Following raves out of film festivals, Roma, the latest film from Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), is poised to make its theatrical premiere on Nov. 21. For Netflix, the film, which centers on a young domestic worker named Cleo (Yalitza Aparicio) and is drawn from Cuarón’s memories of his childhood, seems to be a golden goose; Roma is receiving the biggest release of any of the streaming service’s originals in hopes of breaking into Oscar season — though its rollout hasn’t been without its problems.
The fact that Roma will hit Netflix so soon after being screened in theaters is a stumbling block for multiplex chains, as, broadly speaking, there’s little incentive to buying a ticket for a movie you’ll soon be able to watch for free. However, even the film’s new trailer makes it clear that this is a movie that should be seen on the big screen.
As in the film itself, which takes advantage of Dolby Atmos technology, the trailer’s sound design is remarkable, with echoes and noises coming from all angles in a way that might get lost in translation when filtered through a computer’s speakers. Then there’s the matter of image (the film’s theatrical release includes plans for 70mm presentations); though Cuarón’s facility for direction means that the film looks stunning no matter how it’s seen, there’s so much detail packed into every frame.
According to Netflix’s most recent update, Roma will have exclusive limited theatrical run starting Nov. 21 in Los Angeles, New York and Mexico, adding locations in Toronto and London on Nov. 29 and other top U.S. markets and international territories through Dec. 5. Cuarón’s film will release globally on Netflix on Dec 14, while still expanding its theatrical run.
That isn’t to say that Roma won’t play to powerful effect on a smaller screen — just that it’s best seen in a theater setting if the opportunity is available.