From ‘Belfast’ to ‘Spencer,’ Top Oscar Contenders Are Skipping Platforms to Open Big

From ‘Belfast’ to ‘Spencer,’ Top Oscar Contenders Are Skipping Platforms to Open Big
For an Oscar-contending film, the platform run — opening in perhaps five theaters in New York and Los Angeles, and slowly increasing its footprint over weeks or months — is sacred. In the last 15 years, “Argo” and “The Departed” are the only two Oscar Best Picture winners that opened in more than 25 theaters.

This year, things are different. Kenneth Branagh’s acclaimed “Belfast” became an immediate frontrunner as the winner of the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival’s often-predictive Audience Award. In the past, a platform release for the sensitive black-and-white period film would certainly follow. This year, Focus is expected to open in at least 500 theaters on November 12. Neon’s “Spencer,” starring Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana, is expected to open in about 1,500 theaters on November 5 per exhibition sources.

This year, it’s almost certain that Best Picture will go to a film that opened in dozens, if not hundreds, of theaters,
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