Academy Members Say Netflix Theatrical Released to Garner Best Picture Nom Is Nothing But A “Big Con” & “Fake”

This year Netflix decided to jump into the Oscar game head-on by selecting a few films for exclusive theatrical releases, before hitting the streaming service. I love the idea; most cinephiles will tell you it's the right thing to do but an exclusive THR exposee has members of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences thinking that Netflix is playing a big fat con game on us.

Alfonso Cuaron’s “Roma” seems to be the main reason for Netflix amping up their strategy; they know they have a major Best Picture contender in their hands, why wouldn't they campaign hard for it? These unidentified members of the Academy believe that this is just Netflix marketing itself to filmmakers.

[Theater owners] know this release is fake and so does everybody else. [The Academy] needs to define what a movie is. If it is about intention, well, nothing for Netflix is made for the theaters. It is 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?” says another anonymous member of the Academy’s executives’ branch in regards to “Roma.”

Netflix is pulling a big con,” says another anonymous Academy member of that same branch “They’re trying to buy their presence and identity as a film company without playing by everybody else’s rules. They do not 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.”

What he means is that Netflix has to rent out theaters, paying up front for the cost, for their theatrical releases  THR claims that Netflix pays $30,000 per screen (twice the normal rate) at the Landmark cinema in West L.A -- a famous theater that is known to have large amounts of Academy members attending screenings.

“Look, it’s a start. What they are doing is strictly for Academy consideration, as opposed to a business strategy. It’s a step in the right direction, but I think it’s a limited step in the right direction,” says Bill Mechanic, a former producer and former Academy governor.
To some that is just not enough.