Marco Graf as Pepe, left to right, Daniela Demesa as Sofi, Yalitza Aparicio as Cleo, Marina De Tavira as Sofia, Diego Cortina Autrey as Tono, Carlos Peralta Jacobson as Paco are shown in a scene from ‘Roma’ written and directed by Alfonso Cuaron in this handout photo. With director Alfonso Cuaron’s sweeping epic ‘Roma’ floating on a cloud of positive critical buzz, the Netflix film is destined to be a major awards contender. But that doesn’t mean the black-and-white Spanish-language film by the ‘Gravity’ Oscar-winner will be playing your local theatre. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Carlos Somonte, Netflix *MANDATORY CREDIT*

Why most Canadians won’t see Oscar-contender ‘Roma’ at their local cinema

TORONTO — With director Alfonso Cuaron’s sweeping epic “Roma” floating on a cloud of positive buzz, the Netflix film seems destined to be a major awards contender.

But unlike other best picture Oscar bets “A Star Is Born,” “Black Panther,” and “Widows,” it’s angling to get there without playing theatres across the country.

Despite a critically acclaimed premiere at the recent Toronto International Film Festival, Netflix is only screening the Spanish-language film by the Oscar-winning director of “Gravity” at a small number of theatres in Canada.

Only Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver are scheduled to play “Roma” at this point, with the possibility of other cities showing the film if it’s a hit.

And just one theatre is actually screening it before the streamer does — Toronto’s downtown arthouse TIFF Bell Lightbox premieres “Roma” on Thursday. Montreal and Vancouver theatres don’t get it until Dec. 14, the same day “Roma” makes its global debut on Netflix.

The strategy reflects big screen Oscar ambitions that don’t actually include a strong commitment to movie theatres.

“For Netflix it all comes back to the monthly subscription,” says Katie Bailey, content director at film industry trade publication Playback.

“They build their revenue $9.99 at a time.”

Netflix acquired the rights for Cuaron’s semi-autobiographical tribute to his native Mexico with the purpose of putting it on the small screen.

Reed Hastings, the company’s chief executive, has long accused movie exhibitors of being unable to think outside the multiplex boxes. He’s called for Hollywood to release more films for home viewing the same day they open in theatres.

That position has put Netflix in a tough spot as exhibitors distance themselves and some within the film industry see the company as a competitive threat.

Netflix has managed to pick up Oscars for both documentary feature and short in recent years, but has failed to score gold in the major awards categories.

It’s hard not to view the company’s Oscar campaigns as half-hearted at best.

Theatrical runs for “Mudbound” and “Beasts of No Nation” — which are required to qualify for the Oscars — were booked at the smallest theatres in Los Angeles and New York, making it tough for even the local audience to find.

Neither film turned Oscar nominations into wins.

Now “Roma” is being showered with near unanimous critical praise, with cinephiles revelling in its black-and-white cinematography and surround sound. During TIFF, Oscar prognosticators saw potential nominations for Cuaron, newcomer actress Yalitza Aparicio and best picture.

But Canada’s biggest exhibitor Cineplex isn’t interested in showing a film that will head to the small screen in mere weeks.

“We are more than happy to play their films if they abide by the same rules as everybody else,” CEO Ellis Jacob says in a recent interview of Netflix.

Cineplex has long held a 90-day window policy between a movie’s theatrical debut and its appearance for rental or streaming at home.

It’s a niche, art house film that only a small audience will pay full price to see, suggests Bailey.

“Two people — $30 easy. Plus popcorn,” she says.

“You can get a lot of Netflix for that.”

Just Posted

Man dies after being shot in Lacombe

A man is dead after being shot, Lacombe police say. Early Sunday,… Continue reading

One person dies in hospital after house fire erupts in Calgary

CALGARY — The Calgary Fire Department says a person has died in… Continue reading

Jury finds former SNC-Lavalin executive Sami Bebawi guilty on all charges

MONTREAL — A former SNC-Lavalin executive on trial for fraud and corruption… Continue reading

Festival of Trees volunteers honoured at breakfast

This year’s Festival of Trees was able to provide the Red Deer… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: A masterclass on H&M knitwear

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Thursday Join us at the Senior Center Downtown House (5414 43 St.… Continue reading

Red Deer Optimist Chiefs split weekend series

CAC 4 Optimist Chiefs 2 After wins in seven of the last… Continue reading

Sales of electric vehicles plummet in Ontario after rebate cancellation

TORONTO — Sales of electric vehicles in Ontario have plummeted since the… Continue reading

Partway through first term, Quebec Premier Legault already planning his exit

SAN FANCISCO, United States — Political power has an expiration date for… Continue reading

Unifor announces boycott campaign against Co-op in refinery labour dispute

REGINA — The union that represents hundreds of locked-out workers at a… Continue reading

Defence minister says Canada ‘very fortunate’ to have Vance as defence chief

OTTAWA — Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has come out in support of… Continue reading

Red Deer Vipers earn wild comeback win

The Red Deer Vipers needed a comeback to top the Mountainview Colts… Continue reading

Big Valley’s Zeke Thurston captures second world title at NFR

Zeke Thurston is quickly becoming one of the most decorated saddle bronc… Continue reading

Most Read