The film was released this week in the Oscar-winner’s home country but a disagreement has arisen between the streaming giant and the country’s leading cinema operator Cinépolis, which has refused to show the film due to Netflix’s collapsed theatrical window.
Earlier this week, Cuarón tweeted in Spanish, “I would like many more theatrical engagements in Mexico. We have all the theaters we have been able to get, which sadly is 40. To put that in perspective, Poland will exhibit in 57 halls and South Korea in 50. Roma is available to all cinemas who want to exhibit it.”
Netflix said it would be “happy to share this incredible film with the audiences of Cinépolis and Cinemex [Mexico’s biggest chains]…if they decide to exhibit the film from November 21.” It also declared that an “important part” of cinema grosses would be given to non-profit organizations.
Mexico’s leading cinema chain Cinépolis, which has been in dialogue with Netflix about the film’s release since May, was not for turning. It issued the following statement on Thursday, “We invite Netflix to postpone the premiere of Roma on its platform to respect the traditional window of exhibition in movie theaters, and Cinépolis will be happy to premiere it as of November 29 in all of our cinemas nationwide, which provide coverage to more than 75 cities in all the states of the Mexican Republic. In addition, we offer that 50% of the collection be donated to social organizations linked to the cause of domestic work.”
Roma, Cuarón’s intimate epic about a year in the life of a middle-class family in Mexico City in the early 1970s, is getting limited theatrical play in dozens of countries, but its situation in Mexico highlights the challenge faced by even the most celebrated filmmakers when it comes to getting their Netflix film a wide release.
In Italy, another territory whose exhibitors have recently pushed back against Netflix and day-and-date releasing, Roma will have a three day event release ten days before its Netflix bow via niche art-house player Cineteca Di Bologna.
U.S. rollout for the feted film started in New York and Los Angeles on November 21. London will follow on November 29, and cinemas in at least 30 countries will be showing the film from December 5, according to Netflix.