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Netflix has a prestige problem. Sure, its still the biggest game-changer in the media world right now, one that only gets bigger as it lures in high-profile auteurs like Bong Joon-ho,Ava DuVernay, and Martin Scorsese. But the streaming platform has repeatedly found itself at odds with the old guard of the film world, which is loath to give trophies to movies that go straight to streaming without a robust theatrical window. Its an issue that consistently rankles the Academy—particularly members like Steven Spielberg, who has said outright that Netflix movies should compete for Emmys instead of Oscars. The Cannes Film Festival has also stood firm against Netflix, literally changing its rules so that the streaming platform couldnt compete at the French festival unless it pumped the brakes on its same-day streaming model. However, according to a new report, it seems that Netflix may have found a very slick solution to this consistent problem: what if the company simply buys movie theaters, where it can show its own films?

According to the Los Angeles Times, Netflix has reportedly considered just that: purchasing movie houses in New York and Los Angeles, specifically the Landmark Theatres chain. This would, theoretically, solve Netflixs problem. As the Times notes, major theater chains largely elect not to show Netflix films, due to the companys insistence on debuting them on screens and streaming at the same time. But if Netflix owned movie theaters, it would be able to screen its awards contenders in accordance with Academy rules without necessarily halting its straight-to-streaming credo. Plus, incorporating theatrical screenings could help the new-media company appeal to neo-Luddite moviemakers who want their projects to be played specifically on the big screen.

It could be the ultimate loophole—and would additionally serve as a direct strike against Netflixs main competitor, Amazon Studios, which has pulled in filmmakers by offering generous theatrical windows that elapse entirely before their films move to streaming.

Then again, this plan might not actually come to fruition. According to the Times, a source close to Netflix said the company has cooled on the idea of purchasing Landmark because of the high sale price, and that there were no plans to buy the chain.

Still, the report indicates that even though Netflix insists on keeping its streaming model, the company also may be considering ways to bend to the rigorous demands of the awards-season set. The question now, then, is this: would that strategy even have its desired effect?

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Thierry Frémaux, the director of Cannes, has proved that even though he was willing to let Netflix compete in the festival last year, he wasnt willing to let it do that two years in a row—a standoff that ended with Netflix officially pulling its films from Cannes. The Academy might be similarly unmoved by Netflixs self-serving strategy to buy theaters instead of releasing films in existent theatrical chains. Such a move might similarly rankle theater chains that are being hurt by Netflixs aggressive streaming model, pressing fast-forward on the straight-to-video era. It wouldnt be surprising if Netflix buying movie theaters were enough to make the Academy follow Canness example and change its rules specifically to parry Netflixs theater strategy. But until Netflix makes its first move, this is all theoretical—for now, anyway.

Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.From Mark Seliger Photographs, published on May 1, 2018 by Abrams.Photo: Photograph by Mark Seliger.Blues singer John Lee Hooker, Vallejo, California, 1990.Blues singer John Lee Hooker, Vallejo, California, 1990.Photo: Photograph by Mark Seliger.Musician Carlos Santana, San Francisco, 1992.Musician Carlos Santana, San Francisco, 1992.Photo: Photograph by Mark Seliger.Artist Frederick Terna, New York City, 1994.Artist Frederick Terna, New York City, 1994.Photo: Photograph by Mark Seliger.Actress Drew Barrymore, Los Angeles, 2003. Actress Drew Barrymore, Los Angeles, 2003.Photo: Photograph by Mark Seliger.PreviousNext

From Mark Seliger Photographs, published on May 1, 2018 by Abrams.Photograph by Mark Seliger.
Blues singer John Lee Hooker, Vallejo, California, 1990.Photograph by Mark Seliger.
Musician Carlos Santana, San Francisco, 1992.Photograph by Mark Seliger.
Artist Frederick Terna, New York City, 1994.Photograph by Mark Seliger.
Actress Drew Barrymore, Los Angeles, 2003.Photograph by Mark Seliger.

Yohana DestaYohana Desta is a Hollywood writer for VanityFair.com.

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