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John Byrne
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 11:13am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

And I Agree
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 11:48am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

Steven Spielberg was one of the backers of the Screening Room, an attempt to create a streaming service that would have streamed films at home on the same day as a theatrical release. I'm curious as to what distinction he is drawing, because I can't find anything where he's asked to address that. From his comments, all I can gather is that he thinks filmmakers wouldn't have to work as hard to find financing for a theatrical release. I can see how that would be disruptive to the current model, but I'm not sure why that would matter for an award.

There's a little bit of irony in that the Academy sends its members DVD screeners (soon to be discontinued and replaced with digital streams) in order to vote on the movies. A lot of the voters are using a TV format to judge the film.


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John Byrne
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 12:08pm | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Steven Spielberg was one of the backers of the Screening Room, an attempt to create a streaming service that would have streamed films at home on the same day as a theatrical release. I'm curious as to what distinction he is drawing, because I can't find anything where he's asked to address that. From his comments, all I can gather is that he thinks filmmakers wouldn't have to work as hard to find financing for a theatrical release. I can see how that would be disruptive to the current model, but I'm not sure why that would matter for an award.

•••

You have a real talent for missing the point. A movie that debuts on a streaming service on the same day as its theatrical release is not being shown first solely on the streaming service. See? Pretty simple.

A movie is a movie, a TV show is a TV show. Spielberg himself directed one of the best TV movies, DUEL, and I don’t remember him grumbling when it wasn’t nominated for any Oscars. (And it was released theatrically overseas.)

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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 12:28pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

You have a real talent for missing the point. A movie that debuts on a streaming service on the same day as its theatrical release is not being shown first solely on the streaming service. See? Pretty simple.

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The films that Spielberg is complaining about are not being shown first solely on the streaming service either. They follow the same rules that any other movie does to qualify for the Oscars: screen in a theater in LA County for seven consecutive days.

That's the rule. Spielberg is arguing that despite the streaming films qualifying under the rule, they should not count.  It should also be pointed out that Spielberg himself has benefited from this rule, like when THE POST was nominated for a 2018 Oscar for screening in 9 theaters in the last two weeks of 2017.
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Petter Myhr Ness
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 12:29pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I agree too. Frankly, it seems like a no-brainer.
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Michael Roberts
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 1:08pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

It also bears noting that the movies being discussed, like MUDBOUND and ROMA, were not produced for Netflix. These are not made-for-TV movies. They were traditional film productions that were shown at festivals and bid on by distributors. It just happened that the winning bidder was Netflix.

If two films meet the same qualifications, does a business model (distribution) have any bearing on a creative award?





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Doug Centers
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Posted: 02 March 2019 at 3:03pm | IP Logged | 7 post reply

I agree with Spielberg on this point. There will always be those that will find the loopholes in any type of competition to gain an advantage. Even though they are playing by the current rules it is not in the spirit of the award Along with some other things already stated the Academy needs to tighten up the parameters.
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Matt Reed
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Posted: 03 March 2019 at 1:01am | IP Logged | 8 post reply

 Michael Roberts wrote:
If two films meet the same qualifications, does a business model (distribution) have any bearing on a creative award?

I don't think so.  This is a case of an awards show that was created over 90 years ago crashing headlong into the current reality of how people consume content.  It's a microcosm of what is going on in entertainment as a whole.  Given the fact, as Michael points out, that a vast majority of Academy voters make their choice after watching the nominated movies at home instead of in a theatre puts the lie to any sort of special dispensation a film gets from having to first be shown in a theatre to me.  And even then, Netflix has adhered to the rules and did what they were supposed to do in order to receive consideration.  

Personally, I don't consider a film created to be theatrical in nature that is bought by a streaming service somehow changing that designation to be "made for TV".  It wasn't.  And that's not semantics. The aforementioned DUEL was specifically meant to be made for television. Spielberg was a hired gun on a project that was already greenlit by ABC for their "Movie of the Week" series before he signed on as director. ROMA, as THE BIG SICK before it, were films already completed and making the festival circuit in hopes of being picked up by a distributor.  They were, but it was Netflix and Amazon (respectively) that purchased them.  

I see this argument as being similar to the old guard argument that filming digitally instead of on film stock somehow made the former "less than" the latter or, simply put, not a real movie.  We can argue all day long about what we like to see and how warm stock feels as opposed to digital, but that doesn't change the definition of what constitutes a film and it certainly doesn't mean one can't be created using any of a number of different media. 

