Numerous films are already being discussed as major potential awards candidates this year from “A Star Is Born” and “First Man” to “Green Book” and “If Beale Street Could Talk”. Waiting in the wings is Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma,” the Netflix film which has so far scored the best critical reviews of the year in terms of aggregate scores.
Yet the film is not automatically a front-runner, indeed it’s something of an underdog at this point because it is a Netflix film. Though the streaming giant has taken great pains to make sure the film will be available in cinemas in the coming weeks before its release on the service on December 14th, members of the Academy reportedly still think the streaming company hasn’t gone far enough.
THR reports that members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences are split over this new Netflix release strategy – some see the few weeks early theatrical release as a positive sign, others however are suspicious and consider the streamer a threat who is playing a game with them. One anonymous Academy member tells the trade:
“Netflix is pulling a big con. They’re trying to buy their presence and identity as a film company without playing by everybody else’s rules. They don’t want to take the risk of having bad box office numbers. They are going to make assertions about how fantastic the crowds were, but there will be no dollars. There’s no credibility because there’s no accountability.”
Another anonymous member says it’s up to AMPAS to define what a movie is and demand proper theatrical releases with large exclusivity windows and reported box-office:
“[Theater owners] know this release is fake and so does everybody else. [The Academy] needs to define what a movie is. If it’s about intention, well, nothing for Netflix is made for the theaters. It’s about heritage and it’s about clarity. To me and I think to a fair amount of filmmakers, if your movie doesn’t have to be made for theaters at all, then what makes the Academy Awards different from the Emmys?”
Other streaming giants like Amazon have adopted regular cinema windows, such as last year with “Manchester by the Sea,” which led to them scoring nominations. Netflix has had awards success in the documentary category with their films despite those films only scoring awards-qualifying limited releases.