Netflix, and other streaming services, have redefined how films are distributed to mass audiences. No longer do you have make a trip to your local cinema to see the newest feature, since Netflix (and others) are spending millions of dollars making original films that you can debut from the comfort of your living room.
While theater chains are naturally worried about the trend towards home viewing, there’s another tricky topic when it comes to streaming services producing and distributing their own content — what, exactly, is eligible for Academy Awards?
The Oscars have certain rules that say films must be screened in theaters for at least a limited amount of time. It doesn’t have to be nationwide, but definitely in Los Angeles and/or New York. In order to meet this restrictions, Netflix has reached a deal with iPic to show Netflix original films at the same time as their streaming release. iPic is a chain of luxury cinemas, so don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them. They aren’t exactly in every city or town.
Netflix movies in the next year will play in iPic theaters in Los Angeles and New York City, with the option of showing at iPic’s 13 other locations or independent theaters. Netflix has shown its movies concurrently in theaters before, but the iPic deal represents its first long-term commitment with an exhibitor.
The new Manhattan location was especially important for Netflix’s awards ambitions. For a film to be eligible for an Oscar, it has to play for at least a week in New York or L.A., depending on its genre.
Netflix is spending big money to attract big names to their originals. Brad Pitt will star in the upcoming comedy War Machine, while Angelina Jolie is directing First They Killed My Father, a movie based on the memoir of a Cambodian refugee. A previous Netflix original, Beasts of No Nation, was nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Supporting Actor — Idris Elba) but didn’t register at all when the Oscar nominations were announced.