Netflix Preps for Awards Season with Theatrical Releases of ‘Roma,’ ‘Buster Scruggs,’ ’22 July’

Netflix is officially making a play for the Oscar race. Deadline reports that the streaming service has set release dates for three of its hot titles, right in the middle of Awards Season.

First up is “22 July,” the film from Paul Greengrass about the terrorist attacks that rocked Norway in 2011 and left 77 people dead. It will begin its theatrical run on October 10, following visits to Venice Film Festival and TIFF.

In November, the Coen Brothers return to the big screen with “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs” on the 10th. Originally planned as a limited series, the anthology film stars a who’s who cast that includes Liam Neeson, James Franco, Zoe Kazan, Tim Blake Nelson, and more. This film opens the Venice Film Festival on Friday and will move on to NYFF in October.

And Alfonso Cuarón brings “Roma” to audiences on December 14. The black and white drama tells the story of a family in Mexico City in the 1970s. Cuarón’s film will play in Venice on Thursday, following by big showcases at TIFF and NYFF. While it’s winding along the festival circuit, that December release date suggests it may show up in November at AFI, too.

Each year, Netflix has become more invested in the awards season. The company holds an Academy Award for “White Helmets,” a Documentary Short. Last year, they scored big with four Oscar nominations for “Mudbound,” including nominations in Supporting Actress and Adapted Screenplay.

But the coveted Best Picture nomination has eluded them. The likely explanation is that they haven’t put much effort into theatrical distribution. Their release model has typically been day-and-date. This means films are granted a one-week theatrical release starting the same day they’re available to stream at home. This satisfies the Academy’s rule about releasing a film in theaters for seven days but has not won over voters.

The company has not confirmed whether these theatrical releases will occur before streaming, but it appears to be the plan.

What do you think of Netflix moving toward a more awards-friendly distribution schedule? Comment below and share your thoughts!