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AMC and Regal won’t screen Netflix’s 2020 Oscar nominations

You won’t be able to see Netflix Oscar contenders at Regal theaters
Regal Entertainment is one of two major theater chains saying that it won’t show Netflix movies in Oscar showcases.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

When movie fans check out the annual Oscar showcases at two major theater chains, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinemas, the lineup of best picture nominees will be incomplete.

After Netflix received 24 Oscar nominations on Monday — the most of any studio and the highest level to date for the streaming giant — both chains said that they wouldn’t screen its movies.

A spokesman for Leawood, Kan.-based AMC, the largest U.S. theater chain, confirmed the company would not be showing Netflix‘s nominated films, declining further comment. Regal, which was acquired by the U.K.'s Cineworld Plc in 2018, said its Best Picture Film Festival would not include any nominated films without a standard theatrical release.

Netflix and Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman” earned 10 nods, including for best picture, director and cinematography. Nine films representing a wide range of genres were given best picture nominations; the dark comic-book smash “Joker” led the field with 11 nominations. The Netflix drama “Marriage Story” also received several nominations, including for its lead actors.

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The boycott by AMC and Regal is the latest in a long-running feud with Netflix. The chains have objected to Netflix’s strategy of releasing movies shortly before or at the same time they are shown in the home because the theaters typically prefer a 90-day window of exclusivity. Even with Netflix’s haul of nominations this year, cinemas have not wanted to cash in on the Oscar nominations for these movies even though they drive a bounce in attendance.

The exhibitors did the same thing last year.

Neither AMC Theatres nor Regal exhibited “The Irishman” before Monday’s announcement of the 2020 Oscar nominations by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, even though it had a four-week limited theatrical run before its streaming debut. Instead, Netflix cobbled together a hodgepodge of independent movie houses to ensure its films were eligible to compete for best picture.

“The Irishman” opened in November in select theaters in Los Angeles and New York, as the sprawling drama marked the highest-profile film debut yet for Netflix, which has made movies a key part of its streaming business after years of disrupting the television industry.

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Nonetheless, Netflix said in December that its $159-million bet on “The Irishman” had paid off, giving it a key boost as competition from rival services escalates. The 3½-hour film, directed by critically acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese, was watched by more than 26.4 million Netflix households.

Even though the Scorsese movie has had the longest exclusive run in theaters for a Netflix movie so far, it wasn’t enough for the major circuits. Theaters are accustomed to long, exclusive windows for Hollywood movies before they’re available for home viewing to maximize revenue from popcorn and soda sales. “The Irishman” was available for streaming Nov. 27, four weeks after it opened in theaters.

Despite the boycott by AMC and Regal, Netflix secured a worldwide release in more than 1,000 screens for “Marriage Story” and at least 2,000 screens for “The Irishman.”

The storied Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, which Netflix is in the process of acquiring from American Cinematheque, played the film for two weeks.


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