On Tuesday, Amazon became the first streaming service ever to get an Oscar nomination for best picture, thanks to its gritty indie,
“Manchester by the Sea,” starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams.
Amazon paid $10 million for the film at last year’s Sundance festival, and has been rewarded with six total Oscar nominations, in addition to one Golden Globe win for Affleck (and five noms).
Amazon’s nomination in the Oscar’s most prestigious category underscores the difference between its movie strategy and that of Netflix, its main rival. Though Amazon is a streaming service, all of its films get theatrical releases, because Amazon is willing to keep the movies off its online platform for the traditional length of time.
Netflix, conversely, has angered movie theatres by insisting that its movies be available to stream on Netflix the day they are released in theatres. Theatre execs have railed against this practice, and have largely refused to show Netflix movies. Netflix has hit back. In October, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said he thought the state of film was a “real tragedy” and that movie theatres were “strangling the movie business.”
Still, Netflix’s poor relationship with movie theatres puts the company in a tough position, since many filmmakers prize having a traditional theatrical release for their films, even if it’s not a wide one.
Amazon has avoided this issue altogether by sticking to the established release timing. And the company has been rewarded. “Manchester by the Sea” grossed almost $40 million at the US box office, making it a “commercial success” in its category, according to Variety. Now the Oscar nod for best picture is the icing on the cake.
(It’s worth noting that Netflix has historically done very well in the documentary category at the Oscars. It scored a nod this year for “13th.”)
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