Netflix is Ready to Buy Theaters to Get Oscar Nominations

What a few years back would have likely been regarded as a far-fetched idea is becoming a serious prospect for the streaming company to help its films win Academy Awards. A bold move that could further anger many in Hollywood who believe that Netflix’s content doesn’t belong in the competition.

The Los Angeles Times recently revealed that the California-based streaming giant has been flirting with the idea of purchasing movie theaters in Los Angeles and New York to offer more exposure to its original movies and documentaries.

The Times report also mentioned that Netflix had previously thought about acquiring the theater chain Landmark Theatres, which is already known for exhibiting and marketing independent and foreign films. However, sources told the newspaper that Netflix backed out of the potential deal because Landmark’s price was “too high.”

“Netflix wants to establish itself as a critical exhibition source on both coasts,” one of the sources told the LA Times. “For awards consideration they need to be able to release pictures on screens in major markets.”

For long deemed a disrupter within the cinema industry, Netflix could now be making an attempt to join the very select circle, which is without doubt about to cause yet another stir in the movie business.

Back in March, legendary director Steven Spielberg declared during an interview to promote Ready Player One that he believes Netflix’s movies don’t deserve Academy Award nominations, even less to get its films projected in theater. “If you commit to a television format, you’re a TV movie,” said Spielberg, in the meantime not excluding the possibility of Emmy runs. “A good show deserves an Emmy, but not an Oscar.” The filmmaker joins Christopher Nolan and Helen Mirren on the list of personalities who strongly think Netflix is “a threat” to cinema.

This is, of course, without mentioning the on-and-off dispute between the streaming platform and the Cannes Festival, which decided to ban Netflix movies from competing for a Palme d’Or following the former’s decision not to release them in French theaters.

So far, Netflix has used a controversial strategy to get some of its movies to compete in award races by making them available on demand the same day they would be released in select theaters for a short period, carefully chosen to fit award competitions’ rules of entry. The latest case in point is Dee Rees’s Mudbound, which got nominated in 4 Oscar categories, including Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay.

If Netflix chooses to indeed purchase its own theaters, the initiative could undeniably help its original content to get more exposure and, perhaps, prove all its detractors wrong.