Monday, July 3, 2017

The Distributors: Streamers: Amazon and Netflix / Oscar Experts at 2017's Halfway Mark

Good Monday film fans...


I have been writing this last couple of weeks about distribution companies, their recent films that have appeared at the Telluride Film Festival and trying to assess what that means as a predictive tool for the lineup this year.  Up until today, I have focused on traditional distributors but today, it's time to look at non-traditional players Amazon and Netflix.

Both companies have been represented at TFF in recent years.  The two companies have evolved different approaches to the delivery of the films that they have produced.  Amazon has, perhaps made the biggest splash in terms of feature films especially last year with the noise Manchester by the Sea made.  Netflix made news this spring as the Cannes Festival announced a policy of requiring films that played there will have to have a French theatrical release to be considered for inclusion.  That was a decision that was pretty clearly aimed at Netflix.

Netflix also made some news recently with a new hire that suggests that they may make a bigger push at awards season recognition.  Anne Thompson at Indiewire reported a couple of weeks ago that the streaming powerhouse had added Julie Fontaine to their crew.  Fontaine has an Oscar track record including last year's La La Land.  That complete story is here.

All of that is a preamble to get to the point that we probably need to look at the lineups for both as a means of trying to fully predict the TFF lineups of the immediate future.  So...


As mentioned, Amazon had Sundance hot Manchester by the Sea make the Telluride lineup in that rare instance where a feature film played both fests.  Manchester ultimately won twos Oscars: Casey Affleck as Best Actor and Kenneth Lonergan for Best Original Screenplay was nominated for an additional four including Best Picture and Direction.

You have to believe that they return to T-ride this year and if you saw last Friday's first Ten Bets for TFF #44 in this space, you know that I have two Amazon Studios pictures on that first list:  Todd Haynes' Wonderstruck (at #3) and Lynne Ramsay's You Were Never Really Here (at #7).

Other films that might seem to have the pedigree to make the TFF #44 playlist won't.  Richard Linklater's Last Flag Flying was recently named the opening film for the New York Film Fest as a world premiere thus moving it out of T-ride consideration and Steven Soderbergh's Logan Lucky will open in August.

The only real question is whether we might see Woody Allen's Wonder Wheel which is the only other Amazon film that fits within the potential TFF parameters.  The scheduling of Allen's film with a Dec. 1 release date, Allen's first non-summer release date in a number of years, made me perk up and take notice.  Additionally, I have recently mentioned that Allen films have played Telluride in the past (Bullets Over Broadway and Sweet and Lowdown).  Consequently, you have to at least consider the chance that Wonder Wheel could play Telluride...

But not for very long.  My expectation is that Wonder Wheel plays New York and maybe AFI.



You Were Never Really Here-55%
Wonder Wheel- 10%


Netflix jumped into the Telluride mix in 2015 with Beasts of No Nation and Winter on Fire.  Despite the disappointment that Beasts didn't make some noise at the Oscars (though Idris Elba did get a Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination), Netflix returned to Telluride last year with The Ivory Game, Into the Inferno and The White Helmets which git Netflix and Oscar win for Best Documentary Short.

All that said, it appears that the best and maybe only bet for a Netflix play at Telluride this year is Noah Baumbach's The Meyerowitz Stories which did play Cannes and was generally well received.  As I write this, Netflix has not scheduled a date for it to stream but has also nit indicated any plays for a theatrical release.

Adding to the difficulty in assessing its chances is Baumbach's history at Telluride having played Margot at the Wedding and Francis Ha there but also not having played Mistress America or While We're Young.

My best guess at this time is that the film probably doesn't play T-ride but I'm also not going to completely rule it out.  Chances: 20%.

The other film that could make a play is Mudbound.  The film's debut at Sundance probably moots its T-ride chances despite the success for Manchester by the Sea last year playing Sundance and then Telluride.  Still, the door might be open.  The film was very well received and is thought to be an Oscar contender.  Additionally, star Carey Mulligan seems to have a love affair with

Chances:  Also 20%.


As June has turned into July we've crossed the the halfway point of 2017 and some Oscar prognosticators took the time to review the lay of the land Oscar-wise as we hit the backstretch of the year.

Kristopher Tapley at Variety broke it down into two parts at the end of last week, looking at more indie fare in a Thursday post and then big studio players in  a post on Friday.

If you take a look at both articles, you'll find a number of titles (especially in the indie post) that have been mentioned here over the past few months as possible TFF #44 titles.  Specifically, Tapley suggests that Alexander Payne's Downsizing is a probable TFF play.

Similarly if you take a look at Greg Ellwood's Oscar predictions update for 2017 at the half at The Playlist you'll see that three films from lats Friday's MTFB Ten Bets are on his list of "Likely Contenders" for Best Picture : Downsizing, The Florida Project and You Were Never Really Here.   Also on the "Likely" list is Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and The Current War which I have listed just below my Ten Bets. Additionally, Ellwood includes in his "Potential Nominees" Wonderstruck, Lean on Pete and Battle of the Sexes which also appear either on or just below last week's Ten Bets.

Meanwhile, Clayton Davis of Awards Circuit has also updated his Oscar charts as of yesterday.  His "Predicted Nominees" for Best Picture include: Downsizing and Battle of the Sexes.  His "Next In Line" films include: Three Billboards, Wonderstruck and The Current War.

Other films he mentions that are also somewhere on or near last week's Ten Bets are Lean on Pete and You Were Never Really There.

That's all for today.  More tomorrow.


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