Platforms Avoid Netflix Movies in Pre-Oscar Showcases

Netflix earned an impressive 24 Oscar nominations ahead of the 92nd Academy Awards on Feb. 9 — largely around two movies: Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story.

Walmart-owned Vudu.com and exhibitors Cinemark, AMC Theatres and Regal Cinema have launched pre-Oscar events showcasing best picture nominated films — with the exception of Netflix’s titles.

That’s because Netflix — per longstanding policy — does not abide by Hollywood’s traditional theatrical release strategy affording exhibitors exclusive 90-day access. Instead, the streamer mandates all original movies be made available across all distribution channels (including theatrical) at the same time.

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This has angered exhibitors and industry insiders domestically and abroad (i.e. Cannes Film Festival) for years — the result being Netflix movies are largely ignored by major theater chains.

Indeed, Cinemark’s “Annual Oscar Movie Week Festival,” which runs from Feb. 3 to 9, enables consumers (for $35) to screen all nominated films — with the exception of Netflix’s titles. Vudu is taking preorders for Oscar-nominated titles, with the exception of The Irishman and Marriage Story (which have not been slated for a digital sellthrough release).

“I don’t see the utility of making a film available on VOD or in theaters, if it’s available for free to anyone with a subscription or trial account at Netflix,” said Wedbush Securities media analyst Michael Pachter. “Netflix would rather people sign up for a free trial and watch these films than it would care for the 50% to 65% it might earn from a movie ticket or VOD.”

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Last year, Netflix’s first Oscar nominated best picture title, Roma, was also ignored by major exhibitors. It went on to win for best director (Alfonso Cuarón) and best foreign-language film (Mexico’s first) — but no best picture. The movie reportedly generated about $200,000 in revenue from pre-nomination screenings over the extended Thanksgiving weekend at select indie theaters in Los Angeles.

The imbroglio made headlines when director Steven Spielberg suggested movies that forgo the traditional theatrical run should not be considered for Oscars. The Academy’s annual board of governors post-Oscar meeting nixed that idea.

Netflix responded (on Twitter) at the time stressing “we love cinema” and ubiquitous distribution. “These things are not mutually exclusive,” the streamer tweeted.

While Roma did become Netflix’s first film to be included in The Criterion Collection on Blu-ray Disc and DVD (due Feb. 11), it arguably left millions of dollars in box office revenue on the table.

“If Netflix wants to really be a movie company, and not just a highly successful television company, why won’t they consider the traditional movie business model?,” John Fithian, CEO of the National Association of Theater Operators, wrote in a 2018 blog post. “Wouldn’t Netflix make more money and establish a much deeper cultural conversation by offering a true and robust theatrical run first, and offering exclusive streaming to its subscribers later?”

 

Can Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Avoid Awards Letdown at 92nd Oscars?

Netflix’s expansive marketing push for Martin Scorsese’ mobster movie, The Irishman, paid dividends Jan. 13 when the film was nominated for 10 of the streaming pioneer’s record-setting 24 Academy Awards nods.

The three-and-a-half hour movie was nominated for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Al Pacino, Joe Pesci), Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Film Editing, Production Design, Costume Design and Visual Effects.

Whether the nominations lead to Oscar statues remains to be seen.

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Irishman was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos walked off empty handed. The film was nominated for nine awards by the Hollywood Critics Association Awards, winning Best Supporting Actor for Pesci.

The movie won Best Acting Ensemble at the Jan. 12 Critics’ Choice Movie Awards while coming up short in 12 other categories.

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Sarandos did get a photo-op with actress Laura Dern, who won again (after the Golden Globes) for Best Supporting Actress in Netflix’s Marriage Story. The movie received six Oscar nominations, including Dern for Actress in a Supporting Role.

‘Joker,’ ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,’ ‘1917,’ Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Pace Oscar Race

A couple of Netflix originals joined a handful of studio films, a gritty comic book movie and a critically acclaimed competitor from South Korea in the race for Best Picture at the 92nd Academy Awards, as announced the morning of Jan. 13.

Netflix’s The Irishman and Marriage Story were among the nine films nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Netflix also earned Best Animated Feature nomination for Klaus and I Lost My Body, plus a Best Documentary Feature nom for American Factory from the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions.

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The Irishman earned 10 nominations. In addition to Best Picture, it will contend for Best Director for Martin Scorsese, Best Supporting Actor for Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Visual Effects and Best Costume Design.

