Hollywood Studios Wins Oscars vs. Netflix – For The Moment


After the fierce fight "Green Book" against "Roma", both films won three Oscars. But Netflix did not get the prize for the best image.

Relief was palpable at the Governors' Ball Sunday night. The show without host was entertaining and surprise winners like Olivia Colman ("The Favorite") diveed many desktop oscar bombs. Studio films eliminated the need for a category of best-selling popular film: Fox's "Bohemian Rhapsody" dominated the night with four Oscars, while Universal's "Green Book" and Disney's "Black Panther" won three. With presenters and artists with high global profiles, ratings increased slightly over last year, with 29.6 million viewers.

But most importantly, Hollywood was relieved that Netflix did not win the Best Film Award. "The Roma on Netflix, what is it?" Commented presenter Tina Fey. "My microwave is making a movie?"

Peter Farrelly - Best Movie - 91st Edition of Green Book's Green Book, Press Room, Los Angeles, United States of America - February 24, 2019

Peter Farrelly

Andrew H. Walker / BEI / REX / Shutterstock

Clearly, the most expensive campaign for a foreign language film in Hollywood history, "Roma", nearly won the grand prize. The preferential vote favored a consensual title like "Green Paper", a film in the tradition "In the heat of the night", "Crash" and "Driving Miss Daisy", which makes whites feel good about themselves. As soon as he won the best original screenplay, the best movie win was possible. He also distinguished himself as the most popular film by the majority male and majority contingent of the Academy, while "BlacKkKlansman", "Roma" and "Black Panther" divided their supporters. Universal has also programmed the distribution of "Green Paper" for it to reach the public at the very moment when the film was a hit at the Oscars. Voters in the academy racked their heels and ignored the "Green Book". They liked what they liked.

When I asked Jeff Shell, president of NBC / Universal, if the "Green Book" win was a win for the Hollywood studios, he replied "Yes. It will never be a question of being "Roma".

How close is "Roma"? Judging by the precursors (Golden Globes, DGA, BAFTA, Critics' Choice), the film was like the one to beat, chosen by all Gold Derby experts, with the exception of nine others, out of a total of 37. Obviously, a substantial number of the 8,000 voters on an Oscar have awarded the Mexican black-and-white film three historical victories over 10 nominations, for the director (the second after "Gravity" by Alfonso Cuarón and the fifth time in six years as a Mexican director), Cinematography (the first for a director directing his own film) and Best Foreign Language Film, the first after nine nominations for Mexico. (The filmmaker joins Billy Wilder, Francis Coppola, Clint Eastwood and his friend Alejandro G. Iñárritu, who have all won four or more Oscars.)

Alfonso Cuaron - Director, screenplay and original images - 91st Academy Awards - Roma & # 39; Press Room, Los Angeles, United States of America - February 24, 2019

Alfonso Cuaron

Andrew H. Walker / BEI / REX / Shutterstock

Several forces fired against "Roma", best film. The studio executives were impressed by the fact that Netflix had tried to buy this Oscar and they wanted to avoid this existential threat. If they had mounted a campaign as exhaustive as the one led by Lisa Taback, former Weinstein activist, for "Roma", they might have won more than they had done.

Some movie theater distributors deny that Netflix actually mounted a "Roma" theatrical release because the streamer refused to share numbers. (According to our box office estimates, the "Roma" would cost about $ 3.5 million, so expect them to announce much better results now that the Oscars are over.) The house (especially without surround sound).

It was the most controversial Oscars season since Saving Private Ryan lost the best image in favor of Miramax's "Shakespeare in Love" (produced by Oscar producer Donna Gigliotti in 2019). Over the last few weeks, a story has emerged that revealed how the big studios were threatened by the Netflix streamer. According to such advocates of the "Green Book" as Academy Governor Steven Spielberg, who helped screenwriter-director Peter Farrelly to find a spot for Universal's Participant Media film, a vote for "Green Paper" was a vote for the cinema itself. The filmmaker spoke of the defense of the theatrical experience and the willingness of Netflix movies to quarrel with Emmys and not the Oscars.

Jeff Skoll and David Linde's Media Participant clashed after funding both "Green Book" and "Roma" – and both films were originally produced for a theatrical exhibition. Netflix outbid rivals for "Roma" and promised to run a much bigger campaign than any studio for a $ 15 million foreign language black and white film, which would never have reduced these costs in a theatrical release. No studio was willing to follow the path that Netflix had taken. They are in a different company.

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen's The Buster Scruggs Photocall Ballad, 75th Venice Film Festival, Italy - August 31, 2018

Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, at the photocall "The Buster Scruggs Ballad", 75th Venice Film Festival

Alberto Terenghi / REX / Shutterstock

The studios feared that Netflix would win the Best Film Award and take advantage of this advantage to attract the best filmmakers. Ethan Coen told me at the pre-Oscar UTA party that, although they prefer to show their films in theaters, he and Joel were happy to present at Netflix their idiosyncratic omnibus movie "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs ". . (The film had a brief theatrical release before Netflix.) The studios could have heard Martin Scorsese's gangster drama "The Irishman", if they were willing to let his budget exceed $ 140 million. This will be the next Netflix rubicon. Ted Sarandos has not finished with the Oscars.

And even studio heads know that they have to face a tough battle not only with the Silicon Valley player, Netflix, but also with Apple and Amazon. The upcoming CinemaCon exhibitor convention in Las Vegas should be revealing, as theater owners and studios continue their tense conversations around theater windows. The theatrical exclusivity "Roma", which lasts three weeks at Netflix, will never fly with the big chains, but the studios wish that the current window of 90 days is much shorter.

In the future, expect the Academy committee to try to define what films are in the digital age, led by producer Albert Berger. Some would like to see Netflix forced to argue with Emmy, or at least to reveal the brutalities. It's not going to happen. How can they push a new member of the MPAA, Netflix? The fox is already in the hen house. Determining how best to compete is the only option.

Of course, the Academy has more than just Netflix in mind. At the Governors' Ball, a series of supporters congratulated Dawn Hudson, Executive Director of the Academy, for the job well done. "It was not a disaster," said a Governor of the Academy, smiling. Academy Governor Laura Dern is a leading candidate to replace unpopular outgoing President John Bailey when he qualifies this summer. "We do not need another old white man," said the governor.

Recently, apart from Soho House's Netflix party, Dern brushed aside the demands of full-time, unpaid work. "I have to focus on breeding her," she said, gesturing to her daughter Jaya. Meanwhile, Marina de Tavira, candidate of the series "Roma", headed for Mexico City the next day. As she was leaving with a helping hand for her career, she was sorry to say goodbye to an unforgettable – and unpredictable – ride on the Hollywood yellow brick road. However, David Linde of the Participant was not willing to go back on what it meant to be caught between rival contenders. "It's over," he said.

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