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Is ‘Roma’ the Priciest Oscar Campaign in a Decade? Netflix Fights to Win Best Picture With Media Blitz

Netflix doesn't just want its first Oscar nomination for Best Picture, it wants its first Best Picture win.

Alfonso Cuarón

Alfonso Cuarón

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Although “Netflix” has launched serious Oscar campaigns in the past for titles like “Mudbound,” nothing compares to the stops the streaming giant has pulled out in its quest to make Alfonso Cuarón’s “Roma” not just its first Best Picture nominee, but also it’s first Best Picture winner. New reports from The New York Times and Fast Company detailing Netflix’s “Roma” Oscar campaign make it clear the company is holding nothing back, reportedly spending as much as $20 million or more on the campaign.

Per the Times’ carpetbagger Kyle Buchanan, “Hollywood is blanketed in billboards bearing [lead actress Yalitza] Aparicio’s face, ‘Roma’ events are thrown nearly round the clock, and many industry figures received a heavy $175 book about the film published by Assouline. Rival publicists estimate that Netflix is spending $10 million to $20 million on award-season promotion, though some put that figure even higher.”

Netflix’s awards campaign blitz for “Roma” has included showering journalists and Hollywood Foreign Press Association members with promotional gifts prior to the Golden Globes, where “Roma” took home honors for Best Foreign Film and Best Director. The streaming giant sent voting members Oaxacan dark chocolates accompanied by a letter from Aparicio, plus the $175 coffee table book and an official “Roma” poster signed by Cuarón himself (via Fast Company). “Roma” events in Hollywood have been hosted by the likes of Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, and Diego Luna, among others. Netflix even ran a two-minute advertisement for “Roma” during a recent edition of “CBS Sunday Morning” that alone cost approximately $170,000.

“There’s no question [Netflix’s] ‘Roma’ campaign is the most expensive since ‘The Social Network,’ which has often been cited in the $25 million area,” a Hollywood marketer told Fast Company reporter Nicole Laporte.

“[Netflix] doesn’t spend a little more than everyone,” a publicist added. “They spend millions and millions more.”

While momentum for “Roma” winning Best Picture is growing, especially after its Best Picture win at the Critics’ Choice Awards earlier this week, Netflix still faces a challenge as no foreign language film has ever won the Best Picture Oscar, let alone one in black and white. The “Roma” Oscar campaign is being run by heavyweight awards strategist Lisa Taback, who joined forces with the streaming giant in July.

“Lisa is leaving no stone unturned,” one executive at a major studio told Fast Company. “If someone comes to town, she sets up some event [to introduce them to ‘Roma’ talent. There are billboards all over the place. Her budget has to be huge.”

“Roma” has been the most acclaimed movie of the 2018-19 awards season, winning countless Best Picture prizes from critic groups such as the New York Film Critics Association, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and more. The movie is now streaming on Netflix and playing in select theaters. Oscar nominations are announced Tuesday, January 22. IndieWire has reached out to Netflix for further comment.

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