Roma debate involves some hard truths
Took home three Oscars, but it didn't win the trophy for best picture, and it sure sparked a big debate this award season. The Netflix film directed by Alphonso Cuaron was not embraced by theater owners as well as some academy voters because it landed on the streaming site right around the same time. It was offered to exhibitors it's called a day and date release. Typically theater owners want exclusive rights to a movie for several months before it starts appearing on streaming platforms and on DVD. But now Netflix might be thinking about going back to that traditional release pattern. I spoke with the Hollywood reporter senior film editor Rebecca Keegan about an upcoming net. Flix film directed by Martin Scorsese. The movie is called the Irishman. And she started with what Netflix learned from Roma. Flicks had held fast to this day and date release strategy until this past award season when they. They introduced a very small theatrical window a three week window for Roma in one week windows for a couple of other films. That is not a big enough window that it won them any fans among theater owners who still really see the company has kind of public enemy number one. As do many traditional lists in the business who who feel that the obstacle exhibition is a big part of what makes something a movie. So there are a couple things now that are at stake. There is the question of what filmmakers and filmmakers like Martin Scorsese want in terms of how their films are exhibited. And then there's the whole question of whether or not Netflix failure to be able to release Roma in a material way in theaters hurt its Academy Award chances for best picture. Well, it varies with the filmmaker. Of course. But when you're talking about a director like Martin Scorsese who is ultimately such a traditionalist. You know, he's still shoots movies on film. He is a lover of classic film square. Sese? He feels very strongly that he likes his movies to be seen in a movie theater. And so with filmmaker like this, it's very very important. It was also important to help Alfonso Koran even after he'd won his three Oscars. He talked about the importance of the theatrical exhibition experience, so most of these sort of top tier filmmakers want their movies in theaters, and you have reported as have some other people that the fact that Roma did not have a real theatrical release might have actually irked some Oscar voters, and they penalize the movie by not voting for it for best picture to have that. Right. That's right. I mean, some of the academy members ice spoke to said they deliberately put Roma last on their preferential ballot for best picture because they wanna penalize the business model by which Roma was released. Now, you can sort of take issue with that. But for some of these people, they see Netflix has really an existential. Get and it's not just theater owners. That are a little bit uncomfortable with the Netflix model their people like Steven Spielberg who had an opinion about it. What is Spielberg pushing for? We'll spill Berg has historically objected to net. Flicks. He says that they're movies should win Emmys that they're basically made for television movies. He's now behind the scenes pushing for a rule change at the academy that would require a theatrical release of a certain window four weeks is what I'm hearing from my sources in order for movie to be eligible for an Oscar those currently a rule that was passed in twenty twelve the doesn't require any kind of exclusive theatrical release at all. So the Irishman is obviously a big bet that Netflix has made with Martin Scorsese, but it's not the only name brand filmmaker that they're in business with other other movies where they might be looking at some sort of the ethical release before a movie appears on the streaming service. Yeah, Netflix has a lot of very promise. Saying awards movies in the works. They've got an untitled movie from Noah baumbach movies from a D Reese, Steven Soderbergh. David michaud. I mean, these are filmmakers who have had a lot of awards recognition in the past. And I would expect their movies to be of a particular quality where if Netflix wants to be in the awards game. They will do some version of what they did for Rome. What which is to give a movie a theatrical release of some type. So it's one thing for Netflix to say, we wanna do a theatrical release. It's another thing for Martin Scorsese to say, I want my film to have a theatrical release. What are the theater owners saying because ultimately they get to decide what movies are and are not exhibited in their chains. That's right. And the chains have a lot of power for a release of the type that I am hearing Martin Scorsese wants for the Irishman. You need the chains to buy an AMC regal and the others the chains. Want a couple of things they want Netflix too. Have a much bigger theatrical window than it did with Roma. They also were saying that they will report box office to calm score. Which is the company that we all get our box office information from one of the things that was controversial about the way Netflix handled Romo was that. It did not report box office. And it did not allow the theaters where it was playing to report box office AMC and regal say we don't play that way. If you're showing in our theaters we're going to report box office. And I don't know if it's an insult to people who drink or people who sale, but Netflix has been spending money like drunken, sailors. Is there anything that would prevent them from buying theater chain and just doing a work around where they have their own theaters. And don't have to worry about exhibitors. There was a period where net looks was said to be looking at landmark but last December that chain sold to the Cohen media group. But certainly Netflix has a history of buying what it wants if you look just at the billboards that it bought and you. Used heavily to promote Roma net. Flicks is happy to write a check to solve a problem. Netflix does not only spent a lot of money making the Irishman. But also bought a very prominent ad in the middle of the Academy Awards broadcast. How important was that step? Well, it was definitely an expensive ad if you look at ABC was charging two to three million for thirty seconds spots. That was a sixty seconds spot. And it was definitely the company announcing big broad intentions for this Martin Scorsese movie. So maybe come a year from now we'll be talking about the Irishman either in or out of the Academy Award race. I guess the movie has to be good. I so we'll see what happens there.