Wide release is a term in the Americanmotion picture industry for a motion picture that is playing nationally (as opposed to a few cinemas in cities such as New York and Los Angeles). Specifically, a movie is considered to be in wide release when it is on 600 theatres or more in the United States and Canada.
In the US, films holding an NC-17 rating almost never have a wide release. Showgirls (1995) is one of the rare films with an NC-17 to get one.
The term is sometimes used informally in relative terms. For example, a documentary or art film promoter might speak of a film expanding from a few New York and Los Angeles screens to cinemas in major cities across the U.S. as moving into "wide release" even though it might be playing on single screens in as few as 15 or 20 major cities.