Netflix & Co. Push Back in Post-Oscar Theatrical Window Dispute

The Academy Awards may be over, but that hasn’t stopped the controversy surrounding Netflix’s 10 Oscar nominations (and three wins) for original movie Roma, whose release didn’t adhere to the traditional 90-day theatrical window.

Netflix, per chief content officer Ted Sarandos’ longstanding pledge to release movies globally via streaming concurrent with theatrical distribution, has run afoul of exhibitors and industry awards.

Director Steven Spielberg, a senior member of the Academy board, is reportedly looking to have Netflix’s movies bypassed for future consideration unless the service honors the window. Spielberg believes Netflix’s films should be reserved for TV-based Emmy Awards.

“Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation,” a spokesperson from Spielberg’s Amblin production company told CNBC. “He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting].”

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British exhibitor Cineworld – the second-largest chain in the world – withdrew its support for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts after the organization awarded Roma with its Best Film honor.

Netflix, March 3 in a social media post, reiterated its support for theatrical distribution – and streaming.

“We love cinema. Here are some things we also love:

Access for people who can’t always afford or live in towns without theaters. Letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time. Giving filmmakers more ways to share art.

These things are not mutually exclusive.”

Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay (13th) whose upcoming documentary about the Central Park Five – When They See Us– begins streaming on Netflix in May, defended the service’s strategy.

DuVernay contends the SVOD pioneer affords lower profile films wider distribution through streaming than is available theatrically.

“This is a Board of Governors meeting,” DuVernay said in a tweet directed to board members. “And regular branch members can’t be there. But I hope … that you’ll have filmmakers in the room or read statements from directors like me who feel differently.”

Netflix’s next big Awards movie – The Irishman – from director Martin Scorsese and starring Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Harvey Keitel, among others, begins streaming later this year.

 

 

 

No. 2 Global Theater Chain Cineworld Enters Netflix ‘Roma’ Dispute

Cineworld, the world’s second-largest theatrical chain (after AMC Theatres), has joined a growing dispute regarding Netflix’s aggressive marketing foray into industry movie awards.

The U.K.-based chain, which acquired Regal Cinemas last year for $3.6 billion, this week informed the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) that it was pulling support for the organization after it honored Netflix original movie, Roma, with the Best Film award, among others, in February.

In a letter to BAFTA, Cineworld cited the organization for breaking its rules by nominating a “made for TV” movie for awards consideration. Netflix’s black-and-white film about a 1970s family in Mexico picked up four BAFTA trophies, including for cinematography, foreign language and director (Alfonso Cuarón).

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While Netflix’s aversion to the traditional 90-day theatrical window for original movies isn’t new, the streaming pioneer’s aggressive marketing push and success with Roma has upped angst among exhibitors and some industry veterans.

In an attempt to assuage industry protocol, Netflix released Roma in select (largely) independent theaters early, followed quickly with global streaming access.

Combined with a marketing blitz in Los Angeles and New York, Roma picked up 10 Oscar nominations, winning the same three BAFTA categories – but not Best Picture.

BAFTA, which denied it broke its own rules affording Roma awards consideration, said it would initiate a “review of our eligibility criteria in the coming months,” as reported by Deadline.com.

Netflix, which reportedly spent $30 million marketing Roma to voting members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, upped its marketing spend after one of its first original movies – critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, starring Idris Elba – was shunned by major industry awards in 2015, despite 91% favorable rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film generated just $90,000 at the box office following a nationwide exhibitor boycott.

Notably, Elba became the first actor to win a SAG best supporting actor award for his performance without being nominated for an Oscar.