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Academy Rule Changes From the Spielberg Vs. Netflix Battle? Maybe Not What You Think

It's very possible that there won't be any rule changes at all — or that the changes occur in a different way altogether.

Steven SpielbergAFI Life Achievement Award: A Tribute to John Williams, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 09 Jun 2016

Steven Spielberg

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We’re a week from the first post-Oscars governors meeting, on March 19; that’s usually the time for the show postmortem. However, the Spielberg vs. Netflix elephant is already waiting in the boardroom.

While supporters can (and do) wax poetic about the “theatrical experience,” there’s a very practical question on the table: Just how far is the Academy willing to go to declare the primacy of brick-and-mortar cinema? Currently, the Oscar-qualifying requirement is one week in a commercial theater — and that release can be day and date with streaming. Governors argued heatedly about this on Oscar night and since, complaining that Netflix movies like “Roma” have an unfair advantage: They have the deepest pockets, the biggest platform, and no obligation to the 90-day theatrical release window.

Steven Spielberg clearly believes that movies belong in movie theaters, but extending the theatrical requirement could impact documentary, foreign-language, and independent films that often play for one-week qualifying runs. Sometimes they expand, if they can afford it; sometimes they don’t. And that expansion often happens in the new year, outside the Oscar qualification window.

Academy governors Carol Littleton and Gregory Nava flank John Bailey in Telluride

Pamela Gentile

Read More: Netflix Fires Back After Academy Backlash and Steven Spielberg’s Push for Oscars Rule Change

Or Spielberg could decide to lay low in the wake of all the swirling reactions to these proposed rule changes. At SXSW, his friend Jeffrey Katzenberg insisted that Spielberg hasn’t said anything about this. Not on the record. (When I queried an Amblin spokesperson last week, he told me: “Steven feels strongly about the difference between the streaming and theatrical situation. He’ll be happy if the others will join [his campaign] when that comes up [at the Academy Board of Governors meeting]. He will see what happens.”)

Here’s what happens at the annual rules meeting, which is expected in April: The rules committee makes a presentation with their proposals. The 54 governors tune into the meeting from wherever they are via conference video. These meetings are bigger than they used to be, with three reps from the expanded list of 17 branches plus three governors at large (adding diversity) nominated by the president and elected by the board. Divisive cinematographer president John Bailey has lost much of the sway he once had over the board during a year of missteps.

The governors balance the sophisticated crafts branches with the more mainstream actors, producers, publicists, and executives. Casting director David Rubin’s Membership and Governance committee is expected to propose some changes that could whittle down this unwieldy group, either by having two governors for each of the 17 branches (instead of three), or by creating a streamlined board that has the other governors serving on an advisory committee. “Fifty-four people makes it hard to do your business in an efficient and thoughtful way,” said one governor. “I’d like to run a stronger,healthier board.”

The Academy Board of Governors 2017-18

Oscars.org

From the powerful pro and con reactions, Spielberg may have already determined that his changes may not have enough support to fly. Some governors don’t think the rules are broken; others were horrified by the heavy spending by Netflix on “Roma” and are more concerned about campaign finance reform. Studios don’t like feeling that streaming disruptors can outspend them at the Oscars. Others feel that if CNN, Netflix, NatGeo, or Amazon want to run huge campaigns for the likes of “RBG,” “Roma,” “Free Solo,” or “Cold War,” that only helps indie films gain a higher profile.

Actors’ branch rep Tom Hanks and Costume Designer Jeffrey Kurland (“Amistad”), among others, might follow Spielberg’s lead. Younger working governors like Kimberly Peirce would be likely to see Netflix in a positive light, as a studio itself, while other older retirees could be more interested in fighting for expanded theatrical requirements.

