MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Joel and Ethan Coen have always done things a little... quirky.
Awww geez, like "Fargo."
That film won the Coen Brothers their first Academy Award; they've racked up three more, including Best Picture for "No Country For Old Men."
Their newest film is "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" quietly debuted in two tiny theaters last night, just eight days before its full premiere next Friday - in your living room, on Netflix.
"It is such a good film it is, I think, leading people to really wish that it would have a longer run in theaters," said Dr. Graeme Stout, the Film Studies Coordinator at the University of Minnesota.
It's scoring 93-percent from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.
So, why skip the theater marquee?
Netflix is changing the game: paying big money for film rights and helping produce.
"You know, people are of two minds. They want to see them in theaters, they want to see them in that cinematic experience that we all love from the Coen Brothers going back decades now. But, the fact that Netflix is able to purchase these films to distribute them is a real feather in their cap as a corporation," said Dr. Stout. "It's on some level a new world in cinema, and it would be very interesting to find out what their rationale was for going with Netflix."
Maybe it's access: in 2011, Netflix had 23 million subscribers; today, they have more than 137 million. In fact, according to Barclays, Netflix is on pace to add more than 27 million subscribers in 2018 alone, which is nearly as many as HBO added in the United States in its first 40 years.
"When you look at what Netflix is able to do - ok, we're talking about the Coen Brothers, very well-established filmmakers, but also in terms of what they're able to do with television," said Dr. Stout.
Sure, maybe it's art: Netflix has won multiple Emmys for its original TV series, and an award-winning film is next.
"They did well in the film festival circuit, next they're thinking about the Golden Globes and then the Oscars. And, that's probably, you know, when Netflix wins an Oscar, we know something has kind of changed there," said Dr. Stout.