Marriage Story earned a total of six nominations. It is also up for Best Actor for Adam Driver, Best Actress for Scarlett Johansson, Best Supporting Actress for Laura Dern, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Original Score for Randy Newman.

Johansson was also nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Jojo Rabbit.

Warner’s Joker led all films with 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Joaquin Phoenix, Best Director for Todd Phillips, Adapted Screenplay, Original Score, Costume Design, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing, Cinematography, and Makeup and Hairstyling. The film is available now on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digitally.

Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood also earned 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt, Cinematography, Costume Design, Production Design, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. The film is available now on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and digitally from Sony Pictures.

Universal’s 1917, which was the No. 1 film at the box office the weekend of Jan. 10-12, also earned 10 nominations, including Best Picture, Director for Sam Mendes, Original Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects, and Makeup and Hairstyling.

Other Best Picture nominees include Ford v Ferrari, Jojo Rabbit, Little Women, and South Korea’s Parasite.

Ford v Ferrari will be released through digital retailers Jan. 28, and on Blu-ray Disc, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray and DVD Feb. 11 from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. It also earned nominations for Film Editing, Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

Parasite, which is also up for Best International Feature Film (formerly Best Foreign-Language Film) among its six noms, will be released through digital retailers Jan. 14, and on Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 28 from Universal. It is also contending for Best Director for Bong Joon Ho, Original Screenplay, Film Editing and Production Design.

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In addition to Klaus and the French film I Lost My Body, nominees for Best Animated Feature include Universal/DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story 4, Fox’s Missing Link. The latter three are all available now on Blu-ray, DVD and digitally.

The top-grossing film and top-selling home video of 2019, Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Endgame, distributed by Disney, earned a single nomination, for Best Visual Effects.

Composer John Williams earned his 52nd Oscar nomination, for Best Original Score for Disney’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The film is also up for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound Editing.

The winners will be announced Feb. 9 on ABC. A full list of nominees is available here.

Netflix Left $3.6 Billion at the Theatrical Box Office in 2019

Beginning in late 2018 through this year, Netflix has redoubled efforts to produce original feature-length movies in addition to episodic TV series.

At the same time, the SVOD pioneer continues to throw a curve ball into traditional theatrical distribution by largely eschewing exhibitor releases in favor of worldwide streaming access.

The result is friction from theater operators, industry awards groups and a significant hit to the fiscal bottom line.

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Netflix said its most-popular original movies from October 2018 through September 2019 included Bird Box (80 million views), Murder Mystery (73 million), Triple Frontier (52 million), The Perfect Date (48 million) and Tall Girl (41 million).

The streamer said movies such as Fyre, Otherhood, Always Be My Maybe, Secret Obsession and The Highwaymen generated more than 20 million views each within four weeks of release. The list excludes El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie (25 million) and The Irishman (40 million).

While 72% of Netflix households have more than one user on the account, when factoring just one view per subscription, the aforementioned movies generated about 394 million views. Netflix ended Q3 with 158 million subscribers worldwide.

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Multiplying the views by $9.11, the average cost of a theatrical movie ticket in 2018, suggests Netflix conservatively left more than $3.58 billion in ticket sales on the table over a film’s initial 30-day period.

That’s just slightly less than Netflix’s entire third-quarter 2018 revenue of $3.9 billion.

While it can be argued that streaming a movie for “free” is more likely an option for consumers than leaving the house and buying a ticket for a non-Marvel release at a cineplex, the data underscores users’ willingness to devote a significant time allotment for video content.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a [Netflix] film,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the streamer, told an industry gathering earlier this month.

Sarandos was talking about The Irishman, Netflix’s 3-and-a-half-hour big-budget gangster movie from director Martin Scorsese that has multiple Golden Globe nominations. “Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

Scorsese’s most-recent theatrical release, 2016’s Silence, earned just $23.7 million at the global box office against an estimated budget of more than $40 million. But before that, 2013’s The Wolf of Wall Street earned $392 million at the worldwide box office, 2011’s Hugo earned $186 million, 2010’s Shutter Island earned $294 million, and 2006’s The Departed generated $291 million. With The Irishman touting a typical Scorsese cast: Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, it’s not unreasonable the film would have attracted moviegoers.

Irishman was released in select indie theaters to be considered for industry awards, including the Oscars.

The Irishman lost a lot of box office,” Mooky Greidinger, CEO of Cineworld, said in an interview. “A Scorsese released properly in cinemas would have generated a nice income.”

Indeed, Netflix hasn’t been shy seeking third-party funding for its content aspirations. In October the platform sold more than $2 billion in long-term debt (bonds) in the U.S. and Europe to buttress original content production in response to growing third-party competition, including Disney+.