Dawn Hudson arrives at the 90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon at The Beverly Hilton hotel, in Beverly Hills, Calif90th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon - Arrivals, Beverly Hills, USA - 05 Feb 2018

Dawn Hudson

Str/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

CEO Dawn Hudson is likely to defend the independents’ need for flexibility, while Bailey himself could go either way — he looks back fondly on the decades when mid-budget studio movies like “Ordinary People” had a shot at the Oscars, but he also has fought for inclusion and more international members. It’s unlikely that the two reps from Participant Media, David Linde and Christina Kounelias, would vote with Spielberg on this, given that they backed both “Green Book” and “Roma,” nor will the indie documentary governors or writers reps likely follow Spielberg’s lead.

Among the executives, Daniel Fellman is a fascinating case of a former Warner Bros. distribution chief who now consults for everyone from Spielberg to Netflix (including on “Roma”). Even Paramount chief Jim Gianopulos has a clear and progressive perspective on where the industry is heading. Nancy Utley of Fox Searchlight could go either way; the specialty subsidiary wants its flexibility as it heads into the Disney — and Disney + — universe.

Among producers, Mark Johnson straddles both studios and indies, while Bona Fide Prods.’ Albert Berger, the indie behind such films as “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Little Children,” has a deal at Amazon Studios and is leading the Future of Film committee, charged with redefining what is cinema — another subject that is expected to be raised in April. Netflix content chief and Academy member Ted Sarandos, who has not been able to land a seat on the Board, has presented his views to that committee as well as a larger group of Academy members.

The next move this summer will be picking a new president to replace Bailey. Many on the board are now keen to elect someone up to the job’s complicated demands, including the ability to communicate and handle media with some finesse. While Laura Dern is a popular figure, she’s raising children, working hard, and doesn’t want the gig. Searchlight’s Utley has all the skills you could hope for, as does veteran PR branch rep and former president Sid Ganis. But the board may go for the man who almost beat Bailey — Emmy-winning casting director David Rubin.

The Current Board of Governors for 2018-19.

OFFICERS 2018 – 2019

PRESIDENT – JOHN BAILEY

Mr. Bailey’s cinematography credits include “Ordinary People,” “American Gigolo,” ” The Big Chill,” “Groundhog Day,” “As Good As It Gets,”  “The Anniversary Party,” “The Way Way Back,” and “A Walk in the Woods.” In 2014, he received the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award. Mr. Bailey is a governor of the Cinematographers Branch.

FIRST VICE PRESIDENT – LOIS BURWELL

Ms. Burwell won an Oscar for her makeup work on “Braveheart” and was nominated for “Saving Private Ryan.” Her other feature credits include “The Princess Bride,” “War Horse,” “Lincoln,” and “Ready Player One.” Ms. Burwell is a governor of the Makeup Artists and Hairstylists Branch.

VICE PRESIDENT – SID GANIS

Co-President (with wife and partner, Nancy Ganis) of Out of the Blue Entertainment, a film and television production company. Former key studio exec around the industry and past president of the Academy. Currently working in the Chinese film market and (with Nancy) developing projects to be shot in China, Europe, and the United States. Mr. Ganis is a governor of the Public Relations Branch.

VICE PRESIDENT – LARRY KARASZEWSKI

Mr. Karaszewski is best known for unusual true stories written in tandem with Scott Alexander. Their feature film credits include the Oscar-winning “Ed Wood,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Big Eyes.” Mr. Karaszewski is a governor of the Writers Branch.

VICE PRESIDENT – NANCY UTLEY

Ms. Utley is Chairman of Fox Searchlight Pictures, where she manages all aspects of the company, including production, acquisitions, marketing and distribution. Ms. Utley is a governor of the Public Relations Branch.

TREASURER – JIM GIANOPULOS

Mr. Gianopulos is the Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures where he oversees the studio’s film and television operations worldwide, including production, marketing, and distribution. Mr. Gianopulos is a governor of the Executives Branch.

