You may have noticed that movies like 'The Irishman', 'Marriage Story', 'The Two Popes' and 'The King' have hit cinemas before coming to Netflix. Generally, they've only shown in select cinemas for a limited time before arriving on the streaming service. Here's why.

The Netflix movies that have screened in cinemas include 'The King', which stars Timothée Chalamet as Prince Henry as he assumes his duty to the throne; 'Marriage Story', starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver as a couple whose divorce turns bitter; and 'The Two Popes', which dramatises meetings between Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) and Cardinal Bergoglio (Jonathon Pryce), the latter of whom would become Pope Francis.

And you've probably heard much about 'The Irishman', directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci. De Niro plays the titular killer-for-hire.

Averaging only about a three-week run in cinemas before becoming available to stream, the box office receipts of each are unimpressive. 'The King' made a loss while 'Marriage Story' only made about $1 million. 'The Irishman' made €6.6 million while 'The Two Popes' has only just arrived in cinemas, but is unlikely to make a dent.

With such little numbers, making money is clearly not the objective here.


So what gives?

The truth is it's all about the prestige of awards contention - particularly the Oscars.

The rules and regulations for this year's Academy Awards state that films must have a consecutive seven-day cinema run. Netflix have clearly gone for a three-week run so their features fall well within the allotted time. After all, the Academy has been under pressure to change rules to exclude streaming services, so they'd want to show they're playing by the rules.

Last year, films like 'Roma' and 'The Buster of Ballad Scruggs' by the Coen brothers similarly were in cinemas for a few weeks (around this time of year too, which is Oscars season) before hitting Netflix. 'Roma' ended up winning the Oscars for Best Director, Cinematography, and Foreign Language Film.


How likely are this year's Netflix movies to gain awards contention?

'The King' could well be passed over aside from technical awards like costume and production design. After all, historical dramas tend to be looked on favorably for such categories. But the film has few standout qualities aside from that.

'Marriage Story' is definitely one to look out for given the praise Johansson, Driver and screenwriter Noah Baumbach have received for it. It's won prizes at the Gotham Independent Film and Film Independent Spirit Awards, which is always a good sign.

Could Scorsese's swansong earn some nods for direction and that cast? Most likely, though it's early days to predict what wins it could get (let's not forget these films have all the movie releases to watch out for). Pryce could be a black horse, meanwhile, for 'The Two Popes'.

Aside from that, Netflix movie 'Uncut Gems' is one to keep an eye out for in the new year. In it, Adam Sandler play a jewellery shop owner caught up in the criminal world. It seems that Sandler is getting awards buzz for what's reportedly his career-best role.

'The King' and 'The Irishman' are streaming on Netflix now.

'Marriage Story' is now showing in Irish cinemas and hits Netflix on December 6th.

'The Two Popes' is also showing in Irish cinemas and is available to stream from December 20th.