Netflix may buy movie theaters in hopes of scoring some Academy Awards

Netflix is quickly becoming a movie powerhouse, yet the company still thinks it gets no respect in Hollywood. Despite plans to release 80 original movies this year, it has been locked out from major film festivals and awards. After all, films shown on a TV set aren’t “real movies,” which are shown in theaters and not available on television until weeks or months later.

So Netflix now wants to buy some movie theaters, according to a report in the LA Times.

After Netflix showed Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories in competition at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, the festival banned Netflix films from awards competition. The company responded by pulling all its films from the festival.

“We want our films to be on fair ground with every other filmmaker,” Ted Sarandos of Netflix told Variety in an interview. “There’s a risk in us going in this way and having our films and filmmakers treated disrespectfully at the festival. They’ve set the tone. I don’t think it would be good for us to be there.”

Owning a small chain of movie theaters could boost Netflix into contention for major awards. The Netflix production of Dee Rees’ Mudbound was nominated for four Oscars but didn’t win. Netflix did snag a best-documentary Academy Award for Icarus, which chronicled the Russian athletic doping scandal.

In 2016, the company made a deal with the Florida chain IPic Theaters to screen its movies at the company’s 15 luxury cinemas. It’s been rumored that Netflix is interested in the Landmark theater chain, which is co-owned by Mark Cuban. Landmark often screens foreign and indie films which tend to get Oscar buzz, and Cuban is an unabashed Netflix fan. The critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation was shown at Landmark’s theaters in 2015.

However, other sources have told IndieWire that Netflix has no current plans to buy Landmark theaters.

“It seems Netflix would like to get some of its movies for Oscar contention or other types of industry awards. They’re trying to get credibility,” industry analyst Eric Handler told the Times. “Netflix took off when a couple of their own titles got nominated for Emmys. That lent credibility to what they’re doing. If they can do that for various awards, that might raise the platform a little bit.”

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