It looks like major movie theater chains — namely AMC, Regal, and Cinemark— are sitting together at the mean girls' table and excluding Netflix from their group.
Despite the streaming giant's 10 Oscar nods for black-and-white epic, Roma, top exhibitors have refused to include it in their annual Best Picture showcases.
On Tuesday, AMC announced the Alfonso Cuarón film, which also won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film, would not be part of its marathon because the film didn't adhere to the traditional cinematic release schedule, nor did it fit the 90-day cinema window. The cinema window is an industry term for the minimum amount of time between a movie's official theatrical release and home release. There is no hard and fast rule on this — it's just what the movie industry is accustomed to. In Roma's case, Netflix debuted the film in select theaters on November 21 and started streaming it on the platform on December 14. Since Netflix didn't follow the unwritten rule, it's been booted from the big boy club.
AMC's yearly showcases, which gives nationwide audiences the opportunity to catch up on awards show contenders, will screen the seven other Academy Award for Best Picture nominees. Included in the lineup are Black Panther, BlacKkKlansman, Bohemian Rhapsody, The Favourite, Green Book, A Star Is Born, and Vice.
The theaters did receive offers to screen Roma at a rental rate that would've been beneficial for all parties, per Deadline. Simply put, AMC doesn't have the license because it passed up on the proposal.
"For more than a decade, movie-lovers have enjoyed the AMC Best Picture Showcase to catch up on the nominated films that played at AMC throughout the prior year," the chain's statement read. "This year, Academy members nominated a film that was never licensed to AMC to play in our theatres. As such, it is not included in the AMC Best Picture Showcase."
This type of pettiness is similar to the way exhibitors treated MoviePass. When the subscription-based movie ticket service started accumulating a ton of users, theaters were quick to introduce competing services of their own. AMC has A-List and Cinemark has Movie Pass. Regal is also rumored to launch its own subscription service soon.
If AMC is the Regina George of the group, Regal and Cinemark are undoubtedly Karen and Gretchen. Regal was noticeably quiet about its decision to include Roma in its showcase. The film wasn't included when the chain announced its Best Picture Film Festival via press release.
According to Deadline, Cinemark will also not play Roma, but the exhibitor hasn't released a statement yet.
Something tells us this could be the first of many power moves big-name cinema chains pull against Netflix — or any up-and-coming streaming platform for that matter. It's a sign that these conglomerates are starting to feel threatened about the streamer's success, especially since it's produced so much critically acclaimed content over the past few years.
Eventually, Netflix will produce more prestige titles like Roma-esque, and there will come a time that they're too big to ignore. If AMC, Regal, and Cinemark want to be one step ahead of the game, it's time they rethink their strategies and come up with ways to compete with digital movie carriers.
Maybe lowering popcorn prices so audiences will actually make the trip to the cinema?
Now, if you excuse us, we'll be here on our couches streaming Roma on Netflix.