SECRETARY – DAVID RUBIN

Mr. Rubin’s career as a casting director includes more than 80 motion pictures, including “The English Patient,” “Men in Black,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and “Lars and the Real Girl.” In 2002, he received the Casting Society of America’s Hoyt Bowers Award for outstanding contribution to the casting profession. Mr. Rubin is a governor of the Casting Directors Branch.

CEO – DAWN HUDSON

Prior to becoming the Academy’s CEO in 2011, Ms. Hudson was the Executive Director of Film Independent, which grew from a small non-profit into a nationally recognized arts institution under her leadership.  She has worked in the arts for more than 25 years.

GOVERNORS 2018 – 2019

ACTORS BRANCH

LAURA DERN

Ms. Dern earned an Oscar nomination for her leading role in “Rambling Rose” and for her supporting role in “Wild.” Her other credits include “Mask,” “Blue Velvet,” “Wild At Heart,” ”Jurassic Park,” “Citizen Ruth,” “99 Homes,” and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

WHOOPI GOLDBERG

Oscar winner for “Ghost” and nominated for “The Color Purple,” she hosted the Academy Awards four times. Feature credits include “Soapdish,” “Corrina, Corrina,” two “Sister Act” films, and “The Lion King.” A Grammy, Emmy, and Tony winner as well as Ambassador for the UN, she was also a recipient of the Mark Twain Prize.

ALFRED MOLINA

Mr. Molina is a SAG, EMMY, and BAFTA nominee, and his credits include “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The Da Vinci Code,” “Spider-Man 2,” “Enchanted April,” “Frida,” “Love is Strange,” “Boogie Nights,” “Prick Up Your Ears,” and “Chocolat.”

CASTING DIRECTORS BRANCH

LORA KENNEDY

Ms. Kennedy has worked as a casting director for more than 25 years, on such features as “Soapdish,” “Tombstone,” “Argo,” “The Town,” “Wonder Woman,” and “Justice League.” She is the 2012 recipient of the Casting Society of America’s Hoyt Bowers Award for outstanding contribution to the casting profession.

DAVID RUBIN

Mr. Rubin’s career as a casting director includes more than 80 motion pictures, including “The English Patient,” “Men in Black,” “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” and “Lars and the Real Girl.” In 2002, he received the Casting Society of America’s Hoyt Bowers Award for outstanding contribution to the casting profession.

BERNARD TELSEY

Mr. Telsey has been a casting director for film, stage, and television for over 25 years. His feature credits include “Mary Poppins Returns,” “Miss Sloane,” “The Intern,” “Into the Woods,” “Rachel Getting Married,” “Margin Call,” “Across the Universe,” and “Pieces of April.” He serves as the New York vice president of the Casting Society of America.

CINEMATOGRAPHERS BRANCH

JOHN BAILEY

Mr. Bailey’s cinematography credits include “Ordinary People,” “American Gigolo,” ” The Big Chill,” “Groundhog Day,” “As Good As It Gets,”  “The Anniversary Party,” “The Way Way Back,” and “A Walk in the Woods.” In 2014, he received the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award.

DARYN OKADA

Mr. Okada’s cinematography credits include “Let’s Be Cops,” “Dolphin Tale 2,” “Just Like Heaven,” “Mean Girls,” and “Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina.”

MANDY WALKER

Ms. Walker’s credits include “Hidden Figures,” “The Mountain Between Us,”, “Australia,” “Shattered Glass,” and “Lantana.” She was inducted into the Hall of Fame for The Australian Cinematographers Society in 2017, and was an artist in residence at UCLA in 2015.

COSTUME DESIGNERS BRANCH

SHAREN K. DAVIS

Ms. Davis received Oscar nominations for her costume designs for “Dreamgirls” and “Ray.”  Her other feature credits include “Fences,” “Django Unchained,” and “The Help.”

JEFFREY KURLAND

Mr. Kurland’s credits include “Mission: Impossible-Fallout,” “Dunkirk,” “Bullets over Broadway,” for which he received an Oscar nomination, and “Inception.” In 2017, he received the Career Achievement Award from the Costume Designers Guild.

