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Netflix, stalking an Oscar, recruits iPic cinemas to screen its movies

To qualify for an Academy Award, Netflix must show off its films the old-fashioned way, so it's turning to a 15-screen chain of upscale theaters.

The upcoming movie "Mascots," a mockumentary made by the same creative team behind "Best in Show" and "This Is Spinal Tap," will screen in iPic theaters later this month.

The upcoming movie "Mascots," a mockumentary made by the same creative team behind "Best in Show" and "This Is Spinal Tap," will screen in iPic theaters later this month.

Scott Garfield/Netflix

Netflix will screen 10 of its original films at physical theaters the same day it releases them online, through a deal with iPic, a 15-screen upscale cinema chain.

Netflix on Wednesday confirmed the pact, which was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Showing its movies in so few theaters is financially meaningless for Netflix. The overwhelming majority of its revenue will continue to come from its 83 million monthly subscriptions to stream video on connected devices. But the partnership accomplishes two goals: It will qualify Netflix's films to be in the running for Academy Awards, the film industry's highest prize, and it's another toehold in getting physical theaters to screen content the same day it's available online.

Last year, Netflix irked major movie exhibitors by pushing for this so-called "day-and-date" delivery. Its most high-profile release so far, "Beasts of No Nation," premiered online the same day the company decided to release it for theaters. Rankled by the threat to the traditional "windowing" release schedules that help get people into cinema seats, the four biggest cinema chains -- AMC, Carmike, Cinemark and Regal -- refused to book the film.

The deal with iPic covers 10 Netflix films, with the option to add more. They'll be screened in iPic theaters in Los Angeles and New York, again with the option of widening screenings to more cities.

The first Netflix movie to screen in iPic theaters, on Friday, will be "The Siege of Jadotville," a battle thriller. Christopher Guest mockumentary "Mascots" will follow on October 13. Netflix's full slate of movies includes "Bright," a big-budget Will Smith vehicle, and "War Machine," starring Brad Pitt.