A wide release is usually pursued when a distributor believes a movie will be an immediate hit, on the basis of its existing fandom or a major marketing campaign.This year, only three of the Best Picture nominees used a wide release approach: Dunkirk, Get Out, and The Post. The rest (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Darkest Hour, Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, Call Me By Your Name, and Phantom Thread), used the platform release approach.
The platform release, on the other hand, can be used to gauge a film’s appeal. “A platform release takes a lot of planning. The strategy usually changes on the fly through the response of public and critics,” said Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with comScore.
And in a fantastic visual display that you really need to see for yourself (scroll partway down), the authors demonstrate that, over the last 8 years, 7 of the Best Picture winners used the platform release approach.