Oscar contenders usually start out with a New York-Los Angeles release. That’s not happening this year
The fall box office will foster new experiments with Oscar contenders, testing how many theaters on which to open a film.
Traditionally, a film with Oscar buzz starts out with a release on just four screens in Los Angeles and New York, followed by a slow rollout to the top 10 markets and then eventually nationwide as the screen count rises to a few dozen, then a few hundred and eventually as much as 2,000-plus, depending on how well it is doing in the awards race and with specialty audiences.
But that’s not happening this year. Between COVID-19 damaging turnout to art-house theaters and older audiences that support awards contenders showing more reluctance to buy tickets, both distributors and analysts tell TheWrap that they are trying a different approach to an indie distribution pattern that’s been in place for decades. Exactly what the best approach is for each film is the challenge facing the industry.