EXCLUSIVE: While there have been questions about big movies holding their theatrical release dates around the holidays in this COVID-19 moment, Universal’s News of the World is solidifying a plan to release theatrically in the U.S., while getting its international release through Netflix. Deadline hears that the Paul Greengrass-directed period drama that stars Tom Hanks is making a deal to have its overseas distribution handled through Netflix, which has done this on some other pictures but not on one this large.
The deal is being sewn up as we speak, and this will be good news for theaters in the U.S. as the picture launches its way into Oscar season. The picture will be release on PVOD as early as 17 days following its theatrical release on December 25. It will continue to hold screens. This is possible because of Uni’s deal with AMC, which allows for a hybrid model.
The Netflix deal will keep it eligible for BAFTAs abroad, but it gives the picture a vast global audience. It is an intriguing model for distribution as the business fights its way through the limitations of the coronavirus pandemic.
Hanks plays a Civil War veteran who agrees to deliver a girl, taken by the Kiowa people years ago, to her aunt and uncle, against her will. They travel hundreds of miles and face grave dangers along the way. The film reunites Greengrass and Hanks; they teamed on Captain Phillips, which garnered six Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Greengrass developed a relationship with Netflix on his last film, 22 July. A shocking and powerful drama about an extremist in Norway who killed 70 of the country’s best and brightest youngsters who were away on an island retreat, the movie was dark and Greengrass wanted it to be seen by as wide an audience as possible. A global Netflix release made that possible.
Greengrass wrote the script with Luke Davies based on the Paulette Giles novel. Hanks’ Playtone partner Gary Goetzman produced along with Gregory Goodman and Gail Mutrux.
Universal has show a continued commitment to the theatrical marketplace. Focus Features had the top grossing theatrical films for the past couple of weeks with Come Play and the Kevin Costner-Diane Lane-starrer Let Him Go. The studio has six titles including the Greengrass-Hanks film on its calendar through year’s end. The Vince Vaughn-directed Freaky opens this Friday.
Here is the News of the World trailer: