Here are five prominent films that showcase the choices filmmakers face about how to distribute their work:
"Beasts of No Nation" (Netflix)
Director: Cary Fukunaga
Netflix picked up the rights to Fukunaga's brutal drama about a child soldier in West Africa for $12 million. Released simultaneously via streaming and briefly in 31 theaters in October, the film grossed less than $91,000 at the box office but Netflix – which typically doesn't disclose viewership figures – said that within its first two weeks it was streamed more than 3 million times. "Beasts of No Nations" earned rave reviews and a string of prizes, including a Screen Actors Guild Award for star Idris Elba, but failed to score any Academy Award nominations.
"The Birth of a Nation" (Fox Searchlight)
Director: Nate Parker
The most buzzed about movie at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Parker's hot-button film about Nat Turner's slave rebellion drew a standing ovation in its premiere and sparked an intense bidding war. Despite a reported $20-million offer from Netflix, Parker and the film's backers ultimately chose to go with a traditional theatrical release via Fox Searchlight, which acquired the rights to the film for $17.5 million. The film is set for release on Oct. 7, in the heart of this year's awards season.
"Manchester by the Sea" (Amazon)
Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Another darling of this year's Sundance, Lonergan's drama about a man (Casey Affleck) who returns to his hometown to care for his late older brother's teenage son was picked up by Amazon for $10 million. The film is set to hit theaters on Nov. 18, with a streaming release via Amazon to follow.
"Brooklyn" (Fox Searchlight)
Director: John Crowley
At the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, Amazon, in partnership with Bleecker Street Films, made a bid for the rights to Crowley's warmly nostalgic period drama about a young Irish immigrant (Saoirse Ronan) in 1950s New York but lost out to Fox Searchlight. Released in November, the film went on to earn $62 million worldwide and nab three Oscar nominations, including best picture.
"Talulah" (Netflix)Director: Sian HederDays before its premiere at this year's Sundance Film Festival, Netflix picked up Heder's directorial debut about a free-spirited drifter (Ellen Page) who decides to care for a toddler with a negligent mother. Heder is also a writer and producer on Netflix's "Orange is the New Black," which may have given the streaming service an inside advantage. The film is scheduled to be released in July as a Netflix exclusive.