If you thought winning Oscars was all about making just making a fine movie, you can be forgiven. Netflix, the US streaming company, is bringing its muscle into traditional studios' domain.

But it’s far, far more strategic than that. And no movie wins without big “for-your- consideration” budgets targeting Oscar voters.

But this year’s glittering Academy Awards event is being watched especially closely, as it threatens to be an industry game changer, say many in the sector.

Netflix and the movie Roma, Alfonso Cuarón’s movie about a domestic worker in Mexico, are what’s on everyone’s lips. The Netflix-original, foreign-language film, shot entirely in black and white and with no music score, is up for 10 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

If the film wins, it will be the first time a movie primarily distributed online will have achieved the Academy Awards’ highest honour.

As the New York Times reports, the push by Netflix, which included hiring Oscar-campaign strategist Lisa Taback, is seen as potentially spelling the end of traditional cinema distribution, or at least signalling the start of a new era.

A Netflix triumph would change “the game forever”, Marty Kaplan, the Norman Lear professor of entertainment, media and society at the University of Southern California, told the Times.

Industry watchers say the big multiplex cinema chains could be hit hard. They have refused to show Roma because Netflix offered them a mere three-week period to run it, instead of the more usual three-month period. Netflix says the movie appeared in just 250 cinemas around the US since release on November 21, but won’t release numbers of tickets sold.

If the short-cinema release window proves successful, it could mean big studios like Universal and Warner may adopt it. Winning a major Oscar could also attract top movie makers to Netflix, observers say, and give the brand what the Times calls “a glow of excellence” that it says could help it defend itself against major competitors, the likes of Disney, WarnerMedia and Apple.

Whether or not Roma is ultimately successful on Oscars night, it will go down as being the most lavishly marketed foreign-language film in history. The movie, which features no famous actors, cost just $15 million to make, but the company is estimated to have spent up to $30 million on promotion, the Times reports.

No foreign-language film has ever won the Best Picture category. That may be about to change, and the industry too.

Sourced from the New York Times