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Netflix acquires documentary on the Egyptian protests, signalling push for movie premieres

NEW YORK, N.Y. – Netflix has acquired the first-run rights to a documentary on the Egyptian protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, signalling a new push by the subscription company to program movie premieres.

“The Square” will debut exclusively on Netflix early next year, Netflix announced Monday. Jehane Noujaim’s documentary depicts the tumult of the Egyptian Revolution beginning in 2011.

“The Square” is playing in New York and Los Angeles theatres. The short theatrical run will qualify the film, an award-winner at the Sundance and Toronto film festivals, for Oscar consideration.

Netflix tried earlier to get into the first-run film distribution business with its indie label, Red Envelope. Several notable documentaries and independent films were co-produced by Netflix when it was just a DVD-by-mail business. But the company shuttered Red Envelope in 2008.

In a letter to shareholders this year, Netflix executives said the company would expand its growing library of original content beyond new TV shows like “House of Cards” and would seek to add “broadly appealing documentaries.”