ISIS MUSSENDEN

Ms. Mussenden’s credits include “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe” (and two additional sequels), “American Psycho,” and “The Wolverine.” In addition, she was the first costume designer to receive costume-design credit for animation: “Shrek,” “Shrek 2,” and “Puss in Boots.”

DIRECTORS BRANCH

SUSANNE BIER

Ms. Bier is the director of the Oscar-winning film, “In a Better World,” and the Emmy-winning director for the series, “The Night Manager.” Her film “After the Wedding” received an Oscar nomination in the Foreign Language Film category. Additional credits include “Things We Lost in the Fire,” the original “Brothers,” “Open Hearts,” and the upcoming film “Bird Box.”

KIMBERLY PEIRCE

Ms. Peirce is the director of the Oscar-winning film, “Boys Don’t Cry.” Her other feature credits include “Stop-Loss” and the 2013 film adaptation of “Carrie.”

STEVEN SPIELBERG

Mr. Spielberg is a 17-time Oscar nominee and a recipient of the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award.  He has won Academy Awards for directing and producing “Schindler’s List” and for directing “Saving Private Ryan.” His recent credits include “Bridge of Spies,” “The Post,” and “Ready Player One.”

DOCUMENTARY BRANCH

KATE AMEND

Ms. Amend is the editor of the Oscar-winning documentaries “Into the Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport” and “The Long Way Home.” Other credits include “Serena,”  “The Case Against 8,” “First Position,” and “Beah: A Black Woman Speaks.”

RORY KENNEDY

Ms. Kennedy received an Oscar nomination for the documentary feature, “Last Days in Vietnam.” Her other credits include “Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton,” “Ethel,” “Killing in the Name,” and “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib.”

ROGER ROSS WILLIAMS

Mr. Williams won an Oscar for his short documentary, “Music by Prudence,” and a second nomination for his feature documentary, “Life, Animated.” His other credits include “God Loves Uganda” and “Blackface.”

EXECUTIVES BRANCH

DANIEL R. FELLMAN

Mr. Fellman is chairman of Fellman Consulting Corporation, having served as president of domestic distribution at Warner Bros. for nearly four decades. He has overseen the theatrical releases of eight “Harry Potter” films, the “Dark Knight” trilogy, the “Matrix” trilogy, ”American Sniper,” “Gravity,” and Best Picture winners, “Million Dollar Baby,” “The Departed,” “Happy Feet,” and “Argo.”

JIM GIANOPULOS

Mr. Gianopulos is the Chairman and CEO of Paramount Pictures where he oversees the studio’s film and television operations worldwide, including production, marketing, and distribution.

DAVID LINDE

Mr. Linde is Chief Executive Officer at Participant Media. He has held executive, founder, and producer roles at Lava Bear Films, Universal Pictures, Focus Features, and Good Machine.

FILM EDITORS BRANCH

MARK GOLDBLATT

Mr. Goldblatt earned an Oscar nomination for his work on “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” He also has edited such features as “True Lies,” “Starship Troopers,” and “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

CAROL LITTLETON

Ms. Littleton earned an Oscar nomination for her work on “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.” She also has edited such features as “A Walk in the Woods,” “Margot at the Wedding,” “Beloved,” and “The Big Chill.”

MICHAEL TRONICK

Mr. Tronick’s feature film editing credits include “Scent of a Woman,” “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” “Hairspray,” “The Green Hornet,” “Straight Outta Compton,” and “Bright.”

MAKEUP ARTISTS AND HAIRSTYLISTS BRANCH

KATHRYN L. BLONDELL

Ms. Blondell has served as hairstylist on such films as “The Revenant,” “Django Unchained,” “J. Edgar,” “Revolutionary Road,” “Blood Diamond,” “Shampoo,” and “Harold and Maude.”

