87th Academy Awards - Press RoomThere's an Old School vs. New School stand-off happening in the theater world right now, and Idris Elba is caught in the middle. His new movie, "Beasts of No Nation," is the first major feature film from Netflix and it's being released today (October 16). But Netfilx isn't just keeping the movie to itself, it's also releasing it in theaters ... at least, the ones that will play it.

You may have read that the U.S.'s four largest theater chains -- AMC, Regal, Cinemark, and Carmike -- said they don't plan to show the Cary Fukunaga drama, not because of the content but because of the distribution. They told Variety they don't want to provide screens to films that don't honor the usual 90-day delay between a theater debut and a home entertainment release.

Wired just talked to theater and box office experts to get their takes. "Netflix is not serious about a theatrical release," said Patrick Corcoran, vice president of the National Association of Theatre Owners. "There isn't a real commitment." He added, "The purpose here is PR. They want to qualify for an Academy Award." Wired noted, in order to be considered for an Oscar, the movie needs to screen in theaters on the same day or before the home release. Corcoran said it also didn't go over well when theater owners first heard about Netflix's release plan from a press statement, instead of having distributors negotiate a release with owners ahead of a public announcement.

It kind of seems like the cool clique telling Netflix "you can't sit with us," but there's a genuine fear that this may contribute to the end of movie theaters. In fact, last year at this time, Grantland had a story titled "Is Netflix Trying to Kill the Movie Theater Once and for All With 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon 2'?" noting that Netflix announced that it would stream that sequel simultaneously to its IMAX theater release. (That release date was pushed to early 2016.)

It's hard to gauge how many viewers would head out to see "Beasts" even if it were in more theaters since, as BoxOffice.com chief analyst Phil Contrino told Wired, "A lot of people subscribe to Netflix and they can watch Beasts of No Nation at home. How many of those subscribers are going to go see it in theaters?" Fair enough. But it looks like at least Landmark is giving the release a shot, with the movie now out in select theaters.
Do you plan to see the movie and, if so, on Netflix or in a theater?

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