Sarandos: 40 Million Households to Stream ‘The Irishman’

Netflix’s big-budget mobster movie The Irishman is projected to be streamed in 40 million households through its first 28 days of release.

Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at the SVOD behemoth, disclosed the data during a Dec. 10 presentation at the UBS Global TMT Conference in New York City.

Sarandos said 26.4 million households watched at least 70% of the lengthy (3.5 hours) movie from director Martin Scorsese — a tally he said does not take into account multiple people watching simultaneously under one roof.

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Indeed, Sarandos seemed to imply anyone watching the movie in its entirety should be applauded.

“The thing that’s amazing about that is … think of everything those people could be doing on those screens, and they chose a film,” Sarandos said.

The Irishman generated multiple Golden Globe nominations, with Sarandos characterizing Netflix’s record nomination indicative the streamer’s “mark of quality.”

“Consumers understand the value of proposition of new movie watching, compared with TV series,” he said.

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Netflix’s ‘Irishman’ Skipping Major Theatrical Run

Netflix’s big budget original movie The Irishman reportedly will not have a major theatrical run upon its November release.

The Martin Scorsese-directed gangster movie features multiple Oscar winners, including Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Al Pacino, among others.

Netflix is eyeing the film for major industry awards, which require a theatrical screening to be considered for nomination.

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The SVOD pioneer continues to maintain a business model that makes original movies available for streaming concurrent with any theatrical run.

To abide by the rules, Netflix has offered The Irishman to theaters for an exclusive 27-day window ahead of streaming, beginning Nov. 1.

But major chains such as AMC, Regal and Landmark insist they have exclusive rights to any theatrical release for 90 days.

As a result, Netflix will screen the film at select indie theaters nationwide — a path the service took when debuting  last year’s Oscar-winning movie Roma from director Alfonso Cuaron.

 

Netflix’s ‘The Irishman’ Gets Global Debut at London Film Festival

The BFI London Film Festival scored a coup of sorts Aug. 5 when it announced that the upcoming 63rd edition would play host to the global debut of Netflix original feature film The Irishman from director Martin Scorsese.

Netflix — contrary to the SVOD’s feature-film policy releasing titles in theaters and streaming concurrently — is rolling out the mega-budget movie in select theaters first to appease industry awards such as the Academy Awards as well as Oscar-winner Scorsese.

Irishman, which will be screened Oct. 13 at the festival’s “Closing Night Gala,” stars Academy Award winners Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Joe Pesci, among others.

The screening apparently precedes a previously-announced Irishman debut at the New York Film Festival on Oct. 14.

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Netflix has not yet announced the streaming release for the film.

The BFI London Film Festival also announced that there would be simultaneous preview screenings taking place at cinemas across the UK.

Re-uniting Scorsese with his Gangs of New York screenwriter Steve Zaillian, who adapted from Charles Brandt’s novel I Heard You Paint Houses, The Irishman examines the influence of organized crime in post-war America.

The story is told through the eyes of World War II veteran Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a hustler and hitman who worked alongside some of the most notorious figures of the 20th Century.

Spanning decades, the film chronicles one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in American history, the disappearance of infamous Union President Jimmy Hoffa, and offers a monumental journey through the hidden corridors of organized crime: its inner workings, rivalries and connections to mainstream politics.

“I’m extremely honored to be having the International Premiere of The Irishman at the closing night of the BFI London Film Festival,” Scorsese said in a statement. “This picture was many years in the making. It’s a project that Robert De Niro and I started talking about a long time ago, and we wanted to make it the way it needed to be made. It’s also a picture that all of us could only have made at this point in our lives.”

Tricia Tuttle, BFI London Film Festival Director hailed Scorsese as “one of the true greats of cinema” as both a creator and champion of film preservation and history.

“This is a major occasion for film lovers and I cannot wait to share this film with U.K.,” Tuttle said.

Netflix Releases ‘The Irishman’ Movie Trailer

Netflix July 31 released the official movie trailer for its much-hyped mob feature film The Irishman, directed by Martin Scorsese, and starring fellow Oscar winners Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, and Al Pacino, among others.

The period drama, which will debut at the upcoming New York Film Festival, boasts Netflix’s willingness to spend big (reported $160 million budget) and initially release the movie theatrically (ahead of streaming) to appease industry award guidelines.

