With award season just around the corner, it only makes sense in this golden age of streaming popularity that the Hollywood studios would be getting nervous about how much Oscar gold Netflix and other streamers will claim on top of last year’s historic wins. In addition, there are strong undercurrents brewing that have pitted the traditional Hollywood elite and their ardent belief that movies belong in movie theaters against Netflix’s somewhat puritanical viewpoint that all of its content be created and streamed for the digital consumer.
This first major collision between old and new Hollywood involves the Netflix release of Alfonso Cuaron’s film “Roma,” which just opened in movie theaters for a rare three-week run before returning exclusively to Netflix subscribers. Releasing first-run content in movie theaters is a relatively unheard of decision for Netflix that took a lot of high-level executive persuasion to make happen, according to Hollywood Reporter entertainment critic Kim Masters. It is precisely this attitude toward traditional theatrical releases that is making many in the entertainment industry resent the streamer. Masters says that theater owners and some AMPAS members regard Netflix as “a mortal enemy of the movie business,” and as a result, the success of “Roma” might suffer as Academy Members snub the film based purely on this “adversarial” attitude toward Netflix.
While Masters suggests that Netflix stop acting like “it’s passing a kidney stone” when it agrees to an exclusive theatrical run, maybe the streamer should try a rebrand so it can play in both content worlds at the same time and make everybody happy.
“Will that placate theater owners?” Masters asks. “Oh, hell no. But it might make it easier for conflicted Academy Members to deliver the votes that Netflix needs.”
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