Golden Globe Best Director Winner Alfonso Cuarón Wants More Netflix Movies Shown In Theaters And On Streaming
It's all about access. If you want people to see award-worthy films that theaters shun because they think they lack big box office potential, the Netflix theatrical release/streaming hybrid model is a perfect alternative.
Fresh off his win for best director at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards for Netflix-released Roma, Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity) spoke of his support for Netflix releasing its movies in theaters and on the streaming platform.
“My question to you is: How many theaters do you think a Mexican film in black and white, in Spanish that is a drama without stars — how big of release do you think it will be in a theatrical release? I’m having a bigger theatrical release than that, but way, way bigger, and it’s still playing. This movie opened more than a month ago and it’s still playing, that is rare for a foreign film,” Alfonso Cuarón told Deadline.
“Why don’t you take the list of foreign films this year and compare the theatrical release and how long they’ve been playing? See how many are playing in 70MM,” he continued. “See the territories they are playing. I just hope the discussion between Netflix and platforms in general and theatrical should be over. I think those guys–platforms and theatricals–should come together and realize whatever they’re doing to the discussion is hurting cinema.”
Netflix's Gamble On Roma Pays Off (BIG)
Roma is an anomaly. A foreign language film, of which Roma took home Best Foreign Film at the 2019 Golden Globe Awards, usually flies well under the radar in theatrical release. It’s sad, but many people never have the opportunity to see the foreign language film nominees, whether Golden Globe or Academy Award, because of access. Many large theater chains don’t choose to screen foreign language films because they don’t bring in the money of English-language films, especially those with big stars — of which Roma has zero.
Netflix took a shot with Roma after theatrical distributors passed on it, according to Deadline. Netflix has not released how much Roma has made at theaters but estimates range between $125,000 – $200,000 for the three locations it screened at over the five-day Thanksgiving weekend. It has since expanded to additional theaters.
How many people globally that have watched Roma on Netflix is also a big question mark. Netflix did release how many household accounts watched Bird Box in its first week, but the streaming giant has been quiet on Roma.
That could change now that Roma won the Best Foreign Film Golden Globe and is a frontrunner to take the Academy Award for the same category. It’s also likely Alfonso Cuarón will be nominated for best director at the Academy Awards (but we won’t know until nominations are announced January 22, 2019).
Alfonso Cuarón, Diversity, and Roma
The key takeaway from Roma being shown in cinemas and on Netflix’s streaming platform is, according to Alfonso Cuarón, the possibility to elevate cinema, “and more importantly … create a diversity in cinema. Something we have to be very conscious is that the theatrical experience has become very gentrified with one very specific kind of product.”
So, if you want to make a movie that doesn’t involve the standard Hollywood formula or men in tights, turning to Netflix and its hybrid model of a theatrical release and online streaming is a great option.
“You have all these filmmakers doing films for different platforms, because these platforms aren’t afraid of doing these films,” Alfonso Cuarón said, referring to Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman.
Perhaps that is why Martin Scorsese made a deal with Netflix for The Irishman — a movie that deserves a theatrical release, and will likely get it. As much as we’d like to think that having Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci starring in a gangster movie will bring in big box office numbers, the reality is that it may not. Audiences can be fickle, and Robert De Niro isn’t the star he once was when Goodfellas was released.
The massive success of Roma on the awards circuit should push Netflix to release it in more theaters; they may also just promote it as a streaming title to avoid the headache of negotiating theatrical run contracts.
Either way, it’s good to know that people worldwide have access to Roma if they subscribe to Netflix; it’s boundary-less entertainment that can enrich and open up cinema to a much broader audience who deserve it.