THB #334 : 1st Annual Oscar Distribution & Marketing Round-Up, Pt 2 of 3
Earlier: THB #332 : 1st Annual Oscar Distribution & Marketing Round-Up, Pt 1 of 3
Okay, gang… I just changed up my plan because these pieces are going a bit long. So now, the Best Picture nominee group will be broken into 2 newsletters. All Quiet, Avatar, Banshees, Elvis, and Everything today, the rest tomorrow. In alphabetical order!
All Quiet on the Western Front - Sometimes, a movie sells itself. Well, not really. There is all kinds of discussion of Netflix all the time these days… but the most powerful element of the company is really that they can take a film or show from zero to very popular simply by placing it in the key spots of its service. Over 200 million households worldwide have the service. I can’t find a stat for how many of the subscriptions are engaged every day, but I assume it is more than 100 million. If you are in those first 4 boxes of Featured, New Releases and Trending Now, you are getting an ad platform with a highly-interested audience… every day. I bet Netflix could make more money selling some of those 12 boxes in the top 5 lines of offerings than they could for ads in any one show. (I hate to think I was giving them an idea, but they are too smart to have not seriously considered this already… and rejected it… for now.)
I started hearing about All Quiet on the Western Front, which I knew was an International Film priority for Netflix, when it landed in October. Voters who were not really expecting to watch it or were on Netflix to watch something else and it caught their eye and they watched and fell in love. Others talked about it out of screenings. Why was it in Toronto, but not at Telluride? Beats me. I would guess that Telluride loaded up on other films from Netflix… but of the Best Picture aspirants, only Bardo was there. All Quiet was a great fit for Telluride… New York Film Festival too… but whatever.
As October turned into November and Bardo was gasping for air like a fish on a dock, Netflix shifted its heaviest attentions to Glass Onion and getting a Best Picture nod for Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. Both were building nicely. But then, Glass Onion went to theaters and that easy walk to Oscar noms faded fast. (More on that in this previous newsletter.)
As this was happening, groups like Critics Choice Awards and the HFPA did what they had been told (via publicity) and nominated All Quiet only in Foreign. (HFPA, of course, disqualifies non-English films from their 10 Best Picture slots… because… well… inexcusable for any group, much less the alleged foreign press.)
Netflix, to its credit, didn’t spend much time crying over the Onion. By mid-December, they unleashed the full Best Picture (and all categories below) play for All Quiet. The wind at the back of the effort was that people already really, really liked the movie.
Netflix being Netflix, the media barrage was relentless. It was too late to do some of the big-profile stunts that they tend to do for their frontrunning hopefuls… but that probably worked in their favor here. The film managed to be an underdog… and still is, really. Based on trade cover counts, I would put them right up there with Fabelmans and Top Gun.
Nine nominations later, Netflix could only have asked for Best Director, any Actor nod, and the tipping point Editing nod, none of which it got. But super impressive turn for this film. Other nominated films would feel a lot better if they got some of the stuff that Quiet got, especially cinematography and score.
Avatar: The Way of Water
What do give the movie that if you say it made $2 billion, you re shorting it by $300 million?
Disney was not shy with spending some of its profits on this one. But they didn’t go nuts. There really isn’t much of a story here. When the first Avatar landed in 2009, it was mind-blowing. This time, not so much (though the movie is another major - and singular - leap in visual effects). Nine nominations.
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