Recapping the news about "Nomadland", plus the launch of BBC Select in Canada.
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.
On February 18, just one day prior to the film's release in the U.S., its distributor Searchlight Pictures – formerly Fox Searchlight, and now the arthouse films division of The Walt Disney Company – announced that in addition to a theatrical release in the Toronto area on March 19, Nomadland will be available in Canada on the Star hub of the Disney+ streaming service, apparently for no extra charge to subscribers, as well as in additional Canadian theatres, on April 9.
Why isn't "Nomadland" available in Canada now?
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.
Wait, isn't 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 comes out in Canadian theatres on February 12, and will likely reach PVOD in Canada by early March.