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Cinestar will release the film on 40 screens across Germany this weekend. 22 July, which looks at the right-wing terror attacks in Norway in 2011, goes out on Netflix on Oct. 10.
The move, by one of Germany’s leading multiplex exhibitors, to cooperate with Netflix comes as many European exhibitors are pushing back against the online platform. Italian cinema owners were up in arms after Alfonso Cuaron’s ROMA, another Netflix release, won best film at this year’s Venice Film Festival. They called on Venice, and all of Europe’s top festivals, to ban Netflix titles from competition, as Cannes did this year, under pressure from the French industry.
HDF Kino, Germany’s largest cinema association, agreed with the Italians, saying it would not welcome Netflix films at next year’s Berlin Film Festival and criticizing Netflix for undermining exhibitors’ business model.
That doesn’t seem to bother CineStar managing director Oliver Fock, who said the release of 22 July was simply another form of “alternative content,” similar to theatrical screenings of TV series or documentaries that the company does regularly. Indeed, CineStar hosted a theatrical screening of epic German series Babylon Berlin earlier this year, ahead of its free-TV premiere. Fock noted that CineStar is only planning to screen 22 July three times: Thursday, Oct. 4 at 8 p.m.; Friday, Oct. 5 at 10.45 p.m.; and Sunday, Oct. 7 at 5 p.m. The release, he insisted, will not interfere with the theatrical rollouts of other titles.
CineStar continues to support the idea of a theatrical window for feature films and does not see the 22 July bow as a day-and-date style release.
CineStar is believed to be in negotiations with Netflix for a similar, limited release of ROMA in Germany.
Limited theatrical bows for Netflix titles are nothing new — the company regularly does small releases to allow its films to qualify for award season. But CineStar is a significant player in Germany — the company runs 54 cinemas with 414 screens — and its cooperation will be watched closely by the industry as a possible alternative to full-on confrontation with Netflix.
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