A few early thoughts after the Canadian TV networks' 2021-22 schedule announcements.
Nomadland, a film written and directed by Chloé Zhao, and starring Frances McDormand as a woman who travels around the (present-day) Western United States, is widely considered to be the best North American film of 2020, and won the Oscar for Best Picture at the 93rd Academy Awards. It was released widely, though only in the U.S., on Friday, February 19, 2021.
Since Friday, April 9, 2021, the film has been available in Canada as part of the Star hub of the Disney+ streaming service, at no extra charge to Canadian subscribers. It's our understanding that it's also screening in some Canadian theatres as of this writing in early May, though cinemas in much of the country remain closed, and cinemas owned by Canada's biggest theatre chain, Cineplex, have declined to book the film for now.
Just one day prior to the U.S. release, the film's distributor Searchlight Pictures – formerly Fox Searchlight, and now the arthouse films division of The Walt Disney Company – announced that the Canadian release of Nomadland would begin on April 9. (Initially, there was supposed to be an early theatrical release in Toronto area cinemas on March 19, however with theatres in that region remaining closed, that part of the plan was cancelled.)
Disney+ is available in Canada to new subscribers for $11.99 per month, or $119.99 per year (those that subscribed prior to February 23 retain their previous rates until at least August). Although Star has been described in some media as an "add-on" to Disney+, Star (and therefore access to Nomadland) is included automatically at no extra charge, though you may need to update your content settings to allow R-rated films like Nomadland.
Why wasn't "Nomadland" available in Canada sooner?
Nomadland has had a slow North American rollout, due in part to the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting closures of theatres across the continent (and indeed worldwide). This began with film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in September 2020, where it had a capacity-limited digital screening – albeit one that could be accessed from anywhere in Canada.
In the United States, distributor Searchlight Pictures – a subsidiary of Disney – released the film simultaneously in theatres and on Disney's general entertainment streaming service Hulu on February 19, presumably expecting that most American theatres will continue to operate at reduced capacity, or remain closed in some areas, for the next few months.
However, Disney indicated that it would wait until at least early March before releasing the movie internationally – evidently taking a wait-and-see approach. Canada is sometimes included in the "domestic" (U.S.) release plans, but this tends to vary by distributor. And of course, Hulu is not available in Canada, though Disney was already in the process of launching its new "Star" adult-focused programming section of Disney+ in Canada and a few other countries. Ultimately, at least in Canada, Disney decided to use Star in a similar fashion to Hulu in the U.S. for releasing Nomadland.
Is this the new film with Robin Wright?
Nope, that's a different movie about a woman living in the wilderness, which is just called Land. That movie came out in Canadian theatres on February 12, and was made available via PVOD in Canada in early March.