Roma went into Oscar night nominated for 10 awards and it came away with three big wins. It was a huge night for writer and director Alfonso Cuaron, and also for Netflix, as it was the best night the streaming service has yet had at the Academy Awards. However, not everybody is thrilled with the result. Movie theater owners, especially in Europe are being quite critical of the film and the company that released it, claiming that it devalues the Oscars to see a film that wasn't released theatrically win major awards. Christian Brauer of Germany's AG Kino exhibitor association has come out and said quite bluntly that he believes Netflix tried to buy the Oscars. According to Brauer...
The focus of the complaints from the theater chains seems to be two-fold. First, some feel that Netflix tried to "buy" the Oscars by spending a lot of money to promote Roma to the Academy. As with the comment above, some apparently feel that Netflix cared less about the movie and more about simply promoting Netflix as a brand.
Others feel that Netflix, since it doesn't release movies in the traditional theatrical fashion, shouldn't be viewed as making movies, and should instead by considered television. THR reports that at least one theater distribution chain in Europe is calling for Oscar rules to be redefined so that Netflix would no longer qualify for the awards.
The conflict between theater chains and Netflix has been an on going battle ever since the streaming service started to produce original films. Netflix traditionally released their films in theaters in a very limited fashion if at all, and many theater chains refused to screen Netflix movies since they were competing with the streaming service itself.
I'm not sure it's fair to say that it's "obvious" that Netflix didn't care about Roma. It's certainly true that Netflix spent a lot of money to promote the film for awards, and Netflix, by virtue of its success, has a lot of money to spend, but it's not like marketing a movie for awards is something Netflix invented. Every studio does it for pretty much every movie. It doesn't mean Netflix doesn't appreciate the film.
The fact is, pretty much everybody appreciates the film. Even some of those quoted in the THR story being critical of Netflix admit that Alfonso Cuaron absolutely deserved the Oscar for Best Director.
The way we watch Roma might be different than the way we watch other films, but there's little argument that the film itself is just as good as any of the others nominated for awards. Putting it on a theatrical screen wouldn't change that.
It's certainly true that Netflix does things differently than they have traditionally been done, but as technology has changed, that's to be expected. It will take time for organizations like the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to figure out how these changes impact them.
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