The plot centers around World War II veteran and mob hitman Frank Sheeran (De Niro) and his relationship with former labor union leader Jimmy Hoffa, who disappeared in 1975 and was declared dead in absentia in 1982.

When the movie, which also features Harvey Keitel, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin and Ray Romano, will be released at the box office has not been disclosed.

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Netflix Reportedly Eyeing Content Budget Restraint

With Netflix’s fiscal second-quarter ended June 30, the SVOD pioneer reportedly is re-evaluating its prolific content spending.

The service, which ended Q1 with $18.9 billion in third-party content obligations, spent more than $12 billion on original content in 2018 — a fiscal largess senior management is now scrutinizing.

CCO Ted Sarandos in June reportedly held a meeting with mid-level managers with a revised mandate that spending on original content should be commensurate with viewership — especially among new subscribers and long-time inactive members, according to The Information, which cited people at the meeting.

Netflix heretofore has eschewed spending restraint in favor of content’s social media buzz and establishing industry legitimacy.

“They are the leading game in town and were probably overspending relative to what they need,” analyst Michael Nathanson with MoffettNathanson told the website. “Now that they are in a strong position, they probably want to allocate more of that spending overseas.”

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The service in recent years has blown up industry norms outspending/bidding over-the-top competitors and traditional pay-TV players for content and exclusive license agreements.

With domestic sub growth maturing and a bevy of pending OTT video services launching from deep-pocket competitors such as Apple, Disney, WarnerMedia and NBC Universal, among others, Netflix now wants original programming to pay for itself — a challenge for a business model that shuns advertising, the theatrical window and transactional VOD.

Sarandos, according to The Information, was at odds with the reported $115 million spent on Triple Frontier, the original action movie with Ben Affleck and Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) that apparently didn’t resonate with subscribers — or the service’s bottom line.

In fiscal 2018, Netflix generated negative cash flow of $3 billion on revenue of $16 billion — a figure projected to increase to $3.5 billion in fiscal 2019 — much of it due to content spending.

“There’s been no change to our content budgets, nor any big shifts in the sorts of projects we’re investing in, or the way we greenlight them,” said a Netflix spokesperson.

Meanwhile, pending original movie The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese has a reported budget of $150 million. With Netflix eyeing the mob thriller for next year’s industry awards, the service will have to compromise on its concurrent theatrical/streaming release mandate, says Michael Pachter with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

“We expect Netflix and exhibitors to reach an accommodation where there will be a shortened window in exchange for lower film rent,” Pachter wrote in a July 1 note.

A typical film earns 83% of its box office within four weeks, and 96% within 60 days, which Pachter believes could soften exhibitors’ revenue loss to around 3% as the result of a shortened theatrical window to appease Netflix’s business model.

“We think that if studios or platforms like Netflix are willing to trade film rent for an earlier window, the negative impact on exhibition would be limited particularly for films well-suited for the big screen,” Pachter wrote. “The Irishman may fit the bill.”

Netflix reports Q2 fiscal results July 17.

Report: Netflix Movies Skipping Cannes Film Festival

Netflix reportedly won’t have any film entries in the 2019 Cannes Film Festival May 14-25 in Cannes, France, despite efforts by the subscription streaming video pioneer and event organizers to hammer out a truce in their ongoing theatrical window feud.

Netflix executives Ted Sarandos and Scott Stuber apparently found no compromise after recently meeting with Cannes artistic director Thierry Fremaux in Los Angeles regarding the SVOD service’s insistence on streaming its original movies day-and-date with any theatrical release, according to Variety — which cited a source familiar with the situation.

The standoff last year resulted in Netflix bypassing Cannes and submitting original movie Roma to the Venice Film Festival where it won the top Golden Lion award.

While industry politics generate the headlines, Variety reports that Netflix didn’t have a movie ready for the March 11 deadline for official feature length film submissions to the 72nd Cannes Festival.

Fremaux apparently had hopes for Netflix mob movie,The Irishman, from director Martin Scorsese, being submitted to the competition. Regardless, Netflix reps will be at Cannes scouting out indie content to acquire.

Separately, actor Kevin Costner, whose next film, The Highwaymen, begins streaming on Netflix March 29, believes movies should have a theatrical release if possible.

“I think movies are for theaters, and as long as they can stay in them,” Costner said at last week’s SXSW Film Festival in Austin, Texas.

The actor said over-the-top video represents a new way for people to consume movies and distribution channel for the industry to fight over.

“The sand shifting, I haven’t thought about that as much as I’ve thought about the next movie I’m gonna do, or the next story I’m gonna write,” Costner said.