Netflix has lost the best battle in pictures, but its war against Hollywood is just beginning


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By Daniel Arkin and Dylan Byers

In the days leading up to the 91st Academy Awards, the old Hollywood guard was gearing up for a tough night that could allow a streaming company to win the Oscar for best film, thus accelerating the death of the experience traditional cinema.

The ceremony without a moderator was already plunged into the confusion and controversy surrounding public relations, problems amplified by the dizzying and overflowing decline of the series. A big win for the "Roma" adored by the critics of Netflix and Alfonso Cuarón would only make things worse for the establishment studios and multiplex chains.

But as early as Monday morning, not even the hangover after the party could curb the industry celebration.

"Hollywood is euphoric," NBC News Monday morning told a Hollywood entertainment executive. "The notes do not seem to have collapsed and Netflix did not win the best picture, despite spending $ 25 [million] to $ 30 million "on a promotional campaign." After so much misery, this morning feels like happiness. "

"Green Book", a serious but polarizing comedy drama distributed by Universal, puts the suspense on hold, triumphing in the top category and depriving Netflix of the chance to go down in history, at least for now. Television producers, on the other hand, have managed to reverse the recent drop in ratings, attracting some 29.6 million viewers. (Universal Pictures is owned by NBCUniversal, the parent company of NBC News.)

But, along with the declining audience that hammered the Oscars and other major live television events, a one – year reprieve did not have the effect of Mitigate the general tumult of cinema, pitting Silicon Valley against Los Angeles in a fierce battle for cultural dominance. .

In just two decades, Netflix has grown from a DVD-to-mail service to an era-driven global entertainment force that has left some parts of Hollywood intact. It works with studios but may not serve them. It plays the game of marketing, but probably has the most powerful marketing space of entertainment: the Netflix home screen.

In other words, the euphoria in Hollywood is relative.

"Remember the rat experiments. In the absence of prolonged electric shock, rats experience the same neurological state as euphoria, "said the executive. The ranking down and the onslaught of Netflix equals a non-stop electric shock. "

Netflix was still very present at the Oscars, winning three big honors for "Roma" – director, cinematographer, film in foreign language – and a fourth for the best short film. But more importantly, Netflix and other leading broadcast platforms – Amazon and Hulu, as well as old-school titans who seek to replicate their innovations, such as Disney and WarnerMedia – still pose an existential threat to age-old business models.

"It does not matter that" Roma "did not win the best picture," said Tom Rogers, former general manager of the TiVo digital video recording company. "Netflix has unleashed the power of a new business model that will be with us for a long time."

Following the awards season, film executives will be forced to face the same headaches that have plagued them since the rise of streaming services. A growing number of consumers, clinging to the ease and convenience of video-on-demand, are abandoning conventional multiplexes for the comfort of their living room, and the old studios may soon be forced to cut the "window" that separates the sequence from a movie theaters and its appearance on digital platforms.

Netflix also attracts top talent, such as Guillermo del Toro, Noah Baumbach, Dee Rees, Michael Bay and legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, director of Netflix's upcoming project "The Irishman". Netflix also launched a trailer for Scorsese's popular budget drama during the Oscar-winning Sunday night TV show. Netflix's television division, for its part, has poached elite producers such as Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes.

Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research, a strategy specialist, recently told Bloomberg that it was only a matter of time before a first digital film won the Academy Award for best film. "This is an inflection point for the industry, which shows you where the world is going," he said.

Netflix may have lost the most illustrious price in Hollywood, but some observers said Monday that the firm had achieved a feat that could be equally impressive in a sector dominated by franchises to great success.

"That people see Green Book as a surprise is a testament to the success of the Netflix campaign on Roma," said Hollywood Reporter executive Matthew Belloni. says in a tweet. "They took a foreign language film in black and white, which opened up a dialogue about the future of the film, a feat quite remarkable."

Last fall, Netflix provoked the heads of movie theater executives and owners by giving relatively short theatrical releases to "Roma" and to the Coen brothers' western anthology, "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs ", depriving operators of revenue. In a dealership, the company organized a brief theatrical tour for "Roma" in some cities before moving the film on its platform.

Critics – including the president of the National Association of Theater Owners, John Fithian – have rejected the theatrical release as a simple attempt to satisfy the rules of eligibility for the Oscars and appeal to Cuarón, director of the standings. AMC Theaters, anxious to preserve cinemas and protect the value of a movie ticket, fought back against Netflix by refusing to sift through "Roma".

Patrick Corcoran, vice president of the group of movie theater owners, said Monday in a phone interview that Netflix would be wise to follow the example of Amazon, who gave a stronger theatrical release to another nominated in foreign language, "Cold War", and does the same for the famous drama "Manchester by the Sea" from three years ago.

"I think that if Netflix is ​​to continue to be part of the Hollywood firmament, it will have to take into account the interests of directors like Cuarón and Scorsese, who want the greatest number of viewers to be able to see their films in theaters," Corcoran said. . (Although some renowned filmmakers, such as Steven Soderbergh, say that they do not see any drawback to go directly to streaming.)

An insider in the movie industry following the battle between Netflix and the major studios has agreed, praising Amazon for "being integrated into the community and not threatening it" while he was pursuing the glory of "Manchester". The film won Best Original Screenplay and Best Actor Award in 2017.


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