LOIS BURWELL

Ms. Burwell won an Oscar for her makeup work on “Braveheart” and was nominated for “Saving Private Ryan.” Her other feature credits include “The Princess Bride,” “War Horse,” “Lincoln,” and “Ready Player One.”

LEONARD ENGELMAN

Mr. Engelman’s feature credits include “Burlesque,” “Heat,” “Moonstruck,” “Rocky IV,” and “Rambo.”

MUSIC BRANCH

CHARLES BERNSTEIN

Mr. Bernstein is best known for scoring genre classics, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (the original), Stephen King’s “Cujo,” and “The Entity,” among over 130 feature films and TV movies. His credits also include “Inglorious Basterds” and Oscar-winning documentaries, “Czechoslovakia 1968” and “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision.”

MICHAEL GIACCHINO

Mr. Giacchino won an Oscar for his original score for “Up.” His other credits include “Star Trek,” “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “The Incredibles,” “War for the Planet of the Apes,” and “Ratatouille,” for which he received an Oscar nomination.

LAURA KARPMAN

Ms. Karpman is an award-winning composer and a tireless champion for women in music. With a doctorate from Juilliard, her work spans film, television, concert halls, theater, and video games.  She is a four-time Emmy ® winner whose feature credits include “Paris Can Wait,” “The Beguiled,” and “Step.”

PRODUCERS BRANCH

ALBERT BERGER

Mr. Berger received an Oscar nomination for “Nebraska.” His other credits include “Little Children,” “Little Miss Sunshine,” and “Election.”

MARK JOHNSON

Mr. Johnson received a Best Picture Oscar for “Rain Man” and a nomination for “Bugsy.” He has also produced such films as “Donnie Brasco,” “The Notebook,” “Galaxy Quest,” Steven Soderbergh’s “Logan Lucky,” and Alexander Payne’s “Downsizing.”

JENNIFER TODD

Ms. Todd produced the double Oscar-winning film “Alice in Wonderland” and the Oscar-nominated films “Memento” and “Across the Universe.” She recently produced the Emmy-nominated 89th and 90th Annual Academy Awards.

PRODUCTION DESIGN BRANCH

TOM DUFFIELD

Mr. Duffield’s credits include “Patriots Day,” “Hell or High Water,” “Lone Survivor,” “Broken City,” “The Kingdom,” “ The Rundown,” ”The Ring,” and “Ed Wood.”

JAN PASCALE

Ms. Pascale was nominated for an Academy Award for her work as set decorator on “Good Night, and Good Luck.” Her other credits include “Argo,” “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Syriana,” and “Training Day.”

WYNN P. THOMAS

Mr. Thomas’ credits include “Hidden Figures,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Cinderella Man,” “Mars Attacks!,” “Malcolm X,” and “Do the Right Thing.”

PUBLIC RELATIONS BRANCH

SID GANIS

Co-President (with wife and partner, Nancy Ganis) of Out of the Blue Entertainment, a film and television production company. Former key studio exec around the industry and past president of the Academy. Currently working in the Chinese film market and (with Nancy) developing projects to be shot in China, Europe, and the United States.

CHRISTINA KOUNELIAS

Ms. Kounelias is the President, Worldwide Marketing, at Participant Media, where she oversees global strategy for all marketing, branding, and communications initiatives. Prior to Participant, she served as Chief Marketing Officer at the Academy and previously held senior marketing posts at New Line Cinema, Fox, and Miramax Films.

NANCY UTLEY

Ms. Utley is Chairman of Fox Searchlight Pictures, where she manages all aspects of the company, including production, acquisitions, marketing, and distribution.

SHORT FILMS AND FEATURE ANIMATION BRANCH

BONNIE ARNOLD

Ms. Arnold, a producer at DreamWorks Animation, produced the Academy Award nominated films “How To Train Your Dragon” and “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”Her additional producing credits include Pixar’s landmark movie “Toy Story” and Disney’s “Tarzan.” She served as Co-President/President of Feature Animation at DreamWorks Animation (2015-17).

