February 25, 2019
By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures claimed the prestigious best picture Oscar trophy on Sunday for race relations dramedy “Green Book,” denying Netflix Inc the film industry’s top prize.
Netflix had campaigned heavily for “Roma” to win the first best picture award for a streaming service and broke with its usual practice of allowing the film to debut in theaters three weeks ahead of its online debut. “Roma” earned 10 nominations and was considered a frontrunner for the top Academy Award.
But after disrupting television, Netflix stirred some unease that it was encouraging people to skip the theater and watch films at home. Major theater chains refuse to show Netflix movies. That sparked a debate over whether the streaming service should win the highest award in cinema.
In the end, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences honored “Green Book” with the top trophy and two others including best supporting actor for Mahershala Ali.
Both “Green Book” and “Roma” were produced and financed by Participant Media, a studio devoted to entertainment that advances a social mission.
“We need to start by thanking our friends at Participant Media,” “Green Book” producer Jim Burke said as he held the golden statuette. “They’ve been with us all the way.”
Universal distributed “Green Book” and is likely to reap additional box office returns and home video sales, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. The movie already had become a hit, recording the largest post-nominations sales boost of any best picture nominee for a total of $144 million in global ticket sales.
“Roma” did not come up empty. The black-and-white movie filmed in Spanish and Mixtec won three awards, including best foreign language film and best director for Alfonso Cuaron. Netflix also collected best documentary short for “Period. End of Sentence,” and sent notifications to subscribers touting its awards on Sunday night.
The attention from the Oscar wins and the nominations “showcased Netflix as a very filmmaker-centric content creator,” Dergarabedian said.
Also on Sunday, Walt Disney Co’s Marvel Studios won three Oscars in technical categories for “Black Panther.”
The most-honored studio was 21st Century Fox, which is in the process of selling film and television businesses to Disney. Fox ended the night with six awards including best actor for Rami Malek as Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Sandra Maler)