Netflix Inc. is sending more films to the big screen as it courts Hollywood talent and tries to win awards.
The company announced theatrical releases on Tuesday for 10 upcoming movies, including Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” which stars Robert De Niro, and “Dolemite Is My Name” with Eddie Murphy. Most of them will appear exclusively in cinemas for three weeks or less, though “The Irishman” and Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story” — starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver — will both get about a month. That’s a record for Netflix.
The approach means Netflix’s streaming customers will have to wait weeks to see the company’s big-budget movies on their TVs this fall. Still, Netflix is a long way from embracing the traditional 90-day theatrical run for movies — putting it at odds with cinema chains such as AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., which have refused to show its films.
Netflix is walking a line with this strategy. It’s attempting to cozy up with big-name directors and actors, who want to see their work in theaters, but its main goal is still attracting subscribers to its streaming service. There’s a risk of alienating customers if they see people buzzing about a Netflix movie and can’t watch it while sitting on the couch.
Directors such as Steven Spielberg see the theatrical window as sacrosanct. He has said that streaming movies shouldn’t be considered for Oscars unless they have a significant run in theaters. Traditionally, films are released on the big screen about 90 days before they reach streaming outlets.
But the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, decided against rule changes that would have made it harder for streaming movies to be eligible for awards.
The 10 new Netflix movies will bring its total number of theatrical releases to about 30 this year.