Welcome to New Hollywoodby@davidjdeal
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Welcome to New Hollywood

by David DealDecember 14th, 2019
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Netflix secured 17 Golden Globe Awards nominations, an all-time Golden Globe Award high for Netflix. Netflix has given New Hollywood storytellers a home to create daring, original work that challenges and confounds audiences. Martin Scorsese's latest film, The Irishman, is a risky, expensive epic clocking in at more than three hours. Netflix distributed the movie for a short period of time in theaters, causing a rift with theaters. Netflix's first original film, Beasts of No Nation, was distributed by Netflix in 2018.

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New Hollywood has arrived.

New Hollywood was founded in 2015, when Netflix released its first original film, Beasts of No Nation. Since then, a host of streaming services, ranging from Amazon Studios to Disney+, have emerged to provide homes for artists seeking to make fresh, original art that Old Hollywood has little room for.

In New Hollywood, digital makes it possible for audiences to discover filmmakers and experience their stories on their own time on their own screens, rather than needing to rush out to a movie theater to see a film on someone else’s timetable.

This dynamic makes it possible for a filmmaker to attract a following over a longer period of time through word of mouth. By contrast, in Old Hollywood, filmmakers of riskier works of art targeting smaller audience segments have a precious short window to capture anyone’s anyone’s attention in movie theaters, where Marvel crowd pleasers dominate a finite number of screens.

New Hollywood achieved a victory on December 9, when the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards nominations were announced. Netflix, the leading New Hollywood entertainment company, secured 17 nominations in film
categories, an all-time Golden Globe Awards high for Netflix. The noms include Best Motion Picture – Drama for Netflix originals The Irishman, Marriage Story, and The Two Popes.

No one achieved as many film nominations as Netflix did. The runner up, Sony Pictures, got 10. New Hollywood rival Amazon Studios got two noms.

These nominations are important because the Golden Globes, broadcast January 5, 2020, are considered a preview of Academy Award nominations.

Netflix Creates a Home for New Hollywood Artists

Netflix, which has felt the heat from Wall Street analysts amid increased competition and content creation costs, remains the symbol of New Hollywood. More than any streaming company, Netflix has given New Hollywood storytellers a home to create daring, original work that challenges and confounds audiences instead of comforting them with predictable tropes. The Golden Globe nominations underscore this reality.

Martin Scorsese: New Hollywood Master

The first wave of New Hollywood storytellers, such as Martin Scorsese, have emerged from Old Hollywood. Scorsese’s latest film, The Irishman, is a risky, expensive epic clocking in at more than three hours. It’s a demanding and emotionally draining tale of gangsters facing the consequences of their violent lives. Old Hollywood studios
wouldn’t finance The Irishman
. So he partnered with Netflix.

Scorsese learned that working with New Hollywood creates complications. Netflix distributed the movie for a short period of time in theaters, causing a rift with theaters. Scorsese would have preferred that The Irishman be experienced on the big screen, and he fretted over people streaming
the movie on small devices
. In addition, he had to accept the reality that even though The Irishman scored strong viewing ratings when it dropped Thanksgiving weekend, many viewers didn’t watch the movie all the way through

But what choice did Martin Scorsese have? Despite his career achievements, and despite his obvious mastery of the gangster genre, this legendary director couldn’t get a studio to finance The Irishman. It’s the same situation Alfonso Cuarón faced when he made his critically acclaimed Roma, distributed by Netflix in 2018. As Cuarón said of Roma,

My question to you is, how many theaters did you think that a Mexican film in black and white, in Spanish and Mixteco, that is a drama without stars — how big did you think it would be as a conventional theatrical release? I just hope the discussion between Netflix and platforms in general should be over. I think those guys, platforms and theatrical, should go together . . . They both together can elevate cinema, and more important, they can create a diversity in cinema.

As Scorsese said recently at the BFI London Film Festival, “There’s no doubt that seeing a film with an audience is really important. There is a problem though: we have to make the film. We’ve run out of room, in a sense; there was no room for us to make this picture, for many reasons.” 

Netflix gave him room.

Fernando Meirelles and The Two Popes

Another Netflix movie that scored multiple Golden Globe Awards
nominations, The Two Popes, may not have received as much attention as The Irishman. But securing two acting noms, a writing nom, and director nom should help. The movie’s director, Fernando Meirelles, is another storyteller noted for making original art, including his acclaimed City of God. When The Hollywood Reporter asked him about creating The Two Popes with Netflix, he said,

With Netflix and the platforms, it is a great moment for cinema because five years ago the studios would have to make films that were for a broader audience. So for whatever story you made, you wanted big names to make the story more appealing for a bigger audience. With Netflix they have a much broader potential audience. So if you do a niche film, say on LGBT or a film on the church, or a film like Roma, no studio would have produced a black and white film in Spanish without known actors. But with a platform it is possible. I know Netflix in India is producing 18 films plus 22 series. This wouldn't happen with the other system. Now we can have very specific films for specific audiences. I am very excited about this new moment in cinema.

The Two Popes is certainly a specific film for a specific audience, focusing on Pope Benedict and future Pope Francis finding a common ground as they chart a future for the Catholic Church – not exactly an Old Hollywood crowd pleaser like a Marvel movie is.

(And speaking of Marvel: like Martin Scorsese, Fernando Meirelles has a low opinion of Marvel. As he told The Hollywood Reporter: “I know that they are big but I don't watch them. I mean, I like the technique, sometimes I watch fragments and trailers and all the VFX and the production is really spectacular, really first class people are involved.

But I can't engage with the story, I get sleepy. Sometimes I watch those at the cinema and after half an hour I am sleepy. It's very overwhelming. It doesn't interest me at all.)

Noah Baumbach: “People Have a Choice”

Marriage Story, with six nominations, achieved more Golden Globe nominations than any other movie, period. Here is another demanding and difficult film from an original voice, Noah Baumbach. He is known for making intensely personal stories such as The Squid and the Whale – a quintessential New Hollywood voice. With Marriage Story, Baumbach takes on the topic of divorce, drawing from his own life.

Like Scorsese, he would prefer people watch the movie in theaters. The price of working with Netflix is accepting a limited movie release. But the upside of working with Netflix is finding an audience. As he told Esquire,

My movies have always started small and then rolled out. So this release will be very similar to what I’m used to. I love that people are going to get to see this movie in theatres. After that, it’s going to get an audience on Netflix that my movies in the past would not get, no question. People have a choice: they can wait to see it on Netflix or go and see it first on the big screen.

All of Netflix’s nominations face formidable competition, including Joker, 1917, Once upon a Time in Hollywood, and Parasite, all of which scored
nominations in major film categories. But regardless of what happens when the Golden Globe Awards winners are announced on January 5, New Hollywood has won.

Netflix has scored a major victory: 17 nominations are not a fluke. And when Netflix wins, New Hollywood artists win.

Each Netflix nomination is an affirmation for storytellers who want to make personal films that might not appeal to everyone -- works that take time to build a fan base beyond the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

These artists need a home like Netflix.

I am an Amazon, Disney, and Netflix investor.