After announcing their U.S. and U.K. limited theatrical-streaming release plans for Martin Scorsese’s $160M mob opus The Irishman this morning, Netflix has announced the release dates for their entire awards season slate including Steven Soderbergh’s The Laundromat, the Eddie Murphy pic Dolemite Is My Name, David Michod’s The King, Wash Westmoreland’s Earthquake Bird, Noah Baumbach’s drama Marriage Story, Sergo Pablos’ animated pic Klaus, Fernando Meirelles’ The Two Popes, Jeremy Clapin’s French animated pic I Lost My Body, and Mati Diop’s Atlantics; the last two pics being Cannes Film Festival award winners that the streamer acquired back in May.
For Oscar eligibility, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences requires a film to have a seven-day run in a commercial theater in Los Angeles County, and Netflix is providing a theatrical run for these pics which are far beyond that minimum requirement before they hit streaming.
Marriage Story, starring Adam Driver and Scarlett Johansson as a couple on the rocks will get a longer theatrical pre-release before streaming at 30 days (Nov. 6 theatrical, Dec. 6 streaming) then The Irishman‘s 27 days. The Two Popes will play 23 days of theatrical prior to Netflix (Nov. 27, Dec. 20). Other pics are 21 days on the big screen, i.e. Laundromat (Sept. 27 theatrical, Oct. 18 streaming), Dolemite (Oct. 4, Oct. 25) and The King (Oct. 11, Nov. 1). Earthquake Bird (Nov. 1, Nov. 15), Lost My Body (Nov. 15, Nov. 29) and Atlantics (Nov. 15, Nov. 29) will play for two weeks before they’re available on in-home/mobile, while Klaus will play for one week (Nov. 8, Nov. 15).
This is the new world order in awards season: the truncated theatrical-streaming release, and it’s a rollout that AMPAS has given their full OK on, in fact it’s a rule that’s been in place going back to when Armando Iannucci’s In the Loop, an IFC shortened theatrical/VOD release, was nominated for best adapted screenplay in 2010. Truncated theatrical/streaming releases erase all the stink of any foul box office results for these specialty releases, so a contender isn’t bogged down by sour headlines. Even more, these pics are accessible to a wider audience during the year-end awards voting period. Note even though these pics will have an exclusive pre-theatrical run, they will continue to play in theaters while they’re on Netflix. Those in distribution circles say that Netflix is known to offer their pics to exhibition on favorable, even generous terms where the theater sees an upside. With the big three major chains, AMC, Regal and Cinemark refusing to go along with Netflix’s pitch for a shortened theatrical window under 90 days (the industry norm), Netflix will rely on other indie chains like Landmark, iPic, Alamo Drafthouse and Mom and Pop’s to play their slate. Non-Netflix distribution sources tell me that the widest one of these pics could go is anywhere in the 200-500 theater range. Last year, some of Roma‘s bookings were ‘four-walled’, meaning that Netflix rented out a theater for a short period (and could essentially hand out tickets to voters in key markets as needed). In such ‘four-wall’ cases, ComScore, the middle-man for box office ticket sales between the studios and theaters, can’t even see what a Netflix film would gross. And again, for Netflix, it’s not about the money, it’s about the awards prestige: Roma came close to winning Best Picture at the Oscars with three trophies for Best Director Alfonso Cuaron, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Cinematography.
Still be determined is whether any of these pics, specifically, Irishman, get any kind of special play, i.e. Dolby. Last year, Cuaron demanded that Roma be seen on the big screen with key specifications and a Dolby system was installed at the Landmark’s Pico Blvd location by the streamer.
Starring a huge ensemble cast that includes Meryl Streep, Gary Oldman, Antonio Banderas, Jeffrey Wright, Melissa Rauch and more, The Laundromat follows a widow who investigates an insurance fraud, and chases leads to a pair of Panama City law partners who are exploiting the world’s financial system. The pic will get a UK theatrical date of Oct. 18, and global of Oct. 18. The movie is playing Venice, TIFF and San Sebastian film festivals this fall.
Craig Brewer’s Dolemite Is My Name stars Eddie Murphy as real-life legend Rudy Ray Moore, a comedy and rap pioneer who proved naysayers wrong when his hilarious, obscene, kung-fu fighting alter ego, Dolemite, became a 1970s Blaxploitation phenomenon. The pic, which is making its world premiere at TIFF, will open in the UK Oct. 11, and be available to stream WW on Oct. 25.
Michod’s The King, produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment, will make its world premiere at Venice. Starring Timothée Chalamet, Joel Edgerton, Sean Harris, Ben Mendelsohn, Robert Pattinson, Lily-Rose Depp and more, The King follows King Henry V after his tyrannical father dies. Now the young king must navigate palace politics, the war his father left behind, and the emotional strings of his past life. Pic opens in the UK on Oct. 11 and will be available on Netflix worldwide on Nov. 1.
Irishman as previously reported this morning will go in the UK on Nov. 8.
Earthquake Bird follows a young woman living in Tokyo who becomes the prime suspect in a horrific murder when her friend goes missing in the wake of a tumultuous love triangle. Based on the Susanna Jones novel of the same name, the pic stars Alicia Vikander, Riley Keough, Naoki Kobuyashi, Kiki Sukezane, Yoshiko Sakuma, Kazuhiro Muroyama, Ken Yamamura, Akiko Iwase, Crystal Kay, and Jack Huston. Pic will open in the UK on Nov. 8.
Marriage Story is a portrait of a marriage breaking up and a family staying together. In addition to Driver and Johansson, Laura Dern, Alan Alda and Ray Liotta co-star. Pic’s UK theatrical date is Nov. 15.
Klaus follows a postman who is posted to a frozen town in the North – where he discovers Santa Claus is hiding out. It shares the same theatrical date in the UK as the U.S., Nov. 8. Voiceover cast includes Jason Schwartzman, J.K. Simmons, Rashida Jones, Joan Cusack, Norm MacDonald, and Will Sasso.