Netflix agreed to some exclusive theatrical distribution for “Glass Onion” and “Matilda the Musical,” but it’s not clear exhibitors will get much more. From a report: “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery,” the much-anticipated follow-up to the 2019 sleeper hit directed by Rian Johnson, was supposed to be the moment Netflix crossed the Rubicon. Rather than give the film a perfunctory theatrical release — a strategy designed to ensure most viewers ultimately watch a movie on the streaming service — Netflix, in a first, would give the film a traditional, exclusive run in a large number of cinemas. It didn’t happen.
After much back and forth, and contrary to the wishes of some Netflix employees and Mr. Johnson, a theatrical release for “Glass Onion” that at one point some people inside the company hoped would reach up to 2,000 screens ended up at 638 in the United States. The movie, which was released on Wednesday and has received positive reviews, will run in theaters for just one week before becoming available on Netflix on Dec. 23. What was supposed to be the moment to prove the value of theaters to the streaming giant will not come to pass. Yet the company is also involved in another intriguing theatrical experiment this weekend, one that could end up providing Netflix with even more valuable feedback.
On Friday, “Matilda the Musical,” financed and produced by Netflix, will open on more than 1,500 screens in 670 locations across the United Kingdom and Ireland. The movie, starring Emma Thompson as the villainous Miss Trunchbull, will be released and promoted by Sony Pictures, which, in a unique one-picture deal, licensed the rights to Netflix on the condition that Sony could hold onto the United Kingdom for a theatrical release. (“Matilda,” which is based on a stage musical that itself is based on a children’s book by Roald Dahl, is beloved in the United Kingdom. The musical has been running in London’s West End since 2011.) “It will be a good example of what could be done,” said Tim Richards, founder and chief executive of Vue International, a London-based exhibitor with theaters in countries including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Germany and Italy. âoeIf there was ever a film made for the big screen, it’s ‘Matilda.'”