certainly only play at Landmark theaters. And their runs will only last a week — maybe two, in the case of Roma, a black-and-white epic Cuarón has made using Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. That means it’s not going to sound as good with the home viewing experience, no matter how sweet your set-up.
The famously tight-lipped Netflix, which doesn’t even traffic numbers (unless they’re for Adam Sandler movies), isn’t saying if these three are mere special cases, or if they’re harbingers of a brighter future, in which Netflix films play theaters, just like Amazon Studios movies such as Manchester-By-the-Sea and The Big Sick.
In the meantime, all three films will be premiering at the now-ongoing Venice Film Festival, so you’ll be hearing if they live up to the hype soon enough.