Netflix has released a teaser for its upcoming film “The Meyerowitz Stories” (watch above). The film is written and directed by Noah Baumbach and stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, and Elizabeth Marvel as siblings who contend with the influence of their strong-willed father played by Dustin Hoffman. The film recently screened in competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, and its strong pedigree should make it a surefire Oscar contender, but controversy over Netflix distribution could follow it from France back to Hollywood.
Traditionalists opposed the Netflix release strategy for films as the streaming service’s films “Meyerowitz” and “Okja” both competed for the Palme d’Or without plans to open in actual French theaters. The festival instituted new rules to take effect in 2018: no film may compete for the Palme without plans for theatrical distribution in France.
Streaming films have been similarly controversial at the Oscars. While Netflix documentaries like “Virunga” and “13th” have been welcomed, the company was unable to make a dent with its 2015 narrative film “Beasts of No Nation” which was made available online at the same time as its limited, Oscar-qualifying release. The snub of that film was significant also because it contributed to the #OscarsSoWhite protest — Idris Elba was considered a strong contender for Best Supporting Actor that year, and he would have been the only person of color nominated for an acting award — but the Netflix factor was also a probable contributor to its shortfall.
Netflix streaming rival Amazon has also dipped its toe in the water when it comes to producing awards hopefuls, but it has had better luck, perhaps because it follows a more traditional distribution model. Last November the company released “Manchester by the Sea” with Roadside Attractions. But it didn’t become available to Amazon Prime subscribers until the following May.
However, Netflix is sticking with its strategy with “The Meyerowitz Stories,” which will be released simultaneously on Netflix and in select theaters on October 13. And perhaps this film will be more fully embraced since it boasts Oscar nominated filmmaker Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”) and two-time Oscar winning stars Hoffman and Emma Thompson.
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