JON BLOOM

Mr. Bloom produced and directed the Live Action Short Film “Overnight Sensation” which earned him an Oscar nomination.  He founded his Production Company, BloomFilm in 1987 after 2 decades in Entertainment.

TOM SITO

Mr. Sito is a professor in the Animation and Digital Arts Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. His 31 film credits include “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “The Lion King,” “Shrek,” “Osmosis Jones,” and “Garfield.”

SOUND BRANCH

KEVIN COLLIER

Mr. Collier currently serves as the VP of Engineering and Technology, Warner Bros. Studio Facilities, a position he’s held for more than twenty years.  Prior to Warner Bros., Mr. Collier worked at NBC Universal and Quad Eight Electronics.

TERI E. DORMAN

Ms. Dorman has been a sound editor for 40 years.  Her credits include “La La Land,” “Moneyball,” “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, “Pearl Harbor,” “Lethal Weapon 2,” “Bird,” “Top Gun,” and “The Deer Hunter.”

SCOTT MILLAN

Mr. Millan has won four Academy Awards as a re-recording mixer, for “Apollo 13,” “Gladiator,” “Ray,” and “The Bourne Ultimatum.” He received additional nominations for his work on “Schindler’s List,” “Braveheart,” “Road to Perdition,” “Salt,” and “Skyfall.”

VISUAL EFFECTS BRANCH

CRAIG BARRON

Mr. Barron has contributed visual effects to more than a hundred motion pictures. He received an Oscar nomination for his work on “Batman Returns” and was awarded Best Visual Effects on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” He is co-chair of the Academy’s Science and Technology Council.

RICHARD EDLUND

Mr. Edlund has won four Oscars, for “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” “Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back,”  “Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi,” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He has earned an additional six nominations. He is also the recipient of three Scientific and Technical Achievement Awards and the John A. Bonner Medal of Commendation.

JOHN KNOLL

Mr. Knoll has earned six Oscar nominations for Visual Effects, for “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” “Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace,” “Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones,” and three films in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise. He won an Oscar for his work on “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.”

WRITERS BRANCH

LARRY KARASZEWSKI

Mr. Karaszewski is best known for unusual true stories written in tandem with Scott Alexander. Their feature film credits include the Oscar-winning “Ed Wood,” “The People vs. Larry Flynt,” “Man on the Moon,” and “Big Eyes.”

BILLY RAY

Mr. Ray received an Oscar nomination for his Adapted Screenplay for “Captain Phillips.” His other credits include “The Hunger Games,” “Breach,” “Shattered Glass,” and Secret in Their Eyes.”

ROBIN SWICORD

Ms. Swicord received an Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay for the screen story for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Her writing credits also include “Little Women,” “Matilda,” and “Memoirs of a Geisha.”. She also wrote and directed “The Jane Austen Book Club” and “Wakefield.”

GOVERNORS-AT-LARGE

(Nominated by the President and elected by the board)

REGINALD HUDLIN

Mr. Hudlin is a member of the Directors Branch and received a Best Picture Oscar nomination for “Django Unchained.” His other feature film credits include “Boomerang” and “House Party.” He served as co-producer of the 88th Oscars.

GREGORY NAVA

Mr. Nava is a member of the Writers Branch and received an Oscar nomination for his Original Screenplay “El Norte” which he also directed. His other feature film credits as writer/director include “My Family” and “Selena.” He is also one of the screenwriters of “Frida.”

JENNIFER YUH NELSON

Ms. Yuh Nelson is a member of the Short Films and Feature Animation Branch and received an Oscar nomination for the Animated Feature “Kung Fu Panda 2.” Her other feature credits include “Kung Fu Panda 3,” Kung Fu Panda,” and “Madagascar.”

 

 

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