virunga (1)

No Oscar for Netflix – this year

Netflix's Ted Sarandos didn't get to party with a statuette for Virunga on Sunday, but he's got his dance card filled out for 2016.
February 23, 2015

Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos (pictured, below) was at the Oscar nominees luncheon earlier this month and in the audience at the Dolby Theatre for The 87th Academy Awards on Sunday, but he didn’t get to party with a statuette into the night.

Virunga – writer/director Orlando von Einsiedel‘s film about endangered African mountain gorillas that Netflix distributed and heavily campaigned for – lost in the best documentary feature category to CitizenFour. Adding to the sting of defeat is the fact that the winning effort, about government intel leaker Edward Snowden, was produced by its linear TV rival HBO.

Ted SarandosIt wasn’t the streaming service’s first time to the dance. Last year, it earned an Oscar nomination for the documentary The Square. But this year Netflix pulled out all the stops.

The Virunga Oscar campaign was supported by full-page ads in the New York Times, billboards in Los Angeles and sponsored Facebook posts.

Additionally, Leonardo DiCaprio lent his promotional muscle to the film, signing on as executive producer shortly before its Oscar-qualifying theatrical run in New York and Los Angeles in November. After the nominations came out, Netflix gave voters a second chance to see the film on the big screen, re-releasing it theatrically in New York and Los Angeles on Jan. 30.

As the reality of the loss sinks in this morning, Sarandos can take comfort in the knowledge that Netflix is well-primed for an Oscar next year with its sequel to the martial arts fantasy Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which will premiere in select Imax theaters Aug. 28, the same time it bows on the streaming service, presumably qualifying it for Academy consideration. Released in 2000, the first Crouching Tiger film won 4 Oscars from 10 nominations, and the sequel is a co-production with The Weinstein Company, renowned for its take-no-prisoners awards campaigns.

Netflix is also reportedly mulling an Oscar-qualifying theatrical run for its war thriller Jadotvillestarring Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Guillaume Canet (Tell No One), which is set to debut across all its territories in 2016.

Not surprisingly, there has been no Oscar talk regarding the four Adam Sandler films Netflix has pacted to distribute.

About The Author
Todd is StreamDaily's U.S. West Coast Correspondent. He has written for a wide range of publications, including The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Post, NylonGuys and, yes, even the Weekly World News. Earlier in his career, he served as senior editor for the pioneering alternative movie magazine Film Threat. You can reach him at toddrlongwell[at] or on twitter @toddlongwell1

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