Netflix Has a Shot at an Academy Award

/ Jan 17, 2014

netflixthesquare

If Jehane Noujaim’s “The Square,” a documentary film about the Egyptian Revolution, wins an Academy Award, that would give Netflix an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and an Oscar in the first year the company ventured into original programming.

Of course, while “The Square” is labeled as a Netflix Original, it’s not one in the strictest sense. Unlike the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning “House of Cards” or the Golden Globe-nominated “Orange Is the New Black,” both of which were produced for and premiered on Netflix, “The Square” originally screened at the Toronto International Film Festival, where it won the Documentary People’s Choice Award. Soon after, Netflix picked it up as one of its first “major” documentary acquisitions.

Though a lot of attention has been (deservedly) focused on how Netflix has inserted itself into the television Hollywood ecosystem, the company also aspires to break into the feature-length film side of the business. So far, Netflix has gone around buying documentary films and stand-up comedy specials to offer on an original/exclusive basis. In addition to “The Square,” the list includes a golf documentary from Emmy-winning filmmaker Josh Greenbaum, as well as high-profile comedy specials from the likes of Russell Peters and Aziz Ansari.

Eventually, Netflix is interested in streaming original narrative films. Right now, the market is almost exclusively focused on independent films on the festival circuit, which Vimeo has been tapping into the past few months through various content initiatives. Though that could all change when Netflix (inevitably) announces its first major feature-length narrative acquisition.

For now, though, Netflix has the chance add an Academy Award-winning film to its original/exclusive programming lineup. The Academy Awards will take place on March 2 (“Oscar Sunday”) in Los Angeles.

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