Oscars 2021 is going to be weird no matter what. With movie theaters around the country still closed and dozens of high-profile releases getting postponed until the end of the year or further, there just doesn’t seem like there’s going to be enough new movies for the Academy to vote on. Netflix is taking things even further out of the ordinary by skipping the festival circuit this year.
As reported by IndieWire, the streaming giant has no plans to submit any of its releases to any festivals, nor send any of their talent to attend them. Normally, this would be a wild move for Netflix, because they’ve depended heavily on festivals in the past to get positive word-of-mouth going about their Oscar hopefuls. But obviously, it’s questionable whether or not some of these festivals will even happen, or whether they’ll decide to go virtual.
Some of the movies Netflix originally planned to debut in the festival circuit include David Fincher’s anticipated Herman J. Mankiewicz biopic Mank, starring Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried. Also pulled was Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy starring Amy Adams, and Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things starring Toni Collette and Jesse Plemons. The 40-Year-Old Version, from director Radha Blank, made a splash at Sundance earlier this year before the world closed, and while Netflix won’t be sending it to any festivals, it will release it on their streaming platform sometime before the end of the year, along with the other titles I mentioned.
Netflix skipping the festival circuit is a major decision, and while it makes sensing considering the social distancing guidelines in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s definitely a blow to festival organizers, particularly for smaller festivals. With both the Academy and the Golden Globes temporarily loosening their eligibility restrictions to allow streaming movies to qualify, it’ll be interesting to see how many other studios decide to eschew the festival route this year.