Spielberg's argument feels like Grandpa Simpson to me, but then again I've been an early adopter my entire life: home video games and a VCR in the late 70s when many were only beginning to understand what they were, to message boards and the internet at a time when most of my friends thought it was a fad, to DVD (and then Blu-ray and then digital) long before they were mainstream, and a subscription to Netflix when they had less than 3 million subscribers. I was at a dinner with my wife, then a Netflix employee, and Ted Sarandos, now Chief Content Officer at Netflix and her boss at the time, at the original Barney's Beanery in WeHo (not a fancy place, mind you) whereupon we celebrated 5 million subscribers.  So I'm predisposed to accept changes in the landscape and roll with them.  I actually enjoy them!  Doesn't seem as though Spielberg feels the same way at least in this particular instance. 
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 March 2019 at 8:59am | IP Logged | 9 post reply

Turn it around. If an Oscar winning movie is shown on TV--as most are--should it then be eligible for an Emmy?
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Rick Senger
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Posted: 03 March 2019 at 11:16am | IP Logged | 10 post reply

The specifics of Roma being made and intended as a cinematic movie as opposed to TV movie are one thing and it should qualify for Oscar consideration for that reason.  However, I get the argument that there needs to be a clearer distinction between content for television and content for the big screen and how we reward / recognize that content.  In the past it was generally obvious that one was one and the other was the other but streaming services like Netflix (which I adopted more than a decade ago myself and enjoy as well) are going to be blurring that line with increasingly common frequency, particularly as Netflix and Amazon invest in dozens and dozens of their own produced shows and movies each year going forward.

It used to be that budgets and time and production value easily differentiated a tv movie and something made by the Big Five.  Now, however, Netflix and Amazon are behemoths who can match studio budgets and they seem to have decided that it's worth the investment of time and money to compete in order to add legitimacy and lustre to their names. I absolutely welcome that and I doubt there are many who don't.  Improved commitment to content makes us all winners. 

However, I think the larger concern most of us are thinking without having said it is the overall demise of the cinematic movie experience.  Amazon and Netflix are direct threats to that venerable arm of entertainment and the threat is only going to increase based on the economics of the model, which is beginning to see Americans really adopting the home entertainment experience as an ever-bigger choice of consumption each year.  Last year's overall movie grosses were the highest ever but accounting for inflation and ever increasing overseas ticket sales, the numbers paint a much grimmer story in the US.  Our tvs are bigger and more HD and cheaper than ever and movie theater prices are higher than ever and Americans aren't blind.  It somehow feels like giving Oscars to Netflix's ROMA, which was only in the theater for a short time, exacerbates that demise.  The irony is that ROMA's gorgeous cinematography really demands to be seen on a large screen.  It's anything but a TV movie.

The full answer is a much longer conversation but for me, the first step is sharpening the distinction between "movie theater movies" (Oscars) and "tv movies" (Emmys) by defining how accessible they are to the movie-going public.  in order to qualify for an Oscar, every movie candidate should be required to screen for an extended time in more theaters (not just LA for a week, the current Oscar rule.)  And Netflix isn't the only company guilty of doing short runs in order to qualify; the studios are also guilty of screening some of their super-arty movies at times just in LA and NY for short stretches to check the nomination requirement boxes. They, too, should have to make any movie they want to be Oscar-nominatable more available to the general public for a longer period of time.
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Brian Hague
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Posted: 03 March 2019 at 1:17pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

The films winning Oscars are in compliance with the current rules. A film should not be penalized for the distribution deal it is or is not able to make upon completion. A well-made film is a well-made film, regardless of who buys it and in which viewing platform it is presented. 

The flip doesn't work. If ABC wanted to try running "The ABC Sunday Night Movie of the Week: Schindler's List" for Emmy contention, they'd  be putting up a rerun and not original content. Running a "director's cut" with additional footage to pad the run time would not sufficiently alter the product from what it was in the theater. If a potentially Oscar worthy film debuts on television and wants to be nominated for an Emmy instead, it would already qualify under the existing rules. If it wants to compete for the Oscar, the means are in place for it do so as well.

Again, it's not the film-makers' fault the deal brokers sell their work to Netflix rather than Paramount. As far as they were concerned, they were making a film and giving it their all. Their efforts shouldn't be short-changed because the marketplace is different today.

The purpose of awards is to recognize superb work, not to celebrate or punish distribution deals. Spielberg is yelling at clouds.


Edited by Brian Hague on 03 March 2019 at 1:17pm
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John Byrne
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Posted: 03 March 2019 at 1:44pm | IP Logged | 12 post reply

Speaking from your long experience in the motion picture industry...

Incidentally, SCHINDLER’S LIST would not be a “rerun” in that format. You know, as long as we’re not penalizing...

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