For the first time, a Netflix film, Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, is getting a one-week theatrical preview event across 600 AMC, Regal, and Cinemark theaters in the U.S and at multiple Cineworld locations in the U.K. This deal marks the first time all three major theater chains have agreed to show a big-budget Netflix movie. 

Glass Onion will be released for one week in cinemas starting on Nov. 23. After its limited release, the film will enter a three-week blackout period before becoming available to subscribers on Netflix. 

Netflix has shown movies in theaters before, but only with extremely limited theatrical engagement to make the films eligible for awards.  

This deal comes after years of discussions on finding “a way forward to show their high-quality productions on our screens,” Tim Richards, founder and CEO of Vue International, told Deadline

The hope for Richards is that Netflix will embrace the theatrical model, proving that theatrical releases can be a source of growth for streamers, as he said, “We all win if this works.” 

“A lot of operators have been playing Netflix movies day-and-date, but this is the first time Netflix [has] released a film respecting the theatrical release window, embracing a model that has been in place for close to 100 years,” Richards said. 

The goal of this move is to show streamers that releasing films first in theaters will not negatively affect their subscriber base. In fact, Richards believes that it could help in a similar way it did for HBO Max in “that it will drive up demand and awareness of the film for their subscribers to see.” 

Richards also teased in the interview with Deadline that other streamers are trying to do something similar with their original releases.

“We’re hoping that Apple [is] going to be doing the same thing,” Richards said. 

However, Netflix co-CEO and chief content officer Ted Sarandos had a different tone when speaking about the streamer’s recent deal with major cinema chains. 

“There are all kinds of debates all the time, back and forth. But there is no question internally that we make our movies for our members, and we really want them to watch them on Netflix,” Sarandos told Deadline. “And, of course, with one week of release in theaters, most people will see them on Netflix. Just like they see all movies. Most people watch most movies at home.”

Will 'Glass Onion' return to theaters?'Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery'Credit: Netflix

Sarandos does agree that a theatrical release can help build buzz around the film in a similar way that the film festival circuit can. Sarandos also acknowledges that the theatrical run is enough to qualify the film for the upcoming award season. That buzz generated around the film's limited release could only help Netflix while asking them to spend a little bit more money to have the film distributed to theaters around the U.S. and U.K. 

Could this be the future for Netflix's big-budget original releases? We will know once we see how well Glass Onion performs during its limited theatrical run.

Glass Onion will play in select theaters Nov. 23-29 and, after a blackout period, it will hit Netflix on Dec. 23.

Source: Deadline