Netflix Is Getting in on the Movie (and Oscar) Business

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After already leaving an impact on the Emmy race this year, Netflix is now looking at the Oscars, as they scoop up a buzzy documentary.

According to Deadline, Netflix has acquired The Square, a prize-winning documentary about the Egyptian revolution — now deemed a "Netflix original documentary" — which will debut on the streaming service in 2014. But it may make it to the Academy Awards before then. The Daily Beast's Andrew Romano called the film by Jehane Noujaim (which won the Toronto International Film Festival Documentary People’s Choice Award), the "definitive on-the-ground history of the popular uprising that is still remaking and redefining modern Egypt" and said that it is "already generating considerable Oscar buzz, and deservedly so." 

According to Steve Zeitchik of The Los Angeles Times, who broke the news that Netflix was in the process of acquiring the doc, the movie is "currently getting a self-financed Oscar-qualifying run in New York and Los Angeles and is tabbed as a favorite in the documentary category." Zeitchik reported that the film already had a Netflix logo during public screenings in Los Angeles on Friday. 

So why is it being shown in theaters even though it's a Netflix movie? After all, House of Cards doesn't show up on broadcast TV screens. Well, theatrical release does still matter to these awards. The Academy Awards eligibility rules for documentary state that: "To be eligible for 86th Academy Awards consideration, a documentary feature must complete both a seven-day commercial run in a theater in Los Angeles County, and a seven-day commercial run in a theater in the Borough of Manhattan during the eligibility period."

The move is Netflix's big entry into the movie game, something Netflix's Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos was clearly hinting at when he angered theater owners during a recent speech at the Film Independent Forum.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.