A new report from The Wall Street Journal is stirring up buzz over Netflix’s gargantuan spending on Oscar campaigns for its 2019-20 awards titles, including Martin Scorsese’s “The Irishman,” Noah Baumbach’s “Marriage Story,” Fernando Meirelles’ “The Two Popes,” and more. With 24 Oscar nominations at the 92nd Academy Awards, Netflix is the most nominated studio of the ceremony. The streaming giant earned nominations for seven films, including animated originals “Klaus” and “I Lost My Body.”
Per The Wall Street Journal’s report: “Industry insiders estimate Netflix is spending well over $100 million, with the majority of those funds funneled into campaigns for Martin Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’ and Noah Baumbach’s ‘Marriage Story.’ That’s more than traditional studios, which typically spend $5 million to $20 million per movie on awards campaigns.”
Scott Stuber, Netflix’s head of original films, refutes the claim the streamer spent over $100 million on Oscar campaigns, calling the estimate too high and adding that Netflix’s awards spending has been “very smart.” Stuber told The Wall Street Journal, “I don’t think we’re doing anything that everyone else isn’t doing.”
A source close to Netflix told IndieWire that one thing to keep in mind in regards to Netflix’s reportedly massive campaign budget is that the studio had a much higher volume of titles to promote this season than other studios. By the WSJ’s own metrics, a traditional Oscar campaign could be as high as $20 million for a single film. Netflix had seven Oscar nominees this year.
Had Netflix spent $20 million for each film, its Oscar campaign budget would have topped out around $140 million. Netflix pumped more money into certain contenders over others (“The Irishman” and “Marriage Story” being the streaming giant’s two heavy-hitters), but an Oscar campaign budget over $100 million for a seven-film slate would not be out of the ordinary, at least by WSJ’s own measures.
Netflix was at the center of similar budget-spending conversations last Oscar season after The New York Times reported the streamer mounted a $25 million campaign for “Roma,” well above the movie’s $15 million production budget. Some outlets reported that the “Roma” Oscar campaign budget was closer to $60 million. “Roma” landed 10 Oscar nominations in 2019 but lost Best Picture to “Green Book.” (Its wins included Best Director, Best Foreign Language Film, and Best Cinematography.)
While Netflix has more nominations than any studio at the 2020 Oscars, it’s not expected to walk away with the most Oscars. Laura Dern is a near-lock to win Best Supporting Actress for her “Marriage Story” performance, but outside of that category, nothing is a guarantee for the streamer. The 92nd Academy Awards air Sunday, February 9.