Netflix, the extremely popular streaming service, has signed a deal with iPic Entertainment, a relatively small luxury theater chain. The agreement states that ten Netflix Original Movies will show at fifteen locations, including Los Angeles and New York City. One major reason why this deal emerged was so that upcoming films such as The Siege of Jadotville, Bright, War Machine, and First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers will be eligible for next year’s Academy Awards. For a film to be up for a nomination, it must be playing at qualifying theaters for seven consecutive days, have multiple daily showings, and the theaters must “regularly show new releases.” With this contract, Netflix’s products will meet these credentials, and will allow the service to do to the Oscars what they have done with the Emmy Awards in recent years.
This cooperative effort – which was first reported by the Wall Street Journal – is not the first time that these two entertainment companies have worked with each other. Over this past summer, iPic showed the Netflix Original Movie, The Little Prince (which you can read about in one of my previous articles). Other theater chains, i.e. AMC Entertainment and Regal Entertainment, rejected offers from the streaming service to show their products at their venues. They felt that day-and-date releases would be detrimental to their bottom line, as moviegoers would be more likely to stay at home and watch them for free, rather than go to a theater and pay for tickets. On the other hand, iPic Entertainment, being a smaller chain, does not have to worry about losing out to bigger competition. Aside from that, the chain also has amenities that customers cannot get at home or in other theaters, including dine-in food and beverage services. The situation can turn out to be a win-win for Netflix and iPic. The former will be able to stake their claim to the Academy Awards, while the latter can make some profit off of the Netflix brand.
Now that Netflix will be eligible for the Oscars, they will have to step up their game when it comes to movie production. As I stated in my review of The Little Prince, the streaming service’s track record with films is not as prestigious as their library of television series. Beast of No Nation received much acclaim upon its release, but other than that, Netflix Original Movies have yet to impress critics. At best, you get films like Tallulah, The Fundamentals of Caring, XOXO, and Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday which audiences liked, but were not very groundbreaking. At worst, you have critically panned pictures like The Ridiculous 6, The Do-Over, Special Correspondents, ARQ, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny. Netflix is highly capable of making quality entertainment; their Original Series and Documentaries are proof of that notion. However, if the company wants to be serious about taking home an Academy Award, they will have to apply the same kind of excellence to their films.