Netflix Sets Theatrical Dates for Cary Fukunaga's 'Beasts of No Nation'

The Africa-set drama, starring Idris Elba, will debut theatrically in Landmark Theaters in 19 markets the same day it debuts on the streaming service in October.

Cary Fukunaga’s Beasts of No Nation will open theatrically in 19 markets served by Landmark Theatres on Oct. 16, the same day that it debuts on Netflix, which will make the film, starring Idris Elba, eligible for Oscar consideration.

Netflix announced that it is partnering with Bleecker Street, the new distribution company founded by Andrew Karpen last year, and Landmark to open the Africa-set drama in select markets in the U.S. as it simultaneously makes its worldwide bow on the streaming service.

When Netflix acquired the film in March in a $12 million deal, beating out specialty film distributors like Fox Searchlight and Focus, it promised a theatrical release for the film and signaled that it planned a major awards push for the new feature from Fukunaga, an Emmy winner for his work directing the first season of HBO’s True Detective. Beasts, it was announced earlier this week, has been selected to screen at both the Venice Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival, setting it up to become part of the season’s awards conversation.

While the country’s major theater circuits like Regal, AMC and Cinemark have policies against showing movies that are simultaneously playing on VOD or streaming services, Landmark, part of the Wagner/Cuban companies co-owned by Todd Wagner and Mark Cuban, has shown a willingness to book movies also appearing online and on cable.

Landmark Theatres operates 261 screens in 53 theatres across 26 markets, and Beasts, it was announced, will bow in 19 of those markets: New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Atlanta, Indianapolis, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego.

If a film makes its first appearance in other media before playing theaters, it’s ineligible for Oscar consideration. But under Academy rules, movies that begin their theatrical run on the same day as they appear online are eligible once they complete a one-week run in Los Angeles.

For the past two seasons, Netflix has had a horse in the documentary feature Oscar race with nominees The Square and Virunga. If Beasts emerges as a contender, it will become the streaming service’s first hopeful in the narrative feature categories.

Beasts, based on the novel by Nigerian author Uzodinma Iweala, is the tale of Agu, a child soldier torn from his family to fight in the civil war of an African country. Newcomer Abraham Attah plays Agu, while Elba will be seen as Commandant, a warlord who takes in Agu and instructs him in the ways of war.

Beasts is produced by Amy Kaufman and Fukunaga, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Riva Marker and Dan Crown for Red Crown Productions, along with Elba. Jeff Skoll and Jonathan King are executive producers for Participant Media; Donna Gigliotti is executive producer for Levantine Films; Elizabeth Koch and Kristina Kendall are executive producers for New Balloon; and Bill Benenson, Laura Bickford and Todd Courtney are also executive producers.

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